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Tackling your debts

How much does your pet cost you

Posted 22 April 2014

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<p>The UK is a nation of animal lovers, which might be why we spend so much on our pets. However, if you’re prioritising your pets’ bills over your own, it’s time to look again at your finances.</p>


There are few people in the UK who aren’t barmy about animals … which might explain why so many families across the country include their pets as much-valued members. However, caring for these critters can be expensive … and some owners have even had to cut back on their own costs to afford their pets.


Furry friend or financial drain?


Pets bring so much joy to people’s lives that there can’t be many who begrudge paying the bills that come with owning them. Unfortunately for some those bills are surprisingly high.


A survey* conducted for us reveals that more than a quarter of pet owners fork out over £40 every month on things like food, insurance, medical bills and grooming for their pets. This is a large sum of money in itself, but some animal lovers are spending nearly double this. Almost one in 10 pet owners reveal they shell out £75 or more each month on their cats, dogs and other animal companions.


Making sacrifices

Adding bills for pets into an already complicated mix of rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, groceries, travel costs, car insurance, childcare and countless other living expenses can make staying on top of our finances incredibly hard. Having to pay an expensive medical bill for a pet could be the last straw.


Nearly one in 10 respondents to the survey reveal they have given away a pet in the past. This wasn’t because the animal was aggressive or that they didn’t have space for it, but because they simply couldn’t afford it.


Perhaps unsurprisingly having to part with our pets is something most of us want to avoid. This might explain why a third of pet owners say they have reduced spending on their own essential living costs so they can afford to care for their pets.


Money management

It’s not surprising so many are willing to make cutbacks in their own lives so they can manage their pets’ bills. However, not prioritising bills like rent, council tax, utilities and debt repayments and leaving them to go into arrears could cause your financial problems to spiral.


If you feel you’ve already lost control of your money and are having to make choices like these, it’s worth getting the advice of an expert. You’ll be pleased to hear that if you enter a financial solution like a debt management plan or IVA (for which fees are payable), reasonable pet expenses … providing they don’t exceed a certain amount … are treated as essentials along with your other priority costs, which could mean an end to making tough financial decisions.


*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 4th April and 9th April 2014, of whom 500 were Scottish residents.

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.