Pet Insurance- Must or Bust?

I’ve always been an animal lover, and I currently share my life with one sassy little fluff ball.

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She looks peaceful here, but I swear it’s all a ruse

I love her possibly more than she would like (she’s not always a fan of my squishes), and I would do almost anything to make sure she lives a long, happy, and pain-free life. Vet visits can be expensive, so it’s only logical that I have pet insurance- isn’t it?

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As the old saying goes, if it exists, someone’s probably trying to make money off it. The same could be said for pet insurance- I mean, how expensive could one little kitty be? It’s time to delve into the confusing world of Pet Insurance.

A quick google shows that Woolworths Pet Insurance is probably the most economical on offer- plus they offer a price-match service and a 10% discount if you join their free rewards scheme. Putting in Shylah’s details, I get the following options:

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Ok, that doesn’t sound too bad so far. I can have basic peace of mind (with a $200 excess) for only $6.13 a week, or splash out an extra $4.28 a week for a little more coverage and half the out-of pocket expense per claim. For an additional $1.96 on top of that, I can even get routine visits reimbursed. What’s not to love?

Well first of all, my baby girl is strictly an inside cat. Living in an apartment, she doesn’t rub noses with any other cats (and yes, I do feel guilty about this), so shots aren’t on her calendar. This means that I’m pretty safe to rule out the Comprehensive coverage.

I adopted my baby girl three years ago, when she was about four. If she lives to the average life expectancy of a cat (between 15-20 years, so let’s say 17), there’s still a fair bit of living in her. If I go for Standard coverage, I’ll probably pay around $5,500 across the rest of her life. With an annual benefit limit of $10,000 on that policy, it sounds like a great deal!

But if I dig into the Product Disclosure Statement, things start to look a little less amazing. Here’s a list of things that Shylah wouldn’t be covered for under this policy:

  • Parasite troubles (including ticks, worms, fleas, skin mites)
  • Patella luxations (dislocating kneecap), elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia,
    fractured teeth, toxicity (other than that resulting from a confirmed snake
    bite) and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Panleukopaenia, chlamydia, leukaemia (FeLV), Feline Immuno
    Deficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), viral
    rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, herpes virus and all forms of cat flu
  • Any declared pandemic disease that causes widespread Illness affecting
    dogs or cats
  • More than one instance of swallowing a foreign object
  • Dental procedures; dental diseases; gingivitis; Treatment of
    teeth fractures; teeth cleaning/scaling; orthodontics; removal of deciduous or
    fractured teeth or any oral disease

I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like a long list of things that I would still have to cover out of my own pocket if the situation arises. As a thoroughly spoiled indoor cat, my fluff ball isn’t likely to be hit by a car or bitten by a snake. I really hope she doesn’t manage to get burned or electrocuted in my little house, so that really only leaves a few occasions where I would benefit from my $541 per year. On top of that, this cover only pays out 80% of the total bill, minus the excess payment.

I went through this whole process when I originally adopted Shylah, and eventually I decided that Pet Insurance wasn’t for us. Instead, I quietly put away $20 a week until I had $500 set aside. This is her money, and doesn’t get touched for anything else. As she gets older I’ll be looking to increase this to a few thousand dollars, because older animals are obviously more prone to little medical hiccups as they age.

How has it been going for me so far? Well, in the past three years we have had one visit to the vet. I’m not quite sure what happened, but I think she tried to make a ninja move involving jumping off the back of an armchair, flicking the blinds aside and theoretically ending up on the windowsill. She ended up faceplanting into the wall and spraining her tail muscle instead, and I footed the bill of $119 for a checkup and painkillers. That means that if I had been paying for insurance for the past three years, I would be out $1623.84 and received $19 back for my effort. So far, my decision to save for her medical costs without the help of insurance is working to my advantage.

Will I regret this decision if something does go drastically downhill with Shylah’s health and I’m looking at thousands of dollars in bills? Maybe. But probably not as much as I would regret paying that money every month while she lives a long and uneventful life.

Considering Pet Insurance for yourself? Here’s a few things to think about:

Your pet: Do you have a large dog breed that is prone to medical issues, or a moggie that could probably survive the zombie apocalypse? Unfortunately certain types of pets are more likely to experience issues as they get older, and it’s important to be prepared for this

Any exclusions: If you do have a pet that is going to be prone to certain health issues, it’s important to check the PDS before signing anything to make sure they will be covered when issues arise. If you’re not sure, contact the company for clarification and make sure to get the answer in writing.

Old age exclusions: This is a sneaky one! Some companies will automatically cut the cover or add additional exclusions when your pet reaches a certain age- normally right when they’re going to start needing medical attention the most. Not great to find out just as that huge medical bill rolls in or after you’ve been dutifully paying your premiums for five years. Best to make sure you know about any changes to the policy before going in.

