Exciting life update over here at the BonkerBeat!
Amanda and I welcomed home a new member to our little family a few weeks ago!
Everyone meet Daisy, our 11 week old French Bulldog puppy from Richmond, Virginia. Her hobbies primarily include:
sleeping (roughly 16 hours a day, just not from the hours of 12am-6am 🙂 )
chewing on mulch, rocks, wires, and basically anything OTHER than the chew toys we got her
melting the hearts of everyone she meets
Amanda and I have wanted a Frenchie for a very long time, and this past week marked a huge milestone for both our relationship and our financial journey.
Other than the obvious major life expenses of a house or a car, another big purchase that people often come across in early adulthood is the their first pet. Here are some interesting facts about the size and scope of owning a pet in today's world:
Average Annual Expenses of a Dog: $1,380.
According to the APPA, (American Pet Product Association) the average American spend $1,380 on their dog annually. This does NOT include the initial up-front cost of your pet, which can differ drastically pending adoption method, type of breed, age, etc.
Time for a Yard?
A study from Fortunly.com found that dogs are the #1 biggest influence among millennials to purchase their first home. The study found that 42% of participants surveyed said that their pet, or the desire to have one, was a major influence in the decision to purchase a home. This scored HIGHER than having children or starting a family. So plan accordingly...
Pet Spending has DOUBLED in the past 10 years
Total consumer spending on pets in 2010 came to roughly $45 billion. In 2020, that number doubled to $99 billion! It is estimated the the total pet industry will nearly triple from here in the next decade, with some forecasts showing $275 BILLION in estimated sales.
Americans are getting pets faster than they ever have before. With the fast-growing trends in remote work, millennials putting off children until later in life, and the pandemic creating an increasing demand for emotional support, there are a number of indicators that the pet industry is primed for significant growth. (Chewy stock, ticker $CHWY is up 85% in the last year based on these trends, I'm not a stock picker but I wouldn't be shocked to see this continue to grow in the years to come.)
Odds are that if you are reading this blog, you may have just recently got a pet yourself, or are thinking about bringing one home. I wanted to break-down some of the average expenses, as well as provide some consideration on how to plan financially for your new furry friend!
Once Amanda and I aligned on the dog we wanted, we knew it would take some time to save to buy one. After a lot of googling, Instagram searching, and referrals from friends and family to breeders, we recognized the average price of a puppy Frenchie would be in the range from $3-5,000. (Believe it or not, there were some even as high as $10k)
In order to meet this goal, we each set up an automatic withdrawal into our savings account each month, with a % of it being allocated to the puppy fund. I am a huge advocate for automated savings, since it is a "set it and forget it" mentality. I believe in this for automating your investments into stocks as well. Pay yourself in savings and investments before spending anything else! This will drastically increase your savings rate and success over time.
Many people can understandably feel uncomfortable negotiating However what many don't realize is how often the price of something can be negotiable. Now I am not saying you can negotiate the cost of bread or eggs at the local grocery store, but you CAN negotiate all sorts of things- whether it be dogs, cable bills, renovation services, car maintenance, even medical bills- you can often negotiate to some degree.
Once we reached our savings goal and began seriously looking for a puppy, Amanda came across Daisy through a referred breeder our friends from college had used. After meeting the puppy via FaceTime, we knew it was the dog for us. When asked about the price, the breeder stated $3,500. We replied back to the breeder we would need a few days to talk it over, and would get back to her.
After two days went by I sent the breeder a note saying Amanda and I would be interested in taking her home, and asked if there was flexibility on the price. We were hoping to get closer to $3,000, and were driving from Northern NJ to Southern Virginia to pick her up, which would be a two day trip, and a few tanks of gas.
The breeder ultimately only came down to $3,300, but it at least covered our travel expenses. The point being- always negotiate. Many people would have simply taken the $3,500 price and moved on. You never know what you can get without asking!
As they say, "A dollar saved, is a dollar earned."
The list of up-front expenses may surprise you. Here is a list of just SOME of the items Amanda and I had to purchase: (If interested in these for yourself, use the links I have attached to purchase! Help a #GirlDad blogger out!)
