Don’t buy that dog!
Some friends of mine recently made a pledge to cut out all discretionary spending. We sat in their living room together, and their conviction was palpable. “Nothing. Not another purchase in 2008 unless we can’t live without it.” The week before, they had had to scramble to come up with enough for their mortgage payment, which precipitated this newfound frugality.
But now ten days have passed. The mortgage company gave them a bit of leeway, and just yesterday, I heard that they’re planning to buy a dog. Now don’t get me wrong. Our boxer/lab mix, Inanna, is one of the loves of my life. I love her, and have never regretted the money she costs.
But after seeing clients spend anywhere from $2,000 – 7,000 a year on their pets, I decided to do a few minutes of internet research. I found that the average new dog costs between $730 and $1,500 per year, These were nationwide averages, and we live in California, where everything is 5-10% more costly. But, give them the benefit of the doubt, and call it $1,000 per year. Even assuming this doesn’t cause a missed mortgage payment and its late fees, being able to invest $1,000 per year over the dog’s fifteen year life leads to $27,000 more for retirement or college tuition for the kids.
Again, if we can afford it, having a dog is one of the best things money can buy. But when we’ve made a pledge to cut spending, and then go back on it so quickly, it’s a sign that our old habits and desires are still in control. Perhaps I should rent Inanna out by the hour in this economy!