Benefit cap: Like any insurance, it’s important to check how much you can claim in any one year, and if that is going to be enough to cover any expenses that arise. The last thing you want is to find out you can only claim $1,000 when you really need ten times that.

Cover percentage: Similar to the Benefit Cap, this is something you’re going to want to be clear on before signing on the dotted line. Do you get 100% of your medical expenses back? 80%? 60%? Can you get more money if you pay a higher excess, or can you pay less excess if you accept a lower percentage? Bear in mind that 60% and 80% of a $15k bill can have a very different impact on your wallet.

Underwriting Company: If you dig deeper, a lot of different companies can be underwritten by the same ‘umbrella’ insurance company (in Australia, there are only two). This means that the product you’re receiving will probably be identical across all of the ‘offshoot’ companies- you’re just paying for the packaging. Investing some time here can be a great way to save extra money,(otherwise you could just be paying for some lush exec’s fat profit margin.

Annual Cost: How much will this insurance actually cost you? Can it fit into your budget without throwing you into debt or derailing your savings efforts? Be honest with yourself- if you’re dreaming of a high-risk pet, can you afford to give it a comfortable, pain-free life if the worst occurs, with or without insurance?

Peace of Mind:  Will having insurance be a weight off your shoulders? Will you be more likely to take a peaky pet to the vet if you don’t have the threat of a huge bill hovering over your head? Sometimes you justcan’t put a price tag on sleeping better at night


At the end of the day, you’re going to be the best person to know if Pet Insurance is right for you. Whatever you do, please please please take the time to read the PDS thoroughly. Print it out, read it again. Highlight what is & isn’t included and make sure you understand what this means! Because the last thing you want is to find out that dental bill isn’t covered when it’s already too late. A little homework and you & your pet can have a long, happy, and financially stress-free life together.

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Pet Insurance- Must or Bust?

Mid-Year Goals Review!

So I actually had planned to write this post for the middle day of the year (July 2nd, if you were wondering), but then I went to Tasmania for a bit, the blog went on hiatus, and life sort of got in the way. BUT since tracking goals is such a great way of achieving them, I guess there’s no time like the present to see how I’ve been tracking.

This year I used the highly complicated system of two post-it notes in the back of my diary to plan out what I wanted to achieve from the months ahead- one for personal goals, and one for career goals. While such high-tech tracking may not be for everyone, I’ve really enjoyed being able to flick to the back of my diary and see how I’m going. There was no huge amount of thought put into the goals, I just jotted down a few items from the top of my head- they are as follows:

Personal

-$2,500 in stocks, house deposit fund, and emergency savings

-Start a blog and contribute to it regularly

-Get in shape!

-Minimalise my house

-Build an alternative income source

Career

-Jump into opportunities without considering the financials

-New Agent

-30% of income performance base

-Voiceover reel

-At least two new clips for showreel

 

So how am I going?

Personal

-$2,500 in stocks, house deposit fund, and emergency savings While my savings aren’t quite where I would want them to be thanks to a little dental mishap, I’m still hoping to build them close to this target by the end of the year. I currently have $2, 678 in my Acorns account, $1,340 in my house deposit account, and $760 in my Emergency savings. One of the reasons my HD & ES figures are lower than I had originally planned for is that I decided to include another savings project- Travel. While most of that money is going towards flights etc for a wedding in the Coromandel in Dec, and then taking me back to NZ later in the month for my Christmas trip home, I’m happy to sacrifice some of my financial goals to see more of the world before it changes even more (pessimistic? Maybe so). I’ve also put a small amount aside to buy an actual camera to record that traveling, because there’s only so far a phone can take you. If anyone has recommendations, please let me know!

-Start a blog and contribute to it regularly Yay, you’re on it! It took me a while to get Ferdydurking Blog up & going, but apart from one hiatus after my Tassie trip when life got a little away on me, I have been writing regularly and enjoying the chance to get some of my ramblings out into the world. Thanks guys!

Can you blame me for getting distracted?

-Get in shape! I actually wrote a figure down for this goal, but it feels like something a bit too personal to share (I’m well aware that the weight on the scale can have very little to do with how you physically look, so I’m not too concerned about the final number anyway). In 2017 I’ve been moving my focus away from music theatre, and towards getting more screen work. As depressing as it may be, TV works does require- well, a TV body. I’ve spent most of the last eight months faffing around, but have finally knuckled down and am at my slimmest since…probably university? I won’t reach my goal by the end of the year, but I’m hoping to put my best foot forward for that beach wedding in December!

