I hope all my of compatriots had a relaxing Three Day Weekend!  I ate wayyyyy too much BBQ. If you’ve seen that one viral video of the “bacon explosion” which is a whole bunch of Italian Sauage wrapped inside a whole bunch of Bacon, with even more bacon on the inside layer, then that’s exactly what I had except we did it 93% lean ground beef instead of the Italian Sausage. And zucchini tots, which was grated zucchini mixed with eggs, cheese and breadcrumbs rolled into little tot-like figures.  It was pretty bomb. Anyways, my Twitter followers apparently doubled over the weekend which is pretty awesome to see. Thanks to some of my friends for spreading the word that my rambles are evidently worth a read. Anyways, I was reading the comment section on a fairly well known personal financial blog the other day, and there was a comment that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. The comment might be innocent enough, but the implication of what the comment seems to be saying is something that just doesn’t feel quite right.

The bothersome comment in question:

So few people know or are willing to accept the long term costs of pet ownership. There are a lot of could be millionaires wandering in and out of Petsmart and Veterinary clinics everyday.

I don’t like this. Are we really thinking that the gap between someone who is a millionaire and, I guess, those who are slightly close, is because the non-millionaire actually had the heart to adopt a pet in need? You hear the same thing about kids. Despite the fact that there is a fairly well known millionaire couple who retired in their early 30s with a party of five. You could make the “could be millionaire” argument about any potentially expensive hobby or experience. At what point are we going to draw the line and change the conversation from simply finding ways to reduce our costs and transition it to the evaluation of the financial and non-financial costs and benefits of a purchase?

If you didn’t know already, I LOVE low maintenance animals. I grew up with a cat. She was an awesome cat. Her name was Diesel. I had Diesel for 17 of my 31 years on this planet. Diesel moved two houses with me. My friendship with Diesel was long enough to go through half a dozen different “best friends”, a dozen different sports or music activities, and three different colleges and countless major changes. Diesel was lucky enough to co-exist with three co-pets in the family. One cat that she came home with from the same shelter who died from pneumonia within a year, another cat who was with us for seven years, but had a massive piddle problem and “went to the dairy farm” (My sister clearly had much worse luck than me at picking out cats! I think she just gave up after that.), and finally an adorable dog who basically never ever barks. That little bugger just celebrated his 13th birthday. I gave him all the snuggles yesterday. It was amazing.

Those variety of furry friends were part of 20-something Christmas Mornings, at least 75 birthday celebrations, two high school graduations,  two college graduations, a couple dozen wedding anniversaries, and who knows what else. They are more than pets. They are family members. Try finding a photo in the family photo album that doesn’t have one of them in it.  I’d imagine that after a certain age, the furbabies were the ones who were more excited about opening presents on Christmas morning. All the wrapping paper to roll around in! All the Ribbon! All the family together in the same room at the same time to spoil them rotten with snuggles and back rubs and nuzzles, and special treats and new toys! Diesel was an amazing cat. She was basically part dog. She was super outgoing and would sit on anyone’s lap. She had a particular eye for people who were just not cat people and would try to convince them that they probably should be cat people. And she usually did.

I could talk about these guys forever,  so let’s just go straight to the photos of these adorable 4-legged creatures. I think they’re even more cute when they’re in the same photo.

 

PETS

207926_502873745373_4758_n198476_502873805253_6042_n 1928355_504896471813_9430_n 1934139_505625565703_4811_n 14212835_185647505188965_4425492474241363638_n

If it’s not obvious already, my family and I have had a lot of awesome memories with our pets. I definitely had a lot of great conversations with my fur baby. Who better to listen to your vents and rambles than a four legged bundle of cuteness who cannot actually verbally respond to you?  it’s literally the most purrfect friendship that you could possibly have. Diesel always could sense when I was down and when I just needed a kitty snuggle to cheer me up.

There was the one time my hometown was literally on fire and we took our fur babies to a hotel room a few cities over.  Had my mom on one bed with the dog, my dad and me in the other, and the cat just roaming around and meowing, with the litter box on the hotel desk. Not sure cat’s were even allowed in that hotel. Haha. It is so ridiculous to think about now, but everything that mattered, except for my sister who was at college in San Francisco, was in that tiny hotel room. The suburban house? The furniture? The piano? That shit is all replaceable and a lot of it is covered by insurance. I would not trade those memories for additional money any day, and I don’t think my parents would either. Yet, here you have some people on the internet, suggesting that maybe we should forego future memories with future pets for the sole purpose of banking additional cash. Really?

I feel like maybe people who aren’t pet people just don’t understand what having a pet is all about, but you cannot assign a price to the value you receive in the relationship you have with your furry friend. It’s not just pet ownership. It is basically a full blown friendship. If you think that you can achieve the same connection with a Chia Pet or a piece of coral inside of a fish tank, then I do not know how to have a conversation with you about pets.

Both you and your four legged friend are contributing to that emotional connection. And it can be a wonderful bond. If you’re a self-sufficient adult and you are considering getting a dog, unless you’re one of those weird frugal weirdos, several of whom ACTUALLY HAVE DOGSthe dollars that you will save by spending your time snuggling your pet on the couch with a free Netflix movie or going on walks in the free city park is an ENORMOUS money saver. Because it takes up all the time that you’d spend blowing it on something else. Like throwing back shots at the bar. Going out to fancypants dinner. Spontaneously flying to Las Vegas or New Orleans for the weekend because YOLO, right? In the long run, Doesn’t having a pet actually save you a shit ton of money because of the time commitment that is required of you to perform your duties of being a damn good and proud pet parent ?

