Personal finance editor commits a cardinal personal finance sin; decides to ignore the critics and reap the benefits of puppy love

Personal finance editor commits a cardinal personal finance sin; decides to ignore the critics and reap the benefits of puppy love

My new Wheaten Terrier called Mazzy.

By Amanda Morrall

Against all better judgment, I have decided to do something that goes against every rule of good personal finance. I am getting a pet; a second pet in fact; a sweet little fluff ball named Mazzy; a canine companion for my lovely green-eyed rescue cat Molly.

I must be a glutton for punishment making this confession in a public forum. Before you cast judgment hear me out.

My decision to become a dog-owner is neither rash nor reckless. Well, that's my assessment of the situation.

My whole life I've wanted to get a dog and I'm old enough to know now that life is short and sometimes (most always in fact) it doesn't wait to deliver the perfect moment or circumstance on a silver platter. If you want something bad enough, after careful consideration of the consequences you should go for it.

Every man I've been involved with, hell even those I've never been involved with has, poo-poo'd the idea. One of the advantages of being single is that consensus decision making goes out the window. I'm mistress of my own domain apart from my two boys who heartily support the decision, as you can well imagine.

While men are to said to be the more rational of the sexes, I tend to believe that their opposition to having a cute cuddly pet join the fold has less to do with stoop and scoop duties and costs, than it does competing for attention. The pet averse women I know (my dear sister springs to mind)  are usually clean freaks.

I get that pets cost money; upfront, on-going, unanticipated. So do children. If children were boiled down to pure economics, no one would have them. Same goes for pets.

The decision isn't a financial one; it's emotional and lifestyle driven. I used to be a big runner and my joints have been battered and abused to the point where running three times a week would leave me in pain for the rest of it. Having a companion for walks on the beach will get me out more.

I'm not the sedentary type, so it's not like I need an excuse to exercise. However, if a benefit of dog ownership is that I'm fitter for it, how can that be a bad thing?

Every study I've read about pets points to how they are good for your emotional well-being. Sure, they might be occasionally naughty but mostly they are happy to see you, affectionate, non-argumentative and easy going. That's also a good thing.

I won't deny the financial costs of pet ownership are high although my cat care is pretty minimal. Molly's a pacifist so she stays out of trouble, avoids cat fights and expensive trips to the vet. The biggest financial downside is that she turns her nose at cheap cat food. That and I have to treat her regularly for fleas, even though it's a figment of her imagination (or maybe mine) that she has them.

I know I'm headed into new territory with a dog particularly a pure-bred. I've been saving for a year now, so the upfront costs are taken care of. I'm not in debt, so it's not like I have to feel guilty about that money having been put to a more productive cause. Sure, I could have padded the emergency fund out a bit but I'm pretty confident I'll live.

To manage the on-goings costs, I've taken a second job teaching yoga. Fortunately for me, it doesn't feel like work. The extra income will keep Mazzy and Molly in good quality dog food. Rest assured, I won't be buying accoutrements.

The biggest set back I can see is limiting my options for holiday homes on those odd occasions when we go sight-seeing.

I don't doubt the anti-dog brigade will come up with a million more reasons but it really is true what they say about love. It makes you blind.

Yes, having a dog or cat really is good for you, "Washington Post" article

The Economics of Pet Ownership by Investopedia

Tips for Cutting Pet Ownership costs  - also from Investopedia


We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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They are also an eco / green disaster....A large dog has the same carbon  foot print as a large car.


Well good thing I have a very small fuel efficient car and ride my bike.:)

And you just don't get the same mileage riding a dog.

Hairy kari - cute dog and a great play on words!

And to think, having read the headline - I thought you were just a bad speller who had bought a house :-).  Enjoy the pooch and the beach.

Thanks Kate. I'm thrilled despite the greeting Mazzy's getting by penny-pinching office curmudgeons.:)

Amanda had a little dog whose coat wasn't black as soot 

but everywhere that Mandy went it's sooty foot it put,

(well according to Steven)

I'll be thrilled when that most erroneous  phrase "carbon footprint" dies a natural death.

I think carbon footprint died here.

Probably to be replaced by heluim footprint to give us all an hysterical laugh.

