By Holly Mangan
You probably already know how great it is to own a dog - but did you know that having one can actually earn you money? Sure, dog costs can range anywhere from $400 to $700 per year (including dog supplies and veterinary care bills). But think of it as an investment - one that over the years could theoretically return it's weight in gold (well, depending on the size of your dog).
Related: Taking care of your dog on a budget
Here are four benefits of owning a dog:
1. Improved Health
Dog owners often live a healthier lifestyle than those who do not own a dog. You exercise more, and a dog's natural enthusiasm is great motivation to get moving. In fact, studies show that dog ownership significantly increases your chances of surviving a heart attack. And it's practically common knowledge that petting and caring for your furry friend reduces stress.
Related: Pet Owners Aren't Skimping On Health Costs
All this translates to fewer medical issues and bills, which means more money in the bank. Owning a dog can be an extremely inexpensive health insurance policy!
2. Free Entertainment
Goofing around with your dog in the backyard is free and fun! So is walking your dog in the neighborhood, and visiting the dog park can be a blast. If you spend time decompressing with these activities, it's time you won't spend on other expensive forms of entertainment, such as going to the movies or the local bar.
3. Great for Kids
Getting a dog can be a boon to your children's psychological and physical well-being, not to mention to your pocketbook. A dog is an automatic playmate which means you'll spend less time entertaining the kids yourself and less money taking them out to expensive activities. Plus, owning a dog and teaching your children to care for it will help them develop a sense of responsibility and get them to play outdoors more often. It should go without saying that if your kids learn responsibility and get regular exercise, it will save you big bucks in the long run.
4. Increased Social Activity
If you ever lament a lack of friends or your ability to meet interesting people, I have two words for you: dog park. Here you can find an eclectic mix of interesting dog lovers, and they are there nearly every day, or at least a few times per week. Just don't be surprised if they learn your dog's name before they learn yours. No worries - you'll probably do the same thing.
You never know quite who you'll meet in these situations. It could be your next boss, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or your next prospect if you're in business for yourself - any could add up to more money in your pocket.
It's hard to put an exact dollar amount on the savings you will incur by having a dog. But if you want a dog and are not sure you can afford one, look at what current expenses you might be able to cut out. For example, with an active dog, you may no longer need a gym membership, your kids may demand fewer video games and toys, and you may be able to limit your cable TV package or get rid of it entirely.
Owning a dog, especially on a tight budget, is about setting priorities. But when it comes down to it, as most dog lovers know, there is simply no price tag that can be put on the experience.
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