Pets On a Budget

Dogs and cats are typical choices when it comes to a family pet. They offer loads of entertainment, companionship, and love. The cost of care may seem like a bit of a burden every time it comes to forking out the extra money, and many people do not have space or time to give a larger, more expensive pet what they need.

If you are in this position, but you still want to find a new best friend, you may consider a little less expensive pet and require less maintenance. Small animals such as hamsters, fish, and other creatures can be a perfect choice and fit fine into your life.

In our list of 8 pets, we will explore the perfect choices to have in a home that won’t require much cost or maintenance. These animals are both friendly and adaptable to any lifestyle. All of these pets are easy to care for and relatively cheap, but will also provide you with the affection and camaraderie you have been looking for. Consider adding one of these furry little friends into your life and enjoy the ease of what owning a pet can be whilst also saving money at the same time.

Top 8 Pets to get on a Budget

1. Goldfish

The goldfish is a classic first pet. They are an animal many people have had at least once in their lives. A goldfish adds beauty and life into a room without requiring too much attention, maintenance, or even time from pet owners. Goldfish have a potential life of up to 20 years and have a memory span a little longer than the rumors; around 3 months. A surprising thing about goldfish is that they can even be taught and perform tricks. They have a sharp vision that allows them to distinguish between different people. Your goldfish will learn over time who you are, so it’s not surprising that they will swim over and ask for food when they are hungry. Who needs a dog when you can have a goldfish! Children will love watching them beautifully swim around their tank.

Unless they have been won on a fairground, you can expect to pay between $3 and $15 for the standard goldfish we all know and love. If you’re looking for the rarer breeds, you can expect to pay several hundred dollars. The daily food needs of a goldfish are very budget-friendly. There is a lump sum you are going to have to pay for your initial fish setup. Buying a tank with a filtration system plus the stones and maybe some decorations for your little fish to hide in is going to cost you up to $100. This is the biggest cost and much cheaper than buying a dog or a cat overall. The traditional small goldfish bowl looks nice for many pet owners, but it won’t provide enough oxygen for your goldfish and has been banned in several countries. Hence, we always recommend opting for a larger tank when possible.

2. Leopard Geckos

If you’re a bit of a reptile enthusiast or want to step into the world of lizards, a Leopard gecko can make a great low-cost pet. They are cheap, low maintenance animals with truly enchanting features. In the bigging, these small spotted creatures may be shy, but after some love and care, they will become your best friend, just like other pets. Leopard Geckos are nocturnal creatures meaning they are most active at night. Unlike other reptiles, the leopard doesn’t need UV light bulbs in their tank, although they require an incandescent bulb. They may also require a heat pad dependant on the temperature of your home. You should make sure that your gecko has a moist hideout that will aid their shedding, a water bowl, and a second-place for them to hide when they’re feeling a little shy.

When buying a leopard gecko, expect to pay between $20 and $70. For a beginner’s terrarium setup, you can generally pay between $100 and $200. A gecko’s diet mainly consists of live worms and crickets. These will cost between $3 and $7, depending on the size of your gecko.

3. Hermit Crab

Contrary to their name, Hermit crabs are pretty sociable pets. They love having a friend in the tank and will really thank you for it. A fun pet for both children and adults, hermit crabs, are inexpensive animals to buy. If you purchase young ones, you can watch them grow into bigger and more impressive shells. Shells will be something that you will need to pay for, but they are not very expensive. Hermit crabs are known to move between shells during the night, so it’s good to buy a few different options for them; they love a costume change! It’s been known for owners to paint the shells; this is a little controversial as there is a risk of toxic materials hurting the crab.

Remember always to replenish the drinking water of your hermit crabs and the shell water they use.

Being small creatures, hermit crabs have a low daily cost for the food they eat. You can buy a hermit crabs for less than $10 but try and budget between $50 and $150 for the tank and the decorations inside.

4. Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are small furry adventurous animals making the perfect pet for pre-teens. They may be good for younger children, but these small creatures can be injured very easily if you’re too rough with them. Maybe not the best choice for families with preschoolers and much younger children. A guinea pig’s expected life is around 5 years, and they love to socialize with other guinea pigs. If you want pet ownership to be rewarding in an obvious sense, then these are the pets for you; they purr, whistle, and squeal to express their emotions. You will always know when you have a happy guinea pig.

To buy these rodents, it will cost you between $20 and $40. For a proper habitat, they will truly thrive in will be another $60 on top of that. Monthly food, bedding, and hay costs are around $30, but food can be minimized by feeding them your leftover veggies. The perfect way to minimize your food waste while keeping your furry friend happy. You may have the occasional medical care bill from vet visits, but this will only be around $45 in their lifetime. If you see yourself as more of a hamster person, they are very similar to guinea pigs. Their temperament, care, and the cost are pretty much the same; they’re just a little smaller.

