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Everyday Cheapskate: Don’t let pets break your budget

Got pets? Then you also have costs for everything from food to toys, to grooming and perhaps even daycare from time to time. But that doesn’t mean your little friends need to break the bank to be happy. Today, I want to share some great tips and tricks that readers have sent in that just might get you in the groove to save some dough. Woof!

NO-TIP WATER DISH. Use an old Bundt or angel food pan for your dog’s water bowl. Push a wooden stick through the hole in the middle of the pan into the ground to keep the pan from turning over. The pan can be lifted off for cleaning but the dog can’t tip it over.

SHREDDED PILLOWS. If you love for your large dogs to sleep in comfort but do not love the cost, maintenance and smell of the doggy beds, stuff old clean pillow cases (the ones with zippers) with shredded paper from your shredder. Once a week wash the pillowcases and refill with new shreds. Now each dog has a plump and fresh pillow every week. They sleep in comfort, and there are no doggy smells or costs involved.

RECYCLED BUCKETS. Are you sick of all the half-full bags of cat litter and pet food in the garage that get wet and turn into soggy messes? A terrific solution is to go to your local grocery store and ask the bakery for their empty frosting buckets with lids. They are often happy to give them to you for free. Bring them home, thoroughly clean them, remove the labels and make new laminated labels or print clearly on the bucket. This will save you from having to throw out half-full bags of ruined pet supplies.

CHEAPER BY THE POUND. If you are shocked to find that a small two-pound bag of pine shavings (to be used as bedding for small pets) costs $6, go to the local feed store and buy a bag of compressed horse bedding. It is the same pine shavings in a bag that weighs about 40 pounds, contains 3.5 cubic feet (compressed) and is enough to cover the floor of a 10 x 10 foot horse stall three inches deep. That ought to be enough to last your little fur baby forever. And the price? Around five bucks a bag (may vary from one area to the next).

GIVE ‘EM A SIGN. If your pet runs away, place a yard sign in front of your house with a photo of your missing dog or cat (bird, snake?) together with your phone number. People who find animals often will walk or drive around the area, trying to find the pet’s owner.

DIY TOYS. Toys from the pet store are ridiculously expensive and, in all honesty, are not always made very well. Go to the local hardware store and buy a huge rope. Cut it up in manageable lengths for your puppies to play with. Or go to, where you will find 33 toys you can make from stuff you have around the house.

Would you like to send a tip to Mary? You can email her at mary@everyday, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.


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