First off, don’t have Sarah Mclachlan call me. This is not an article trying to divert animal-loving people from adopting a furry family member. I love pets, especially dogs. When I was 14 years old I bought my very own dog, a beautiful, pure bred British black lab. She was the most amazing pup. All through high school I trained her with obedience classes, how to fetch multiple rubber dummies, and even how to react to both hand signals and facial expressions. Even before getting that dog my family owned a gorgeous half collie, half golden retriever with long golden brown hair that we’d rescued from the pound. She was only 6 months old at the time we found her, minutes away from being put down. It was one of the greatest memories of my childhood when we brought her home…outside of the day I purchased my own dog.

So when does it make sense to buy a dog?

Say you’re a recent college grad and about to start your new job with your new spouse in your new apartment. One night you’re out on a date walking hand in hand down the sidewalk when you pass a stranger walking a cute, 9-week old puppy. You feel a tight squeeze on your hand and look over into the loving eyes of your significant other and the decision is made. You’re getting a fur baby.

If that’s your situation and you have the student loans, cars, and credit cards paid off, the job lined up and going well, both sides of the family living near by, cash in the bank, and no plans on starting a business, then there would be very little hesitation on moving forward.

But if that’s not you, and you’re serious about:

  • Paying off debt
  • Traveling
  • Starting and maintaining a business
  • Saving for a significant purchase like a house or car

Then getting a dog may not be in your best interest right now.

Simply put, dogs are expensive and require time.

A recent article in Forbes Magazine stated that it can cost upwards of $1,570 per year to own a dog, especially as the dog begins to age. Purchasing a puppy can run a person anywhere from $50 from a pound, to over $1,200 and beyond depending on the type of dog and purity of its breed. Then there’s food, toys, vaccinations, check-ups, nail trimmings, destroyed furniture, new carpeting/flooring if the dog sheds, urinates, or defecates in your house. Additionally, you may need to pick up some meds and vitamins, and pay for surgery if there is ever an accident. Any time you want to travel, unless family lives near by and is willing to take the dog, chances are you are bringing your pup to a facility or paying a friend to watch the dog while you’re away. And finally, what if you happen to live in the city? How much does it cost to hire someone to walk your dog while you’re at work or out with friends?

From a time perspective, imagine you get home from your day job and have meetings scheduled all evening long as you’re working towards getting your project/business off the ground. Would you even consider starting something like that knowing that you might have to neglect your pup for the sake of your business’ growth? Or would the guilt of that neglect be enough to hold you back, planting the seed in the back of your mind that “I don’t have time to do this”?

All of these little things add up. Imagine how a little delayed gratification could impact your long term financial well-being if instead of allowing yourself to get a dog right now, you considered paying an additional $1,570 towards your car payment or student loans, invested that money into a new business or saved it for a down payment on a house. How long to delay? That’s up to you and how big of a dream you are chasing. Nothing inherently wrong with owning a dog, but the question comes down to what do you prioritize? Is a shot at financial freedom, owning your own home, or maybe starting a family higher on the list than having a dog right now? You decide.