Author Topic: Are pets un-Mustachian?  (Read 13537 times)

Exhale

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Are pets un-Mustachian?
« on: September 28, 2014, 01:29:58 PM »
Hello All,

I'd love to get a small rescue dog, but know that vet bills can be very high and of course there's food and a few other supplies that are needed. I desperately want to get a dog. I love animals - grew up with them and find they make me so very happy. Over the years, I've worked as a dog/cat-sitter to get my animal-fix. However, maybe I should wait another six years until I'm FIRE.

I'm curious, what have you guys chosen to do pre-FIRE? What ways have you found to be a frugal dog owner? Any tips for how to handle medical issues and other types of pet-owner expenses?

Thank you for your help!
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 06:06:40 PM by Exhale »

Jellyfish

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2014, 01:38:54 PM »
I can only speak for myself, but my view is that I will achieve financial independence by cutting out spending on the things that are not important to me, and spending on the things that I value.  My pets are an important part of my life and I get a great deal of pleasure and comfort from them.  I'd never choose not to have them in order to save a few bucks (or even a few hundred bucks) a year.  I estimate I spend between $500-$1000/year on my 2 cats between vet bills and food, etc. and they are worth every penny.  But that's my personal calculus about their role in my life.  If getting a dog doesn't strike you as something important, however, then maybe not worth the expense.

thedayisbrave

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2014, 01:43:29 PM »
I'm with Jellyfish.  To me, mustachianism is about cutting out costs that are unnecessary to your quality of life.  Pets definitely come with expenses but if you are generally in a good place financially (not necessarily FI but on track), I don't see a problem with getting a pet.  I'd caution against it if you were a student, had mountains of debt, etc. but otherwise I support it!

I really want a dog too, but am waiting a little longer.  WRT being a frugal dog owner, I say keep him as healthy as possible! Fresh water always, walks at least 1x a day, etc.  You can always set aside a small amount of $$ per month as a "doggie emergency fund".  I've also known people who have inexpensive pet insurance which has saved their butt.

Mrs. PoP

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2014, 01:44:49 PM »
I'm with Jellyfish - our cat brings us way more joy than the ~$1/day we spend on him.  If that wouldn't be the case for you, then don't spend your money on a pet. 

GizmoTX

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2014, 01:47:51 PM »
Some rescue groups pay all expenses when you provide foster care for an animal, including vet expenses & meds. Obviously the foster home & caretaker is scrutinized & must be knowledgeable. A friend of mine is doing this.

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2014, 01:50:16 PM »
I'm in complete agreement with Jellyfish, thedayisbrave, and Mrs. PoP. Our dog brings immense joy into our lives and we'd never give her up just to save money. That being said, we did a lot of research before adopting her in an effort to find the most frugal breed possible. We settled on a greyhound because: they are rescue dogs and thus not expensive to adopt, they are adopted as adult dogs so they don't require much training and won't tear your house apart, they are fine staying home alone during the day and generally don't require dog day care or a dog walker, they are easy going pets with simple dietary needs, few behavioral problems, and minimal grooming requirements. If you're interested, I wrote up a post on exactly how much we spend on our frugal hound every year ($930.35) and all the considerations that went into our decision to adopt her: http://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/05/21/frugal-hound-costs-930-35-annually/

2ndTimer

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2014, 01:50:43 PM »
I am with the previous posters. I couldn't get my INFP hub a unicorn so I got him kittens instead.  Definitely worth it in happy husband vibes.  If you know where I can find a unicorn, please let me know

Calvawt

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2014, 02:00:44 PM »
It's one of those choices that requires you to prioritize your spending if its an expense that you want to incur.  From what I see, pets are one of the things people on these forums tend to highly value. 

We currently do not have any pets but with a 10 month old and a 2.4 year old, its chaotic enough around here!

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2014, 02:01:53 PM »
I am with the previous posters. I couldn't get my INFP hub a unicorn so I got him kittens instead.  Definitely worth it in happy husband vibes.  If you know where I can find a unicorn, please let me know
Behold:

Weedy Acres

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2014, 02:03:53 PM »
Mustacianism isn't about extreme frugality, it's about achieving happiness as efficiently as possible. 

So if a pet makes you happy, acquire and maintain one as inexpensively as possible.

