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8 Ways Student Loan Debt Relief Could Benefit Pets

How people can splurge on their pets — or adopt new ones!

by Julie Zeilinger
September 23, 2022
Photo: Balazs Kovacs / Stocksy

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

Plenty of us are still riding the high of President Biden’s late August announcement that he will forgive up to $10,000 in student-loan debt for federal student loan borrowers, and up to $20,000 for Pell grant recipients, for borrowers who earn under $125,000 a year. 

It’s only natural that those who will benefit from this relief are thinking about what to do with the money they would’ve put towards their debt. According to a recent MarketWatch poll, investing was the top response among Twitter followers who were asked how they’ll spend their money once free from student loan payments. Paying down other debts was a close second (not a shocker). Many borrowers, especially Black borrowers, have said this amount would hardly make a dent in their student-loan debt — which is at a national average of $1.75 trillion, per Forbes.

If this decision from the White House gave pet parents relief to their cash flow, we know they may also be thinking about how some extra green could help their kids (a.k.a. pets). Parenting a pet isn’t cheap, thanks to high vet costs and other costs associated with their care, but we also know that those expenses, when manageable for an owner, are more than worth it for the love of our pets.

Here are just eight ways pet parents (and potential pet parents) can take advantage of their newly found financial breathing room. 

1. Adopt a Cat or Dog

Rescues and shelters across the country are struggling to take care of the many pets being left in their care, so there’s never been a better time to consider bringing a pet into your life. Of course, adopting a pet is a big decision, and there’s plenty to consider, but we can speak from experience when we say it’s worth the cost. And we’ve got you covered — from the inside scoop on the adoption application process to convincing your partner to get on board, and beyond.

2. Become a Foster Parent

Maybe you’re not in a place to adopt but still want to use your resources to help your local animal shelter address the overflow they’re currently experiencing. Fostering is a great option that saves two lives: the animal you foster and the animal who the shelter can now make room for in their place. While most rescue organizations cover veterinary fees and other essentials like a crate and food, there are also other supplies and treats you’ll want to pick up yourself (here’s a list). 

3. Donate to Shelters

Still not in a place to bring a pet into your home despite potential new cash flow? Shelters and rescues will still welcome your donations! Whether it’s cash or a more creative option — such as donated supplies or fulfilled wish lists — you can put your extra money to work toward helping pets everywhere find their forever homes. 

4. Buy Pet Insurance

In a country where many humans can’t afford health insurance, it’s understandable that they may not be able to swing insurance for their pets. But if you find yourself with some wiggle room, investing in pet insurance could be a smart move. Not all insurance companies are the right fit for you or your pet, so it’s important to do your research. Investing in a policy now could save you lots of money down the line. 

5. Invest in Higher-Quality Food

You are forgiven for rolling your eyes at some of the price tags higher-quality dog food brands slap on their products. But we can’t argue with research, and signs point to higher quality food — like human-grade or home-cooked food — benefiting your dog. If you have the resources, it’s worth making sure your dog is getting the best nutrition they can. 

6. Pamper Your Pup

Who doesn’t love a good spa day? Especially if your dog is a breed in particular need of upkeep, it may be worth visiting a professional groomer — or even investing in a better grooming kit and eco-friendly products to do it yourself. And grooming isn’t just for dogs, either — there are a number of tools out there that can help keep your cat looking fresh, too. 

7. Employ Walkers, Sitters, and/or Daycare

Sometimes investing in your pet is also a way of investing in yourself, including your time and sanity! With a little extra cash, it may be worth finding a dog walker, sitter or daycare so that you can get away — whether it’s for a few hours of alone time or a well-deserved vacation. You are also a busy person during the work day, and it’s extra healthy for your dog to get that extra-long walk in while you are beholden to your work desk.

8. Invest in Sustainable Products

Your pet may not know the difference between an eco-friendly poop bag and a regular one, but the earth will thank you for spending a little extra on recycled bags — not to mention eco-friendly dog beds, sustainable treats, and more

Of course, there are plenty of ways those affected by this executive decision can choose to spend their newfound resources, but even just a little money — or time and resources made available thanks to this development — can go a long way toward helping pets in need. 

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Julie Zeilinger

Julie Zeilinger is a NYC-based writer and editor whose writing has been published in Marie Claire, Vox, HuffPost, Forbes, and other publications. She is also the author of two books: College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year (2014) and A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word (2012). She is the mom to Baloo, a 2-year-old Bichpoo, and foster mom to dogs via Badass Animal Rescue.