When it comes to the average American budget, one size (or price) does not fit all. And right now, many families are finding the U.S. economy to be worse for wear. Many are living from paycheck to paycheck, and the larger the family unit, the harder it is to stretch dollars these days.
This includes expenses for dearly loved family pets. Shelters have been overrun with animal surrenders; many of which are because the pet-parents are under financial duress and feel they can no longer care for their animals. But what if I told you there could be solutions to keep your feathered friends, fur-babies, fish, and reptilian darling well cared for, without going broke in the process? These tried-and-true pet supplies savings hacks may be the answer you need!
This first savings hack is a straightforward one! Many stores offer additional discounts if you or your pet meet specific criteria. Some may give discounts or freebies on birthdays, cater to their senior pets, or help low-income families. Even some drive-thru establishments that usually cater to pet owners may offer treats for your furry companion! Starbucks, for instance, gives pup cups! You never know what you could save on, if you never ask.
Having brand new stuff is nice whenever it’s affordable. But like-new, or bought prior and never even opened? That can be just as spectacular, as well as budget-friendly. Thanks to the internet, pet parents have countless options to shop for items second hand. Websites such as eBay, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, and even Amazon allow users to list their goods and set their own (often discounted) price points. While owners should use caution in terms of what they buy – food and other items that have expiration dates should probably be skipped – inedible items like leashes, cages, carriers, cat trees, smart water bowls, window seats, and even pet car barriers are listed in abundance.
Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.
Can’t find what you need from a second-hand store, or leery of buying it there? Luckily, the internet is also overflowing with hundreds of digital coupon codes, at any given time! Not only do pet stores like Petsmart and Petco always have some sort of discount code on their website homepage, but many grocery departments reward coupon-clippers with serious savings.
Comparing which stores have the best deals each week is fairly easy too, whether in search of supplies for your dog, cat, bird, fish, hamster, or more. Websites like RetailMeNot also offer both coupons and promo codes for more stores in existence, making it easy to save yourself money on all your pet care products.
As a fur-mom to a tabby cat and a German Shepherd mix, I’m tempted to pamper them constantly. My social media is often flooded with ads to buy pet-bling accessories, gourmet treats, smart pet devices, and multi-level cat trees.
Sometimes it’s hard to say no, but no one
needs to break the bank to show their pet affection. After their most basic needs are met – shelter, food, and healthcare – the best thing you can do for them is dedicate your time; and luckily, that’s free! Everything else is a bonus.
If you need some help when choosing between essential pet supplies and items that are extras (purchased as money allows), check out the suggestions on the lists below. You can also make your own, then put your non-essentials on an online wishlist, to treat your pets when able.
New Pet Checklist (for kittens, puppies, cats, and dogs)
Many websites offer users digital rewards for taking surveys, playing games, signing up for promos, shopping through their web-extension, and completing other simple online tasks. The points earned can be swapped for gift card codes, Paypal cash, and more. It may sound too good to be true, but I’ve been using this hack since 2014. Through Swagbucks, for instance, I’ve earned enough points to buy and fill stockings for both pets at Christmas. I’ve also been able to get things like dog treats, cat dishes, pet wipes, and dental chews; all at no cost, once I cashed in my earnings for Amazon rewards codes. I’m also an Amazon Prime member, so shipping most items direct to my home is absolutely free.
If Amazon isn’t your thing, or if you don’t have Prime and can’t afford the cost of shipping, most of the rewards sites have dozens of other pet-retailer options. Best of all, owners can come up with funds for vet expenses, grooming trips, dog-training, and more. All they need to do is make sure the site that they’re using offers Paypal cash. Once paid, they can transfer the funds to their bank and use them for essentials, emergency bills, or pet-sitters. After all, like human children, our pets still need care when we’re stuck pulling late-shifts in order to cover our living costs.
If earning gift cards online sounds like something you’d like to try out for yourself, here are some places to do so:
You may be surprised when you see just how simple – and how much more affordable – it is to make pet food and pet treats at home! Dogs and cats are (usually) able to get the nutrition they need from foods that you can also eat. As long as you do your own research – I’d use iKibble Free – to double check which vegetables are safe for your pet to consume, they’ll likely get better nutrition from what you’re serving up than they would out of a can.
In addition to DIY meal and treat plans, it’s fairly cheap and easy to make many other items that stores often mark-up the prices on. I suggest looking on Pinterest or YouTube for things such as DIY cat hideaways, dog shampoo, hamster toys, and more. As always, don’t forget to research – not everything online is safe – before you get your craft on! Not everything your pet needs can be replaced with household products and your creativity, but every dollar counts when you’re trying to make ends meet.
*Remember to check with your vet before changing your animal’s diet!*
You’ve probably been told before that buying in bulk can save money. The same is true when signing up for most subscription services. Chewy offers hefty discounts if you opt for autoship, so if you find yourself needing to purchase the same things every month, it may be worth your while. Amazon offers a similar service; users are able to buy with “Subscribe and Save” on many of their items.
Like humans, pets can’t pick and choose when they may need healthcare. To avoid surprise vet bills, you may want to invest in a pet insurance plan. Monthly rates are lower than paying out-of-pocket for animal hospital visits, unexpected surgeries, injuries, and more. If you simply can’t afford to go the pet insurance route right now, Care Credit is also an option. The service gives pet owners credit for veterinary services. Just remember – easy credit is not cheap credit. Although this may not save you money, it will allow for lowered monthly payments over the course of some time.
Stores like Walmart, PetSmart, Target, and Kohl’s will (usually) price match your items. This means you may be able to get a cheaper price for whatever it is that you’re buying, as long as the store where it’s offered for cheaper has the item in the same color, quantity, and brand. Those extra few minutes it takes for a Google search may save you cash in the long run!
If you still find yourself struggling to give your pet (s) all that they need, talk to your vet about cheaper solutions. Sometimes, they’ll give samples of needed medications. They may also be able to give you information for pet food pantries, though I’d urge every owner to use them only in emergencies, or as last resorts. With so many pets ending up back in shelters, a lot of those resources end up there too!
Money (or the lack thereof) is never a comfortable topic. Yet lots of other owners, animal professionals, and pet-centric establishments are here to help pet-parents out. The bond between you and your animal is one of the best things on earth, and falling behind on financial commitments shouldn’t be the reason you have to give that up!
The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!
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