This article was previously published September 24, 2014, and was updated April 29, 2022
Pet surgery is nearly always an unexpected expense
Once you’ve had a furry friend living with you for long enough, it becomes part of your family. And like family, if it were to ever be injured or ill, you want it to get the best medical treatment possible. Where do you turn if your animal needs life-saving pet surgery and you don’t have the money on hand to pay for it?
One of the first things you can do is look at your assets.
Assets include tangible things you own, so take a look around your home. Advertise for a yard sale in venues like local papers, online on Craigslist, and physical signs and sell some gently used items. If you have big ticket items you don’t need, like some furniture or a bicycle, consider using Craigslist or eBay. You will get to keep all of the money if you avoid selling through consignment stores.
If you have been contributing to a Roth IRA, breathe a sigh of relief. Because Roth IRA contributions are made with money you have already been taxed on, you can withdraw your contributions at any time without penalties, even if you have not reached retirement age. However, if you withdraw some of your earnings in addition to the amount of the contributions you made, you will be subject to taxes and penalties on the earnings portion – so be sure that you have kept good records of your contributions over the years for your tax advisor. If you are over 59.5 years old and have had your account for more than five years, you can begin withdrawing contributions AND earnings without any taxes or penalties.
If you prefer not to touch your retirement savings but have an annuity or structured settlement, think about selling future payments for a lump sum up front. If your veterinarian can give you a sense of how much money you need for the surgery, representatives at a company like J.G. Wentworth can help you decide if you want to sell all payments, or do partial buyouts to cover the cost and still let you continue monthly payments in the future. Keep in mind this process can take up to three months, so you want to get started soon.
Alternatively, instead of using your assets, you could add to your income by picking up part time jobs. Bartending and waiting tables are more lucrative options thanks to cash tips, especially if you have some experience. Babysitting can pay up to $15 per hour, so canvas the neighborhood and let parents know you are looking for work. Since you are already familiar with the world of pet care, advertise your pet-sitting services for people who either work all day or who want to get away for a long weekend. If you have pent up creative skills, sell some of your wares on sites like Etsy.
Or you could consider reaching out to charities that grant funds for pet surgery. These include Care Credit, Paws for a Cure and The Pet Fund.
Keep in mind that of the top 10 surgeries for dogs, the average cost of the cheapest surgeries is close to $1000, and can go up to $8000; the top 10 feline surgeries tend to be slightly cheaper, but still run into the hundreds of dollars, reports PetInsurance.com. Given that 1 in 20 pets require some sort of pet surgery, according to the VPI group, once you make it through this round of surgery, you may want to think about purchasing pet insurance to help you handle the cost in the future.
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