Saving Money At The Groomers


Crazy Dog Photo

For the record – neither of our dogs look ANYTHING like this – I just thought this picture was HILARIOUS!

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If you have dogs, you know that being a dog owner is rarely an experience governed by frugality. My wife and I have two dogs, and they are loved members of our family (when they’re behaving). Unfortunately, one of our dogs (he’s a terrier mixed with a lot of other things – a rescue dog) has a longer coat that tends to need grooming every few months. We’ve typically just taken him to PetSmart (you can substitute your own high-priced pet store here!) and paid out the $40-$50 each time to get his fur trimmed, a bath, and a ridiculous little bandana (for the record, my wife likes the bandana).

Part of the reason we get him groomed is because of the Texas heat, but most of it is cosmetic. His coat grows out and he looks shaggy and ridiculous, so keeping his fur trimmed keeps him a little better looking. While I used to just put up with the occasional $40ish expenditures on dog grooming, I got to the point where I felt it was crazy to spend more on keeping his fur short than on keeping my hair trimmed! Over the last year or so I have thought seriously about buying a set of hair clippers and seeing how well I could do trimming his fur myself. Well, one day last week my wife showed up with a set of “pet clippers” that she picked up from Wal-Mart on her way home from work. One thing to note – I’m pretty sure that other than the instruction manual, there is nothing pet-specific about these clippers, so I’m guessing you could use a set of old/new/borrowed regular hair clippers and be just fine. I think the best part about the instruction manual was that it gives you directions on how to groom animals ranging from poodles to horses…yikes!

The Process

My wife and I took our dog outside, put down an towel and then went to town! With the basic set we bought it included the clippers, a comb (we didn’t use), oil and a little brush for the clippers, and then guards to get the desired coat lengths. We started with the 1″ to make sure we were doing it correctly and eventually got down to 3/8″. The entire operation was pretty simple and our dog, who usually gets deathly afraid when we take him to the groomers (he growls, barks, tries to bite the groomers, etc), was pretty calm most of the time. When we were shaving around his neck/head area he wasn’t as happy, but for the most part he was pretty relaxed. I made a couple of mistakes and he has a nice little bald spot on the top of his head and the side of his neck – but I think they just build character!

The entire process of shaving him took about 30 minutes or so, and most of that was changing out the guards to get down to the 3/8″ and doing a final run with those. I think next time will take about 15 minutes max, including cleanup, and should look much better now that we (mostly) know what we’re doing. If I were giving  a score I’d probably say he’d get a 7 out of 10 vs a 10 out of 10 if we had taken him to the groomers.

Was It Worth It?

Now for the big question – was it worth it?  Considering that it took us 30 minutes to shave him plus another 15 minutes to give him a bath and get him dried off, that’s only a 45 minute investment of our time. If we were taking him to the groomers we’d have to drive him over to PetSmart and either wait for him or come back and pick him up, so we’d probably be spending about the same amount of time. We spent $25 on the “basic” clipper set plus a small amount on shampoo (we already had some, so we just used a bit of that). Let’s just say that the groomers would have charged $40, then we saved $15 by doing it ourselves and only received a marginally inferior result. BUT, the big payoff is that any other time we want to shave him we can just take him outside and go to town – no additional expense required, so the clippers have already paid for themselves! Other than the monetary cost, the fact that he’s not scared to death by having to go to the groomers anymore is worth more than the money we’re saving, so I’ll definitely take the reduced cost as a fringe benefit!

 So What?

If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering “great, but what does this have to do with financial independence, location independence, and contentment?”, which are my stated goals. Other than saving money, which contributes to my goal of financial independence, and not being yelled at by Mr. Money Mustache for outsourcing my dog grooming (of course, he would yell at me for owning a dog in the first place – especially two!), shaving my dog goes toward living a full and content life. To me, part of being happy is doing things myself, and even something as small as this definitely qualifies. I haven’t been traveling for the last few weeks, so being home to do even minor things like shave my dog have added to my contentment and happiness, so I’m definitely heading in the right direction!

Have any of you pet owners taken any steps to reduce your pet expenses?  Let me know!



Thanks for the amazing dog picture

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