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The Cost of a Pet Versus the Cost of a Child

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Operating within a budget is never the easiest thing. When we have children to pay for, a house to maintain, or a family to look after, we’ve got to continually assess our finances. But what happens when we’re looking to expand our family, or we’re looking to bring more love into the home in the form of a pet? Sometimes we’ve got to weigh up which one is actually more feasible in a financial sense, and when it comes to a dog or a baby, choosing between one or the other is never an easy one because, whichever one you choose, it involves commitment and spending more than you are used to. So let’s show you exactly how they both weigh up financially. 

The Initial Costs in the First 12 Months

In the first year of each, you’ve got to bear in mind that, while a dog is going to have that initial cost upfront, when you look at any web page for a dog like a lab retriever, the initial costs can be anywhere between $300 to over $2,000. But then you’ve got to look at the cost breakdown on the following components: 

  • Food.
  • Grooming tools. 
  • Toys. 
  • Crates or beds. 
  • Vaccinations. 
  • Car restraints. 
  • Health insurance and vet visits.
  • Training. 

The total cost within the first year, roughly speaking, could be anywhere between $1,000 and upwards of $8,000. And when it comes to a baby you need to consider the following: 

  • Food. 
  • Vaccinations. 
  • Clothing. 
  • Toys. 
  • Diapers. 
  • Car seats. 
  • Doctor visits. 
  • Adopting or delivering the baby. 
  • Childcare. 

In total, you could end up spending between $10,000 and upwards of $50,000. So while the first year is less costly for a dog than it is for a baby, you’ve still got to think about additional expenditures for the pet, such as spaying or neutering and flea control. Additionally, if you end up adopting a dog with health issues, it may need more medical attention. At the same time, children may also run into extra expenditures, but you are going to share more of your life with your children. So what does it really take to reduce the costs of both? 

How Do You Reduce the Cost of Raising a Child?

The effect is that raising a child is incredibly expensive, with average costs working out as $233,610 before college. But it’s important to get ahead of the game when it comes to being financially savvy with your children, including some of the following:

Shopping at Thrift Stores

This is one of the best things you can do because you are going to get baby clothes for next to nothing. So many parents don’t like the idea of opting for second-hand clothes, but the reality is that if you want to have a more frugal lifestyle so you can spend on things like vacations, you need to go down this route. 

A lot of parents don’t like the idea of second-hand clothes because they have been worn or may be grubby. But there are plenty of tips to get clothes looking like new. Additionally, if you receive newborn outfits as gifts, you can exchange the ones you don’t need for bigger sizes of other things you need, as long as you keep the gift receipt. 

Ask for Baby Gear As Gifts

If you really want to save money on everything from diapers to clothes, you could start by creating a wish list of things that you will need and share them with your friends who are coming to the baby shower. Even if you’re not having a baby shower, you can still purchase items via garage sales or online marketplaces like Facebook. 

Reduce Your Breastfeeding Costs

While many mothers try their best with breastfeeding but don’t get on with it, it’s always a good idea to start with breastfeeding, not just because it’s cheaper, but because it is healthier for the baby. Although breastfeeding can be costly because of new supplies, you can use tax breaks to your advantage for these types of supplies. 

Get High-Quality Health Coverage

Before you consider having a baby you may want to look at the coverage that will include maternity benefits. There are many health insurance providers out there that can help you with this, but you’ve got to practice due diligence and find the best locations to get health insurance. 

How Can You Reduce the Cost of a Dog?

While owning a dog can be cheaper, there are going to be costs that may take you by surprise. But here are some ways to lower the cost of owning a dog: 


If you don’t have a preference as to your breed, you can adopt a dog from a local rescue organization or animal shelter. If you are looking for puppies, shelters tend to see more of them during the spring and summer months, while adult dogs are available throughout the year. If you really want a specific breed, you need to choose ones that cost you less money over their life. 

Start DIY Dog Grooming

Purchasing a dog with shorter hair means that over time you don’t need to pay for grooming services, but if you want to save more money, you should learn how to take care of their basic grooming needs. For example, brushing, clipping nails, bathing, and looking after their teeth are all things that you can learn online

Look for a Budget-Friendly Pet Containment System

If you don’t have a fence in the backyard, you can either install a cheap fence made of a chain link, which could cost up to $30 if you have the skills, or buy a pet containment system, which can be a cheaper alternative in the long run. A wireless pet containment system is a great way to create a circular boundary in your garden, giving you that peace of mind. 

Look for Cheap Neuter or Spay Clinics

One of the best approaches is to look for clinics that are sponsored by local rescue groups. You can find a low-cost neuter program database online as well as find discounted surgeries through local humane societies or rescue charities. 

So Which One Is Actually Cheaper?

If you are looking at it purely from a financial perspective, a pet will be cheaper in the long run, but it’s important to remember that children are not just an expense, but they are an addition to the family that, of course, cannot be replaced. 

Many people have pets because they bring a lot of love into the home. But for all the benefits of having a pet, including the reduction of allergies, teaching children responsibility, and forming family bonds, the fact is that many people use getting a pet as a great way to bring love into the family home without having children. There are many people who are choosing not to have children because of the costs and those people who are deciding to not have children because of finances, the best piece of advice is to go into this with your eyes open. 

A lot of people have many children and financially it can be to their detriment, but this is why you need to crunch the numbers. We’ve given you a few ways to help reduce the costs of both, but you also need to get an understanding of what each one entails for you. We also have to remember we’ve got to make our own financial sacrifices for the greater good. If you are not prepared to make changes to your life for the sake of a pet or a child, you need to ask yourself if you can go the distance.

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