Written by Karine, TaffyWduck
Sometimes it can be hard to spend that extra bit of money, especially since most of us are trying to combine going to school, working part time, family and of course pets. Life can often throw something unexpected your way and you find yourself short of cash to care for your birds and provide them with the medical attention they need. Planning ahead is the best way not to find yourself in such a tight spot, but we just don't always know where to begin... here you will find some tips that could help you set aside some money for your beloved pets.
Define your needs:
The first thing to do when trying to save some money is to figure out what you really need. How many pets do you have and what are the usual costs of vet care. Usually, the cost for exotic vet care (birds, reptile, rodents, etc.) is more expensive than cats and dogs. You might want to call up your avian vet and ask them a range of their prices for exams, nail and wing clipping, x-rays... this will give you an idea of the amount of money to set aside.
Write down your budget:
This is something we should all do, regardless of being a pet owner or not, but we often neglect it because we just don't think it's that much help. While this is often true if you have more money than you can spend, for the most of us it can be a life saver. You can do it on paper, but I find it to be easier using the computer and a program such as excel, there are also lots of free application that can do that, you just have to check www.download.com.
Here is an example of what you can do:
Income: This is where you enter the amount of money you receive, i.e. allowance, pay check, birthday money, etc.
Expense: This is where you enter the amount of money you spend, i.e. restaurant, clothes, toys, bird supplies, that cute pair of shoes, that awesome video game, etc. Write everything down, even the $0.99 coffee or candy.
Profit: Here is the important information, the money that is left over after you've taken care of your expenses. Just subtract the amount from the Expense section from the amount in the Income section.
The amount left in the profit section is actually the amount you can set aside for your vet fund. If it is in the negative, it will also help you become more aware of your lifestyle and that changes might be in order if you don't want to end up in debt.
Once you know your budget, start putting the Profit money aside to be used in time of need:
You can keep the extra money in your regular bank account, but it might end up being more tempting to use it for non pet related things and you will find yourself sorry in the end. I recommend opening a new account with your bank so that you can transfer your profit money there and be less tempted to dig into it other than for your animals' medical care. You can also keep the money at home, but there's always the risk that having the money available at all times will make it difficult not to use.
Go that extra mile to lower your expenses:
While I am aware that certain things are necessary, I am not asking anyone to go without food for a week in order to save a little extra money for their pets, there are some things your can probably live without and this could help you with the vet fund. Here are some less expensive alternative to regular things we do that cost a lot:
Bring your lunch to work/school:
Sure the cafeteria is tempting (well, sometimes), but it's also unnecessary for you to be spending money there if the fridge at home if full. Bringing your lunch will help you save a little extra money and it will also ensure that you be more aware of your eating habits, which in itself is a benefit. If you really do enjoy a cafeteria meal once in a while you can make it a once a week thing. You will still be saving some extra cash and getting a treat once a week!
Make your own morning coffee/tea:
Being a student myself, rare are the mornings I can go without my coffee. While some coffee shops are inexpensive (the one in my schools charges $0.35 for tea and $0.10 for coffee if your have your own mug) others are ridiculously costly. Will it really hurt you not to get the $5 coffee from Starbucks or a second cup? I doubt it, so making your coffee before you leave home will cost a lot less than indulging in a designer coffee (instant is getting so much better nowadays...). I know, I know... it's just not the same and some things just make you feel good... in that case, why not go with a smaller coffee that will cost 1 or 2$ less? The little you save can be put aside in the vet fund; there is no too small amount of money because in the end it builds up! As a side note, getting a travel mug can be a good idea too; I know that most coffee shops charge you less if you have your own mug, plus you help the environment by not adding to the large pile of styrofoam cups disposed of everyday!
Print on both sides of the paper:
This is mostly for the students who have to print their class notes at home. It's become common practice for teachers to make their notes available to the students via the internet so that they can print them at home and bring them to class. Printer money is not all that expensive, but it adds up so try making the most of the paper you buy. Just print the Pair pages (an option with most printers) then flip them over and print the Impair pages. A pack of printer paper will last you double the time, and again you help the environment! Yay!
Make your own bird toys (this goes for the younger pet owners too):
Sure, buying the supplies at first can be a little more expensive than just buying a toy. However, in the end it saves you a lot of money to make your own toys because you can reuse some of the parts. On average, the toys I make for the birds cost me between $0.25 and $2 when in the store they would cost me between $5 and $30. I'm sure you can all see the saving there! Some of the toys you can make are in the Tailfeathers Network Homemade Toys section but remember this: your only limit is your imagination!
For the younger pet owners who don't have a job yet:
- Set a list of chores with your parents in exchange for an allowance.
- Walk the neighbors' dogs for some pocket money.
- Mow the lawn; offer your services to the neighbors.
- Babysit (if you are comfortable with it, if not you have other options).
- You still have an old bicycle, skates or hockey equipment that doesn't fit you or your siblings? Ask your parents to sell them at a yard sale or through the classifieds.
- Save part of your birthday money and put it aside for your bird.
- Ask your parents if they have ideas to help you do this, they just might have a couple!
Just remember that life isn't always going to be easy and sadly a lot of the reason why is money, or the lack of. Sure this article is only about saving some money for your pets in case anything happens and you need extra, but it also applies to life in general because sometimes, something unexpected comes your way and it helps to be prepared!