There are so many dogs out there in shelters which means there are not enough would-be dog parents to give them happy homes. Are we actually trying to convince the people who would be great pet parents that they shouldn’t be, just so that they can save a buck?

Let’s be clear. Dogs ARE NOT cheap, but if you research the anticipated costs and the numbers work for your income, and you are willing to put in the time to give that little bugger the love that he or she needs, why the heck wouldn’t you adopt the dog?

My little Corgi buddy had to have a high four figure surgery maybe five years ago. None of us knew that pet insurance was a thing. We definitely do now. But because of that surgery, he still does barrel rolls at age 13 (happy 13th birthday dog cookie pictured above!) instead of hanging out with the trio of family cats at the Rainbow Bridge for the past five years. The good news is that my blog buddy and favorite Ottawan  has you covered on how much it costs to have a dog per month. So you can have an idea. But there’s no data that anyone can tell you for how much value you’ll receive from your dog.

For me personally, my dad worked very long hours, and there were many times when my mom was schlepping my sister around to dance class or color guard or whatever the heck other activity she happened to be doing, and so there were plenty of after school afternoons when I was entertaining myself by snuggling the cat, brushing the cat, watching a sport, or reruns of Full House, Saved By The Bell or California Dreams with the cat, or even pretending to have an actual human conversation with the cat. Because when you’re a 12 year old kid, you can totally translate meow into words with an imagination. We had a blast. And I’m sure my sister had a similar experience when my mother was schlepping me around to all of my activities. I LOVED the experience of growing up with a pet and I wish all kids could have had that experience and I think the sooner we stop telling people they could save so much money by avoiding pets in their lives – pets that more than likely add a ton of value to any family’s life – maybe we can see more kids grow up with the childhood experiences of having a fun furry friend?

FAMILY TRAVELS!

196508_502874254353_4525_n 206280_502874229403_2118_n

These were taken in 2006. That red shirt actually still fits ten years later. Hooray for good enough metabolism.

I’m sure one of the reasons I have the travel bug is because my parents were very generous in letting us kids tag along on a portion of their adventures with them. But there were also many adventures where one or both of us would stay home. A.) because you can’t just pull your kid out of school whenever you want to go somewhere (these days I hear that it’s incredibly rare to leave your kids with a non-family sitter. My parents were never shy about this. I don’t blame my parents for needing and taking a break from us. I exhaust myself sometimes. lol) and B.) We could hang out with our furry friend so that said furry friend wouldn’t have to be all depressed and couped up in the not-so-fun furry friend jail. I mean, I think that’s probably the biggest reason I don’t personally have my own pet. I have to work all day and I would feel guilty leaving him or her alone all the time. I’m jealous of all those folks who somehow manage a career and a pet…how do you people do this? But I also have an amazing dog that I can go visit whenever I want. I should visit him more. I mean, I am always being told that he is going to be excited to see me and he’s definitely been slowing down. 🙁

I just don’t like the implication that people should be be ridiculed for not minimizing their expenditures and suggesting at any possible cost.

This is definitely a concept that I have struggled with myself. I had spent some time with a woman friend a few years ago and we were going for a walk on the trail behind my parent’s backyard. That day I happened to be babysitting the family dog and the woman happened to live closer to my parents place than my place, so it just sort of worked out. Anyways, as we were walking on the trail, you can see into all the backyards and there are some boats out there. She talked about this one big-ish boat looked like something that her ex boyfriend’s family had. I immediately judged her. Who is this woman and what kind of financial expectations does she have for me?

I mean, on that day, from my perspective, I knew that I had lived a pretty good life, but we’ve never owned a boat or had any extended family who owned a boat or known any family friends who have owned a boat or had any business connections who had invited us to use their boat. To this day, I’ve never been on a boat other than a cruise ship or some sort of ticketed tour. On that day, in my head, owning a boat was a luxury that “rich people had”.  I was thinking – boats are on a whole different level of wealth, right? I can’t compete with that. She probably out-earned me too, being a financial analyst in a healthcare company. (You meet some baller women through kickball!) Her comment probably had absolutely nothing to do with her thoughts on boat ownership, or whether boat-owning dudes would have a better shot with her, she probably just saw a boat that looked like one she had been on, had those memories triggered and made an effortless observation, because when you’ve only hung out with someone a few times, to avoid the awkward silence, you probably are just commenting on whatever observation you can actually see in your surroundings.

Well, I have no idea how much “a boat” costs, but when I explained to my dad my whole reaction to that whole experience, he rightly told me that I was being a little ridiculous. It’s very likely that all these neighbors who have boats, probably tend to spend most of their vacations driving out to the river with said boat and probably didn’t do all of the stuff that we tended to do growing up like flying abroad, going on cruises, or staying in timeshares….things that I’m sure that a lot of people who don’t have my background would absolutely say are “rich people luxuries”. But to 28 year old TJ? Cruises? No big deal! Owning a boat? Scrooge McDuck Swimming Pool of Money!

Go ahead and pin me on that Anti-Mustachian wall of shame, but I am just not okay with promoting the behavior of judging other’s financial decisions. Telling someone to not buy something (because it’s expensive?) doesn’t teach anybody anything about the value of money. That’s not mindfulness or intentional living. To me it just sounds like yelling. How do you determine the financial value of a purchase? Well, Alyssa has the best theory I’ve seen in a while. But it’s important to remember that the numbers aren’t always everything. Sometimes you simply cannot assign a value tag on the thing or experience that you are buying, even if there is a clear and identifiable $$$ price tag associated with it.

Reader – Do you Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comment section!