Want To Demolish Your Emergency Fund? Get A Cat!

The culprit in fluffier, more frugal times.

The culprit in fluffier, more frugal times.

Two weeks before I closed on my apartment last year, I went running with my friend Monica. Well, maybe she was running and I was walking around trying to look productive. After our run, she told me excitedly, “I found you a cat.” She had known that I was debating whether to get a furry friend once I moved in to my new place and had already found me one. “He’s a rescue,” she explained, “Look at his toes.” Curiously, I looked at the ad she showed me from her neighborhood news letter and fell in love. He had all the criteria I had wanted in a cat, adult and only cat child needs, plus adorable thumbs from a polydactyl gene. Polydactyl cats are lovingly referred to as Hemingway cats since he collected them and I was ready to take my new friend home.

I didn’t know that the couple I had adopted him from fostered cats regularly and I not only had to have a phone interview but an in person one as well to see how the cat reacted to me and my boyfriend. My boyfriend H, doesn’t even live with me or live by me for that matter, but they needed to make sure we were good people, which I admired. He had been named Harrison by his foster parents, which bummed me out because I had wanted to name him Hemingway and felt he was probably already used to his name since they had had him for a few months. H joked that I could call him Harrison George, a swap of my favorite Beatles name, and it was sealed.

After bringing him home, I realized what had been missing in my life in my new furry friend. I was so fortunate that I ended up with such a good cat. He has only broken two things ( oops!), has never clawed any furniture or had an accident. He eats dry food, goes in his liter box and lounges in bed watching Netflix when I need him too. We have rituals and I am THAT person on Facebook who posts tons of cat photos. I was even going to to write a post on how frugal a pet he was until it happened. What happened?

CatGate 2016.

harrison sick

It had started out innocently enough, I suppose. I came home from work after a long day back after a three day weekend. Harrison, who usually greets me at the door sauntered in and looked at me expectantly glanced nervously around the room. I picked him and walked over to the couch to cuddle with him only to be hit in the face by the stench of cat vomit on my new rug. I looked at him then looked at the rug and cooed at him for being sick. Poor thing, I thought. Maybe he meant to choke up a hair ball. But then, I noticed more vomit around the room. and less than 15 minutes later, he threw up again. What was going on?

After calling the vet, I packed him up in his kitty crate and whisked him off to the vet. Throwing up was completely new to us and it made have a sick feeling in my gut. After spending what seemed like forever at the vet, I noticed he was getting worse. He seemed in pain and couldn’t get comfortable. He had stopped throwing up but it was replaced with him smacking his lips, a sign that shows dehydration in felines. After signing off on $300 worth of tests, he was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and a swollen bladder. Since swollen bladders in felines is serious, I left him there to be observed over night with a vet. I felt they could keep a better eye on the bladder issue than I could sleeping so I went home without him but feeling overly optimistic.

It didn’t last long though. The next day while getting ready for a meeting, I called to check on him and found out that he actually had come down with a severe fever. I didn’t even know cats could get fevers but here he was, with a severe fever, swollen bladder and refusing to eat or drink anything. After my meeting I opted to work home for the rest of the day and spent my breaks checking on him until the vet could provide me with some answers. An IV drop was set up in his cage and just like a little human, he had tape running around his wrist to keep the needle in. He seemed medicated out of his mind on pain pills and an anti-inflammatory and still hadn’t eaten or used the rest room yet. He was also sitting on ice packs to help bring the temperature down.

Before I went to bed, I had called again to check on him and heard good news. He was using the restroom! And not only that but his fever had broken. I could definitely take him home the next day. Feeling relieved, I fell asleep. I was already a basket because he wasn’t home but hearing he could come home the next day helped me relax. It changed though. I received a phone call in the morning telling me he had went back to a fever again and was getting more fluids. He obviously had an infection somewhere in his colon but they couldn’t figure out why he was so sick since he was an indoor cat and why his immune system wasn’t responding. Still positive, I went to a work retreat and agreed to additional testing to help him, even though the financial costs was now rising.

During my lunch break, I heard bad news. Harrison, although testing negative at the time of adoption from his foster parents, had tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. Yes, it’s the cat version of HIV. And yes, he was having a severe flare up which left his immune system struggling. After crying and getting through a rough day at work unrelated to my cat, I rushed to the vet who had started him on a strong antibiotic and more fluids. He was given a appetite stimulant, new medicines for his immune system, vitamins and an antibiotic. FIV is no longer a death sentence for cats, just like it once was for humans. I never realized how similar immune systems were except cats spread the disease through biting during cat fights or mating.

