Chelsea Number 3

by Bill on March 7, 2012

Many things like these puppies are long-term financial commitments.

This is a story about a dog. A 17 year old Dachshund named Chelsea Number 3. She’s blind, was a light brown but is almost all white in the face, and walks as if she is skipping but I think that’s because she can’t put weight on her hind legs.

I run into her and her owner on a few trips to the local Dollar General. The last time I ran into them I asked about Chelsea. I noted how old this dog really was; that’s when I found out her age. For a dog, let alone a Dachshund, 17 is old. In dog years this is the equivalent to 119 human years. That’s old. Now, for a dog to get that old the person in charge of their care would have to take very good care of it. That would take prioritizing, planning, care and understanding the implications of long-term commitment.

I knew this dog was a priority in the guys life. He told me this Chelsea was Number 3, and the previous one lived 12 years. That means this guy understood about long-term planning, care and looking after all aspects of what were part of his life.

Now, what the heck would this have to do with dollars and debt? Other than dogs can get expensive as they get older; which I know because I have a 15 year-old Beagle. Taking care of dogs is very similar to taking care of personal finances.

Prioritizing and Planning
For any endeavor to succeed it requires making it a priority at some point. That requires placing the endeavor ahead of wants and other immediate gratification; this requires planning. The same is true for both dogs and financial matters. If you want success with either your finances or your dog you must plan for it, thereby making it a priority in your life at one point.

One thing I never will understand is how many animals are treated better than humans to a degree. While it is often deemed cruel or inhumane to warehouse an unwanted dog because you couldn’t find the way to handle the finances, we as a society do the same with so many of the elderly when they go to nursing homes or assisted living. We don’t have the time to plan or prioritize the resources in advance so we warehouse them, making it someone elses responsibility.

Understanding the Implications
When you take on a pet, you also take on a financial obligation. Like so many other financial obligations, it is not a short-term commitment. Yet so many people walk into a financial situation with blinders and short-term thinking; this is also done with pets. It would be so fun to have something around, but when you cannot afford the upkeep, the “fun” vanishes faster than the first breath you took this morning.

Anything you bring into your home does require some form of financial obligation, be it repairs, upkeep, well being or aid. Regardless of whether it is an inanimate object or a living creature, there are financial obligations to it. You must understand the implications of these obligations before commitment or heartbreak will be the end result.

Long-Term Commitments
Not everything is a long-term commitment. But pets are. So are cars, family members and homes. Each of these are seen as being a part of your life for years, thus making them long-term. You wouldn’t cast off any of those without serious consideration of any alternatives if you are around them for any length of time. Well, no, those that see cars, pets, homes and other people as money are a whole other subject and we won’t get into those guys here.

So if you plan on taking on a financial obligation, most likely it will be long-term and over a number of years. This means you have to understand that what you want to get into paying for this year, will likely be around next year and the year after. Hence the reason I don’t understand people getting pregnant without thinking either. You wouldn’t buy a home without thinking if you could afford it five years from now. You wouldn’t buy a car without thinking how you would afford the payments three years later. So why would you get a pet, or have children, or put yourself in serious debt, if you didn’t plan on taking care of the obligation over more than a year or two?

But that’s how an old dog named Chelsea Number 3 got me started thinking about long-term financial commitments. I would say “long live Chelsea Number 3” but the human who has her already made sure of that.

Questions and comments are always welcome.

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