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Blog Roundup (10-4-13)

I always love sharing my favorite blogs with people, so each week I’ll be giving you guys a roundup of the posts I’ve really enjoyed reading.

If you like them, make sure to subscribe and follow these great bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to share the love!

~Heart,

Em

Are there any great posts you came across recently? Share them with us in the comments!

Plan for the Cost of Owning a Dog

cute puppy

Owning a dog is not only fun, it can also be good for your physical and emotional health. Their unconditional affection and loyalty boosts your spirits after a long day, and their active lifestyle helps you get out and stay healthy too. And that’s just with ordinary dogs! Specially trained dogs can be therapeutic after an accident, sniff out health problems and serve as guide dogs for the disabled. However, dogs, like any other pet, require special care and attention.  Whether you’re considering adopting man’s best friend to keep you company or your kids won’t stop asking for a puppy, it’s important to budget for the cost of owning a dog.

The annual cost of owning a dog

Before you make a decision about owning a dog you should understand what goes into the costs of maintaining your pet. According to the ASPCA, the cost of owning a dog in the first year is around $2,000, while the average annual cost of owning a dog is a bit lower at around $900. If you’re planning to adopt a dog, make sure you take the time to create a budget and start saving so you can manage the following expenses:

  • Adoption and licensing costs
  • Spaying/Neutering
  • Obedience training
  • Crates
  • Dog food, food and water bowls
  • Boarding expenses whenever you go out of town
  • Dog walkers or other daycare services
  • Toys (Frisbee, bones, chew toys)
  • Leads, fence or electrical fence for the yard
  • Collars and leashes over time
  • Grooming
  • Veterinary expenses and health insurance
  • Medications for fleas, ticks, heartworms, etc.
  • Replacing items damaged by your pet like floors and furniture

Ways to cut back the cost of owning a dog

If $900 seems a little steep for you, don’t worry, there are many things you can cut back on to make owning a dog more affordable. This first is to consider where you will be getting your pet. Adopting from a shelter can often be more affordable than buying a pet from a private breeder or pet store. Researching the breed you’re considering can also save you money as some breeds are more expensive or need special medical care and grooming. Buying bulk dog food and ordering prescriptions online can also cut back on the cost of owning a pet. Finally, learn how to groom your pet at home and make sure you go to your vet for preventative check-ups to save money on larger medical problems.

Prepare for the annual cost of owning a dog

Once you’ve decided you want to get a dog, consider opening a high-yield savings account to help you save for the first few years. Savings accounts with a higher interest rate like a money market account or certificate of deposit will make it easier to reach your goal and grow your savings once you have the dog. You may also want to open an emergency savings account dedicated to medical care for your pet, especially if you don’t want to pay for pet insurance. Try to save enough to cover the annual cost of owning a dog for three years of care before you adopt a new pet.

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Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.
photo cred: pretendtious

Even the best laid plans…

Bad DayFor the most part, I like to think I’m pretty on top of things. I have my little tips and tricks to make life easier, I’m a fairly organized person, and I try to avoid inconveniences whenever I can predict them.

But sometimes you can’t predict them. Like, for instance, yesterday…

The day that went totally wrong

Yesterday was one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

I started off with everything lined up right (in my head): finish writing my Wednesday post before work like I always do, go to work (where I had a bunch of big deadlines but was totally on top of them!), run some errands on the way home, and have dinner with The Hubby. (We’re both busy on date night this weekend, so we thought we’d do it midweek instead.)

Everything was good to go. Or so I thought.

The first thing to go wrong was my post. Our internet had been acting weird all week, and of course, it decided to fritz out in the middle of the post I was writing. No big deal, I thought, I can finish it on my lunch break. I hate being late with posts, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The next thing to go wrong was The ’Bee. As soon as I pulled out of driveway and started turning the corner on our block, I heard this horrible ca-chunk-ca-chunk sound every time I turned the wheel. (At least, that’s how I described it to The Hubby, being pretty useless when it comes to describing car noises.) Being a worrywart, I didn’t want to take The ’Bee up onto the expressway in rush hour making such noises, so I had to turn around, go back home, and call a coworker (who thankfully hadn’t left her house yet) to ask if I could hitch a ride in with her. She’s not super-far away, but far enough that waiting for her to get to my house made us both about 20 minutes late for work.

