Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Saving Money: Pet Care

Since the beginning of November, Todd and I have been scrutinizing our expenses.  We realize that our dream of full time RVing will not be possible if we are frivolous with how we spend money.  I am almost positive that my mother is rolling her eyes right now as she’s reading this (I love you, mom!) because she already feels that we go above and beyond frugality.  For us, we believe there is always room for improvement and we have found a way to cut down the expenses on one of our largest expenses: the animals!

Presently, we live amongst 7 animals.  Please do not report us to pet hoarders!  It’s not like that at all, though sometimes at night when we are all in bed (oh yes, we fit in a queen sized bed with two large dogs and 5 cats) it feels like we may have taken in one or two (or 5!) too many strays.  I believe that when we decided to take in all of these animals, we chose to take on the responsibility of feeding and caring for these animals to the best of our ability.

Recently, we have found ways to save money on caring for our critters.

Prices for spay/neutering can vary.  We have paid over $250 for one of our kittens to be spayed whereas we have paid less than that amount to have 3 kittens spayed/neutered at a no-kill shelter.  After being unhappy with our local vet, we decided to look elsewhere and found a place that spays/neuters cats for $35 (boys) to $45 (girls)!  They have a program that if you have more than one cat, you buy one spay/neuter and you get one free.  We have had 6 of our animals spayed/neutered at this no-kill shelter and have been very pleased with the results and how our animals bounced back after their surgeries.

Kitten Kaleidoscope!

We purchase very high-quality food for our dogs that is formulated for their breed to help keep their joints healthy and to maintain a healthy weight.  We could buy the food at a pet store for $55+/bag; however, Amazon carries the same brand for $44/bag! We also found that our cat food is $8/bag less expensive at BJ’s versus the same exact brand at WalMart.  In other words: shop around!

Our vet charges an arm and a leg to vaccinate our pups; however, there are clinics that are offered at Pet Supplies Plus that come around every few weeks to vaccinate dogs and cats starting at $10!  By doing this, you avoid the fee that the vet charges just to see your pet, and it helps your pocketbook!  Also, the no-kill shelter offers these vaccinations for a fraction of the price as well.

Flea Treatments
Flea treatments for the dogs are extremely expensive at $10/dog per month and we have been purchasing product from WalMart for the cats.  I found that Fipronil has the same ingredients as Frontline and Advantage flea and tick control.  This can be used for both dogs and the cats.  We purchase this product in bulk (30cc’s) from a seller on eBay at $52.97 delivered to our door and administer it ourselves.  The treatments last us 5 months for all 7 critters to be free of fleas and ticks.

Buddy and Lana on Christmas Morning

Cat De-wormer Treatment
Our cats are great hunters and because of this, they tend to get worms from their prey a couple times a year.  We have tried the $8/bottle over-the-counter product from WalMart and Tractor Supply with no luck until we take the cats to the vet to get treated.  After doing some research, I found that Praziquantel is a generic form of de-wormer that kills tapeworm and is used in many vet clinics and shelters to help cut costs.  We now purchase 20 capsules of Praziquantel a year from a seller on eBay to keep on hand and administer to our cats when they have worms.  The cost is $19.99 and each of our 5 cats can be treated 4 times!

Being Labs, our dogs do not need groomed; however, they need their nails trimmed.  Lana has black nails so it very difficult to cut her nails without having a bleeder.  Buddy’s nails are easier to trim because you can see the quick; however, he cannot stand to have them done.  I wait until he is zonked out before I can cut his nails.  We didn’t purchase any fancy schmancy nail-clippers, just regular ones that can be found at the dollar store or WalMart. 

I have yet to find an alternative for the dogs for their heartworm medication: if you know of anything, please let me know!

I want to make it clear that even though we save money on flea treatments and de-wormers, we take our dogs to the vet twice a year (for their heartworm shots and general checkup) and cats when needed.  I believe that when we took these strays in, it became our responsibility to care for them and to keep them healthy!

DISCLOSURE:  These items have been provided for informational purposes only.  Please note that I am not a veterinarian.  Please consult your veterinarian before administering these items to your pets.

What do you do to save money on your pets?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Silver Linings

The beginning of 2014 has been a tough one in our home.  January 17th, Todd was let go from his job of over 7 years.  He was fortunate enough to find a new position that same week and started his new job a few weeks later.

