Financial Health Barometer aussies and pets
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Financial Health Barometer How Aussies hold pets close to our hearts and wallets

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Every year RaboDirect surveys Australians aged between 18 and 65 as part of its annual Financial Health Barometer. 2015 marks the fifth year the survey has been conducted. This year the report underlines just how deep a relationship Australians have with our mates, primarily the four-legged variety. Based on these latest insights, it appears we will do just about anything to keep our pets fed and provided for. And, to a large degree, even before we enjoy the same benefits ourselves.
It appears man’s best friend is also Australia’s favourite pet, with dogs the most popular, rating a high 68 per cent. Cuddly, soft, but about a third less popular, cats rate at 49 per cent, while fish and birds are 18 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively. Horses and reptiles sit at 2 per cent each.
When it’s time to play fetch, who does the running?
So just how deep do these affections run in our hearts, if not our pockets? Believe it or not, only 14 per cent of pet owners would reduce spending on their pets if their income fell. Half of us would also look at ways to lower our power usage before cutting back on Fido’s bone (48 per cent), plus cut our own essentials (47 per cent), use cheaper products (35 per cent) or get that second job (16 per cent).
When it comes to the crunch with either a dog or cat needing medical assistance, two out of every three pet lovers would spend first and ask questions later – although horses, with their exposure to serious veterinary costs, have 42 per cent of their owners weighing up the cost before proceeding.
Perhaps as a sign of our fast-moving times, the uncertainty of work, divorce statistics and the changing world we live in, pets have become a major factor in our wellbeing. In fact, half of us (49 per cent) consider owning a pet an essential, slightly behind owning a home and buying fresh produce (both 55 per cent).
Balancing finances for you and your pet
Although cold and slithery, reptile owners are warm and happy (47 per cent), heading the pack of owners who are completely happy with their lives. Around 44 per cent of dog and bird owners expressed life happiness, but a substantial 45 per cent of horse owners couldn’t make up their minds if they were happy or not.
Perhaps they were preoccupied with the cost of owning a horse, with 27 per cent spending more than $201 monthly – compared to 46 per cent of bird owners who spent less than $50.

Paying up for pets

The love you have for your pet might be weighing heavy on your wallet. The costs of pet ownership can be high, and you never know what could be around the corner when it comes to their health.

How can you make sure your savings are as happy as your pet?

  • Plan ahead - Good planning can help prevent nasty surprises along the way. A savings plan coupled with an account earning a high rate of interest can be the security you need when things go south.
  • Shop around for a vet - Not all vets are created equal. Do your research: find a vet who will be honest about your pet’s health and give you options for their treatment. Remember that cost is only one factor when considering the right vet.
  • Talk to your vet about pet food - Cheap pet food is often stuffed with fillers. This type of food can be less expensive but doesn’t give your pet any extra nutritional value. Speak to your vet about the best type of food for your fluffy friend. Cheaper food may lead to costly health problems down the line and you might find the healthier alternative saves you money in the long run. 

As with anything in your life, the costs of having a pet to call your own should be monitored along with the rest of your spending. Keeping an eye on your savings and their return will reward you and your pet for many dog or lizard years to come.

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