Cost of Pennywise: Year 1

Cost of Pennywise: Year 1

The math is in. The numbered were crunched. It’s so, so much worse than I thought..

One of my favourite finance bloggers is Mrs Frugalwoods, aka Elizabeth Willard Thames. No joke, I have listened to her audiobook “Meet the Frugalwoods” three times. It’s informative, funny, sweet, and entertaining.

Their blog used to heavily feature their adorable greyhound Gracie, often in adorable outfits. She passed away a little while ago. :(

They have several dog related blog posts, including one about how their frugalhound was very cost-effective, for reasons like:

  • She was short haired and easy to groom at home

  • She was a typical lazy greyhound that did not need, or appreciate, mid-day dog walkers interrupting her naps

  • They adopted her as an adult, skipping some of the most expensive puppy phases

Well, I had to lol/cry after this read, because we literally did everything as opposite and un-frugal as could be done with Pennywise. She is a poodle mix and her fur needs lots of grooming including hair cuts to avoid matting. We do some at home but we have taken her to a groomers once. We got her as an eight week old puppy, and invested in a lot of (excessive) puppy paraphernalia. I also spent quite a bit on dog walkers the first year, because she had so much energy and would get the crazies/zoomies if she didn’t get enough exercise and attention during the day. We did puppy classes with her, and had her spayed, and had a couple emergency vet visits that may have been unnecessary but we were scared first time dog parents.

Here is a summary by category. I knew that I was budgeting $100 per month for Penny, and that I was splitting the costs with my partner, so I had a rough idea that it was probably in the $2400 neighbourhood, but I couldn’t bring myself to really believe it was that much. Turns out, it’s even worse. I took money from other budget items to cover unexpected costs like the vet visits.

Grand total not including any adoption fees: $3,688.07, or $1,844.04 for me personally when split with my partner. I’ll use the total amounts for the rest of this post.

Year 1 Expenses
Vet care $1,268.32
Puppy training / activities $1,065.28
Food $467.43
Dog walker $350.00
General supplies $277.10
Grooming $159.45
Toys and treats $100.49
Total $3,688.07


Here are my main lessons learned:

  • I bought a lot of brand new supplies like a crate, pen, grass pad, bowls, etc. These could have been easily sourced second-hand. I have sold most of them since and it was easy to find someone to buy them (two even brought their own puppies when picking up items! WIN) This could probably have saved us $500.

  • Dogs are expensive, and even the Frugalwoods spent just shy of $1000 per year on their hound. That’s probably a realistic lower bound for most people. I think (hope) that I have hit an upper bound, and a huge chunk of this was probably a ‘puppy tax’ + ‘ignorant new dog parent tax’. I hope.

  • We don’t have pet insurance for Pennywise. We did a lot of research on this topic and decided ultimately to dedicate a savings account to her instead. We knew Year 1 would be high with vaccines, spaying, etc. I think the vet we chose was unusually expensive too. We’ll see how it goes in Year 2. But insurance isn’t a bad idea either! We’re still on the fence.

  • A lot of this stuff I never used, or barely used. Start with the basics and add as you find you need more supplies. Our absolute favourites from training:

    • Snuggle Puppy! It slept with her every night in her crate, and the heart beat really did seem to soothe her. She has been a very good sleeper since the early days, sleeping through the night by three months old. The heart beat has long died but snuggle puppy lives on, and is now her favourite toy and sleeping companion. Their relationship is very sweet. Totally worth the seemingly high price tag of $50. I didn’t find the heaters necessary, could have skipped those.

    • Crate training worked super well for us. Penny now mostly sleeps behind my knees in our bed, but the crate was so great for potty training and building healthy sleep habits (she would nap in there very well).

    • Puppy school was probably the best investment of all. Level 1 cost about $250 for five weeks of one hour classes in a small group with three other puppies, all under 12 weeks old.

  • We’ve been through four harnesses and she hates them all. Not sure what we’re doing wrong here. At least now we’re borrowing from others instead of buying new ones to test.

  • We’ve lost three sets of ID tags somehow. >.<

On the upside, we haven’t spent a ton on toys and treats. We get this enormous bag of 100% liver treats from Costco that lasts forever. We have maybe eight or ten different dog toys that I keep in a bin and rotate 2-3 at a time. If she hasn’t played with a toy in a few weeks, it seems to be very exciting to her (not sure if it seems new or seems familiar, but it works!)

Here’s our budget for Year 2: still generous, but less than half of Year 1. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Year 2 Budget
Vet care $500.00
Puppy training / activities $250.00
Food $450.00
Dog walker $100.00
General supplies $100.00
Grooming $150.00
Toys and treats $50.00
Total $1,600.00

How much do you budget and spend per year on your pets? Have you ever added it up? Should I budget for a 2019 Halloween costume for Penny?…

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