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Money Management International Improving Lives Through Financial Education
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Frugal tips from MMI pet owners

By Alexis Holloway, Copywriter

According to a recent APPA Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet and we will collectively spend an estimated $47.7 billion on our pets this year. Paying for all the expenses that come with owning a pet - from food to veterinary care to grooming - is enough to strain anyone's budget.

Through raising our own four-legged family members, MMI pet owners have found a few unique ways to make pet ownership more affordable. Without further adieu, meet our pets and read a tip from each owner about how we’re saving on the cost of pet ownership.



Alexis'  Frugal Pet Tip: Make your own toys

Cats have great imaginations when it comes to play time, so you don't have to spend a lot of time or money to make a toy they'll love. Paper crumpled into a ball, ping pong balls, and empty cardboard boxes are all fun for cats. If you’re the crafty type, sewing toys from recycled fabric (like an old towel or t-shirt) and stuffing with cat nip is another inexpensive idea.



Kim's Frugal Pet Tip: Choose the right food

When the price of pet food started going up, Kim did a lot of research on whether or not it was worth it to trade down her dog's food. The cheapest pet food may contain unhealthy fillers, resulting in more trips to the vet over the pet's lifetime. The highest quality pet food available, however, is also a poor choice if you cannot afford it. The right choice is the food that balances your budget and the health of your pet. For more tips, read Kim’s suggestions on how to choose the best dog food you can afford.

Merlin and Warlock

Merlin and Warlock

Paul's Frugal Pet Tip: Keep cats indoors

While veterinary checkups are always recommended, you can avoid unnecessary trips to the vet and extend the life of your pets by keeping them in a safe environment. Paul keeps his cats, Merlin and Warlock, indoors to protect them against communicable diseases (such as FeLV, feline leukemia), cars, and predators.



Chris' Frugal Pet Tip: Groom at home

Grooming your dog at home can help strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Plus, you can save a lot of money by not taking your dog to a professional groomer. By creating his own dog grooming toolkit and grooming his golden retriever, Mackenzie, at home once a month, Chris estimates that he saves $623 per year on the cost of grooming.

How have you saved on the costs of pet ownership? If you have any frugal pet tips to share, we’d love to hear them!

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Participate in MMI's Poll Question

How much allowance should you give school-aged children per week? Take the poll and let us know what you think!

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Use allowances to teach children to be good money managers


There’s been some debate on whether allowance should be linked to chores since helping out around the house and being a contributing member of the family should be more of a requirement rather than an optional endowment. When thinking about allowance, it’s important to consider tasks that fall outside of regular responsibilities. While the association between work and pay is one lesson that an allowance can teach, it is not the only lesson necessary to raise a good money manager.

Following are tips to help you teach financial skills to your children as they grow, as well as a few tools to help get your point across.


Teach: Preschool-aged children can learn money recognition. Let them handle different types of currency and teach them the difference between quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies, and (if you trust your preschooler) dollar bills.

Tools: Give preschoolers different values of coins and a piggy bank or jar to put their money in.


Teach: Give your elementary school-aged child a lesson in savings and banking by opening a youth savings account. Teach them about depositing their allowance into their savings account and how, through the power of compound interest, their money grows.

Tool: Start a savings account for your child through your bank.


Teach: The tween years, around ages 10 through 13, is an ideal time to teach children about financial goal setting and smart purchase decisions. Let tweens put their savings skills to the test and exercise some financial independence by encouraging them to save up for a special purchase. Help your tween set a reasonable financial goal and calculate how much they will have to save in order to reach it.

Tool: Youth cash or checking account and chart to track their progress.


Teach: After high school, your teen will most likely go to college or start working full-time and need to manage their finances on their own. Now is the time to teach teens about the wise use of credit and how to live on a budget.

Tool: A job is a good tool to help teens learn how to earn and responsibly budget their money. Some parents believe in helping their teen build credit by getting them a credit card. Under the CARD Act, anyone under 21 cannot get a credit card without a parent cosigner (unless the teen has proof of a steady stream of income).

Now that you are prepared with the tools and lessons to raise good money managers, just how much allowance are you planning to give your children? Share your parental insight by participating in MMI’s allowance poll on

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Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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