4 Money Moves Every Pet Owner Should Make (Without Redoing Your Budget)

Two country people sit in the back of their pick up truck with their dog.
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These days, our pets are such a huge comfort to us. They’re huge stress relievers and help keep us sane in these crazy times. Study after study shows pets help stave off loneliness and depression.

Anyone who has a dog or cat knows the value of taking a quick mental health break to go pet Rover or Fluffy. They’re little four-legged antidepressants.

They do get a little expensive, though. Between pet food and vet bills, the cost of owning a cat or dog can quickly run into thousands of dollars. And these are tough economic times.

We’ve got some suggestions for simple financial moves you can make that’ll help you spoil Fido and Simba like they deserve.

1. Save Money on Pet Food

Pet owners spend hundreds of dollars a year on pet food. (How much exactly? It really depends on the pet.) You may as well be getting some money back.

Do you buy your pet food at the grocery store? A free app called Fetch Rewards rewards you with gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart just for buying pet food and more than 250 other items at the supermarket. Just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch.

Or, do you buy your pet food online? This free service will send you an alert if you’re about to overpay. Just add it to your browser, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites to see if your item is available for cheaper. It’ll also automatically check for coupon codes you can use online.

2. Have an Emergency Fund for You and Your Pet

Owning a pet means you’re responsible for it. So it’s on you to act responsibly.

These days, part of responsibility is having an emergency fund. This past year has taught us the hard way that everyone should have one.

Here’s the deal: If you’re not using Aspiration’s debit card, you’re missing out on extra cash. And who doesn’t want extra cash right now?

Yep. When you sign up for a debit card called Aspiration, you could get up to 5% back when you swipe at certain stores — plus they give you up to 50 times the normal national interest rate on your savings balance.

It’s perfect for earning extra cash for things that are already on your shopping list. You were going to buy these things anyway — why not get this extra money in the process?

This card used to have a huge waiting list, but now you can sign up for free.

Just enter your email address here and link your bank account to see how much extra cash you can get with your free Aspiration account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”

The Aspiration Spend & Save Accounts are cash management accounts offered through Aspiration Financial, LLC, a registered broker-dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC, and a subsidiary of Aspiration Partners, Inc. (“Aspiration”). Aspiration is not a bank.

3. Does Your Dog Deserve Its Own Yard?

Let’s think bigger. Are you an apartment dweller? Or do you live in a house with a small yard?

You might have dreams to buy a house one day — one with a nice big yard for your furry friend.

To buy a house, you’ll need a good credit rating. It really makes a big difference. If you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.

Within 90 seconds, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

4. Take Care of Your Pet Forever

Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? That includes your cats and dogs. Chances are your checking account balance won’t last forever.

If you want to leave your family up to $1 million to care of things like funeral expenses and college tuitions (and pet food), use something called term life insurance.

You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But this takes just minutes — and you could leave your family up to $1 million with a company called Bestow.

We hear people are paying as little as $16 a month. (But every year you wait, this gets more expensive.)

It takes just minutes to get a free quote and see how much life insurance you can leave your loved ones — even if you don’t have seven figures in your bank account.

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has multiple cats and dogs.