Photo: Jamie Street

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

Initial costs

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

Ongoing expenses

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.


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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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