2ndtimer:  here's your unicorn: http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/nhm/4218208723.html



Exhale

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2014, 02:26:32 PM »
I'm in complete agreement with Jellyfish, thedayisbrave, and Mrs. PoP. Our dog brings immense joy into our lives and we'd never give her up just to save money. That being said, we did a lot of research before adopting her in an effort to find the most frugal breed possible. We settled on a greyhound because: they are rescue dogs and thus not expensive to adopt, they are adopted as adult dogs so they don't require much training and won't tear your house apart, they are fine staying home alone during the day and generally don't require dog day care or a dog walker, they are easy going pets with simple dietary needs, few behavioral problems, and minimal grooming requirements. If you're interested, I wrote up a post on exactly how much we spend on our frugal hound every year ($930.35) and all the considerations that went into our decision to adopt her: http://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/05/21/frugal-hound-costs-930-35-annually/

Thank you for this very helpful concrete information about how you and Mr. FW make it work. This is exactly what I needed, especially since I always assumed greyhounds would be super high maintenance due to their racing abilities. (Also, enjoyed your blog!)

Prepube

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2014, 02:32:38 PM »
I have three large breed dogs (two of whom were recued from puppy mills).  I made sure that initial medical expenses were funded by the rescue organizations we dealt with (Big Dogs, Huge Paws and Leonberger Rescue).  The gang of three big-dogs are all three years old, my two rescued kitties are about six. 

Food savings:  I save some money by using PetCo's free automatic delivery service and I use the points (or whatever they're called) to get free treats and discounts.  basically, 90 or 120 pounds of food is delivered by UPS every month and I don't have to go anywhere (no gas needed), I don't have to spend more than 5 minutes, and I don't have to think about it much.  Those qualities are all very important to me...

Veterinary savings: Most people aren't as comfortable with it as I am, but I always ask the vet to just buy me any vaccines I need each year, and I do the injections myself.  Pretty easy to do.  All basic veterinary care and doggy first aid I  do myself, and I recommend others do too.  I wouldn't try to set a bone or anything like that, but I can clean wounds, prevent/treat ear infections, etc.  Same for the kittens, though they scare the crap out of me with those sharp teeth, so I let the vet do anything significant.  Trimming nails and grooming I do myself and I wouldn't choose a poodle or something unless you either want to learn how to groom or want to spend money to get it done.  It costs about 100.00 to groom my newf, and I only do that once a year for the matts he wont let me cut.

Boarding:  I have a friend or friend's teenaged kid stay at the house when I am gone.  The kid earns money, I pay less.  Good deal.

Landscaping:  Don't get a bigger dog if you have landscaping that you value, and definitely don't get three if you want grass to survive.  Luckily, I live on 3+ acres and don't worry much about this. 

Overall, I spend about 275 per month on these dogs and cats.  I wish I had one less dog and maybe one less cat, but cant find anyone to take one, and I don't know how I'd choose between them at this point anyway.  I would not have any of these monsters if my finances were not in order. 
 

ambimammular

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2014, 02:40:51 PM »
Exhale, as a single you may value the security having a dog would provide. My cat would be no help with an intruder, but I always feel at ease when the cat is. The year before we got him, I'd jump every time the refrigerator clicked on. And when he purrs all is right in the world.  Peace of mind, and deep sleep is worth a lot to me.

Johnez

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2014, 03:58:41 PM »
If financially secure, pets are a great source of happiness.  If starting out though, I'd say definitely unmustachian.  Random bout of diarrhea twice in your dog, or maybe a UTI in your cat can be an expensive bill, which might eat up 30 or 40 of those little $10 soldiers you've been collecting.

Astatine

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2014, 04:09:59 PM »
I agree with pretty much everything that's been said in the thread thus far.

Our 2 cats bring us great joy and happiness, and they do stuff that makes us laugh many times a day. We adopted them from friends who couldn't keep them and we knew what we were getting in to when we got them. (cat temperament matters a lot to me)

We buy good quality cat food, not the cheap supermarket stuff. Spending money on quality food will likely pay off in the long run with better health and longer life (potentially) for the pet. We have a rewards card at one of the pet stores and we try to only buy their food and dental treats when heavily discounted. We also seem to qualify for a free bag of cat food at least once a year.

Our kitties are indoor cats (they have to be because of their breed) which instantly reduces potential vet bills - no risk of being hit by a car or attacked by a dog, no abcesses from cat fights etc.

We don't bother buying them any toys. They're the ultimate repurposers - everything is a cat toy (except cat toys :p) and their favourite toys are human things, like ribbons and cardboard boxes. They came with a multi-storey cat scratching post thing (luckily - super expensive to buy). They love it to bits, literally, so earlier this year I had to learn how to repair it with new sisal rope. Much cheaper than having to buy a new one.

