Have you heard about a pet savings account? Are you always worried about the “what if” medical expense with your dog? As a good pet parent, when I adopted Henry, I immediately looked into pet insurance. However, I was a bit dismayed to find out that because of his unknown breed and age, his monthly premium was quoted at an astronomical rate no matter the pet insurance company. I couldn’t find a pet insurance plan that would work for us. There would be no dog insurance for Henry.
Have you experienced something similar? I thought at the time there must be a way to have a medical safety net for Henry without the stress of a high monthly premium.
This is not to say that I disregard pet health Insurance. Not at all. I think it can be very valuable. But sometimes it’s just not attainable for all pet owners. Besides, there’s always a gap between insurance and what’s still due. As a result, today, let’s dig in and learn why my dog loves his pet savings account. Okay, maybe it’s really me who loves it, but it’s still great.
*Update: September 1, 2023
Budget tip: The great thing with a pet savings account is that it you're in complete control of it. Thus, it can only help you and your dog when you need to use it. That's a wonderful use of the account. And if you're like me, you love the idea of having control. It's a major win-win for you and your dog!
What is a pet savings account?
A pet savings account is basically a savings account you open at a bank or credit union specifically for your pet’s needs. Generally, a pet health savings account can be open for as little as $100. You can even have it set up so that a specific amount is added to the account each month.
Depending on how much you add each month, it can really be very impactful relatively quickly. You use it as you see fit for your dog’s needs. However, at its core, the idea is a health reimbursement account. Or some will say it’s a “pet emergency fund”.
What are the benefits of a pet savings account for my dog?
There are six main benefits of a pet savings account. Of course, there is no particular order. And to be honest the order could vary depending on the day or need of your dog.
1. Dog expense safety net
Pet insurance might be too pricey for your dog because of the dog’s breed, age, or pre-existing health issues. Like it was for Henry and his medical care or even preventive care. This is where a pet savings account gives you peace of mind that you have a safety net for your dog’s health needs.
2. You’re in control
If you want to have a specific amount withdrawn, you can do that automatically or manually. Or if you need to skip a month you can do that as well. You contribute to your dog’s savings account as you see fit. You control it.
3. Flexible spending account
While most people will use a pet savings account for their dog’s medical expenses, it doesn’t need to be that limited. You can use it for anything related to your dog’s expenses such as food, doggie daycare, dog training, and even dog supplies.
4. No arguing over denials
When you have a pet savings account you have a certain amount of money set aside for your dog’s needs. Thus, you can use it as you see fit. So, if there’s an emergency and your dog is 17, you don’t have to argue with your pet insurance company. You can do what you and your vet feels is right. Or you can use it for annual checkups and preventive care.
Perhaps you even have exotic pets and you can’t find a pet insurance policy to cover them. Again, this is where a pet health savings account will allow you to have a bit of a safety net for these types of pets. The point is that you use it for your pet’s needs as you see fit. The money is there without any barriers or red tape.
5. Interest adds up
Although it’s not huge, over time interest in your pet savings account does add up. Thus, if your dog remains fairly healthy, you continue to add to the account monthly and have that safety net, with interest just in case. You don’t get interest with a pet insurance policy.
6. Rollover amounts
You may not think of this one, but at the end of the year, you don’t lose the funds in your dog’s savings account. It remains there and you can continue to add to it. For example, if you end the year with $2500 in your pet savings account that is where you begin building your dog account from in the new year. You never start from scratch. And you never lose what you put into it. Unlike with pet insurance, you pay premiums, but there’s generally no build-up of funds available. What’s there has to be approved. Thus, a pet savings account is very much like a human health savings account.
What are the drawbacks of a dog or pet savings account?
There are generally three negatives that will pop up with a pet health savings account. Again, there is no particular order to this list. But let us examine each a bit deeper.
1. No funds to contribute to a pet savings account
You might think you don’t have the extra money each month to contribute to a pet health savings account. Here’s something really interesting that Dave Ramsey and other financial experts will recommend, record your spending for a period of time in a journal. What you spend each day. That’s every cent.
Then at the end of that period, whatever that timeframe is (a week or a month) go back over your expenses and see where your money went during that time. Did you buy any wants over needs? Such as Starbucks coffee, wine night with the girls, or new pair of shoes when you have 30 perfectly fine shoes already in your closet?
I’m not suggesting you don’t have any fun. Or that wants are important. I’m just encouraging you to see what’s possible. What about changing a girls’ night out to a movie night in and putting that $50 into your dog savings account? Or instead of going out each week with your friends, go out every other week. To quote one of my favorite teachers, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
2. Worthless if not monthly
Perhaps you might think that if you don’t save routinely into the account it’s worthless. Not necessarily. If you contribute as you can it will add up over time. Although, naturally, the more you contribute, the more it could be of benefit in a time of need.
3. Funds aren’t restricted
It’s true there’s no limit on how the account is used. This can be a double-edged sword. But I prefer to think of it as a benefit. So, if life throws you a curveball and you need to dip into your dog’s savings account, you can. That’s not possible with pet insurance.
How much should I put in my pet savings account?
This will depend on how you will want to use your dog’s savings account. For example, you may want to use it to pay for all your dog’s expenses or just your dog’s medical expenses. Thus, the amount you contribute will vary.
If you’re focused on covering your dog’s medical expenses then, I recommend a minimum of $1500, which is the national average for a dog’s yearly veterinary care bills. However, you should keep in mind that dogs, much like their human parents and kids, have accidents, and the unexpected can pop up, especially as the years pass.
With this in mind, to be more comfortable with your dog savings account, aim for at least $6,000-9,500 to cover unforeseen vet emergencies. This should allow your dog’s savings account to cover the most expensive medical care that might occur. Remember you will most likely not use this amount each year. (I certainly hope not). But you can roll it over each year and continue to save into the account as you desire.
Moreover, for a more accurate estimate, you can plug in your zip code here for the cost of basic procedures in your area. However, it doesn’t pet emergency estimates, which is where the prices can escalate quickly.
On the other hand, if you plan to use your dog’s savings account to pay for all your dog’s expenses, then first work your way through your dog budget and factor in your dog’s medical expenses.
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- Easy Dog Emergency Vet Visits Tips
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Summary of why my dog loves his savings account
A dog’s savings account may just help save your dog’s life one day. It will at the very least give you peace of mind to know that your dog’s expenses are covered in an easy way. Thus, you can focus on your dog and not your dog’s expenses. Have fun with your dog. Enjoy life with your dog. And remove the stress of at least your dog’s medical expenses with a dog savings account. It’s simple and easy. Plus, you can use it as you desire for your dog and his or her medical needs.