-Minimalise my house Nope, nope, big ol’ nope. I can’t help it, I’m a clutter-bug. I can clean a table and a day later it’s covered in stuff that I didn’t even know I owned. I have shifted so much stuff so far, but there’s still so much to go before I can be really happy with my surroundings. My zero-waste swaps have actually been really great for this, my shower looks pretty sleek and amazing without all of the plastic bottles and miscellany. Now to work that magic on the rest of the house!

-Build an alternative income source This one is still very much a work in progress. At the moment I work 40ish hours a week in a variety of customer service roles, which is starting to become incredibly draining.

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In my dream world, I will need to do a lot less engaging with people. I have started doing some freelance writing, which is something I definitely want to expand on, and I’m looking forward to dipping my toe in voiceover work, which has definitely liberated a few friends of mine.

Career

-Jump into opportunities without considering the financials Working a variety of casual roles has definitely been a help with my acting career, but it also can occasionally be a hindrance. It’s hard to say a whole-hearted Yes to an unpaid opportunity when the back of your brain is quietly calculating how many hours of work you’ll miss out on, and whether you’ll be able to cover rent that week. I’ve worked hard over the past few months to build up my savings enough to cover the odd patch of time off, and I’ve done three shoots recently with only a tiny twinge of guilt over lost income! I wouldn’t say I don’t consider the financials, but I now have the luxury of making them less of a priority.

-New Agent Done! After going through the drama of my old representation disappearing under my feet, the first half of this year was spent trying to find my perfect match. I am now with a new agent, and couldn’t be happier!

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-30% of income performance base Due to the unexpected loss of my agent, this has been a pretty slow year for my acting so far, so I’m a long way off this goal. Acting work is so sporadic that one good gig would be enough to turn this stat around, but at the moment I’m slugging away at a few of my recurring jobs, and making sure that I’m still working towards my goals

-Voiceover reel Voiceover work is something I’ve been looking into for a while – I’ve done a tiny bit of voicework before, and it’s been mentioned a couple of times that I should investigate it further. It’s taken almost eight months, but I’ve finally enrolled in a crash course, and if that goes well I’m still on track to get a demo reel recorded by the end of the year. Here’s to an alternative income stream!

-At least two new clips for showreel Ahhh, the ever present search for new showreel material. I’ve done a couple of projects this year with a very promising script that unfortunately have turned out to be completely unusuable once they leave the edit room. This is unfortunately a goal that I will keep working towards, but I haven’t been able to check off yet.

How is your year going? Have you spent some time reviewing your goals? How do you prefer to record and track your goals? Did you even set any? I would love to know!

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Mid-Year Goals Review!

What’s your Zero Waste ‘Free Pass’?

Alright guys, this is an honesty post

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This year I’ve been working really hard to decrease my environmental impact.

You can see some of the changes I’ve been making with my earlier posts 5 Easy Switches to Change the World and  5 MORE Easy Switches to Save the World! (give the girl a naming prize) , and these swaps have made a huge difference to the amount of waste I’m making in my daily life. As warm and fuzzy as this makes me feel, there are still a few regular suspects that I haven’t been able to quite cull from my rubbish. As much as I would like to deny their existence, in the interests of accurately recording my journey to a low-waste life, here they are.

Frozen Berries

I love berries, and possibly even more so, I love how convenient frozen berries are. I fold them through yoghurt, toss them over pancakes, and blitz them into smoothies. Not only are frozen berries crazy cheaper, I don’t have to worry about them turning into little fuzzy piles of mould by the end of the week. If I don’t eat them, they stay frozen! Frozen berries do tend to be more irregular in size, which could mean that I’m saving berries that didn’t make the cut to sell fresh. Or is that just me thinking optimististically?

How I’m dealing with the waste: Rinsing the bag & returning it to the supermarket to be recycled into park furniture

Dental Hygiene

Floss. Toothpaste. Two things I’m just not quite ready to give up -partly because I’ve tasted the Lush Toothy Tabs and they taste doggone-awful. Partly because I don’t 100% trust alternative methods, teeth are a once-on-a-lifetime thing, and dentists in Australia are expensive.

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How I’m dealing with the waste: Not well. The cardboard back of the floss packed gets separated and recycled, the rest goes to landfill

Beauty regime

I know. Trust the wannabee actress to refuse to cull her beauty regime. I do have trouble skin- I don’t experience breakouts,  but it dries easily (as a kid it used to crack & bleed in the really bad patches). I’ve tried replacing some of my products with natural alternatives, but so far nothing has been able to float my boat, either because it doesn’t do a satisfactory job, or it makes my skin unhappy.

