OMAHA, Neb.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new survey of 1,519 millennials shows just how important pets are to their lives, and just how much that love impacts their wallets. Of those surveyed, 72 percent own pets, most of whom (67 percent) warmly consider these pets as their “fur babies.” May is National Pet Month, so TD Ameritrade explored the financial habits of millennial pet owners. The survey found that, while both canines and felines are showered with financial affection, dogs tend to get a little more financial love than cats. On average, dog owners spend $1,285 a year on their pet, while cat owners spend $915 a year.
TD Ameritrade’s survey also found that millennials expect to spend more money on their dogs over the course of the pet’s lifetime than they do on their own lifetime healthcare costs. And seven in ten millennials (68 percent) would gladly take time off to care for a new pet, if their employer offered it as a perk.
“Just in the last month, my family and I welcomed a puppy into our home,” says Chris Bohlsen, director of Investor Services at TD Ameritrade. “Having a pet is definitely expensive so it’s important to be realistic about these new costs and look for ways to mitigate expenses.”
Bohlsen suggests looking for ways to offset these new expenses so that they do not negatively impact saving and investing for long-term goals. For example:
- Travel by car instead of air this summer for vacation. That way, the pet can come along and families can save on boarding fees. If that’s not possible, consider striking a deal with a pet-owning friend or neighbor with you repaying the favor when they leave town.
- Enjoy in-home entertainment. Take the opportunity of caring for a new puppy or older adopted pet to stay home more and go out less. Pets are often a great source of entertainment and companionship, part of why they bring such joy to millennials’ lives.
- Engage children to help out with caring for the pet. Bohlsen says, “We decided it was the right time for a puppy because my kids (seven and eight) are old enough to help with the puppy care.” While it may be appealing to sign up for a yard waste service or pay for doggy daycare to tire a pet out, enlist kids to pick up after and help exercise the dog—and build familiarity and responsibility along the way.
- Keep up on routine and preventative care. Being vigilant about a pet’s health and getting regular checkups and vaccinations can help prevent illnesses and spot issues early on, before they become even more expensive veterinary bills.
Millennial respondents said they are willing to spend nearly $2,000 on treatment for a sick pet. And more than one in ten millennials (11 percent) said they would shell out a steep $10,000. While they may be mentally prepared to spend the money, not all millennials are financially equipped to do so, which could mean dipping into savings or using a credit card. To avoid this, consider establishing a pet emergency fund, Bohlsen recommends.
Pet owners can’t prepare for all scenarios. However, they can take steps to make sure that their fur babies are well taken care of, without sacrificing too much in the way of finances. Life's complex, but setting your financial goals doesn't have to be. That’s why TD Ameritrade offers clients and non-clients Complimentary Goal Planning sessions with financial consultants located in its 360+ U.S. branches across the country.
Insights from pet lovers
Samantha D., a 27-year-old marketing strategist in Omaha, Neb., shares her story. “I adopted my first pet four years ago, a tabby named Fitzgerald. I was pretty content, especially as I know dogs can be more expensive and time consuming than cats. But after buying a house my backyard just looked empty. So I made an investment in my happiness and brought home Willa, a golden retriever puppy. Willa was $700, quite a bit more than the $60 cat adoption fee. And I’ve spent $350 in veterinary fees and puppy shots, and an unknown amount of money on toys, a dog bed, collar, leash, food, puppy shampoo, etc. Yes, Willa is expensive, but she’s my fur baby and you can’t put a price on happiness.”
Lauren L. is a 28-year-old advertising account executive in Omaha, Neb., and mom to Lilly, a 6-year-old Havaton (Coton D’Tulear/Havanese mix). She says, “In Lilly’s six years she has seen her fair share of the vet’s office – from swallowing my earbud to narrowing spine problems and ear infections. I had no idea that taking her in just for routine medical care could add up to hundreds of dollars.”
Read more real stories and expert advice for pet lovers at Fresh Accounts.
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Survey conducted by Head Solutions Group
Head Solutions Group (U.S.) Inc. is a leading market research partner for financial services companies in North America. With offices in New York, Toronto and Montreal, Head Solutions Group delivers the deep customer insights that increase institutional knowledge and propel business action. TD Ameritrade and Head Solutions Group are separate and unaffiliated firms and are not responsible for each other’s services or policies.
About the 2018 Millennials & Their Fur Babies Survey
A 15-minute online survey was conducted with 1,519 American adults ages 21 to 37 by Head Solutions Group, between February 21 and March 7, 2018, on behalf of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. The statistical margin of error for the total sample of N=1,519 within the target group is +/- 2.5 percent. This means that in 19 out of 20 cases, survey results will differ by no more than 2.5 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained by the opinions of all target group members in the United States. Pet owners represented 1,139 of those surveyed. The statistical margin of error for the total pet owner sample of N=1,139 American adults within the target group is +/- 3.6%. This means that in 19 out of 20 cases, survey results will differ by no more than 3.6 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained by the opinions of all target group members in the United States. Sample was drawn from major regions in proportion to the U.S. Census.
Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation