Dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, parakeets, horses—the world loves pets.
They're our best friends and our better halves. But while they come with a lot of love, they also come with a surprisingly high price tag. Upfront fees plus the annual costs of caring for an animal add up to more than you might expect. What are some of the expenses you can expect to pay for popular pets and how high can the costs be?
What's not to love?Photo: Paul Hanaoka
You can purchase dogs and cats from breeders and pet stores or you can adopt or rescue from shelters. Adoption fees range from $75 to $200 for cats and dogs, but buying from a breeder will likely be much more expensive. Countless stores sell fish for $2 or, for more exotic species, upwards of $50. Hamsters can cost as little as $10 from a store, while birds can range from $20 to $400.
For dogs and cats, add to these fees the cost of spaying or neutering. It might be included in the fees for a rescue pet, but a purchased pet's procedure could cost up to $200. Another upfront cost for dog owners is licensing—most states require dogs over the age of one year to be licensed. A lifetime license for a spayed or neutered dog costs around $35.
Bringing a new pet home also requires equipment. Dogs and cats will need crates, beds, litter boxes and more. Small pets, like birds and hamsters, will need cages, bedding, and food. Of course, there are plenty of extras that are just as important: your puppy or kitten will look for toys, treats and comfort objects like blankets. You'll need hygiene equipment too, such as brushes, shampoo, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
While small pets don't necessarily need it, larger pets, like dogs and cats, should go to the veterinarian for an initial exam. The vet might administer vaccinations and recommend medicine to keep your pet healthy and safe. Common medicines include gels for flea and tick protection, supplements to prevent heartworms and, sometimes, vitamins. All of these will become ongoing expenses.
Depending on your living situation, you might face new deposits required by a landlord or an increase in rent. Pet deposits can be refundable or nonrefundable and as little as $200 or as much as $1,000. "Pet rent," as its called, usually replaces some or all of the deposit with a monthly fee ($35, perhaps) that basically acts as your pet's rent payment. One is not necessarily worse than the other—it depends on the costs and situation.
Caring for a pet can be costly Photo: Autri Taheri
All of those upfront costs might stack up to a sizable sum but the price continues to increase in the form of ongoing expenses. You want your pet to have the happiest, most comfortable life possible, so of course, you're going to buy the best quality food and most entertaining toys. Shampoo, toothpaste, cat litter, and other hygiene products will add a bit to your regular grocery bill. Flea and tick, allergy, and heartworm medicines might add up to about $20 per month.
Regular vet visits can become expensive, especially if anything more than a checkup is needed. You can expect a bill anywhere between $50 and $500 for various shots and procedures. Dental cleanings tend to be expensive as well, and any prescriptions will be close to what you'd expect to pay for your own medicine. A pet owner can purchase pet insurance for their four-legged family member as a precaution against emergency medical treatments that might otherwise hit hard, financially.
The price is worth every penny Photo: Avi Richards
One more consideration is travel. It's obviously more difficult to travel with a pet but it's also difficult to arrange for pet care while you're away from them. A dog walker might charge $20 per walk, a cat sitter who's not family will charge for feeding and changing litter. A pet boarding house has its own costs associated with it. On the other hand, pet-friendly hotels sometimes charge large fees to let your pet stay with you. Others, though, are letting pets in for free.
There are many costs—high and low, short-term and long-term—of owning a pet. While that soft-hearted voice inside you might think, anything's worth that cuddly companion, it's important to consider and plan for the expenses before jumping into a relationship. You owe it to that future pet to be prepared to give them the best life possible.
Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.
Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.
But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.
Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.
Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.
More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.
Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.
Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.
Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.