Sunday, April 28, 2024
HomeBudgetPets Are People Too: How to Prioritize Animal Care with YNAB

Pets Are People Too: How to Prioritize Animal Care with YNAB

After the release of our April Fool’s video, YNAB for Pets, we heard from a bunch of pet owners whose dreams came true that day…

“Finally, my goldfish has a tool to work toward breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle.” -Max
“My pets are like, ‘Mint never did this for us!'” -Kelli
“The horse just crushed the phone with a tap when transferring $1000 to cover his wish farm category of vet care for when he decides to (again) put his leg through a fence. Do you plan on having a neigh-to-text command option?” -Ann

You ruved it, and we loved your perfectly YNABy pet mania. It left us craving more.

On National Pet Parent Day (yes, this is a thing), it seems appropriate to take a break from highlighting people and their “mortgages,” “retirement,” and “vacation” and focus on how good it is to be the pet of a YNABer! Seriously though, what wouldn’t we do for our fidos and felines?

First, you’ll get a glimpse into the life of a bearded dragon in a YNABer’s care… because let’s be real, that’s an intriguing animal companion—and wondering what a bearded dragon loves to spend money on has my curiosity piqued higher than the new Secrets of the Octopus documentary.

Then, I’m giving you VIP access to YNAB team’s #pets channel, which lights up multiple times a day for good reasons. When I asked my coworkers about their pet category set-ups, all other work apparently got pushed aside, and they delivered with visuals of their personal pet spending plans. This might not be a contest, but if it is a contest, no company is more stoked on pets than YNAB. The proof is in the category set-ups, my friend. Just you wait.

Oh hey, Honey! The sweet life of a YNABer’s bearded dragon

Rowan, dedicated YNABer and owner of a 14-year-old bearded dragon named Honey, shared the following report on his pet’s spending preferences:

“A feisty Leo through and through, she loves nothing more than sunbathing, people watching, and eating dandelions. She also enjoys a good road trip and has traveled up and down the Golden State. Her YNAB category is allegedly for vet visits and keeping her heat lamp topped up, but she knows it’s really for treats from the local pet store.”

A YNABer's pet bearded dragon, Honey

Honey’s #1 guilt-free expense? “Reptile-friendly Jell-O! At the pet store, I was checking out, and the display box was right there. I think I stopped mid-sentence because I was so amazed by the idea of Jell-O for reptiles. I picked up a banana-flavored one, and Honey went nuts for it. Was it mostly water and pectin and fruit juice? Absolutely. Would I get another? Again, absolutely.”

Home-improvement plans? Honey has a basic glass tank. But, “for upgrades, she likes the look of those rock/cliff wall backgrounds you can get. I told her that her bouldering days are over, but she’s still trying to live the dream. So, rock wall, and maybe add a few (dragon-safe) plants, although my concern is she would try to eat everything like a kid in a candy store. If we were starting from scratch, I’d 100% go big on a nice terrarium with all the fixings, like something from ZenHabitat.”

Your backstage pass to the YNAB team’s pet care categories

At YNAB, we believe every dollar has a job, including those set aside for the delight of our pets. Yes, your cat might just need its own couch, and Fido certainly deserves those bougie treats. Maybe it’s even time to consider adopting an elderly pet who could really use a loving home. 

By creating categories for everything from basic needs to those joyful extras, we harness the true power of our finances—not just to sustain our furry loved ones, but to help them thrive. You know what they say: pets are people too. Or at least that’s what the pet store in my hometown was called, and I believed it.

Here’s how the YNAB team uses their spending plans to prioritize pet care:

  1. You might know Julep from Hannah’s YouTube videos—so I bet you won’t be surprised to see that Julep gets an entire section of Hannah’s spending plan. Living her best life. Woof!
Hannah's spending plan for Julep the dog
  1. Our ever-wise YNAB teacher and proud parent of many felines, Erin, shared that her setup is complex because her pets’ needs are too! She wrote, “I separate medications from medical visits for Elsa because she has some expensive medical issues. When I got the kittens two years ago, that’s when I decided to track medical per pet – I have two older cats and it’s just a different cost as they age.”
Erin's spending plan for cats
  1. Jesse, founder of YNAB, keeps it ultra-simple for his family’s new doggo with one single category. After seeing the other set-ups shared, he’s considering expanding his pet spending plan. Maybe you’ll hear about his pet category journey on a future YNAB Podcast.