2ndTimer

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2014, 04:40:59 PM »
I am with the previous posters. I couldn't get my INFP hub a unicorn so I got him kittens instead.  Definitely worth it in happy husband vibes.  If you know where I can find a unicorn, please let me know
Behold:


This unicorn has dog feet.  I want a unicorn with unicorn feet!

flyfig

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2014, 04:53:32 PM »
If you are in a good spot and want a dog, then by all means, look to adopt a dog from the SPCA or a private rescue.

Outside of food, dogs need very little. I fostered and spent $300 on stuff the dog never even looked at. Bed was some old blankets and towels on the floor (she used the couch and bed most of the time). Treats were boiled chicken shredded, carrots or bits of cheese. A kong was useful with frozen peanut butter. A simple 6 foot leash and collar was all that was needed. I did get a bright orange safety vest since she was a black dog in a dark alley at night. That was $5. Food and water bowls were bowls from my cabinet. I bought balls for fetch but she was a klepto that stole enough balls to fill a pail. She was a total joy and is a beloved member of her family now. I'm waiting for the right time for dog or two.

Go for it! Do a bit of research to create a budget and decide if you want pet insurance or if you just want to create a little savings/investment account for your buddy's medical expenses. Like us, keep then fit and mentally exercised and you'll have a friend for life.

studentdoc2

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2014, 07:17:46 PM »
We rescued a 140-lb Great Dane -- definitely not what springs to mind when you think of mustachian animals -- but even that monster isn't that expensive. We buy his food at Costco (maybe $60/mo) and he's on a $26/mo pet insurance plan (which we only do because of his size -- a vet bill for surgery would be much more expensive than for a smaller dog). Other than that, he gets a toy or two once or twice a year. We take him with us when we travel or leave him with friends (whose dog we watch in return). A check-up once a year and updates on his shots, and that's about it. I would never argue that he's mustachian, but he's actually relatively inexpensive. As with children, you could spend lots and lots, or you could just spend what is needed and get creative. He brings unending joy to our lives, reduces our stress, gets us out and exercising, and serves as the best security system one could ever want.

If your hair's not on fire, you can budget accordingly, and you acknowledge that having a pet might mean a little more work before FIRE, then go for it. But I'd definitely say do a rescue!

hdatontodo

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2014, 07:49:16 PM »
My wife had been wanting another chowchow, and a pet rescue told her they had a part-chow mix. $300 fee plus fixing him plus boarding fees since she's away at masters swimming races, plus vet bills. She ends up hating the dog which ends up being a coonhound.  $1000 down the tubes. A friend with farmland readopted him to chase groundhogs.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2014, 07:50:52 PM by hdatontodo »

4n6

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2014, 08:49:28 PM »
To me mustachianism is not about giving every extraneous expense, but learning to do with less and getting enjoyment out of the small things in life instead of stuff. Pets, for me, are not stuff. They are a part of our family. Our dog is 16 years old, we probably spend $100 or month on her and it is well worth. Part of that is because she has a small insurance policy and she is on special food and treats. I mean it would be great if we could spend less on her food, but the insurance policy and food help manage her weight and metabolism. That price is small to the amount of joy our Peanut brings us everyday.

Prepube

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2014, 09:04:58 PM »
Oh I forgot the treats!  My three puppies love carrots for training treats, and I make liver treats for them that I really think they would kill me for if I wasn't the one in charge of everything else in their world.  Wait for the beef liver to go on sale and then buy a bunch, boil it until it's cooked all the way through, then cut it into small strips.  Bake at about 225 for an hour or two until most of the moisture is cooked out.  These treats don't smell bad, and you can put them in your pocket.  Great for all sizes of dog, and contains nothing but liver (don't spice them.  The dogs don't need that, and they are pretty tasty without salt, etc.).  Freeze baggies full of them so you always have some available.  The kitties like them too.

flyfig

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2014, 10:21:11 PM »
Oh I forgot the treats!  My three puppies love carrots for training treats, and I make liver treats for them that I really think they would kill me for if I wasn't the one in charge of everything else in their world.  Wait for the beef liver to go on sale and then buy a bunch, boil it until it's cooked all the way through, then cut it into small strips.  Bake at about 225 for an hour or two until most of the moisture is cooked out.  These treats don't smell bad, and you can put them in your pocket.  Great for all sizes of dog, and contains nothing but liver (don't spice them.  The dogs don't need that, and they are pretty tasty without salt, etc.).  Freeze baggies full of them so you always have some available.  The kitties like them too.

