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dogIf your kid wants a dog this summer or for Christmas, their birthday, President’s Day or just about any other day of the year, think twice.

Along with the responsibilities of raising a pet that the child should help with — walking, feeding, grooming and cleaning up after — there are bigger responsibilities that you’ll have to face as a parent. Financial ones. Ones where you have to pull money out of your pocket to pay for whatever the dog needs.

These probably aren’t at the front of your mind when you’re looking at cute dogs at your local animal shelter, but they will be soon after you leave with a new pet in your hands. The costs of pet ownership are high for any type of pet, including cats. But as someone who has only owned dogs, I’m going with my experience with dogs.

Here are five of the biggest costs you’ll have as a new pet owner. Some are optional, but the consequences of not having some of them could be more expensive down the road. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take to save money, then go for it.

Out-the-door costs

Adoption fees can be staggering enough to get you to reconsider getting a dog. The costs I’m detailing are from my local animal shelter, which is where you should be adopting a dog if you really want to save a life. Go to a pet store or private breeder, and you’ll likely pay a lot more.

Many animal shelters will require that your pet be spayed or neutered, a cost they usually discount, before you can take it home. For a male dog, the neuter deposit or surgery fee ranges from $60 to $135, and that goes up to $75 to $195 to spay a female dog. ...continue reading

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get started paying off debtYou’ve gathered your bills, figured out who you owe and how much, and you’ve even created a budget. But it can still be overwhelming when you decide to get started paying off debt.

I've been there! Just a few short years ago I confronted my debt balances and created a plan so I could get started paying off debt, but it wasn't easy.

When you get started paying off debt, you have to make some tough decisions and sacrifices that you may not want to make.

If you are ready to get started paying off debt, here are my top 5 tips that can help.

Change Your Habits

We all have habits that we'd like to change. Some of them may be financial, and some may not. An example of a bad financial habit is "window" shopping whenever you have time to kill. Instead of window shopping while you kill time, choose a different activity instead. You can bring a book to read, or go for a walk in a nearby park or neighborhood as an alternative. These will keep you from being tempted to spend money. Don’t shop unless you absolutely need something. ...continue reading

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whole life insuranceAt sometime in your life, you're likely to need life insurance — or to at least consider it. For me, that revelation came after taking on some adult responsibilities: marriage, buying a condo with my wife, and our plan to have a child.

What I didn't want to enter into the equation, however, was a long presentation by an insurance salesman on a topic I didn't know much about: whole life insurance. But that's what I got, and it didn't end well.

Unfortunately, the wrong insurance salesman tried selling whole life insurance to us, and the ordeal was so confusing and full of insurance salesman cliches that it could have been cast for a short video on how not to sell insurance.

We were young and had enough income to buy a condo and consider adding to our family — which sounds like the best time to buy life insurance. If one of us died, having a child, mortgage and other expenses would be too much for the other to pay without insurance.

An insurance salesman knocks on the door...

I thought it was a pretty straightforward scenario, and one that could be solved relatively quickly with an insurance expert. I called an insurance agent, and we set up a time for him to come over and explain policies to my wife and I.

I didn't know then what I know now about life insurance — that a term policy was much better for our needs than whole life.

When the salesman arrived at our door, his first and only pitch was for whole life insurance. I don't remember all of the details, but the main thing that stands out is how he kept trying to show us how whole life insurance was an investment we should take advantage of. ...continue reading