by Spyder Collins
For dog lovers like us, dogs are not just animals—they are part of the family. Often their names hold special meaning, and in some ways, their personalities—and sometimes looks—even reflect our own. Needless to say, we want the best for our dogs. Fortunately, much of that is simply nurturing and care—most of which is free or at minimal cost. Dog emergencies, however, can be the exception. They are taxing on us humans both emotionally and financially. Generally speaking, when preparing for these emergencies, you have two options to consider: pet insurance or savings. In my experience, savings is a great option.
What are you saving for?
You are saving to have available funds to meet the needs of your dog in case of an emergency. There are a number of potential occurrences that will be out of your control. Emergencies are urgent events that are out of your control and require immediate response. If you do not have the cash available, there are options such as borrowing from a friend or family member, credit, dipping into your retirement or personal savings account. These are all less than desirable options. Money is always problematic between friends and family, credit is a high yields interest risk, your retirement will be sacked with penalties and taxes based on early withdrawal and your personal savings are for your own needs.
Automatic payroll deduction
The simplest form of saving is to have a fixed amount of money deducted from your pay check and deposited into a specific, unique savings account established just for this very purpose. This will keep it out of your checking account and out of mind so you are not as apt to use the money for something else. The goal isn’t to become wealthy off this payroll deduction, but it is set up to put enough money aside for any emergencies that arise. You will need to determine what you can best afford but make the deposit worth it. $25 per two-week paycheck is a good start. Of course $50 per month is even better, as it will add $600 to your balance per year. And, hopefully, you won’t be tapping into this fund very often.
Another option is to set up a monthly automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings. Set aside the most you can afford using this monthly method. Then, sit back and allow the emergency fund to grow.
Other ways to raise money for your fund
Saving is hard. Pulling money out of every paycheck or through an automatic transfer takes commitment. Your love for your dog should drive this need home, but if you are on such a fixed budget that you cannot afford to put money aside for dog emergencies, consider some of these options.
- Gift fund: Your birthday, Christmas or any holiday where gifts are exchanged, ask for money instead. It may seem rude but if your friends and family really want to get you something you can use and cash for an emergency fund is it, then explain and ask for cash instead.
- Bonus money: If your employer hands you a check for X amount of dollars for a job well done or a project complete, stash it. Sure, bonus money is fun to blow on something you really don’t need or to go some place fun, but it’s gone quickly. Instead, place the money in your emergency dog care fund where the money will be of far better use if needed.
- Overtime: Same concept. If you have the opportunity to put in some overtime hours or work someone’s shift, grab it! This time and a-half cash will come in handy in case of an emergency.
- Freelance: Have a skill or hobby that you can turn into cash? You’d be surprised at what you can do for some extra cash via the internet or outsourcing your skills to other firms. Make sure there is no conflict of interest with your current employer. Losing your job over building your dog’s emergency care fund would be both tragic and counterproductive.
- Bottle Redemption: Do you live in a state that provides a 5 cent redemption for returning soda cans and beer bottles? Make sure you save up your own bottles and cans, and return them–then stick those few dollars in your account. It may seem small, but it can add up over time.
- Sell Something You No Longer Need: Take a stroll around your house, and find a few things you could sell. Maybe it’s an old suit that no longer fits, that you might be able to take to a second-hand consignment boutique. Or perhaps there are some old DVD’s you could post on eBay to earn a few dollars.
Where to put the money
Look for a high yield savings account or money market account that will not penalize you for removing funds. Avoid anything that ties up your money for a certain period of time or requires an early withdrawal fee, such as a Certificate of Deposit. Understand that some of these accounts may require a minimum deposit to get them started. To locate these types of accounts or money market accounts, you will need to do a little research. Until Wag’s full banking services are available, check your local bank or credit union for accounts they may offer, or you can also find simple accounts to set-up online at ING Direct, E-trade Bank or Ally Bank.
How much is enough?
This is a rhetorical question. The cost of a dog emergency will vary based on the animal, size and the emergency itself. The important point is to simply keep saving, every month, year after year. If your beloved dog lives to be fifteen and never has an emergency, then you will have a wonderful little nest egg to use for whatever you desire in your dog’s memory. The bottom line: if you are purposefully saving money towards an emergency then you will be financially prepared. Any amount saved helps to reduce the burden.
Stick with it
Keep saving! The account is important because it will enable you to care for your dog’s need immediately without using credit or waiting until payday to tend to their needs. Sure, if an emergency occurs the day after you toss in your first contribution, you will need to resort to less desirable methods of paying for the emergency care. In the long run however it will be well worth having the money available to care for your dog when he or she needs it most.
About the Author
Spyder Collins has a degree in economics and freelances as a Red Team financial adviser for major government contractors. He owns two Siberian Huskies both Iditarod trained and both have completed the 1,000 mile trek. In addition, he was asked to support the effort as a trail stop and veterinarian aid for more serious conditions during the Iditarod where he volunteered his time.