+1
Great Tip! I'll do that for my SPCA work

Breaker

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2014, 10:21:51 PM »
Get yourself a dog.  They bring so much joy to your life everyday.  They are often the best entertainment around.  They are happier to see you when you come home than anyone else in your house.  If you adopt a dog that is older than 1yr. and less than 10yrs. the Vet bills are usually only the for yearly exams/shots.  Personally I don't give my dogs any vaccines (after the puppy shots) except for the legally necessary Rabies.

I do feed good quality food and some raw meat daily.  My dogs are worth it.  I will cut corners on other things rather than give up my dogs or short change them on Vet care or food. 

Being Mustachian is NOT about doing without things you love.  It is about doing without things that don't really matter and thinking about purchases before you make them.   

Squirrel away

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2014, 11:29:49 PM »
To me mustachianism is not about giving every extraneous expense, but learning to do with less and getting enjoyment out of the small things in life instead of stuff. Pets, for me, are not stuff. They are a part of our family.

Yes, I agree.:)

We don't have a car, holidays, gadgets etc but my companion animals really bring a lot of joy to my life. One thing I have cut down on is buying toys for my dogs, I now only buy the long lasting Kong ones and rotate them so they get a "new" one daily.

sarah8001

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2014, 01:24:41 AM »

Food savings:  I save some money by using PetCo's free automatic delivery service and I use the points (or whatever they're called) to get free treats and discounts.  basically, 90 or 120 pounds of food is delivered by UPS every month and I don't have to go anywhere (no gas needed), I don't have to spend more than 5 minutes, and I don't have to think about it much.  Those qualities are all very important to me...


I don't know if this would work for you, with having a automatic delivery monthly, but I thought I'd bring it up anyways. You can frequently buy Petco gift cards for 15-20% off (Petsmart isn't as good a deal for some reason). Just go to giftcardgranny.com or a similar site and search for Petco. I've gotten them as low as 30% off on sale. My cats have special dietary needs and require expensive canned food (125$/month) and using gift cards saves me about 25$ per month. The more you spend at Petco, the more you save. The only downsides I've encountered are once (in over a year), I bought a gift card that was reported stolen. The gift card company reimbursed me, so I didn't lose any money, but it took over a week to get my money back. The second thing is that gift cards are very, very easy for cashiers to steal or misplace. I've had this happen to me ("Do you want me to throw away the empty card" "Sure" Hands back empty card, "throws away" full card), so keep an eye on your gift cards. I've also seen this happen at Target, the lady in front of me paid with a gift card, cashier threw it away, lady said, "hey, it still has 100$ on it", cashier apologizes, gives her empty card pulled out of the trashcan, lady said "hey, this is the wrong card, mine had a picture of a dog on it," cashier apologizes, hands her another card from the garbage, lady walks out of Target without checking to see if it is her gift card with 100$ on it or an empty one that looks the same.

Guardian

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2014, 01:48:29 AM »
All I will say is this: I've grown up with cats and dogs and various other pets my whole life. NEVER is the cost simply "oh I spend $1000 a year on feeding and medicating my pet...not very expensive!" there are always other costs. Unless you get an animal that will outlive you, planning for the animal's typically very costly descent into darkness must be accounted for as well, and probably split into the years of its life, as cold as that seems.

Animals are ridiculously expensive in most cases for most people, including all mustachians. Zoom out and you'll notice it a bit more.

Typically the people I know that have the most animals are the ones that are the worst with money.

All of this coming from a dog lover. I have no pets because I am in debt, and won't accept paying thousands.

oldfierm

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2014, 08:24:45 AM »
I'm with the other posters who talked about looking for an inexpensive "breed."  I had two rescue dogs for the last 10 years.  One was a purebred chihuahua, and the other was a golden retreiver/collie/sharpei mix.  The chihuahua literally cost me thousands in medical bills (maybe 10K over the course of her life, above and beyond regular checkups).  The mix?  NOT ONE PENNY until the day she suddenly passed away at the age of 13 (old for her size). 

So my take away from this was that "hybrid vigor" is real - mixed breed are awesome! 

Penny Lane

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #27 on: September 29, 2014, 08:34:58 AM »
I too love animals.  My 13+ year old dog has not been a big expense-- basic dog food, shots and kenneling.  She's very healthy still, but I have become increasingly allergic to her!  As I travel more, I hate to leave her at the kennel ( she likes it, though, it seems).  So I am actually looking for a "situation" for her, in which she would live with someone who wants a dog, but I would continue to pay her expenses and have her for visits when the kids are home. 

