How to Avoid Using a Payday Loan for Pet Expenses

Inside Subprime: Feb 6, 2019

By Lindsay Frankel

Fur parents love their fur babies – in fact, 95 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be a part of the family. Most people would do anything to keep their pet, including taking out payday loans when unexpected costs arise. But these small-dollar loans come with significant risks. With short terms and average annual interest rates reaching almost 400 percent, payday loans trap borrowers in a cycle of debt that can be difficult to overcome.

The cost of owning a pet can put a lot of financial stress on low-income families. According to ASPCA estimates, the first-year cost of owning a pet exceeds $1,000, and most people spend more than $500 a year after that. Even if you took these costs into account when you first welcomed your pet into your home, you may have experienced a change in income or other unexpected costs. And a single pet healthcare emergency can cost several hundred dollars, an expense 40 percent of Americans would not be able to cover.

To avoid taking out a payday loan to cover the expense of your pet, consider the following strategies.

Budget and Save

First, consider whether you might be able to cut costs. Find ways to save money on groceries, cut out any unnecessary services, buy items used, and sell items you don’t need. You should also compare prices for pet food and buy in bulk when you can.

Visit a Pet Food Bank

If you’re struggling to afford pet food, check to see if there is a pet food bank in your area. You can also contact local nonprofit organizations aimed at keeping pets with their owners. Some will be able to provide assistance with buying pet food. Consider visiting a food bank for your own food as well. Meals on Wheels delivers both pet food and human food to families in need.

Seek Help from a Nonprofit

When your pet is in need of expensive medical treatment, it can be difficult on the whole family. But before you take out a payday loan, get in touch with nonprofit organizations aimed at providing emergency medical assistance to pets in need. The following organizations may be able to help:

The Brown Dog Foundation
The Pet Fund
The Onyx and Breezy Foundation
RedRover
Harley’s Hope Foundation

The Humane Society also keeps a list of local and national resources, and the ASPCA can help you find local, low-cost spay and neuter programs.

Seek Help from the Community

You should always ask friends or family members directly to begin with, but if that option isn’t available to you, you may be able to utilize crowdfunding. When creating a campaign, be honest and detailed about your pet’s needs, and include pictures. The following sites allow you to raise money from the community:

PetFundr
PlumFund
GoFundMe

Take out a Lower-Cost Loan

If you’re still in need of cash and can’t bear the thought of finding a new home for your pet, you may need to borrow money. But payday loans should always be considered a last resort, and you should only borrow what you will reasonably be able to pay back. Start by talking to local banks or credit unions, which offer lower-cost loans. If you have bad credit and are found ineligible for mainstream financial services, consider taking out an installment loan, which has longer terms and lower interest rates than a payday loan. Making your payments on time will even improve your credit score.

Find a New Home for Your Pet

It might be heartbreaking to say goodbye to your pet, but sometimes it’s in your pet’s best interest. If you can’t secure additional income, a loan won’t help you afford your pet in the long run. You can list your pet on Craigslist, Petfinder, or Get Your Pet and personally ensure you find a loving home that meets your pet’s needs. You can also surrender your pet to The Humane Society.

For more information on payday loans, scams, and cash advances and check out our city and state financial guides including FloridaIndiana, Illinois, KansasKentucky, MissouriOhio, Texas and more.

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