The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic isn’t scary only for health reasons. With how much it costs to care for a dog and rising unemployment, many dog owners are beginning to feel the effects on their personal finances.
Table of Contents
- 1. Start or Keep Building an (Pet) Emergency Fund
- 2. Aid for Pet Owners Affected by Coronavirus
- 3. Get Informed About the Government Aid
- 4. Change Your Automated Payments
- 5. More Flexible Options for Mortgage, Rent, Credit Cards
- 6. Ask Your Service Providers for Help
- 7. Get In Touch with a Financial Planner
These are uncertain times but it is certain that the world will face an economic problems since many businesses are getting closed to slow down the spread of coronavirus. That means that many pet owners are getting laid off as well.
If you are a concerned dog owner with decreased income, being without a job during the coronavirus outbreak can be particularly hard. However, there is a way to budget wisely with your pet related expenses, and survive this crisis without having to give up your dog.
1. Start or Keep Building an (Pet) Emergency Fund
Ideally, you would have built your pet emergency fund or padded your pet savings account before this pandemic. However, many of us haven't done that. If you haven’t got such a fund set up before the outbreak of Covid-19, that doesn't mean you should stop considering it at this point – there are many economic uncertainties that are still to come.
The first step would be to consider putting your retirement savings (401k, IRA, brokerage transfers) on pause and divert the money to your emergency fund, both for yourself and for your dog(s), especially if you have already been laid off or put on leave. The stock market is currently in bad shape, and experts say it's likely to keep going down.
Another thing to do is to scrutinize your spending. You need to make cuts and avoid unnecessary pet supplies related expenses. Consider canceling your subscriptions and avoid shopping online for non-essential items. Stick to dog food only for the most part, and search for food brands that are best for the money and will go a long way.
If you are having problems with providing emergency veterinary care to your dog because you can’t afford treatment, or you don't have enough money to feed the dog, you can contact various organizations, groups and veterinary schools that may be able to help you to make sure you don't have to give up your pet.
Here are places where you can apply for funds:
- RedRover Relief Urgent Care
- RedRover Relief Emergency Boarding
- Pets In Need
- ASPCA Relief and Recovery
- BestFriends.org financial aid per U.S. state
Keep in mind that these organizations are independent of each other, with their own set of guidelines and rules, so check with each of them separately to see whether you qualify for their financial aid and any other type of pet care assistance.
3. Get Informed About the Government Aid
If you have been laid off or put on temporary leave, you may qualify for some help from the coronavirus emergency relief package.
- Stimulus Checks – All qualifying U.S. citizens will receive stimulus checks as a part of the relief package. If the IRS already has your bank account from 2018 or 2019 tax returns, you will get the money via direct deposit. Payments already began in mid-April but it may take up to a few months for all eligible Americans to receive the stimulus checks. You can learn more about the stimulus checks from the IRS here.
- Unemployment Insurance – The relief package includes temporary but significant changes to the unemployment insurance system and benefits, which now covers more people than usual. Check your state’s rules on unemployment during the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Federal Student Loans – All borrowers have automatically been put on administrative forbearance, so you won’t have to make payments until October, at the very least. Check out all the information on the Federal Student Aid website.
- Small Business Loans – While freelancers and self-employed people do not get the additional unemployment related monies, if you're a small business owner, you can apply for the loan. First round of loans have already gone out, but the government is preparing a second way. Read more about it here.
This covers the basic information about the aid you can receive, whether you have been left without a job or just struggle with your finances to care for a dog due to the ongoing pandemic.
Also, make sure to check any additional resources, like the Disaster Financial Assistance.
4. Change Your Automated Payments
While automated payments are convenient and allow you to pay your bills or put money into savings without having to think about it, if your financial situation has changed you should consider changing the payment amounts or stopping them altogether.
This doesn't mean only things like Netflix, but also any auto-ship of pet food or other pet supplies. Now is the time to start paying close attention to where all your money goes and navigate all of that with more precision.
5. More Flexible Options for Mortgage, Rent, Credit Cards
Reach out to your landlord to see if you can delay your payments without interest. The same goes for your mortgage or credit card payments. Some landlords have already offered that, while many U.S. states provide eviction bans until at least August.
For house owners, The Federal Housing Finance Agency has issued instructions to mortgage services to allow delayed payments for mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. You can check out who owns your mortgage on this link.
Even if your mortgage is not owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you can check out with the bank that does own your mortgage and ask for a delay. Many more states are implementing this mortgage relief and even extending it beyond the original dates.
If you have credit card payments due, or other consumer loans or debt, check with your bank whether they will allow you to skip payments without interest. If you a pet-friendly credit card provider, discuss dog ownership related expenses and relief.
You can find details of what banks offer to clients as a relief on this link but you should still get the information you need directly from your bank.
6. Ask Your Service Providers for Help
Make a list of all your monthly expenses, including all the utilities. You can then see if there are some bills that you don’t have to pay right now, or reach out to inquire about reduced rates. For example, Austin Energy have reduced their electricity rates to provide costumer relief.
Some internet companies will not terminate customers who can’t pay their bills, like Comcast, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Cox and RCN. You can find the full list of companies and what they offer on the FCC website. Check with your internet provider whether they offer something like this or some other type of flexible payment options.
In addition to this, get informed about other utilities and service providers. Some water service providers are tolerating non-payments without shut-offs, as well as some gas and electric service providers, but you have to check with your state’s provider to make sure.
7. Get In Touch with a Financial Planner
Financial planners can help you by offering free advice to those with financial troubles. You can get in touch with them over the phone and receive consultations.
The Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors both have a list of volunteers you can contact during the crisis and discuss your personal budget, your dog related expenses and more.
More and more people are facing unemployment due to the coronavirus outbreak and many dog owners are struggling to survive while making sure that their dogs are fed and are not suffering.
To prevent a financial disaster, prepare an emergency fund, take advantage of all government aid programs and financial pet relief aids, cut on unessential expenses and get in touch with your service providers to discuss flexible payments.
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