Covering The Cost Of Veterinary Services

The cost of veterinary services isn't likely to go down anytime soon. In fact, ABC News reported in June of 2009 that costs for pet owners had doubled from 1996 to 2006. Let's look at more ways to reduce the pain of this necessary expenditure experienced by all cat owners.

In our first episode, we mainly looked at creative ways to pay for veterinary costs with creative financing options. These include peer to peer lending, planning ahead with a savings account, and asking your vet if you can make payments over time.

Let's continue that with some more ideas, and also add in some ways to make money out of things you may already have, including your knowledge and some hard work. Let's get started...

One way to reduce your costs is to find a cheaper vet, or a vet that's willing to discount the service. While in some cases low cost veterinary care may mean a less experienced vet, that's not always the case. If you're in a wealthy area, try the next town over.

Also look for clinics at veterinary schools if there is one near you. You may have to drive a bit, but it's worth looking into.

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) has a list of veterinary schools that are "member institutions" in various parts of the world.

"Contact your local animal shelter. Some shelters have on-site low-cost veterinary clinics or work with local vets who are willing to reduce their charges. Some also have veterinary loan or grant programs."
-The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society has a list of what they call "pet financial aid-related organizations." These are organizations that offer financial assistance with veterinary bills.

Perhaps you can work a deal with your vet to provide services as well. If you have a service or skill that's in demand, you can possibly barter.

Accountants, carpenters, roofers, and so on offer services needed by almost any business. Offer to teach your vet's kids to play the trumpet. What, you don't play the trumpet? You could also offer to do office work for your vet. You never know until you ask.

Below, we'll look at ways to squeeze money out of what you already have, or get some more money coming in.

  • Have a yard sale -- We all have stuff we don't use or don't want anymore. You can sell these items on eBay and raise the money, or have a yard sale and sell off your "extra" belongings.

    The good stuff you can take to auction (ever see the show "Cash in the Attic?"). Where I live, it's pretty cheap to rent a spot and a table at the local flea market. People come out there all the time looking for bargains, and if you've got something useful, it's not that hard to sell it there.

    If you make crafts, you can sell that at the flea market too, or look for craft shows and sell your wares there. You can also sell them online via Etsy, or better yet, start your own website selling your products.
  • Start a part time business -- When I was a kid, there was a so-called energy crisis. It was the time of "odd and even day" where you could only get gasoline based on your license plate. Cars were backed up for a mile in the gas lines.

    A friend of mine and I set up a lemonade stand to sell drinks to all the people waiting in line for gas. It was a bad situation that we turned into an opportunity. Today, we have more opportunities than ever to provide services either locally or online.

    How many products have you been disappointed with? How many times have you been treated with less than kid gloves by a company you did business with? Can you do it better? If so, you've found a market.

    Find a need and fill it on a part time basis and you can earn extra income. Years ago, a guy with kinky curly hair had an idea. He started selling items that college students needed on the sidewalk near the school. That idea eventually became Fedex Kinko's (Now Fedex Office).
  • Other ways to increase your income -- There are lots of possibilities here, but you can get a weekend job, a holiday job, or do repairs or perform needed services around the neighborhood.
  • Start a pet related business -- Who better than you, a cat lover, to start a part-time business (that could become full-time) centered around pets? You can earn extra income (that could turn into full-time income), and if you run it out of your home, start up costs will be minimal. and were started when the respective founders of each of those companies saw a need that needed to be filled. You can use both of those sites to help you ramp up a pet sitting business (or just start advertising on your own).

    Many pet sitting services and dog walking services were also started because there were few people providing those services in that area. For cat lovers, it's easy to specialize in cat sitting.

    It takes less time than dog walking so you can do more houses in the same amount of time, and you're already an experienced cat care provider. You can also look into businesses that are related to the pet health care industry.

    According to ABC News, veterinary care costs are skyrocketing. "Americans spent $24 billion on veterinary care in 2006, the most recent year for which reliable statistics are available. That's more than double what they spent a decade earlier."

    So, find out what services vets and related businesses need, and provide it. Sell supplies (perishables that require replenishing are good steady income), testing equipment, and someone has to build and repair the clinics. Carve out a niche providing services related to animal care providers.

    There are also tons of ideas that focus on current and future pet owners. Transport services, such as moving pets long distances, or driving pets to groomers or vet's offices might work. Or, what about screening breeders for people who want to adopt certain breeds of pets?
  • Start a web business around your interest in pets -- That's what I did, and I couldn't have survived my job layoff without it. You can start a Web-based business for relatively low cost.

    There are actually many approaches to this, but I'll only list a couple of them here. While you could buy pet products wholesale and sell items on eBay, I'd recommend a different approach.

    What some people do is begin with the Web equivalent of "freelance" writing. There are websites that will pay anywhere from $.50 (like Mechanical Turk) up to $15 (Demand Media) for you to write articles.

    Other sites may pay a small amount up front, and then revenue share, or pay you based on how much traffic your articles receive. This may work to get you some extra income. The problem with this approach is that you're building a business for someone else rather than yourself.

    Instead, I recommend you start your own website offering information to pet lovers (or really any subject you've got knowledge or interest in). The exact system I used to create this website and help thousands of cat lovers each month (while getting paid for it) is outlined at SiteSell's YouTube channel.

    It's a way to make money from your own life experience, knowledge and interests, and it directly affects your bottom line. Every page that you write has the ability to create income for you over and over again.

    Pretty soon, your cat food is paid for. After that, no more costs for litter and vet care. After the cat toys are paid for, you attack your car payment, and so on.

I realize that some of these seem like a lot of work, and some of them are a lot of work. Some of them are long term solutions. But remember, if you can work out a payment plan with your vet, or you can get a credit plan or a loan, you only need to cover whatever the payments are each month.

If you can reduce your expenses by $100 per month, and increase your income by $100 per month, that's $200 per month you'd have to pay off your vet bills.

For more ideas on covering the cost of veterinary services, the Humane Society can help.

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