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Book Offers Strong Advice for Savings

'Pampered Pets on a Budget' Discovery a Lucky Coincidence After Tax Day

Anything suggesting savings after our tough tax season perks my ears.

The authors of Pampered Pets on a Budget: Caring for Your Pet Without Losing Your Tail were even kind enough to send me a copy of their book for review.

The meat of the book arrives late, in the final of 10 chapters, and much of the book reads like a primer for someone thinking about getting a dog or cat.

But for such a fast read, the parts of value to me were well worth it.

Published last year, Pampered Pets on a Budget was written by Jeffrey L. Barnes, a business advisor, consultant and intermediary, and Kristen M. Levine, a pet lifestyle expert who has spent 20 years logging more than 1,000 live television and radio interviews talking about pets. She now serves as a member of the Toyota Pet Expert Team (P.E.T.).

“Plus, I'm a lifelong pet parent,” she said.

Barnes has written a few veterinary medicine practice books before; as so many great partnerships develop, the two decided to co-author the book one day over coffee.

“I have always wanted to author a book,” Levine said. “Also, I run a marketing agency and I am a pet lifestyle journalist and spokesperson, so I preferred a book (over publishing a website) because it had a start and end point.

“We haven't ruled our expanding on our project. We've discussed a website, and budget worshop materials for pet owners. The possibilities are numerous.”

Pampered Pets on a Budget speaks to the internet as a place where once-good information goes sour, and where sources cannot always be verified, particularly in the case of veterinary advice. In fact, veterinarians get great props in this book, and I'd say that's just because Barnes consults for them if it weren't so legit. A good veterianarian is invaluable.

So is preventative care. And while we wish there were a magic wand to make prevention free, cash spent on health is a worthwhile investment in your financial future. Scheduling annual wellness visits with the vet, giving your pet weekly check-ups yourself and personalizing your pet's vaccines should be givens — they would if your pet were a child — but some people consider them unnecessary expenses. They're not. They could save you a bundle.

I hadn't really considered it, but pet health insurance could do the same, from $75 to $300 a year. Chapter 7 was a real lesson for me, something I wouldn't have hunted down at the computer, but that I'm glad I read under a blanket on the couch. I especially appreciated the “know your personality” recommendation when considering insurance: “Even people who say they wouldn't spend more than $500 or $1,000 on a medical episode often change their minds when emotions take hold,” Levine writes. And let my $1,000+ Muppet and the late great serve as proof.

Chapter 9 includes great advice on choosing groomers and boarding facilities, though it concludes with a misplaced section with questions to ask breeders. (The book makes it clear: adoption is the cheapest way, and includes plenty of purebred options any day. These questions don't have anything to do with your budget.)

However, where Pampered Pets on a Budget shines most is in its hidden gems of wisdom: recommending reliable pet websites, pet health savings accounts if paying to an insurance company seems like a waste, proper portion sizes of high quality foods bought in bulk forboth prevention and cost savings. Chapter 10 is full of them.

“My favorite tip,” said Levine, “is to budget for your pet's annual healthcare, just like you budget for other family expenses so you don't have to skimp on the most important thing your pet needs — regular preventative wellness checks. The vast majority of pet owners I speak to have never included their pet in their family budget — they simply forget or overlook this segment of spending.”

For the new pet owner or a pet owner-to-be, this book will save trips to 30 good pet websites; it would also make a great gift for someone considering the pet responsibility plunge. This afforable book costs $10 digitally here on Amazon.com and $16 in paperback here on Lulu.com.

Levine said she'd write a second book about “the things we do for pet love” if she could write another book today.

“I've heard dozens of stories that you wouldn't believe about people doing amazing, silly or heroic things for the love of their pet,” she said. “I featured this topic recently on my radio show, 'The Things We Do For Pet Love' at this link.”

melissajacksons April 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM
Did someone at some in sensitive hospital forget to tell him about "Penny Health". Also If you aren't employed and have no means of paying for treatment the hospital will file the form and get reimbursed by medicaid.
Nick Quotes April 24, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Pet health insurance can be complicated but it's a necessity for any dog or cat owner who would pay any amount of money to treat their pet. I encourage anybody to visit www.petinsurancequotes.com to learn more about pet insurance and get free quotes from all the top companies in real-time.
Andy April 24, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I don't really try to "save" on my pets per se, I just have a dedicated savings account which I regularly contribute to. I find it more helpful than trying to shave pennies off the pet budget. I actually also recently signed up for a vet discount program, so I only pay about 75% of the bill at the vet. Pretty cool service, it's called Pet Assure - you guys might want to check it out. Good luck!

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