Money at 30: Good (and Bad) Habits I’ve Gained Since Getting a Dog

It’s now been six weeks since my wife and I brought home our dog, Rigby. With this being the first pet either of us has had in our adult lives, I’m sure you can understand that this addition of a dog to our family has brought about a number of changes — which is why I’ve already penned a number of articles on the topic (including chronicling some of the costs) despite it only being a few weeks! As I reflect on some of those changes, I realize that we’ve now adopted some better habits as a result of having Rigby… while also introducing one less-than-great one. With that, here are a few of the ways that having a pet has impacted our daily lives.

3 Better Habits (and 1 Bad Habit) I’ve Picked Up After Getting a Dog

Waking up early

The first change my wife and I noticed when we first got our dog was that we were getting out of bed earlier than we would have otherwise. Well, I suppose “earlier” depends on what you compare it to as there have been plenty of times in my life where I’ve tried to move up the time I start my day. Yet I’ve ended up pushing things back once again for one reason or another and haven’t been able to stick with an earlier schedule for any longer than necessary.

Well, it turns out that having a dog who will not only hop up and lick you until you wake up but also carries the inherent threat of going to the bathroom on your bedroom floor if you don’t take them out is a fantastic motivation to begin your day a bit earlier. Incidentally, while Rigby first demonstrated a 7 a.m. wake-up time, she does seem to like to mix it up. However, if she gets up too early, we have succeeded in getting her to return to her bed in a timely manner and wait for a more reasonable hour (without incident). Nevertheless, my wife and I have been getting up earlier overall, which I think is a good thing.

Walking more

Unlike waking up early, walking is something I actually happen to enjoy. In fact, when the weather is nice, my wife and I often make it a point to walk at least a couple of miles per night. That said, seeing as we’re just now coming out of summer, that routine hadn’t quite kicked in when we got Rigby.

Instead, it’s our dog that’s been leading us to increase our exercise. In general, we’ll take Rigby out about five times a day. And, while we could just let her do her business and lead her back in, we’ve made an effort to at least do a lap around the complex to not only give her additional bathroom-going opportunities but also burn some calories ourselves. Then, when the weather is as pleasant as it has been as of late, we’ll take even longer walks together, which has been nice from a family togetherness standpoint, while also likely being beneficial for all of our health.

Using our living room

When we decided to downsize from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom, a key reason why we figured the move wouldn’t be too impactful for us was that, at the old place, we never really made much use of our living room. Meanwhile, with my desk now in said living room, I do end up spending a lot more time here. But, once punch-out time arrives, we’d find ourselves spending the rest of the evening sitting in bed. Embarrassingly, this even includes eating meals in bed instead of using our table (hey, no judging).

Once again, this is an area in which having Rigby has helped break us from our bad habits. Although we do occasionally welcome her to join us in some bed sitting, more often than not, we now spend our evenings in the living room. Plus, seeing as she’s almost bound to spoil any meal we attempt to eat in bed, we’ve finally taken to using our table where she has no chance of reaching our food. Then, when it’s time to go to sleep, slipping into bed feels much more like a treat and sets the tone for our nightly winddown (which then sets us up for that aforesaid early rising). I guess what I’m saying is that our dog taught us how to be adults? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Splurge spending

Finally, turning to one bad habit that’s crept up since we brought Rigby home, I’ve found it much easier to spend money without much regard. It reminds me a bit of a Mitch Hedberg joke about going to Subway to get a sandwich for a duck: “Don’t bother ringing it up — it’s for a duck.” Except, in my case, the items we’re getting aren’t free and do indeed cost us money. Yet, seeing as it’s for the dog, my typical purchase analytics go out the window.

While it would be one thing if I were just spoiling my dog, I’ve also noticed that this attitude has started to carry over into other categories, leading my wife and me to increase the number of splurges we’ve allowed ourselves. To be clear, this hasn’t had a major effect on our finances yet, but it’s not a good trend to set. So, now that we’re aware of it, hopefully we can chalk up this change in behavior to everything being new with the dog and ween ourselves off of these impulse buys now that she has a stable of toys, treats, etc.

All in all, while we’re all still adjusting to each other, having Rigby in our family has been great. Beyond the companionship she offers, taking care of her has led us to better ourselves in a few ways. Alas, to no fault of her own, we’ve also taken to spending more on her than we probably should. Despite this, the pros definitely outweigh the cons — and I’m very excited to see how else our lives will change in the months and years ahead.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at

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