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Four-Legged Finance

November 12, 2009

Cosmo's School Picture

Cosmo, 14lb Silkypoo Mix

This post was contributed by Michael Roush, National Project Director for the National Disability Institute and “Chief Financial Officer” of his family.


Like most pet lovers, my dog Cosmo is an important part of my family. If anything ever happened to him, I’d be devastated. Earlier this summer, I feared the worst: he had to be rushed to the pet emergency room in the middle of the night — it was three days before the vets had a diagnosis.

Getting Cosmo the best care went without question. Although, admittedly, I found myself worrying about cost. The bill was staggering.

Thankfully, my Pay Yourself First account came to the rescue. If you haven’t heard of Pay Yourself First, it’s when you set money aside into a saving account that that allows you to maximize your earned interest and to grow your savings faster. Think of it as Financial Education Rule #1 in your own economy.”

For many of us, dogs are more than our beloved pets. Service dogs, for example, are quite literally a way of life. What would you do if your pet or service animal needed serious medical care? And you were unable to save over $2000 due to resource limits attached to SSI and/or Medicaid?

A few suggestions:

1.  Consider starting your own Pay Yourself First account. Not only is it practical but also empowering to know that you’ll have it covered when times are rough (ruff!).

2.  It can’t hurt to ask. Does your vet have a payment plan available?

3. Think IRS. Is your pet or service animal tax deductible?

4. Google it. When I did, I discovered Guide Dogs for the Blind and their Financial Assistance Program (VFA) as well as a multitude of tips for pet owners in general from the New York Times.

Today, Cosmo is back to his old self. But I was lucky. Not only because he recovered but also because I had the Pay Yourself First account to assure quality care.



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