Recently, my client had to give up her dog, Macey.

It was a heart-wrenching decision, but it was the right one for her.

Lauren has been diagnosed with some health issues that mean some days she isn’t able to manage much movement. Some days are great! Some days she jumps in her kayak, goes for hikes, bakes bread and feels mostly like herself. But other days – more often than she’d like – even making it down the stairs is a struggle.

Macey is a very active breed. After an hours-long hike, she would come home seemingly unfazed – energy intact, ready for more play. On her bad days, Lauren would look at Macey’s big brown eyes and feel guilty she wasn’t getting the exercise and stimulation she deserved.

But how do you decide who should take care of a member of your family?

Asking someone to take in a big, active dog like Macey is no small thing. Especially because Macey also had a life-long medical issue that required daily medication.

Lauren wanted Macey to go somewhere that would love her as much as she did. As it turns out, an old neighbour reached out – she already knew and loved Macey and had exactly the kind of active lifestyle Macey needed. Lauren knew it would be a perfect fit.

But the neighbour was concerned.

She was worried about being able to provide for Macey, especially given her expensive daily medication needs.

For Lauren – it was a no-brainer. She offered to cover Macey’s “cost of living” and contribute a portion towards any potential vet visits.

Easing the financial burden for her old neighbour meant that Lauren could make a decision motivated by her heart, not her financial statements.

She was able to do that because she has a solid financial plan. We had made changes to her plan when her health made it impossible for her to work, and Macey’s continued care had been a priority for Lauren. We knew exactly how much Macey’s care required, and already had funds designated for unexpected vet costs.

Financial planning is not about slotting your money into generic budget headings and contributing arbitrarily to “savings” and “retirement”. Financial planning is about making sure that you can achieve your goals and protect what is important to you.

A truly effective financial plan should be based on your values, not just the numbers.

If it is important to you to have designated for the care of your pets if you should end up in hospital or otherwise unable to care for them for an extended period – that should be part of your financial plan.

If it important to you to have the ability to pay for very costly medical treatments for your pet – that should be part of your financial plan.

Another client of mine had to pay $2,700 out of pocket for her cat’s emergency treatment. The vet warned her that this situation was very likely to happen again, and it might be even more expensive to fix next time. Most folks in that case, they told her, opt to euthanize. My client wants to be prepared for that moment, and we have made changes to her financial plan to allow for a much higher savings amount for vet bills. She knows exactly how that will affect the rest of her financial goals and her cash flow, so her decision is not made lightly.

I am a dog lover, too. I have two dogs: Jackson and Cooper. They are my family. They are part of our financial plan. We include considerations for vet care, ongoing training, and end of life in our plan, because that is what is important to us.

Your financial plan should reflect what is important to you. Yes, growing your wealth and protecting your assets are the ultimate goals – but to what end? What is it that you want to achieve and protect? Your why should be the driving force behind the financial decisions you make with your planner.

And if your why has paws, your plan should reflect that.

If you want to work with a Certified Financial Planner ® who truly considers your values to build a meaningful financial plan, book a call.