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Having a pet can add so much to your life — companionship, joy, comfort, aide, vitality… and bills. Aside from all the time and energy pets require, they can also be very costly. The upfront costs of getting a pet, along with ongoing cost of food, medical care, grooming and toys can lead to a large new spending category in your budget. Before you discount pet ownership, consider some tips for keeping pet care costs down.

1. Create a Pet Budget

Keeping track of your monthly pet expenses will help you be prepared. Take note of where you are spending money for your beloved animal, and allot the proper amount to keep your pet healthy and happy while avoiding having to drain your emergency fund or rack up high-interest credit card debt. Including your pet costs in a budget helps you keep your spending in check and give you an idea of how much you need to set aside.

2. Shop Around for Pet Insurance

Considering pet insurance can help you provide the best medical treatment in case illness or injury strikes. This protection can offer peace of mind, but is not necessarily the right investment for everyone — pay close attention to exactly what the policies available cover and weigh the cost of monthly premiums against out-of-pocket costs.

3. Buy in Bulk & Clip Coupons

When you see sales, be sure to capitalize on them — just like any other expense in life. There are certain products, like food, treats, cat litter and grooming supplies you know your pet requires, so it can be a good idea to visit warehouse clubs and clip coupons to find good deals on large quantities of items your pet needs regularly.

4. DIY Grooming

While certain grooming trips cannot be skipped, there are plenty of procedures you can perform yourself at home that make the expensive grooming visits less frequent. It’s a good idea to take the time to learn how to brush or comb your pet’s fur properly and trim their nails regularly. At-home touchups can keep expenses way down. (Or you can consider a pet that won’t require grooming.)

5. Preventative Care

Shop around among local veterinary options. Some clinics offer bundled services and give special discounts as part of wellness packages that can help you save. Others offer free or low-cost pet care. It’s important not to skip vaccines, annual checkups, flea-and-tick treatments, heartworm drugs or spaying and neutering; while routine preventative care may seem costly, it can save you thousands in the long run.

Though pet care and upkeep can be a major expense, your pet can provide all sorts of benefits and even teach financial responsibility. When you are considering a pet, be sure you research all the costs that come along with ownership but stay aware of cost-cutting measures like those listed above.

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