How to Get a New Pet on a Budget

Chocolate Lab Puppy

Pet ownership is one of the most relaxing forms of at-home companionship in the known world. There's nothing better than coming home to a happy dog or cat who will sit with you on the couch, play with toys, and keep you company during after-work or after-school hours. However, if you're out on your own and looking to get a new pet, the process can be surprisingly costly.

Of course, this high "entry cost" is only for people who want pet-store pets treated at full price. If you know what you're doing, city pet ownership is pretty darn affordable, even with spaying and neutering as part of your process. Here are our top tips on how to get a new apartment dog or cat without breaking your move-in budget.

Shelter Pet or Friend Adoption

Do not buy a dog or cat at a pet store. Pet store pets are bred by breeders and sold at a premium. The cheapest way to get a pet is to adopt a puppy or kitten from a friend's litter. If you're not that lucky, try Craigslist, then head on over to the shelter. Shelters charge a small amount for adopting a pet, but not nearly as much as a pet store or pedigree breeder. If you don't care about the breed (and really, you shouldn't) then a shelter pet can easily become your new best friend and couch buddy.

Adopt an Older Pet

If you do adopt a shelter pet, look for half-grown pets and older. Puppies and kittens sell like hot-cakes and shelters can get serious operating funds for upping the adoption price. An older pet, however, is more likely to be relaxed, well-behaved, and at a much lower cost. You might even be saving a life by adopting a pet that will soon overstay it's welcome at the shelter.

ASPCA Sponsored Spaying or Neutering

Spaying or neutering your new pet is a serious responsibility for any pet owner, and also a potentially huge cost. Unless you know where to go. The ASPCA is a group dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and, as part of that, offers free or discounted 'fixing' for any pet owner responsible enough to sign up.

Take your new pet into an ASPCA clinic or another similar charity opportunity that will offer you spaying or neutering for free or at a serious discount.

Second Hand Pet Supplies

Why buy expensive new pet supplies when your pet is only going to play and sleep on it? There are tons of second-hand pet supplies available online, at garage sales, and in thrift shops all over the country. By knowing where to look, you can save a bundle on your introductory pet bed, balls and stuffies, litter boxes and climbing trees, and other toys right off the bat. No need to spend hundreds on new stuff when old stuff is available for half price or cheaper.

DIY Toys and Beds

You can also make your own pet bed and toys if you're handy at home and have a few extra towels. A stick, feather, and string can quickly become your cat's new favorite 'bird' to chase around the apartment while an old tennis ball is a dog's best friend. And a well-padded old laundry basket can make the perfect pet bed if you just need to throw something together. If you're really handy, you can even hammer together your own cat tree upholstered in carpet scraps.

Choose Your Pet Food Wisely

Finally, choose your recurring costs carefully. Pet food is something you will buy every month. On one hand, you want stuff that will keep your pet healthy and happy. On the other hand, you don't want to overspend on pointless 'luxury' pet products. For pet food, look for a balance of low cost and healthy ingredients. If you go with the grain-rich options, this can be fine but watch for allergies just in case. Some pets develop grain allergies in response to low-cost food. Some eat it happily for decades, so it's up to you and your pet.


Getting a new pet is a great way to always have a friendly couch snuggling companion at home. From playing games to friendly shared naps, your new pet doesn't have to break the bank. With these tips, getting a new pet can be low-cost and incredibly rewarding. For more great everyday financial tips, contact us today!