OK, so no big deal. I could make up the time on my lunch break (and just work super fast to finish my post).

Until I learned that the coworker who was helping me with all those big deadline projects was out sick. OK, things could still be alright, I thought. I basically understood what her part of the projects were, and I was sure I could ask the other people in her department for help when I got stuck. Except they were all slammed with their own projects, so although they were willing to help me, it took a while to get my questions answered because (understandably) they were busy doing other stuff first.

So no lunch break (no post), a crazy busy day, and I had to stay an hour and a half late to make sure everything got done by the end of the day…which meant I had to take the bus home, because I wasn’t going to ask my coworker to stay an hour and a half just to drive me.

Long breath. Things could still be cool.

From bad to worse

The Hubby had run the errands I was planning on running after work, so that was covered, but we were going to miss our restaurant RSVP. We weren’t too worried since it was a Wednesday, so we could find somewhere else to go no problem. The day had been crazy, but things could still end on a good note…

I took some deep breaths on my walk home from the bus station to get ready for a nice night. Then I walked into the house to hear sounds of frantic scrambling around. It was The Hubby, trying to find his phone so he could call me and let me know he’d found Little Dog chewing on one of the ant traps we put out over the summer when he got home.

Now, we know to keep things like this out of the reach of the dogs. This particular ant trap had been wedged waaaay far back behind our fridge, and could only be reached if Little Dog were to somehow squeeze her stocky little body all the way down the gap between the fridge and the counter, which is like 4 inches wide. I did not think this was possible. I still don’t think it is. I have no idea how she got the thing, but when The Hubby came home, he found her on the couch, happily gnawing away at the half-chewed ant trap in her paws.

Long story short, date night did not happen. We instead spent our night calling our vet, who was already closed, calling the emergency animal clinic, then calling Animal Poison Control because the emergency clinic said they would have better info on what particular ant traps contain what ingredients, and how those ingredients would affect a Little Dog.

The good news is the Little Dog is OK. We kept an eye on her all night, but I don’t think she actually got any of the bad stuff inside the trap (although she looked reeeeally close when The Hubby got home). The bad news is that we spent the night nervously watching her to see if she started acting sick, and I went to bed feeling exhausted, nervous, and remembering at the last possible minute that I never did put up my Wednesday post.

So now you get a super-long one on Thursday instead.

What a day.

I think my next post will be on how to roll with the punches when things are going wrong left and right. Want to have your advice in it? Leave me a comment and tell me how you handle horrible days like this.

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit: Crystal Coleman

How to Host a Fabulous, Fancy Potluck

Dinner Party-DSC_0025[This is a guest post. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]

 

Most of us don’t tend to think of potlucks as being “fancy, “ but who says they can’t be? With a little planning and some creativity, you can make this easy dinner party format into a classy, fun evening that isn’t too much work (or cost!) for anyone involved.

Here are some tips:

Up the Ante

Most potluck offerings are boring staples like casseroles, salads, etc. But why not ask your guests to kick it up a notch and bring something a little more luxurious? If each person brings one item, you can assemble a high-class dinner like you’d find in a fancy restaurant, with each person paying a fraction of the cost of that kind of dinner out.

Provide an item or two of your own to get it started. An assortment of fine wines. An impressive, artfully arranged appetizer. Then ask guests to bring their own favorite “gourmet” dishes. You’ll have an array of delicious treats to sample that will feel special and indulgent.

Play with Themes

“Potluck” doesn’t have to mean “random assortment of stuff.” Give your potluck party a theme, like French cuisine or gourmet tapas. A tapas party can be especially fun (and easy) because each guest only needs to make a sampling of small items instead of a whole complicated dish, and there’s just something about tapas always feels unique and high-class. Coordinate with your guests to make sure you’ve got a good selection of both dinner and dessert items to present.

Dress the Part

What’s the fun of a fancy dinner party if you can’t get all glammed up to enjoy it? Invite your guests to wear their best cocktail dresses and evening wear, and don’t forget to pretty up your place settings, too. Your best tableware, fancy-restaurant candlelight, and swanky background music (crooners like Sinatra always give a classy vibe) will give your party that extra-special touch that really makes everyone feel like they’ve gone out for a night on the town.

And voila! You’ve just put together one upscale gathering without all the lengthy, expensive prep work!

 

Photo credit:  Joan Nova