BTW Amanda, my wife got a pomeranian and he slept on our bed  for 14 and a half years. Never wanted a dog but he was a treasure.

That should be Mandy not many

Very cute.:)

Can you not get a ROI, maybe breeding and selling/keep and breed more puppies?  The advantages of having a self replicating investment are huge, even if they only quadruple every year in 10 years how many would you have?

Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, sigh....

Time for a lecture that makes me look like a grumpy grinch with a heart of lead. ;)

Firstly. Life is long, particularly if you have a mortgage.

I get really grumpy with the youth of today who say life is short. It's long. We'll live to 100. Spending money now instead of repaying debt just extends the life of the debt and creates an enormous opportuntity cost of interest that doesn't have to be paid.

I know you're in a great position in not having a mortgage.


For anyone who does have one.

I've worked out that not spending NZ$1,000 a year on a dog and instead using it to repay that amount extra on a NZ$200,000 mortgage would save NZ$27,548 and allow you to repay the mortgage three years and two months early.

Is a dog worth NZ$27,548?

Do I look Grinchy enough?

Mebbe it's because I still have a mortgage. Grrrr

Enjoy the dog...  ;)




PS We have a labrador/border collie cross who costs us at least NZ$1,000 per year in vet bills, food, chewed up collars, stupid little blue bags for poo etc etc.

I call him our big hairy mistake.

Or our 'three seconds on Trade Me' dog. Because that's how long it would take to sell him on Trade Me, because he looks very cute and is well trained.

But...the opportunity cost...oh the opportunity cost.



Try and beat this.

I've had a mortgage on a dog.

We were o/s on holiday once many years ago when our (really, really big) sook of a dog (an English Mastiff) got ill.  The kennel tried to contact us but we were mid flight to somewhere and he required an urgent blood transfusion - so to Massey he was sent and the bill was $2,500.  The kennel were marvelous in their attempts to pull him through recovery and we kept in contact on a weekly basis - full of thanks/praise for their efforts.  Then we boarded the trans-Pacific flight back home, and he went down again.  Unable to contact us again - it was back to Massey.

Unable to pay the bill on return, we increased the loan on the house.

He went into remission a year later and that was the end - of the dog - not the repayments!

We had another dog within three months - this time a "toy".  :-)  Suckers for punishment, eh?



No pets at the moment, but when I have one, first thing I do is get a basic vet insurance policy.  For a bog-level non-pedigree type animal with no monetary value, you can get vet bills beyond the basics covered for less than $200 a year.

So, cheaper than a kid, more trainable, less attitude, don't skulk round the house telling you they hate you, you can leave them at home all day and their not going to play with matches. Heck if you get sick of them and want a holiday, just drop them off at the kennel, or if it's terminal, offer it up free on trademe. Sound like a bargain to me.


Statistically each large domestic dog's care/support/feeding produces as much CO2 as a car uses per sure there are exceptions to this...your dog(s) may well be one......that doesnt effect the validity of the statemant in a macro context. 

AGW is a scientifc fact.....denial it seems for many is the only way to avoid the moral problem of accepting responsibilty for the damage to the planet and our children's future we have or are doing.....go ahead and do it as much as you doesnt change the situation.

Working animals I have no issue with....the work has to be done somehow...


The benefit to your general well being and happiness which your dog will provide will probably save you money you would otherwise miss out on for loss of work due to anxiety/depression etc. Pets make you happy!

I've heard that owning a pet helps you live longer... results may vary of course. Cleaning dog diahorrea out of carpet and stepping in cat sick in the morning mitigate potential longevity effects for me.

Horses are carbon neutral.  It would pay off too if the exchange rate drops to 50c and petrol goes over $3/litre

It won't cost me more because I'm offsetting pet ownership with yoga instruction, book review writing etc. The additional revenue streams won't make me rich, they just afford me happy perks that enrich my life in non-material way.

You're like a black hole for fun and enjoyment.

Well we have 4 dogs, two pets, two farm dogs. The pets are large ones a lab the other is a PoodleX Waimarana he's  meant to be my hunting dog but my youngest daughter has corrupted him and he follows her around and would rather not get wet or dirty. The  other dog I think has  just eaten the neighbours cat.  I dont have any debt, but the horses cost lots more than the dogs.

Amanda - I'm sure Mazzy and your cat Molly make good friends and you have a lot of fun, just watching them having a lot of fun. So-  I wouldn't care about the little additional costs for the small dog ? 

We take our BorderCollieX and our 18 years old cat since she was a kitten, regularly to the beach walking.

One can save a lot of money walking the dog in stead of sitting in cafes, cinemas, etc.

Amanda – to be married to a lovely dog costs far less then to a grumpy husband - and it happens quite often.

Very true. A grumpy boss is bad enough.:)

..... speaking from your current experience ? ... ...

Methinks the pay rise that you needed to pay for the mutt is gone-burger , hon !

Hi Amanda, as a female reader of this website and an animal lover I completely understand why you purchased the dog, but I also understand the potential financial cost of pets as well. I have a pair of cats who really are my children.  They are purebred but besides the initial cost (one was free and one cost me an arm and a leg) they cost me nothing in cash.  I'm a bartercard member so I get their pet food and other implements through that system.  Works for me.  Let me know if you want to know more.  Bartercard has no Yoga teachers in Auckland!

do dogs anwser back,come home tanked orfind it to hard to get out of bed, because if they don't i'm trading my kids in.

ng - my dog (BordercollieX) doesn't - so are your kids old enough to herd some sheep up or a floc of beef ?

Well ng dogs tend to want you to get out bed early because they want to go for a walk.  They also answer back in their own way.  But generally they don't come home tanked :-)

The good book says "what mankind desires is unfailing love".

Money is a poor substitute.

My kids keep harping on about us getting a dog but I keep saying no. I told them looking after the 5 of them + working was keeping me busy enough, thank you very much (I know, I know, a bit heartless but I know my limits). 

We do have 4 chooks, and the great thing is they give us our "daily eggs" :) We'll probably get a few lambs and a couple of cows soon too (need to put paddocks first so they don't eat our 50 or so fruit trees + dozens of blueberry bushes). So anyway, I told my oldest that we'd talk about "the dog thing" again when she is 12 and I am confident that she & her brothers & sisters can fully look after it herself. Seeing that she's recently turned 7, she wasn't very impressed... (and yes, I'm half-hoping she'll have forgotten about it by then).

That said, enjoy your dog Amanda, and congrats on the yoga teaching job :)

+10  Sounds awesome.


1.) Wheatens are lovely dogs.

2.) He/she will lift your spritis when you are down - you will be more productive as a result and (almost certainly) get a raise because of this.

3.) You will automatically belong to that section of society that likes dogs - when taking him/her for walks it will astonish you how many people you get to  know - how varied and nice most of those people are.

4.) Mazza will protect you and yours with his/her life - and that is not a trivial matter really - the only sure deterrent I know to burglars is a vocal dog.

5.) He/she will be a great person filter - judging someone on how they treat animals is not a bad way to suss out what is beneath the good looks.

6.) He/she will make you feel wealthy - because - for Mazza - wherever you are is the best place in the world to be.












Thank you. That made my day.


Just watch out for the pick up lines when walking your dog.. It'll be like having bananas facing up in your shopping trolley (those who shopped at New World in Courtney Place - Wellington Central will know what it means)...  be prepared!


.....just remember..this is a guard dog.!

Highly neccesary to a yoga instructure who must be out at night in highly dangerous neignbourhoods where hall hire is a minimum. 

As such you will be able to claim all expenses associated with this highly trained canine weapon.  This includes the cost of trips to the beach for exercise, apportionment of household rates/mortgage/power etc, top quality prime steak, sausage chops and so on the odd bottle of wine as a herbal remedy... (just let your imangination run wild) sit back and wait for the tax refund...



People get it or don't with pets there is no half way house.

Pets can also open a world of opportunity. My wife loves animals and I knew it was part of the deal when we married.  They can really can inrich you life in ways you would never  expect.

I have met so many different people around the world through animals and specific pets as a common interest, even have judge internationally with a few free trips include.

The ROI has been great for me as I have met   all my large clients through the common interst of animals.

Never expected this,but it has really opened up a world of opportunity!

You can't just number crunch you way through life otherwise you life is just a number. Balance is the key plus add some passion.



Terrible on the wallet, beautiful for the heart. Love mine to bits.

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