Although I am bummed Harrison might have a shorter life because of his disease, I am happy that I had an emergency fund to help him get the treatment he needed and deserved. He is everything to me and I sincerely look forward to going home to him everyday. Almost losing him also reminded me that I am not alone, I actually have a furry friend that thinks the world of me 24/7. This situation has also inspired me to save even more in my emergency fund since my cat wiped it out in two days. I’ve always maintained a $1,000 but I think pet ownership requires an even bigger one. My new goal is going to be bookmarked for $3,000 which aligns with what I had envisioned earlier in the year before life happened.

So, if you want companionship, a roommate with attitude and an occasional snuggle, cat ownership may be right for you. But only if you are willing to wipe our your emergency fund.

Any pet emergencies break your efund?

Friday Wrap Up- Transitioning, Life with FIV and Friends

If I had to sum up the past few weeks of my life, I would have to say it’s in a period of transition.

While I used to be terrified of change and hated it, as I’ve gotten older I’ve become slightly more open to it. I dig the self help articles that tell me and everyone else how important change is and how it gives us the opportunity to grow, blah blah blah. I think it’s more so that I don’t dig change so much as the self help articles. I really dig self help articles. Anyways, since graduating with my bachelors, it’s opened up a few doors for me and while I don’t want to jinx anything, I should know more and have good news later this month ( or next!). While I wait, because I can’t really do anything else, I prepare myself for transition of responsibilities and the tying of any loose holes.

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Speaking of transition, the school year is finally over! All of my students got to graduate and we held our annual teacher gathering after the last day of school. As you can see, we look swell after teaching for a year. It’s good thing teachers get to recover during the summer! One of our good friends S is moving to Washington D.C so we held a small get together after at my apartment and swam while singing 80’s songs at the top of our lungs.

I also can not not ( is that proper grammar?) talk about transition lately unless I mention Harrison!

harrison sick

Don’t be fooled, this cone of shame costed me $1,300. Although he does look adorably pitiful in it. A few weeks ago I came home to a house covered in cat vomit and a lethargic cat. I was instantly alarmed since he never throws up and immediately loaded him up into his cat carrier and took him to the vet. I will be writing more about this incident on Monday, but he was recently diagnosed with FIV and was suffering from a flare up. He had tested negative when I adopted him but the virus was dormant, just like humans. Also, just like humans, he has to take a HIV cocktail for the rest of his life so we’ve been transitioning into a new routine and adjusting what our new FIV positive kitty life looks like. He is, however, feeling much better. Good enough to supervise my work obviously!

harrison

Besides transitioning and a weekend spent with friends, I spent sometime in bookstores this past week! One of my blogging besties ( and IRL friends!) Jana of Jana Says came out for a few days and along with taking her to my hip local spots ( ha, I just called myself hip!), we toured a local bookstore that is filled with books, kitch, and authors like Joe Hill and Chuck Palahniuk who regularly drop by and do book signings. I found this gem and while I did not end up buying it, still seemed pretty legit.

cat kill

I also found my friend Jason’s book! You may know Jason from the Road To Financial Wellness Tour he organizes and now he is also a published author. Found his book at Barnes & Noble, which I will be doing a review of soon!

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Spending all this time in bookstores reminded me I currently own 47 books at home that I haven’t picked up so it’s time to hop back on my reading challenge I do every year on Goodreads. Despite being in school half of the year, I vowed to read 52 books in 52 weeks and I’m a little behind. Picked this up Amazon after hearing so much about on The People Vs. O.J Simpson so I’ve bee working on it. Cat not included.

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This weekend, my grand plans are being a hermit. Since I’m not entertaining this weekend ( my dad will have to get his card in the mail!), I plan on being holed up in the apartment during the heatwave we are supposed to get slammed with. I’m okay though since OITNB is coming out today!

Any fun weekend plans?

The One Stop Site for the Best in Online Gaming Fun

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Preparation Is My Financial Empowerment

The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you

preparation is my financial empowerment

Since embarking on my personal finance journey, I always credited two events as my rock bottom. One I actually learned from and that was not being able to pay for a semester of school at a community college. My FAFSA wouldn’t go through and it was less than a month to the starting of school. It was $900, I worked part-time and had maybe $50 to my name. I was 23 years old.