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2014, 08:36:33 AM »
I am with the previous posters. I couldn't get my INFP hub a unicorn so I got him kittens instead.  Definitely worth it in happy husband vibes.  If you know where I can find a unicorn, please let me know
Behold:


This unicorn has dog feet.  I want a unicorn with unicorn feet!
Oh you noticed that? Whoops. Is this better?

retired?

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2014, 08:38:02 AM »
Consider it as part of your entertainment budget.  We have a rescue pug.  Sweet dog.  Gives my wife a lot of pleasure.  She is her little shadow.  There will be unexpected costs, e.g. when our son left a bag of M&Ms on the coffee table when we were away.  Sitter had to take her to an emergency vet.  $190.

retired?

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #30 on: September 29, 2014, 08:40:53 AM »
one additional note - budget for kenneling when you travel or "pet fees" at hotels if you expect your dog to travel with you.  For us, beyond basic care, that has been the biggest cost.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #31 on: September 29, 2014, 08:59:03 AM »
To me mustachianism is not about giving every extraneous expense, but learning to do with less and getting enjoyment out of the small things in life instead of stuff. Pets, for me, are not stuff. They are a part of our family.

Yes, I agree.:)

We don't have a car, holidays, gadgets etc but my companion animals really bring a lot of joy to my life. One thing I have cut down on is buying toys for my dogs, I now only buy the long lasting Kong ones and rotate them so they get a "new" one daily.

another one in agreement... and I also agree that very few toys are needed. our puppy LOVES old pieces of rope and empty plastic bottles (from my bf's tonic water habit). that sounds really ghetto, but it's bizarre how happy they make her! plus if you have parents that don't have any grandkids yet, they will probably end up buying toys for their "grandpuppies" :P

Oh I forgot the treats!  My three puppies love carrots for training treats, and I make liver treats for them that I really think they would kill me for if I wasn't the one in charge of everything else in their world.  Wait for the beef liver to go on sale and then buy a bunch, boil it until it's cooked all the way through, then cut it into small strips.  Bake at about 225 for an hour or two until most of the moisture is cooked out.  These treats don't smell bad, and you can put them in your pocket.  Great for all sizes of dog, and contains nothing but liver (don't spice them.  The dogs don't need that, and they are pretty tasty without salt, etc.).  Freeze baggies full of them so you always have some available.  The kitties like them too.

thanks for the beef liver idea!! I save chicken scraps/fat in the freezer and then when I get a bag full I use them to make dog treats with whatever else I have around or that's on sale. last time it was a bag of frozen butternut squash chunks. my dog loooooved them. but the beef liver idea is genius and so simple, I will have to try it!!

anyway, I will basically echo the other pet owners here... if you are in debt or otherwise struggling financially, getting a pet may not be a good idea. but our two dogs (and yes this is our absolute max limit on pets, LOL) are not really a financial decision. we try to be as frugal as we can, but obviously the most frugal option would be to get rid of them and that is not happening! honestly I know some people with kids hate when people equate dogs/cats and kids, and they're obviously not the same thing, but I do think that pets are "un-Mustachian" in the same way that having kids is "un-Mustachian"... like, sure, technically it's an unnecessary expense, but most people will tell you it's not about the money.

that said I think the advice from Mrs. Frugalwoods et al. on considering the breed is REALLY important, in terms of avoiding expensive health problems AND expensive behavior issues (and the possible need for expensive things like doggie day care or a dog walker). too many people pick a dog based on looks and not temperament/energy level and then can't really give it what it needs (although it can be hard to tell with a mutt, but shelter/rescue staff may be able to give you some idea).

2ndTimer

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #32 on: September 29, 2014, 09:00:35 AM »
I am with the previous posters. I couldn't get my INFP hub a unicorn so I got him kittens instead.  Definitely worth it in happy husband vibes.  If you know where I can find a unicorn, please let me know
Behold:


This unicorn has dog feet.  I want a unicorn with unicorn feet!
Oh you noticed that? Whoops. Is this better?

 
Perfect.  Will you take two slightly used cats as a trade in.

Exhale

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #33 on: September 29, 2014, 10:10:49 AM »
Thank you to everyone who has posted (including the unicorn - never thought about that as a pet!). This conversation has helped me figure out how much emergency fund to build up (will look into insurance as well) and calculate monthly costs. Once I'm ready for those expenses, I'll get a rescue greyhound or rescue mutt (based on personality). I know that a dog will vastly improve my quality of life (and provide lots of entertainment and exercise). Thanks to the great MMM community, I feel that, with aforementioned budgetary preparations, I can finally bring a frugal hound of my own into my home. Thanks so much!





pagoconcheques

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2014, 12:00:37 PM »
If you like having a pet, by all means have one (or more).  An alert dog can be kept for the cost of a home alarm system if you live someplace where alarm monitoring makes sense--so financially it is more or less a wash. 

