Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Preparing for Your Animal's Future: Financial

     All this week we will be posting about how to prepare for your future with your companion.  Today we address the financial aspects.  In the coming days we will also address emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs.

      When your animal is healthy, active and without a care in the world, you probably don’t give a second thought to the time when he or she will not longer be that way.  But unless your animal meets an accidental, untimely end, it is inevitable that he or she will age and very likely that he or she will have some illness or health issue.

       When that day comes, you are likely to feel overwhelmed in many ways – financially, emotionally and socially.  It is likely you will also have spiritual needs, regardless of whether you are a member of an organized religion or consider spiritual practice important in your life. And you may face physical challenges to providing care.

     What you do now can make that time easier for you.  It will allow you to focus on your animal and his or her needs, without scrambling, having to make decisions under pressure or based on financial matters.  Being unprepared very often leads to helplessness, the very thing you can do without when you are caring for your animal.

       We encourage everyone, no matter how young or healthy your pet is, to read these suggestions and implement them.  Today we will discuss financial preparedness.  We will address social, emotional, physical and spiritual preparedness each day this week.

Financial Preparedness: Let’s face it, the very worst way to make a decision is when you cannot afford to undertake care financially.  Being faced with surgery, chemotherapy, or other procedures when you have no cash set aside for that purpose can be heart wrenching, sometimes takes away the best options, and often leads to regrets and increased grief.  Here are some things you can do now to prepare for that time in the future:

(1) Get Pet Health Insurance: Insurance can be very helpful.  There are a number of companies providing pet health insurance.  The cost, coverages and deductibles vary greatly so you need to do your research.  Make sure you understand what is and is not covered.  Make sure you check if there is an age limit on your pet.  If they are elderly or have special needs, are they excluded?  What if they are diabetic – does the insurance cover insulin? Will they pay for hydration at home or only at the vet's office?  Are medications included or excluded? Do your research.  Most companies will not insure a pet once he or she is sick, you this must be done in advance.

(2) Open a Savings Account:  Another approach is to set up a separate bank account for your pets needs.  Put a small amount of money in there every week - $5 or $10.  If you are short some weeks, put in less.  If you have more on others, put in more.  Just make sure you do it every week and do not touch the money for any other purpose.  If you can put just $5 into the account every week, you will have $260 by the end of the year and if you start when your animal is young, you will have $2,600 by the time he or she is 10.  Most banks now have electronic transfers.  You can set up an automatic transfer from your account to your pet’s account easily and then you do not even have to think about it.

(3) Obtain an Emergency Credit Card: We don’t generally advocate getting into debt; however, it is useful to have an emergency credit card for just that – emergencies.  Charge absolutely NOTHING on it.  Use it only in case your animal has an emergency, illness, or crisis.   Some vets and pet hospitals require you to give them a credit card on admission and may not take personal checks.  If you have other credit cards, you may not have enough available on them to pay for your animals care when it happens.  If you don’t have other credit cards, you do not want to be scrambling to get one at a crisis time.

Tomorrow we will talk about social preparedness.

Please share your thoughts, suggestions and ideas about financial preparedness.

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