Pets are a part of many families these days. They are playmates, confidants and close friends. But, pets also come with a price. If your family is thinking about getting a pet, first consider if you can afford the extra cost.

They are cute and cuddly, tall and curious and like little people. We are not talking about children but the personalities of pets. Pets are man’s best friend, lifesavers in dangerous situations and stick close right up to the end. They forgive all and take on your traits over time. With all these good things about pets, why don’t more people have them?

Well, pets are not cheap. The cuteness can’t hide the fact that you will have to shell out money to get your pet in the home and to keep them throughout their lives. It is worth the time to make a well-informed decision. Many pets end up in shelters or homeless in the streets because their owners could no longer care for them.

Here are some things to consider before buying a family pet.

* Research your pet – Do you want a dog or a cat or an iguana? Different animals have different care needs. Even within a species, there are different considerations. Short dogs are good for small apartments. Large dogs need to run free and get a lot of exercise. Apartments don’t always allow for that. Different pets also encounter illnesses that may affect your pocketbook.

* Short-term needs – Most pet owners know that they will have to spend money at the outset for a pet, but just not exactly how much. Let’s take a cat for instance. They need a litter box, a scratching post (so they don’t use your furniture), toys, bedding and an initial vet visit. If you don’t want more of them, then your pet needs to be spayed or neutered. Even if you bargain shop you can spend a few hundred dollars this first go round.

Long-term needs – These will be your recurring costs. This includes food, vaccinations, pet insurance (if you opt for it), grooming, litter and treats. Consider the fact that you acquired your pet as a baby and they will grow. Their food will get more expensive and so will the needs of their regular check-ups. And, you want to keep your pet healthy so they have a long life with the family.

You can even compare pets if your family is interested in more than one. Depending on your financial situation, the pet may have to wait until another time. In the meantime, your research has given you a goal to shoot for in future hopes of getting that new puppy or kitten.