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We have a guest blog post this month from Ryan Smith who is part of the content development team at Compare Annuity.
He writes about the pros and cons of keeping pets in retirement. We welcome your comments on this subject.
In retirement, many turn to pets for companionship. There are pets in around 46% of the UK’s households and the combination of having more time to care and look after them once you’re out of work as well as the companionship they provide means they really are man’s best friend. But as a retiree, like with a heavily reduced income, can you really afford to keep a pet?
How much will a pet cost you?
Taking into account vet’s bills, food, accessories and other costs such as kennels or catteries for the times you are away from home, the average lifetime cost of owning a cat or a dog stands at around £17,000. This is around £1, 100 per year for a cat and £1, 200 per year for a dog!
The average UK pension fund is worth around £36, 800, according to figures from the Association of British Insurers. A pension pot of this size, if converted to an annuity would pay a single man aged 65 a retirement income of just over £2, 250 a year, or approximately £190 a month. You can calculate your own annuity rate using a free annuity calculator online.
When you compare this to the average price of keeping your pet, it doesn’t leave much left in the pot for your own living costs. It’s also worth considering that the annual cost of keeping an animal could potentially rise at around 20 per cent per year, meaning your furry friend could be much more expensive to look after than you originally thought.
Just like in every aspect of life, there are always ways of saving money when it comes to the care of your animal companions:
- Buying food in bulk. This is always a good start, and a great habit to get into. While it’s a bigger initial amount to pay out initially, generally you may be able to save yourself around 50% – and your pets won’t know the difference!
- Get insured. Vet’s bills can be one of the biggest expenses of keeping a pet. RSPCA figures show that almost 50% of pets will need treatment this year, at an average cost of £220. Pet insurance could save you hundreds of pounds over the pet’s lifetime. Remember to shop around though: online comparison sites will help you find the best cover.
- Keep jabs up to date. While this may be expensive, and likely won’t be covered under your pet’s insurance cover, opting not to get vaccinated could mean a higher medical bill later down the line if a nasty illness occurs. Again, insurance may not pay out if an illness occurs that could have been vaccinated against.
- Cut the Kennels. If you’re looking at holidays, you’ll need somewhere for your pet to stay too. Kennels can be extremely costly, and many don’t think about this when they start considering a break. Family, friends or neighbours may be willing to look after a pet in your absence, particularly if they also have pets and you can come to a mutual agreement for the next time they’re away.
Can you afford not to keep a pet in retirement?
Despite the costs of keeping a pet, the positives will likely outweigh the financial negatives the majority of the time. Owning a pet can have a positive impact on you both physically and mentally.
A Cambridge University study has actually found that pets can improve our general health in less than a month, with fewer headaches, coughs and colds reported, reduced stress and blood pressure, and even a lower risk of depression. They’re also essential for staving off loneliness, an occurrence that’s all too common in retirement and that can cause the same health degradation as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Cats and dogs are great companions and can make dark nights in front of the television seem a lot less lonely, even helping you to feel safer and more secure in your home.
Walking a dog will also ensure that you get out and about, keeping you active and even allowing you to meet other people. It’s even been proven that those pet owners over the age of 65 actually pay 30 per cent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
While the costs can creep up, for many retirees pets can be essential. As long as you do your research, consider your costs and ensure that you are financially stable, sharing your retirement with a furry friend can make your golden years even more valuable.
Ryan Smith is part of the content development team at Compare Annuity, working with a carefully selected network of annuity specialists offering retirees free, no-obligation quotes and advice on annuities.
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