Australians spend billions on pets

Australians spend billions on pets

Australians are paying as much in vet bills for sick pets as it would cost them to buy a new car, research suggests.

Some are plunging into financial stress trying to find the money to pay for surgery and other expensive procedures for their animals, with bills over $10,000 not uncommon.

But while Australians spent $2.2 billion on vet bills in 2009, according to the latest figures from the Australian Companion Animal Council, fewer than 5 percent of pet owners have pet insurance.

The director of insurer Pet Plan, Doug Ford, said take-up was slow in Australia and that was exacerbated by poor economic data and rising fuel, electricity and food bills.

“I would say that pet insurance to a lot of people is a discretionary spend and where there is hard economic times obviously people think twice about buying insurance anyway,” he told The Advertiser.

But at the same time, devoted pet owners are going to great lengths (and expense) to leave no stone unturned when it comes to their animal’s health.

Research suggests that more are turning to alternative remedies from herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy and allergy treatments to massage, chiropractic and even holistic dentistry.

While there is no data to show how many pets are referred to alternative medical clinics each year in Australia, some suggest it is in line with a global trend. In the UK, for instance, more than 15,000 pets visit animal psychologists each year.  

So are we a nation of foolish pet pamperers? And in tough economic times, can we really afford our furry friends?

Whether your pet is more likely to be found on a therapist’s couch or a vet’s examination table, at some point it’s likely it will need medical attention, and vet bills aren’t cheap.

Many owners were simply unaware how costly a trip to the vet could be, according to Ford.

“A lot of people don’t understand that this is going to cost potentially tens of thousands of dollars,” he said. “We have a maximum benefit of $20,000 and on several occasions that has been met.”

Many owners don’t have a clear financial plan to look after their pets, according to Choice spokesman Brendan Mays.

“Apart from the trusty (and potentially expensive back-up credit card, there are options to look after your pet regardless of your budget as long as you don’t mind doing some planning,” he said.

“For a start, you could self-insure. It’s not ideal in a worst-case scenario, but if you have a low-risk house cat or your budget is particularly tight, putting money aside into a high-interest savings account could get you out of trouble. Unlike insurance, there’re no restrictions or exclusions and if you don’t use it you get your money back.”

However, like all self-insurance, you may need more than your budget can cover, and you will need time to build up your savings. Pet insurance has is benefits, said Mays.  

“But you really need to be aware of the tricks and traps involved in this type of insurance.”

According to Choice, most policies cover only a portion of the bill, leaving you with a co-payment, which is why it’s important to always read the product disclosure statement before signing up for any financial product.

 

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The Westpac locked savings account (also known as "Westpac Life") can help customers reach savings goals faster through bonus interest. Customers receive 0.2 per cent standard base interest with a variable bonus rate of 0.35 per cent when the closing balance at the end of the month is higher than the opening balance.

There are some conditions to earn the bonus interest on Westpac's locked savings account, though. First, you’ll need to increase the balance each month either through a deposit or not making any withdrawals, and then link it to a Westpac Choice account and make at least five eligible payments using your debit card. Please consult your bank as to what an eligible payment is. 

What are the two types of NAB locked savings accounts?

With a locked savings account in NAB, you can earn bonus interest and learn financial discipline. NAB offers two types of locked savings accounts, each with their own terms and conditions.

The NAB Reward Saver account pays a variable base interest rate of 0.05 per cent per annum and a bonus interest of 0.55 per cent. You’re eligible for the bonus if you make a minimum of one deposit on or before the second last banking day and have no withdrawals in the month.

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Can you have multiple ING savings accounts?

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To get a Savings Maximiser account, you’ll need to deposit more than $1000 every month and make at least five additional purchases. If you also want to grow your savings, from 1st March 2021, you can earn up to 1.35 per cent per annum variable interest on one account with a balance of up to $100,000 when you also maintain an Orange Everyday account.

With ING, multiple savings accounts can help keep track of all your savings goals. All the accounts offer flexible withdrawals where you can withdraw as low or as high as you want without impacting your earning interest rate. However, you can only earn the bonus interest on one account. To apply for a Savings Maximiser account, you can visit ingdirect.com.au.

What is an ANZ locked savings account?

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With a locked savings account in ANZ, you know your savings will grow because you can’t access the money. You can also qualify for a bonus when you deposit at least $10 per month and don’t make any withdrawals. To help you with this further you can set up an automatic transfer from your regular ANZ savings or transaction account so you don’t forget to make a monthly deposit.

Your ANZ locked savings account offers you a base interest rate of 0.1 per cent per annum plus an additional bonus interest of 0.49 per cent per year. The interest is calculated daily and credited to your account on the last working day of the month.

What are the requirements for opening Commbank multiple savings accounts?

Existing Commbank account holders can open additional accounts online You can open multiple savings accounts with Commbank to meet various goals like a down payment for a home or buying a car. 

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If you’re not a current Commbank account holder, you’ll need an Australian driving licence, birth certificate or passport and Medicare card. You may also have to visit a branch if your identity cannot be confirmed online. 

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Keep in mind that you won’t earn bonus interest on your UBank savings account in the month an account is opened and if you open multiple savings accounts with UBank, you'll start earning any bonus interest the following month. 

It's also not yet known how long the special interest rate will hang around for, so please check with your bank for more information. 

Should I open a Commonwealth locked savings account?

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The Commonwealth locked savings account advertises high-interest rates and minimal maintenance fees, along with a host of other incentives that will encourage you not to touch the money. 

The account offers a higher interest rate for each month that you make limited or no withdrawals, as well as regular deposits. 

To qualify for a Commonwealth locked savings account with the advertised features, you will need to fulfil specific criteria such as:

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The terms offered include as little as 90 days or as long as two years. Generally, the longer you lock your money away, the higher the rate of interest. 

The minimum deposit amount for an ING locked savings account is $10,000. 

To be eligible to apply, you must: 

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Do I have to claim interest on my savings account?

When you lodge your income tax returns, you must include in the documentation all your sources of income, including bank interest. Your bank will report any interest you earn on the funds in your savings account to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). When the ATO then compares this information with your tax returns,  you also need to have mentioned the interest earned. If there is any discrepancy, you’ll receive a letter from the ATO. 

Avoid this situation by ensuring you receive your bank statement with interest noted. Then declare the interest in your tax returns and pay the tax that’s applicable based on the income tax rate.

You only need to claim your share of the interest earned for joint accounts. If you manage an account for your child and receive or spend money via this account, you will also need to report any interest earned from said account.

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Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

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