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There are almost 70 million dogs in the United States, and nearly 40% of American households have a four-legged friend roaming around. Even if you don’t own a dog right now, chances are strong that you had one as a pet at some point in the past. While most keep dogs for companionship, these animals also do a tremendous amount of important work. Police, emergency personnel, and the disabled are grateful for the support of these loyal, tireless, and steadfast partners. However, beyond loving companionship and hard work, having a dog and watching it going about its happy life can offer important financial insights as well. Here are some great money lessons you can learn from your dog.
Budgeting Is for the Dogs
One of the first thing you learn as a new pet owner is that dogs are expensive. You have to feed it, buy all the accessories it needs, and ensure it has adequate space to roam around and exercise. We take our dogs to the vet about twice a year too, and those visits can get expensive. If you’re a dog owner, you learn quickly about keeping a budget. While dogs bring us incredible happiness, we often don’t realize the financial impact that cute puppy we bond with at the animal shelter is going to have on our lives over the coming years. Managing your money so you can care for a beloved family pet offers valuable life lessons you’ll be able to apply later on, as your personal life and financial responsibilities grow more complicated.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
If your dog likes to fetch a tennis ball or a stick, you know that look. It’s the look of intense focus on the ball or stick in your hand, every muscle attuned and waiting for the throw. Then, your pet will run as if his or her life depended on it. Similarly, your dog is likely the first one in your home to notice when someone unexpected is in the yard or at the door. Having finely tuned senses and laser-like focus like that in your life can be helpful, especially when it comes to money. If you keep close track of your spending and savings, you’ll have a better chance of staying on budget and meeting your financial goals. Paying close attention to your finances is a good way to stay out of trouble as well; if you’re watching the balances in your accounts, you’ll know when it’s time to make a budget adjustment, or if you’ve been the victim of some sort of financial fraud. So, act like your dog; keep your eye on the ball when it comes to money.
One of the best things about dogs is that they’re always happy. Their happiness can bring people out of a funk; there’s nothing better than sitting down on the floor with your dog and petting it after you’ve had a tough day. Dogs live in the moment, running and playing whenever they can to get the most fun out of life. While long-term planning is important to your financial success, so is enjoying life. After all, what good is having financial discipline and long-term goals if you never get to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Take a lesson from your happy dog; make sure to stop and enjoy your life and be happy. Splurge on lunch from time to time, go out for a nice dinner with your significant other, and don’t let your concerns about finances keep you from having a good time.
Contingency Planning: The Bone in the Sofa
Chances are strong that you’ve splurged on your dog at the pet store and bought some sort of bone or chew toy at the cash register, only to have your dog bury it in the backyard, or underneath the sofa cushions. Many dogs instinctively cache food items for another day, and it isn’t unusual to see your dog suddenly walking around with a treat you’d given it months ago.
You should consider having a stash of your own, an emergency fund that you can draw upon when you have an unexpected home or car repair to make. Surprisingly, less than 40% of Americans have $1,000 in their savings account to cover a sudden expense. If you want to be ready for the unexpected, take money lessons from your dog; stash some money away for emergencies. Put it in a savings account though, not in the sofa!
Dogs are wonderful animals and bring joy to our lives. They also have a great deal to teach us about money. So, pay close attention to your dog the next time you have a chance, and see what financial lessons you can learn from your four-legged friend!