Five Ways to Save Money on a Dog

When I first got my Boston Terrier puppy last year I wrote about the costs of raising a puppy. Trust me… if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you shouldn’t buy a puppy. While the average puppy can be expensive, some can be excessively expensive due to allergies or other issues that might arise. To try to save money in the long-term there are five steps you can take to save money on a dog.

Find a good Veterinarian and stick with them
Yelp is a great place to start when searching for a vet for the first time. You want to find the perfect balance between service and price. For our vet, we actually travel over to the shadier side of town. But the vet cares tremendously about our dog and gives us a lot of great deals and freebies. Your loyalty to one vet will not only help to keep your dog healthier because the vet is able to see changes in your pet, but vets will also offer discounts to their loyal customers which will definitely help you save money on a dog.

Get your dog spayed or neutered
Spaying or neutering your dog offers a lot of benefits, to both you and your pet. There are actually a lot of health benefits to spaying and neutering that are unrelated to pregnancy. Spaying your dog greatly reduces that chances of mammary cancer and eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer. Neutering your dog decreases the likelihood of prostate cancer and removes the risk of testicular cancer. Spaying or neutering your dogs will also make them friendlier and less likely to mark their territory. Spaying a female dog will also eliminate her heat cycle.

Don’t purchase pet insurance
As with all insurance, it’s always less expensive to self-insure if you can afford it and the worst-case scenario won’t bankrupt you. The reason for this is simple. Insurance companies pool together money to cover the expenses of all owners i the pool, plus some portion for profit. So unless your dog is unhealthy (which you can’t know before purchasing the insurance), then you’re going to come out ahead by not purchasing pet insurance. For other reasons to stay away, one only needs to read online about people needing to pay way more than expected for their portion of surgeries and having to fight to get reimbursed for “covered” surgeries.

Make DIY homemade dog toys
Purchasing bully sticks for your dog can get expensive quickly, especially if they like to rip through them in 15 minutes. The alternative is dog toys, which should last you quite a bit longer. But sometimes stores don’t have quite what you’re looking for. In these instances, it might make sense for you to make your own dog toys.

Exercise your dog
All animals need exercise to remain healthy, and dogs are no exception. Taking your dog on a jog or walk is great exercise for your pet, and for you. If you’re not much of a runner but you want your dog to be able to run you can ride your bike while your dog runs. Another great way for your dog to get exercise and socialize with other dogs is to take them to a dog park (if you have one near you).

By taking some of these steps now you can not only save money in the long-term, but the time you spend with your pet will also be more enjoyable. Keeping your pet healthy and happy, and your wallet more full, will make a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Letting The Joneses Win

Keeping Up With the JonesesNow, I’m not going to lie: I HATE LOSING. Just ask my girlfriend. She let’s me win at least 90% of the time just because she knows how much I hate losing. The other 10% she stomps on me in a failed attempt to keep my ego in check. However, the Joneses are someone that you have to let win. Because if you’re competing against the Joneses and winning, you’re really losing. We’ve all heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”, but most of us probably don’t understand just how much of an impact this rat-race still plays in our lives.

I strongly believe that no matter how frugal you are, you still care what others think. I remember in high school there were those “goth” kids who wore black clothes and black eyeliner, and “didn’t care what other people thought of them.” They rejected the mainstream standards of appearance, yet they still had their own appearance standards and judged each other. They still spent money buying nice black clothes, wearing chains, getting piercings, and buying that eyeliner. If you truly did not care what others thought you would buy all of your clothes used and fill your home with non-matching furniture.

No matter how strongly I feel that purchasing luxury cars is a waste of money, that doesn’t mean that I don’t envy the guy driving one down the highway. I know that roughly 80% of luxury cars are purchase by non-millionaires, but that doesn’t make me want one any less. The key is controlling the urge to compete with Mr. Jones and his nice car. If you haven’t seen the movie The Joneses (pictured above), you should check it out. It’s a fun play on the Joneses concept, but it also makes you think about the materiality of our lives.

Though I am young and have plenty of time “to figure things out”, I am hoping to establish the goals and routines of successful people while I have the most time to benefit from them. One of the ways that I personally can help to keep the Joneses from winning is to calculate my “real working wage”, as laid out in Your Money or Your Life. To do this, you need to look at what your job is really paying you for your life. Think of the time and monetary expenses related to your work. Do you commute to work? Add those hours to the hours related to your job. Do you eat out more? Do you put on weight, which will eventually lead to health problems, because you’re too busy? Do you have to treat yourself with vacations or shopping-sprees to get through the week? All of these are costs that you likely wouldn’t have if you weren’t working in the rat race.

The other tool that is important when fighting off the Joneses is knowledge of compounding interest. Knowledge of your real working wage and the possible investment returns on your money are a double whammy for fighting off The Joneses.

To show you an example of how this works, let’s think about purchasing a new car. Let’s say the monthly payment on this car is $500. For someone who is earning $50k per year, this car might be costing you 40 hours of your life each month. Not only is it costing you 40 hours per month now, but it’s costing you three years in the future. If I instead invested this $500/mo for 5 years and earned just 8% of my investments I would have over $500,000 at age 65. Now, it’s hard to tell that far out, but I would estimate that this would allow you to retire at least three years earlier than if you decided to purchase the new car.

When you think of how you’re trading away your working hours today and how you’re delaying your financial freedom in the future, it’s hard to frivolously waste money. Now, I am not advocating that you stop spending money or don’t enjoy life. I would never advocate that at all. I spend money to go to the movies, take vacations, and watch hockey games. However, every purchase, particularly big purchases, should be evaluated using a similar thought process to ensure that your spending aligns with your goals.

How to Save Money on Designer Glasses

Those of us who wear glasses know that they aren’t cheap. Heck, they can be downright expensive. $500 for a pair of eyeglasses isn’t unheard of once they’ve thrown on all the different costs. Now, most people know that you can get a cheap, flimsy pair of eyeglasses on the cheap. But we’re not looking to be cheap. Cheap usually means paying a low price for low quality. I know that’s not what I’m looking for in a pair of glasses.

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 14, and these are the ones I was still using in 2010. I wear contacts most of the time, but over the years my prescription had changed by quite a lot, and I knew it was time to get a new pair of glasses. I didn’t want wire ones similar to what I’d previously had. I really liked the look of many of the classic designer glasses I saw people wearing on the street. So, over the past year, I’ve kept my eyes out for some great glasses deals. I noted that Costco had some good deals on its selected number of frames, and it was also ranked by Consumer Reports as the #1 place to buy eyeglasses.

However, by keeping on the lookout, I eventually found a place even better than Costco. See, Costco just obtains pricing concessions based on the size of its retail arm and it passes these along to consumers. However, last year in GQ there was an article on a new designer glasses company called Warby Parker. When I read the article I was fascinated, both from an entrepreneurial and a consumer aspect. The company took a old, stodgy model and turned it on its head.

The eyeglasses industry, as it currently stood, was controlled by a few companies. These companies have the glasses manufactured, purchase licensing from designer labels, and ship them to the optometrists. Chanel or Coach didn’t design those glasses you see people wearing. Chanel and Coach specialize in other designs, but they aren’t glasses designers. They simply sell he rights to using their name. In a normal pair of glasses, this licensing alone is likely costing you $100. Like with many designer glasses, you’re paying for that name.

However, Warby Parker has essentially managed to turn this model on its head. By cutting out major costs such as licensing and the middle men (optometrists), Warby Parker has managed to offer great looking designer eyeglasses for just $100. There are no upsells for anti-reflective or anti-scratch coatings. These are included in the price. If you’ve ever purchased your glasses from your eye doctor, you’ll know they often charge about $50 for these coatings alone.

This past December I ordered five pairs of Warby Parker glasses for a home try-on. They understand that people typically want to try on glasses before making a decision, so they’ll ship you five pairs to try on. You get to try them on, ask your friends for their opinions, and look at yourself in the mirror for hours while you decide which glasses you like. There’s not the pressure of a eyeglasses salesman breathing down your neck.

Warby Parker Designer Eyeglasses

Japhy from Warby Parker

During this try-on I found the pair I wanted, but I didn’t get around to buying them until the beginning of March because I needed to wait until my HSA was ready for the purchase. When they arrived in the mail I was giddy. I had waited so long for my new glasses. I opened the box and put them on my face and the excitement didn’t die. Warby Park didn’t let me down. I’ve had the glasses for a week now and I’ve worn them most of the days. I didn’t used to wear my old glasses in public much because I would opt to wear my contacts, but I like these ones so much that I’m wearing my glasses a lot more often.

If you’re looking for a new pair of glasses, I highly recommend Warby Parker. They delivered a great product at a fraction of the typical price. Plus, I always think it’s cool to give patronage to start-ups. And even better, you can feel good buying from Warby Parker too. For every pair of glasses they sell, Warby Parker gives a pair of glasses to someone in need around the world. So far Warby Parker has given away 85,000 pairs of glasses around the world. That’s really cool if you ask me.