It took my girlfriend over two years to convince me to get a dog. The subtle, funny dog memes and videos broke me down over time and last summer (2017) I finally gave in and agreed to start the process.
For the last four years I have lived frugally to pay off debt and increase my net worth, and owning a dog would be the first time that I would be intentionally increasing my expenses.
After considering the pros and cons, I agreed with my girlfriend that owning a dog will bring positive expected value (+EV) in my life in the long run.
I realized (sometimes) its ok to make the best life decision rather than the best financial decision.
Before getting the new dog, I negotiated a six month buffer time to plan. Just like when I was beginning my debt free climb, I knew that creating a plan would be super important to be a successful dog owner. While planning, I realized that having a dog meant multiple new responsibilities: I would have to adjust my work & life schedule to care, potty break, and play, plus the new financial burden.
During the planning phase, I ended up creating a new automatic savings plan and began putting away money twice a month to my “dog fund.” I put away $120 a month to build up my dog “emergency fund” over $1k. The amount in the dog emergency fund initially served as a solid base to be able to pay for any unexpected costs.
The search for our new dog
My girlfriend found our pup through networking with members of the Gold Ribbon Rescue Facebook group. In the group, we found a person knew someone that had an addition golden retriever pup that they were selling in Dallas. We made the trip up from Austin to Dallas to visit and decided to move forward with our pup in November 2017.
It’s been officially 6 months since we have had Callie in our lives and its been a great experience so far. She is learning and becoming more behaved each day. Let’s take a look at the costs so far.
Note: The costs listed below is what I have spent thus far on dog expenses. My girlfriend and I split the majority of costs – double my total costs (bottom of this post) to get the total costs for one owner.
Pet Fee – $250
My half of the pet fee to bring Callie home was $250 which I paid in cash the day we picked her up (not included in Mint screenshots above). $500 for a golden retriever pup is relatively low/average since the breed is in high demand.
Veterinary – $607.56
Veterinary costs have inflated my pet expenses thus far.
Taking a closer look at what I have spent:
Three rounds of puppy shots – $219.79
Emergency vet visit – $82.81
Flee and tick medication (6 month supply) – $104.73
Spay related expenses (blood work and surgery) – $198.55
The good news is that the bulk of these expenses are one time and won’t have to be repeated. We purchased the flea & tick meds at the vet, and we ended up overpaying. I should be able to buy at Costco going forward for 40% cheaper.
Food & Supplies – $215.50
This category counts all treats, food, bedding, toys, and other miscellaneous expenses. After reading MyMoneyWizards post, we decided to check out the Costco puppy food. Callie loves it, and its only $17 at my local Costco for a bag and generally lasts 3-4 weeks.
For the rest of this category, I bought items on Amazon before we got Callie. During this time we picked up food/water bowls, collars, blankets, harness, pet food container, indoor camera (nanny cam), and a portable folding dog crate.
Dog Sitter – $37.50
The first three months of owning Callie we lived at another apartment that was farther away from both of our jobs. We ended up finding a lady on the NextDoor app who lived in our neighboorhood and was willing to check on Callie midday. This arrangement only lasted a few weeks but was a nice help while it lasted.
Now we live within walking distance from my GF’s job, so she can check on Callie during her lunch break. So we don’t need to pay anyone to watch Callie during the week.
Typically when we go out of town, I drop Callie off at my parent’s house in San Antonio.
Total Cost (my half) after 7 months (1-month pre-Callie & 6 months with Callie) – $1110.70
The first six months were about what we expected when we were planning. I’m glad that I set up a “Pet” savings account (with Capital One 360*) 6 months before we got Callie. By setting up my savings account, I was able to pay all the necessary pet-related expenses without ever having to adjust my monthly cash flow.
I still put away money every two weeks to go into this fund (my GF has a similar account too), so I feel secure in case anything unexpected comes up.
Hopefully, the next six months expenses will be 50-70% cheaper than the first six months. I will check in at that point to report my costs.
Question for You!
What are your favorite pet purchases?
What are you pet savings hacks?
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Ramona @ Personal Finance Today says
There’s stuff you can’t put a number on, so having a dog is a great experience and we’ll leave it to that. We own a rescued dog (we did rescue it) and it has proven to be one of the best things we ever did in the past decade (after the birth of our daughter). It’s clearly not very cheap to keep a big dog, but it’s so rewarding.
Some of your costs are clearly one time (spaying for instance) so you should see a ‘drop’ in your expenses.
Best of luck with the gorgeous lady. She looks wonderful and will bring a lot of joy to all your family
Lindsay L says
While they can be very expensive and not a necessity, dogs can be so worth it. They’re such good friends!
Lindsay L recently posted…Are Golden Retrievers Good with Kids?
I agree. My dog Callie brings me so much joy. She is totally worth it.
Barianna clancy says
Great post! Thank you so much for writing this article! Such an important reminder to everyone considering giving a pet as a gift for the holidays.
Deji Nova says
Such a helpful article for aspiring dog owner. The first six months of owing my Labrador retriever was a bit costlier than what’s being listed here. It’s clearly not cheap but at the end of it all it was definitely worth it.
Deji Nova recently posted…Why Is My Corgi Not Fluffy?
Aca Baranton says
I think having a dog emergency fund is a great idea, you need that money on medical emergencies. You can also invest in a good pet insurance plan.
Aca Baranton recently posted…Are there any essential oils safe for cats?