5. Canary

The canaries, thanks to their easy day-to-day care and their trademark singing, have been one of the most popular birds to have as pets for many people for over 500 years. Not anything close to dogs, but we believe 500 years is pretty impressive. Living between 8 and 15 years, canaries are one of the easiest species for pet ownership. They are relatively inexpensive birds to own compared with other popular flying pets such as parrots.

In the pet store, you will usually see canaries go between $100 and $150. If you look at breeders for buying your canary, you can expect to pay less. Canaries require entertainment as they get bored pretty easily, but excluding the price of a cage and toys, you can expect to pay around $100 per year on food and other miscellaneous items. This is not included any veterinary bills either.

6. Degu

Degus are one of the more unusual pets on our list. They are small rodents similar to a guinea pig and make surprisingly easy pets take care of when socialized from a young age. They originate from chili and make a great pet for many animal lovers. Degus do require a little maintenance and space, maybe more than other rodents. One catches about owning a Degu; they are extremely social animals and do best in a pair.

To buy a degu, it’s going to cost you between $20 and $35 each if you’re buying from a shelter. If you are looking at buying from a breeder, expect to pay $80 to $100. There are some initial costs, as there is with any pet. You will need to buy a multilevel cage and a few other supplies ranging between $200 and $300. For food, the price can be very different from degu to degu. They all have varying appetites so that you can pay anything from $60 to nearly double that. Guinea pig food is a suitable choice for feeding your new degu.

7. Sea Monkeys

Sea Monkeys are a nonsensical gift known as the world’s smallest instant pets. They are the brand name for brine shrimp and are usually sold as novelty kits to children. As budget pets, they are probably the easiest pet to maintain on our list. Pour a packet containing salt, conditioner, and brine shrimp eggs into a tank of water. After a few days, these little crustaceans will hatch, and you will have your new pets.

After this, all you have to do is change the water from time to time and feed them with the ‘growth food’ that comes in the kit. The usual cost of owning your own sea monkey is between $8 and $16.

8. Rats

Having a rat as a pet may seem like a bit of a gamble with the ferocious tendencies they have. This is a bit of a myth, and when they are handled from a young age, many owners say they can be very cuddly budget little animals. Rats are another alternative to owning a hamster and can be found in most pet stores. A low maintenance pet that is completely budget-friendly.

The pet cost of a rat is inexpensive. The only things you should buy is a 20-gallon aquarium or a similar-sized wire cage; expect to pay $35 or a little more. You will need bedding, toys, and food, which will cost you around $40 per year. If you buy all of these things, you’ll have a happy pet that doesn’t really need much else.

Considerations for Pet Expenses

Vet bills

Vet bills can always but a bit of a hit if they are unexpected and don’t have anything prepared. Pet insurance is a great thing to have on any pet. It will significantly reduce the price you will have to pay if your furry little friend has an unexpected accident or feels unwell. Pet insurance is a good way to regulate your pet costs, not having to put yourself in debt with a hefty veterinary bill potentially.


Food costs for any pet are something you need to buy. Pet food can be expensive, and with some animals, if you decide to feed them a raw diet for their health and shine of their coat will be a lot more expensive. If you want to save money on your pet supplies such as food, it is good to buy bulk. You will always receive a discount buying in bulk, an initial bigger payout but well worth it over time.


If you own a pet, you will always come across the have to buy medicine. This can be reduced with pet insurance if that is in your plan. Unfortunately, medicine is unavoidable, and your pet may get sick. This is just one of the things that go with owning any animal.


What is the cheapest pet to have?

The cheapest pet to have is a sea monkey. They are small little shrimp that usually come in a kit for kids. If you want a pet that will give you a little more than a sea monkey can, then a fish is a great choice. They will bring any room to life without much maintenance needed. Feeding them is cheap, and they can even recognize you over time. Who needs a dog when you can save money and have a loving goldfish?

What is the easiest pet to keep?

After cats and dogs, the most popular pet to have is a bird. They are easy to care for and will provide you with lots of love and entertainment. They need lots of stimulation, so always make sure they have lots of toys and obstacles in their cage so they won’t become bored.

What is the cheapest way to get a dog?

The cheapest way to get a dog on a budget way is to rescue. Many dogs haven’t had the best start in life that need a loving home. What better way to get a new family pet than by saving a dog from potentially being put down. Young and old, there is a dog for every kind of family and every kind of person. Check out your local shelter if you are looking for a budget way to get a new dog.

What is the cheapest exotic pet?

Iguanas are the cheapest exotic pet you can buy, ranging at around $15 from some pet stores. If reptiles aren’t your thing and you want something a little more fluffy, a degu could be a great choice. These little rodents from Chili are a great alternative to hamsters and will provide you with a lot of love if handled from a young age. It is important to know that these creatures much prefer living in pairs, so it’s always advised that you buy them as a two rather than their own.

Full-time writer. Blogger. Dedicated wife. Mother of 3 amazing kids. I love learning about everything from the latest tech gadgets, innovative new home designs and can be found regularly reading up on parenting tips. There is always room to grow!

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