Since starting my financial journey, and blogging in some shape or form over the years, I’ve had highs and lows. I’ve had thousands stashed away and sometimes, I was living paycheck to paycheck. Although I think I have a grasp on things now, I feel like I never know what’s around the corner, and that is me being brutally honest with you. At any time, you could lose your job, get in a car crash or have a close family member die unexpectedly. And I can tell you these things happen because they have all happened to me and set me back financially, emotionally and physically.

But, what I can also tell you is that you can try to prepare, like I am doing now. Actually, my twenties have felt like a whole lot of preparation and it’s the times I stop that things go south. When I take time to actually budget my paycheck, I usually have an amount leftover for my goals versus not knowing where my money went. When I take time to prepare my day the night before, I’m usually not so rushed and grouchy the next day. And when I made the financial decision to go back to school, I knew two years of hard work was going to prepare me for the next step of my entrance in the workforce and in my life.

Preparation is the way I’ve been able to financially empower myself and it comes from within. I can’t stop bad things from happening to me but I can prepare and empower myself in whatever way I can. I can work on having a healthy savings account and remind myself why it’s imperative when I would much rather go out to eat and not warm up leftovers. I can go back to school and work on my skill set when I would rather just be comfortable. And, I can let myself feel my feelings when I would rather go shopping as most recovering spenders would and talk to my therapist instead.

Financial empowerment is about finding something inside you that empowers you to financially take on the world. Preparation is mine. What’s yours?

Athena

Latina Money Hack- Head To The Dollar Store!

Since making the decision to live on my own, I’ve had to work and rework my budget numerous times. Your budget is a living, breathing document that is supposed to be flexible to accommodate your life on your terms. So, it makes sense that I would work and rework to help me create the life I want to live.

One of the ways I’ve saved is by creating money hacks, which is a new series I’m happy to start sharing with you. And our first Latina Money Hack is… The Dollar Store!

Latina Money SaVing hack- Dollar store.

Why the dollar store? 
I myself used to be a snob and not realize the ultimate wonderfulness of the dollar store. I was always quick to run to Target instead to buy everyday items I needed until I decided to get my first apartment. My friend Briana told me to stop by the dollar store to stock up on cleaning items for my new pad and once I was there, I was amazed at what you were actually able to buy. Besides going to the dollar store for quick party items, needless to say, I wasn’t really taking advantage of all the things I could be buying to get my casa in shape!

Cleaning, Household and Kitchen Items
You can get anything at the dollar store but I really like stopping by now for stuff for my casa. Here, I can snap up garbage bags, comet powder, comet bathroom spray and sponges for less than big box store prices, because everything is a dollar. I can also grab random stuff for my kitchen like wooden spoons, a spatula, measuring cups and spoons, along with serving size Tupperware for packing my lunch. Since I also don’t print pictures all the time, when I do happen to have a special picture I can just grab one individually. The dollar store even has some pretty cute home decor items and kitchen towels and mats for, you guessed it, a dollar.

My Girl Likes Party Items All The Time
Anyone who knows me knows the importance I give when throwing or celebrating a special event. Since my current position at a non-profit enables me to throw celebrations but needs me to stay on a budget, I love hitting up the dollar store for this. Along with seasonal decorations that coordinate to a holiday, you can also find graduation swag along with fun items for Mardi Gras and weddings. I also enjoy stocking up on balloon weights which look cute as centerpieces along with fun items to decorate tables with, such as bubbles or confetti and dinner mints. And for gift giving, you can’t beat the gift bag selection, tissue paper and cards for a buck as well.

Dollar Stores Are Great For Random Personal Items
Do you ever feel when your buying something, say at Target, that you could be getting it somewhere else for cheaper? That’s probably true and it’s probably at the dollar store. I started buying cotton pads that I use for facial toner and nail polish remover because it’s cheaper. I’ve also gotten band aids, hydrogen peroxide and other items for a first aid kit here. Last but not least, I’ve snagged some office supplies from here along with a candle or two for someone as a small thank you gift. I’m telling you, if you give someone a small thank you gift or even a card, it goes a long way with appreciation.

What do you snag at the dollar store of awesomeness?
Athena