How I’m dealing with the waste: I’ve managed to move a lot of my products to brands that are packaged in glass & sold in cardboard. I’m also starting to become a lot more conscious about where my products come from, and what nasties they contain.

Convenience food

I’m using this as a blanket cover for all of those things that I probably could make at home, but don’t. Hummous. Yoghurt. Pasta. Milk (anyone want to give me the space to house a cow?). Griffins gingernuts. (Yes, gingernuts. They’re a non-negotiable in my diet.) A lot of zero-wasters make most of these products at home, but time-poor me has struggled to have any success. While I try to keep as much plastic out of my shopping trolley as possible, it’s highly likely that one of these sneaks in every week.

How I’m dealing with the waste: I try to be as conscious as I can with any of these guys that I purchase. I go for the biggest size I can, and recycle the packaging once it’s gone. While that may sound like a lot, my little recycling bag goes into the apartment rubbish bin about once a month -if you picture a wheelie bin, I reckon I would fill one in about six months? I’m still working to bring my total recyclables down, but I’m happy with this as a starting point.

Ordering online

I love getting mail. Loooooovvveeee it.

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And at the same time, there are a lot of days when I really don’t want to be leaving the house.  Fortunately there is a magical portal that allows me to fulfill all of my needs from home, receive presents from me to me and have access to unlimited nerdery!

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The downside of this wonderful place is that most of those items come tucked into layers of wrapping and plastic. While I can try to reuse as much as I can and take all of the soft plastics to the supermarket for recycling, mailer packages definitely make up the majority of my waste. It ain’t pretty folks.

How I’m dealing with the waste: This is definitely a case of reduce, reuse, recycle. I’ve managed to tamp down on the impulse nerd-purchasing that has historically been my weakness, and while I’m in the process of culling my wardrobe, clothing shopping has been cut right back down as well. If I look at my packages for the last few months, two were from brands that want to work with me on my insta, and one was a glass protein shaker that isn’t available in stores. Probably a low number for some people, but those bright yellow bags in the trash still bug me.

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What are your weaknesses? Do you have some things in your lifestyle that you’ve given yourself a ‘free pass’ on? Let me know!


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

 

What’s your Zero Waste ‘Free Pass’?

Falling Through Spiderwebs

A couple of months ago BrokeGIRLrich wrote a fantastic post called Falling Through Spiderwebs. Melissa was one of the first (in fact, I think she was the first) finance blogger that I discovered in the big ol’ world of the interwebs, and I’ve always enjoyed her posts because her career as a stage manager makes it feel like I’m looking into a dark little corner of the acting world that doesn’t often get the glory (now would be the time to read Let’s Hear It For The Crew! if you haven’t had the chance).

I normally read the BrokeGIRLrich updates as they land in my inbox and then delete them, but Falling Through Spiderwebs struck a chord, and it’s been left floating around in my inbox. I sometimes get questioned on my ‘obsession’ with money – holidays or unpaid jobs can get a little stressful as I work out how much paid work I will miss out on to take them, and budgeting makes me do a happy dance.

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(seriously)

Mel’s post is such an accurate summary of one of the reasons why I have a healthy interest in squirreling money away. As a starving student, and a now a not-quite-starving actor, having a cushion between me & impending doom really does make it feel like I have a few spider-webs carefully spun to catch me if something goes wrong. Well, last week…something went wrong.

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I woke up at about 6.30am with a niggly tooth. In a sleepy haze, I mentally made a note to book a dental appointment for my next day off. Within 30 minutes that had become, ‘make a dental appointment now‘, and by 7.30 I was in pain. Like, serious pain. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t string together a sentence, could barely muster enough mental focus to google the closest dentist.

Is anyone else getting that sinking feeling? You guessed it…

…Root Canal

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I always thought the air of horror surrounding root canals was related to the amount of pain involved with completely gutting a tooth. As a functioning adult, I can finally say that I know better-  because if there’s anything that my trip to the dentist hurt, it was my savings goals.

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Me thinking about my $3,000

For someone who takes home approx. $800 a week, $3,000 could have been catastrophic – four years ago, it would have been. So as much as those three visits hurt to the very core of my being, there’s a little sense of pride that I will be able to pay them off without resorting to credit.

Would I rather see that money safe in my Acorns or home deposit fund? You betcha. BUT thanks to my Acorns, my piddly little house deposit saving, and a few other emergency funds here and there, there are enough layers of webbing to catch me, turning a dental disaster into a slightly unfortunate setback. And for me, that security is worth all of the budgeting in the world. What do you think?


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for updates, and if you want to see more of me, come say hello on my Instagram or Twitter, I would love to see you there!

Falling Through Spiderwebs