On Valentine's Day, I was informed that my hours at work would be cut starting the next week, therefore, my pay would be 25%.  To say that I didnt see this coming would be a lie - the company has been selling less and less with each passing month with February being nearly dead.  Over the past couple of months, I've witnessed a coworker lose 25% of his pay (and maintain his hours), another one let go and yet another who had his hours cut by 25% as well. 

After the shock of learning that my hours have been cut for a job that I have been going to for over 11 years, I quickly realized the silver lining that this provides me (and Todd).  They include:
  1. More time in the mornings to spend with my husband and our fur-family. 
  2. Time to be able to get out when the sun comes up in the morning with the pups to get exercise in each day: there are no more excuses!
  3. Time to get my chores done...before work!
  4. Time to focus on starting the business that has been floating around in my head for the past 6 months.
  5. No more alarm clocks needed in the mornings since I dont have to leave until 9:30.
  6. No more rush hour traffic!
  7. Less time away from home and my fur-babies.
  8. The realization that we live as we do (watching/minimizing our spending and having an ample emergency fund) for times like these.  
The truth of the matter is that I have not been happy where I am working for many years.  This very well be the push that I need to get out there and find a position closer to home that is more in line with how I best do business (creating and maintaining strong relationships) and an employer who is willing to foster my yearning to learn and grow as a professional. Todd was able to find this in his new position and comes home every day saying, "Why didnt I do this sooner?"

I am thankful to have a husband that supports me in whatever I decide to do: stay with my current employer with the limited hours or find a new position.

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One Step Closer to our Dream

In mid-January, Todd and I went to take a look at an RV in our price range over an hour away from our home.  After attending the Cleveland RV show the day before, we knew exactly what we were looking for in an RV and we were ready to start actively searching for our (new to us) home on wheels.  We looked at a couple of RV’s before the RV show and were not impressed to say the least.  When we arrived to the dealership and saw the RV we had come to see and I was disappointed.  There were a few things that needed fixed, the interior was outdated, the tires were dry-rotted, the carpets were filthy, and there didn’t seem to be much room in the RV.  Defeated, I saw a large Class A across the way that was more than what we had in the bank to purchase an RV.  We stepped into the rig and were immediately blown away.  I am pretty sure my first word was “Wow!”  It.Was.Gorgeous!

After walking through the entire RV, we were still in awe of the beautiful rig.  With only 72,500 miles on it, it met all of our requirements and then some!  The rig was just purchased from another dealership and driven up from Florida {no rust!}, it had only one owner, it was meticulously taken care of, its records and repair receipts (there were only 2 of them) kept organized in an accordion file, used unleaded gasoline, had two bump-outs to create plenty of room for our family, large freshwater holding tanks (important for boondocking) and it had wonderful storage space.  This was the rig of our dreams that we could live in {very} comfortably.

After going to a local McDonald’s to use their WiFi, we did research on the rig to see if the quality was there, to check reviews and to see how much negotiating needed to be done to bring it down to a reasonable price below the NADA value.  We were pleasantly surprised by what we found: the reviews on this Make/Model rig were great and the price was well below the NADA wholesale value.  After talking about it for a little while longer, we decided to put a deposit down on the rig contingent on an inspection.

A week later, we were informed that the inspection was done on the entire RV and it was cleared, so we had ourselves an RV.  Todd and I did something we said we were never going to do again: we took out a loan for a portion of the RV.  It is funny how lenders (and even the dealership) wanted us to take out a 10 year loan on the 13 year old RV.  No thanks.  Instead, we opted for an 18 month loan that we are looking to have paid off as soon as possible.  According to Dave Ramsey’s teachings, we should pay off the RV before paying off the house, but we only have 9 more months until the house is paid off.  It will take less than 4 months to pay off the rig after the house is paid off.

We named the rig Tinkerbell.  Everyone I tell thinks it’s the worst name to call the beast, but the 33’ 2000 Rexhall Rexair is a small RV comparatively.  Also, the rig needs a few little repairs and Todd will be “Tinkering” with it until the weather warms up and we can get out on the road!

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures of our new home on wheels:
View from the cockpit

Second view from the cockpit

Photo of the kitchen area
(taken by the dealership: not sure why there is dust particles all over this picture.)

Our plan this year is to take Tink out for as many 3-day weekends as possible starting the beginning of May until the weather turns cool in the fall with an extended excursion depending on if hubby’s new job offers any time off.  We cannot wait to get out in the wilderness and start boondocking!