-Chew Toys ($20)
-Food / Water bowls ($10)
-Sanitation Bags ($5)
-Puppy Pads ($10)
-Carpet Cleaner ($8)
-Indoor Hallway Gate ($40)
-Deodorant Wipes (HIGHLY recommend these, puppies have a tendency to roll around and get themselves covered in just about everything. Rather than do the full bath, just wiping her down with the wipes has been so much easier $10)
-Training Treats ($3)
-Puppy Backpack (Not a necessity, but super helpful for when your dog is still not great at going on walks $25)
Daisy's been loving the Backpack! Grab one with the link provided above, or at the end of this blog!
Shout-out to Pawaboo Pet Products, Go check them out!
-Travel Bag (Eventually, you may need to take your pup on a plane or in a car for awhile. Amanda and I bought this Bergen brand bag, which is really nice and will last forever. $50)
The two primary recurring expenses that you should expect to have would be pet-care, and food. I will address pet-care and pet insurance in the next paragraph, but as far as food goes, we use Royal Canine Puppy Mix currently. We are planning on spending roughly $50/ month on her food as she gets older, but keep in mind that this number can drastically change pending on the size of the dog and breed. Daisy will at most get up to 20 pounds, and will not eat nearly as much as a larger dog like a Retriever or German Shepard.
Yes, if you have not heard before, there is such a thing, and yes, it might be worth getting. Although, only 1-2% of America's 90 million dogs are insured, hear me out as to why that number will likely increase.
According to Petplan, a Philadelphia-based pet insurance company, the average cost of an unexpected visit to the veterinarian can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500. This can be a lot fort anyone to cover out of pocket, and when you factor in the fact that there will be routine visits to the vet that you inevitably will have to go to anyway, pet insurance can be a great option.
After looking at a few different plans from Lemonade, ASPCA, and State Farm, we ended up opting into a pet insurance plan Amanda had through her job as a nurse at her hospital. It will cost her about $80 a month, which comes out to $720 annually. This insurance has a $250 deductible, which means after we spend $250 at the vet in a year, 90% of the remaining expenses we have throughout the year will be covered through our insurance.
The DAY we brought Daisy home, she came down with an upper-respiratory infection, and needed to go to the vet immediately. Upon a few lab tests, we also found out she had a parasite in her intestines, and we would need to get additional antibiotics to take care of her stomach. Within 24 hours, we had already racked up near $200 in pet bills. With this in mind, it was a no-brainer to get the insurance. It will also help us have a peace of mind that if something were to happen, we would not be left out to dry and have to incur a major unexpected expense. (I am a huge advocate for Emergency Funds, but let's try to keep those for yourself and not have to worry about them for pets!!!)
Total Expenses and Summary:
Every dog owner will have a different set of circumstances and situation for their expenses, but I wanted to provide a window into what it could look like. If you take the route of adoption, or purchasing other breeds, these totals can look a lot different depending on what you get. Here is my total breakdown at an annual view:
Cost of Puppy: $3,200
Up-Front Costs: $300
Insurance / Pet Care: $1,200
Estimated Total Year 1 Cost: $5,300
Keep in mind as well, this is just for year 1. The average life expectancy of a dog can vary, but you are most likely looking at at least 10 years (Hopefully longer!) with your pup. If you take into account just the food and insurance cost over that 10 year period, you would be looking at an additional $18,000 over the course of your pet's lifetime. When you add that to the up-front costs, a pet can easily be well over a $20,000 investment.
Now, with all that being said, there is truly no price you can put on owning a pet. I haven't had a dog since I was 12 years old, and having a new puppy to call my own has been surreal. The memories and life moments that Amanda and I will share with Daisy will be ones that we cherish for the rest of our lives. For every late night, potty accident, vet bill, and chewed up couch cushion, there is countless moments of laughter and joy that a dog will bring. Planning out and budgeting the finances for your pet are important and highly encouraged, but don't let them completely dictate your decision.
I hope this blog can shed some perspective into the financial and emotional commitment that it can be to own a pet, and I hope you find the joy that Daisy has brought us too. Please feel free to share with anyone you may know looking to bring home their first pet!
Also, check out some of my favorite products for my dog below, and remember to like, subscribe, and follow me on all my socials!