Well, now I’m rethinking my setup. It’s currently in the “Home” category group, and it’s called, “Dog.”

Jesse Mecham's dog, King
King Mecham, begging for more categories in Jesse’s spending plan.
  1. Amber’s canine companion, Aspyn, has already graced YNAB’s social channels. This future petfluencer gets her own fun money category—a stroke of brilliance. When the goin’ gets ruff, the roo gets a Puppacino.
Amber's pet spending plan
  1. Lauren’s handsome gentleman, Lumi, has a simple structure with his nine lives fund for emergencies. Loaf check!
Lumi's spending plan in YNAB
  1. Kate’s category set-up for her pupparoo, Penny, is enviably emoji-coded… why haven’t I done that yet? (It’s easy.)
Kate's pet spending categories
  1. Here’s the headcount on Renae’s farm: 27 chickens, 2 dogs, 3 cows, and a part-time cat. Talk about designing the life you want: a daily petting zoo! She has impressively chiseled down her pet spending plan to three key categories.
Renae's farm spending plan for the animails
  1. Jackie’s Golden Doodle is a minimalist with great taste. Her pet spending plan boasts four categories that cover health, pet sitting, and most importantly, hair.
Jackie's pet spending plan for Maizy

I’d be remiss to write a pet post without dropping in a picture of my Bichon Frise, Sophie. Any chance to share kid photos, am I right

Sophie the Bichon!
Sophia Rose and Chief Oliver are my priorities—so that’s where many of my dollars go, carefully planned and plotted in YNAB.

According to my YNAB trends report, I spend an average of $85 per month in my singular “Soph&Chief” category. (Honestly, not as much as I thought!) I also factor them into my emergency medical account with a healthy buffer, so I never have to decide whether to sacrifice the care they need for the sake of avoiding vet bills. They are worth every penny, and their companionship is priceless. 

A spending trend report in YNAB for pets
Use YNAB to easily run a spending trend report for your pet category (or categories!). You can see months where my pets had emergency vet visits.

Whether you’re planning for a plush new cat tower, gourmet dog biscuits, an up-leveled aquarium, or setting up a comfy corner for a senior rescue, remember that each planned expense is a reflection of your love and care. 

When you practice YNAB’s four habits, you’re not just tracking expenses; you’re crafting a joyful life for you and your beloved companions. Your pets are a priority, so it’s ok to love spending on them! Let’s make every financial decision a step toward more wagging tails, happy purrs, and contented chirps in your home.

Why yes, we would love to see pictures of your pets and pet category set-ups. Tag us on Instagram @youneedabudget

Discover how freeing it is to frame your financial life around the things you love the most. Pets included. Try YNAB free for 34 days!

YNAB IRL: “I didn’t have to panic when my pet needed critical care!”

Meet Jenn T., real-life YNABer and pet parent whose intentional spending decisions saved the life of her beloved cat, Wilson.

This isn’t a typical YNAB story. It doesn’t end with a big bank balance or a bunch of unused credit cards. It’s not about how I paid off my mortgage or my student loans in record time. It’s definitely not about how I stopped going to restaurants for a year to see what would happen. 

On April 5, 2023, my cat Wilson went to the vet for completely routine diagnostic testing. I wasn’t worried when I dropped him off, but as time ticked by and I didn’t hear anything, I got anxious. Around lunchtime, I got a call from his doctor. His voice told me everything I needed to know- Wilson had experienced a complication coming out of anesthesia, and was on life support. My little guy, my fangless runt, was in a coma and fighting for his life. Doc told me to come as soon as possible, and asked me to reconfirm my DNR wishes. 

Over the next four days, Wilson got IV fluids, round the clock care, a blood transfusion, and every ounce of love I had. I drove the hour back and forth to the vet every day, bringing treats and toys and reminders of home. He slowly came back to being himself; his brain was recovering, and he remembered how to be a cat. Now, two months later, the only evidence of the event is the patchy fur on his arms where his IVs were placed.

What makes this a YNAB story? I didn’t have to consider my finances when I made decisions about his care. I knew I could handle it. I didn’t need to weigh his life against my debt, or my mortgage, or my car. I didn’t need to call friends for panic loans. I didn’t overdraw my account (a monthly occurrence, pre-YNAB). I didn’t have to give up on him. YNAB has given me the freedom to live the life I want to live, with my pets at my side.



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