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thRecently a relative was sitting on a tailgate with her dog’s leash wrapped around her wrist. The dog suddenly bolted, slamming her arm against the side of the vehicle.

No broken bones, fortunately, but it hurt like heck and she’ll probably have to pony up co-pays for the emergency room visit and X-rays.

Our furry friends can cost us plenty even if they never cause any critter-human mishaps. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the total annual cost for dogs is between $1,314 and $1,843. All you crazy cat people will shell out about $1,035 per year for your little purrmeisters.

Those figures include food, medical care, dishes and the like – but not related costs such as the need to board a pet when you travel or to pay more for homeowners insurance or renter’s insurance if the company deems your pet an attractive nuisance (e.g., a “biting breed”).

Should we put a price on love? You bet.

 


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th-1If money is piling up in your checking account, here’s one way to divest yourself of the burden: Ignore both the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance tips and the “check engine” light.

According to CarMD.com, a faulty oxygen sensor is the most common reason for that check-engine light to pop up on the dashboard. The fix could be as simple as changing out a dirty air filter, but you could also be on the hook for a $259.30 (on average) sensor replacement.

Some folks push the envelope on maintenance visits or ignore the manufacturer guidelines entirely. They think that’s frugal, but it isn’t.

The oxygen sensor is a good example. Sure, you’ll save almost $260 by not fixing it. But you’ll pay for it in other ways. Expensive ways.

 


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th-1In late April I wrote about Digit, the personal finance app that automates withdrawals. In it I reported that Digit had squirreled away a little over $100 between early February and April 25.

Today I checked the balance and it’s up to just under $223. What I like best about this? I didn’t miss the money.


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th-1Recently a reader named Laura H. e-mailed to ask if I could re-run “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year,” an article I wrote for MSN Money back in January 2007.

When I wrote that I was 49 years old, back in college and coming off a two-year-long divorce. At the time the assignment seemed like a one-off freelance gig. I had no way of knowing that it would ultimately lead to a career as a personal finance blogger; at that point I didn’t even know what blogs were.

People still mention that $12k piece. Some ask me where they can find the piece. Unfortunately, MSN Money changed platforms and the work I did there between 2007 and 2013 can no longer be accessed.

Fortunately, I keep copies of everything I write.


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thDuring a business-related trip to Texas last summer, I met up with a blogger who goes by the name “empressjuju” and blogs at (the) Vegas in Austin. Along with her husband we enjoyed a delightful regional brunch (think “breakfast tacos”) and talked about money and life.

Homeownership was definitely on their minds. But months went by and they kept discovering swell new restaurants and activities. Austin can do that to you.

This kind of overspending is insidious, she noted later, and it can feel oddly necessary because we’re all such busy people. In fact, her husband was inclined to think that it wasn’t really a problem.

The empress begged to differ. “How are we ever going to buy a house if we keep spending like this on food? We are eating our house!”


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