The trick from a strictly cost perspective is managing costs at the end of the pet's life.  Our dog was within the life expectancy range for his breed when he first got sick and needed emergency care.  Between that visit and the follow up, along with the final visit during which we decided to euthanize him, we spent more than in the previous 12 years combined.  So, if you are talking just dollars (and I'm not saying you have to analyze the worthiness of pets that way), it's good to have a plan in place for the pet's final days and an understanding of how much you are willing to spend to perhaps only buy a few months of marginal life at the end. 

Beric01

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2014, 12:03:05 PM »
I think it depends where you live. Here in the city, you WILL pay more to get an apartment that allows pets. In a SFH you own, there should be no additional cost.

I couldn't consider owning a pet due to the amount of time it would delay FIRE by.

Bob W

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #36 on: September 29, 2014, 12:24:11 PM »

My wife has been wanting a dog for several years and I consistently say no.   Not just for the cost, which I really hadn't thought about,  but for all the other problems.

House odor,  fleas and ticks,  poop scooping,  boarding,  shots,  vet bills, hair,  liability,  not being able to leave home for days at a time without arrangements,  etc.

If you want to put up with all the headaches go for it!

My daughter has a box turtle as a pet.   Found it in the woods.  They eat virtually nothing and can live as long as humans.   Not warm and cuddly,  but still she finds it comforting to take care of.  She has had it for about 4 years. 

Cassie

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2014, 01:09:03 PM »
My ex-husband would never let Me & the kids get a dog-anyways after awhile he became my ex-that was just one of his terrible qualities.   I think the person that wants the pet should take care of it totally-so if your wife wants a dog she gets it provided she will do all the care.  We have 4 old rescue dogs that we got when we were both working & now that they are getting old we have spent a fortune on vet bills. Once they are gone we will just have 1 or 2 dogs at the most.  Some parts of the country vet bills are cheap but not in the west. 

guitar_stitch

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2014, 01:42:28 PM »
I can only speak for myself, but my view is that I will achieve financial independence by cutting out spending on the things that are not important to me, and spending on the things that I value.

This.  The entire concept of living frugal is not about avoiding spending money.  It's about investing in things that ultimately will return a long term value equal to or in excess of the investment you put into it.

In the case of the stock market, you invest to get dividends.

My dogs very easily return the investment I put into them on a daily basis.  Hell, they are a good part of my motivation to remain frugal so I can reach FIRE.  I hate leaving them home alone while I go to work.

Spartana

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2014, 01:50:41 PM »
Oh Mrs. Frugalwoods - Unipup is just too cute!!

I retired with 5 pets (2 youngish dogs and three very old cats who were strays who kind of just moved in). Then, while retired,  I rescued a 3rd dog (after one of mine died) and then inherited 2 more dogs when my Dad past away. They were all very expensive on my small retirement budget but worth it. They also really tied me down (especially the 2 I inherited as I was pet-free and ready to travel full time then) and this was WAY more of a problem for me then the money thing. I loved them all like crazy however, I don't plan to get any more pets ever again  (never planned on this many only the first 2 - just call me Octo-Dogmom)  Now I only have one small dog left and it's not so expensive and it's a lot easier to travel - at least doing car trips in North America. Going overseas long term is something I will have to wait to do. So it's not just the expense of pets to consider when deciding to get them, but also your long term living/travel goals too. 

Spartana

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #40 on: September 29, 2014, 01:54:33 PM »
My dogs very easily return the investment I put into them on a daily basis.  Hell, they are a good part of my motivation to remain frugal so I can reach FIRE.  I hate leaving them home alone while I go to work.
I always joke that the main reason I quit my job was so I could be a stay-at-home-dog-Mom. It's probably true as I really couldn't stand leaving them to go to work everyday. Glad I quit while they (and I) were young enough to do a lot of hiking, etc... together.

GetItRight

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #41 on: September 29, 2014, 03:09:24 PM »
I don't want any pets. They are expensive and tie you down. Cannot just be spontaneous and all day activities can be problematic. While fun, they cost a lot, create extra work, constant attention and needs, etc. Part of why I'm trying to get my finances in order and become FI is to be able to travel more, to say no to work when I'd rather be doing X, basically more freedom to do what I want. A slave at work and then a slave at home to the dogs constant needs, no fun. Cats, if that's your thing afford more flexibility. Leave them plenty of food and water and they'll hardly notice you're gone for a weekend. A cat can be independent but a good companion. For me though, I view pets as an expensive way to whittle away your freedom.

