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MAKING MONEY

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These days, our pets are such a huge comfort to us. They’re huge stress relievers and help keep us sane in these crazy times. Study after study shows pets help stave off loneliness and depression.

Anyone who has a dog or cat knows the value of taking a quick mental health break to go pet Rover or Fluffy. They’re little four-legged antidepressants.

They do get a little expensive, though. Between pet food and vet bills, the cost of owning a cat or dog can quickly run into thousands of dollars. And these are tough economic times.

We’ve got six suggestions for simple financial moves you can make that’ll help you spoil Fido and Simba like they deserve.

1. Save Money on Pet Food

Pet owners spend hundreds of dollars a year on pet food. (How much exactly? It really depends on the pet.) You may as well be getting some money back.

Do you buy your pet food at the grocery store? A free app called Fetch Rewards rewards you with gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart just for buying pet food and more than 250 other items at the supermarket. Just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch.

Or, do you buy your pet food online? This free service will send you an alert if you’re about to overpay. Just add it to your browser, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites to see if your item is available for cheaper. It’ll also automatically check for coupon codes you can use online.

2. Here’s How to Pay for Pet Insurance

Here’s how pet insurance works: You pay a small monthly fee, and the insurance covers any big, qualifying vet bills you get in the future. Like all insurance, it’s a bit of a gamble, because you never know if you’ll really need it, but the chance of facing at least one expensive vet bill is pretty high.

We recommend looking for plans with comprehensive coverage, so read the fine print and make sure the policy will cover what you might need. The best plans will cover everything from accidents to hereditary conditions to lab tests to emergency visits.

Some of the most popular pet insurance companies include Trupanion, HealthyPaws and Figo, if you want to start your research there!

How can you afford it? By lowering your bill for a different kind of insurance. For example, you’re probably paying too much for car insurance.

A free website called Savvy helps you find the best car insurance rates in just 30 seconds. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. It saves people an average of $826/year.

3. Have an Emergency Fund for You and Your Pet

Owning a pet means you’re responsible for it. So it’s on you to act responsibly.

These days, part of responsibility is having an emergency fund. This past year has taught us the hard way that everyone should have one.

You need a place where you can safely stash your savings away — but still earn money on it. A typical savings account won’t pay you any interest these days. But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.

Enter your email address here to get a free Aspiration Spend and Save account. After you confirm your email, securely link your bank account so they can start helping you get extra cash.

4. Does Your Dog Deserve Its Own Yard?

Let’s think bigger. Are you an apartment dweller? Or do you live in a house with a small yard?

You might have dreams to buy a house one day — one with a nice big yard for your furry friend.

To buy a house, you’ll need a good credit rating. It really makes a big difference. If you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.

Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).

Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

5. Take Care of Your Pet Forever

Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? That includes your cats and dogs. Chances are your checking account balance won’t last forever.

If you want to leave your family up to $1 million to care of things like funeral expenses and college tuitions (and pet food), use something called term life insurance.

We suggest a company like Bestow. Maybe you’ve considered this before, but thought it was only for rich or older people. But we’re hearing that people are getting it for as little as $16 a month.

You can take advantage of Bestow until you’re 54 years old, but the sooner you take care of this, the cheaper it could be.

You don’t even need to leave your house to get a free quote from Bestow — it takes minutes. Instead of leaving your family with what’s in your checking account and a bucket of worries, they’ll be able to afford the life you’ve always wanted for them.

And they’ll be able to afford to feed Sparky and Muffin forever.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has multiple cats and dogs.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

MAKING MONEY

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