I recall reading a thread here not long ago about a guy with a dog, but his work involved traveling Mon-Thurs and away every other weekend visiting relatives. He paid some significant amount for a dog sitter or kennel. I look at that and think, time to give the dog to someone who has time for it and stop wasting that money on a dog it sounds like you only spend time with every other weekend. That's an extreme example, but illustrates how an animal will tie you down to either no flexibility or significant additional expenses. I'd rather have a hobby like rollerskating that if I don't do it several times a day my skates don't crap all over the floor or die.

A dog or other pet is just like a hobby involving whatever expensive <thing>, so long as you enjoy it and it doesn't compromise your long term financial goals then go ahead and do it.

MrsPete

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #42 on: September 29, 2014, 04:12:47 PM »
We've always had pets over the years, and they've added quality to our lives -- especially the kids' lives. 

Having just brought home a new puppy this past summer (he is currently our only pet), I can give you a run-down on the cost.  It's fair to consider the "start up cost" and then the "maintenance cost" as separate items:

Start up costs:
75 -- Adoption fee from a terrible, high-kill shelter; I hate remembering how horrible it was, and I hate that our little boy was ever a prisoner within those walls.  This 75 included puppy shots and rabies shot.  We had to sign saying we'd have him neutered within 30 days, and we got a coupon that allowed us to have it done for free -- if it was done within 30 days.  Incidentally, we're pretty sure he's a purebred dog -- they have some wonderful animals at the shelter.  I don't know why anyone would ever pay hundreds for a puppy. 

150 -- Dog bed, collar, leash, a few toys, dog shampoo, carpet shampoo, big bag of food, treats, (pretty much necessary for training). 
150 -- Initial visit to the vet; I would never have skipped this.  Given his background, I wanted to be SURE he didn't have heartworms or another serious medical issue.  I would be willing to pay medical bills for a dog I already loved, but if he turned out to have serious issues on Day 1 ... I'd have chosen another dog.  Sound cold?  Maybe, but I didn't love him yet on Day 1. 
130 -- A year's worth of heartworm prevention pills and prescription flea/tick meds.  Again, not something I'd skip. 
25 -- Cost of microchipping him at the same time he was neutered. 
30 -- Bath and initial nail trimming.  He was a MESS, and I was willing to pay a pro for that first bath.  Now he's a handsome little fellow, and he gets regular baths at home.
90 -- Puppy obedience classes; worth it. 

Note that those things, while expensive, mostly don't need to be repeated -- or need to be repeated only occasionally.  I am going to buy him a Christmas stocking soon. 

Maintenance costs:

20/month -- Food.  He is a small dog and doesn't need much, but we have discovered that he needs to eat a premium food.   The second bag of food we bought him was real rot-gut, cheap-o stuff and . . . well, let's just say we were cleaning the carpet pretty frequently.  NOT worth the savings.  He has something of a delicate stomach, so we're sticking with this food.  We are making homemade treats but have also bought some on sale.
250-300/year -- Medical needs
14/every 2 months for nail trimming.  I'm a little afraid of hurting him. 
50/weekend -- Occasional boarding.  We've had him six moths, and he's been boarded only once.  Since then a work friend and I have agreed to "trade" boarding our small dogs with each other.  We need to get the dogs together and be sure this is going to work, but I think it's going to end up with FREE boarding for us both. 

So the cost of keeping him is going to be around $500-600/year.  He is totally worth it. 

If our old dog is any indication, she didn't start "costing big" until her last year of life.  At that point she started having some medical problems, and we put her on seizure meds.  Still, what we spent on her wasn't thousands. 

My thoughts on keeping costs down:

- You can't beat shelter dogs.  The price was more than fair.
- Choose a small dog.  They eat less, their medicine costs less, everything costs less for them.
- Choose a dog that doesn't require grooming.  For example, a poodle or a westie, who needs regular trimming, is going to end up costing you more (either in terms of money or in time) than, say, a short-coated Dachshund or Jack Russell. 


     

Mrs. Frugalwoods

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #43 on: September 29, 2014, 08:42:37 PM »
Thank you to everyone who has posted (including the unicorn - never thought about that as a pet!). This conversation has helped me figure out how much emergency fund to build up (will look into insurance as well) and calculate monthly costs. Once I'm ready for those expenses, I'll get a rescue greyhound or rescue mutt (based on personality). I know that a dog will vastly improve my quality of life (and provide lots of entertainment and exercise). Thanks to the great MMM community, I feel that, with aforementioned budgetary preparations, I can finally bring a frugal hound of my own into my home. Thanks so much!
Woo hoo to a greyhound and/or unicorn-hound! If you have any questions about greyhounds specifically, feel free to hit me up. We obviously are pretty biased towards them :), and I'd be happy to chat. There are a number of other folks on the forum who are greyhound aficionados, so I swear I'm not the only one :)

southern granny

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #44 on: September 29, 2014, 08:44:37 PM »
I am 57 and have never lived more than a few months without a dog.  Hopefully, I never will.  My last dog I had for 16 years, my current dog is now 10.  They are so worth the money and the extra work.   My husband was not a "dog person", but he knows it is important to me and I am important to him so he puts up with us.  The only thing that really bugs him is all the hair, but he has come to love the dog also.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #45 on: September 30, 2014, 08:01:23 AM »
A dog or other pet is just like a hobby involving whatever expensive <thing>, so long as you enjoy it and it doesn't compromise your long term financial goals then go ahead and do it.

definitely agree with the description of pet as hobby. I think when people think of it as more of a "thing that you acquire" and less of an "activity or hobby requiring an ongoing time commitment" is when they get into trouble!

MrsPete, thanks for the helpful breakdown of pet startup and maintenance costs!

rubybeth

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #46 on: September 30, 2014, 08:34:16 AM »
I love doggies and think that if you want one, you should get one. They can be expensive (see: $1,300 laser surgery for my sister's beloved dachshund when he developed back problems), but at least there's no daycare or college tuition. :) We can't currently have pets since we live in a pet-free apartment, but I do visit my parents regularly and play with their dachshund, because she is delightful and loves to play and go on walks. The dog keeps my parents pretty active--they're up to two walks a day, and they share so many laughs because she is such a funny little animal. I think she helps keep them happy and healthy, and has definitely helped my mom's empty nest syndrome.

The things I'd say to keep in mind is that smaller dogs live longer, eat less (also means smaller poops to pick up), and are easier to take with you on car trips, and even less costly to board or easier to convince a friend to dogsit if you go on a trip. My parents and sister are able to board their dachshunds together when we go on our family trip, so they can split the cost of the kennel. Also, small dogs are easier to keep in a rental unit, since there are usually weight and breed restrictions if you rent. Small dogs can also be easier to manage behaviorally, and you can pick them up in a dangerous situation, they can't pull as hard on a leash, and they can fit in the human bed, if desired. :)

Lis

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #47 on: September 30, 2014, 12:19:26 PM »
Does anyone here have pet insurance and/or think it's worth it? I have two seven year old cats who are in good health now, but I've grown up with enough pets (cats and dogs) to know that won't always be the case. My boyfriend had to shell out $2,000 recently for his 3 year old cat to have surgery on his leg that would have been covered by pet insurance if he had it. Any recommendations, or have those unexpected expenses be paid for via emergency fund?

Spartana

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #48 on: September 30, 2014, 01:14:57 PM »
Does anyone here have pet insurance and/or think it's worth it? I have two seven year old cats who are in good health now, but I've grown up with enough pets (cats and dogs) to know that won't always be the case. My boyfriend had to shell out $2,000 recently for his 3 year old cat to have surgery on his leg that would have been covered by pet insurance if he had it. Any recommendations, or have those unexpected expenses be paid for via emergency fund?
I had pet insurance on my dogs at one point. When one of them needed surgery ($6,000 - total care cost $10K and she died during surgery anyways) the insurance didn't really cover any of it. Really ticked me off and I ended up dropping it and never getting it again. I found it is often easier to negotiate with your Vet to get lower rates. However, the insurance isn't very expensive and may be worth it for others.

MayDay

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Re: Are pets un-Mustachian?
« Reply #49 on: September 30, 2014, 01:39:46 PM »
We had a dog whom we loved, but he was a lot if work and a lot of money. 

Then we had children and I felt like all I ever did was clean up bodily fluids, the last thing I wanted was to clean up the dog's bodily fluids as well as the childrens' (the dog was elderly at that point). 

Anyway, we might get another dog.  But it will be an older one from a rescue, so that the commitment is only 2-5 years.  I just don't want to deal with all the downsides (top ones being money and extreme inconvenience if you want to travel) for 10-15 years.