When you're young, it feels like you have a lot of hard decisions in life.
Should I ask her out? Should I study for this test or hang out with my friends? Where should I go to school? Where should I go to work?
Fortunately, they're important decisions but they're not hard.
There are few “wrong vs wrong” situations.
Once you get older, the decisions get much harder. You are forced to make decisions with imperfect information that will not improve. You must decide between the lesser of two evils, which on its own my be a pretty awful evil if not for the other eviler evil. And you do all this without every knowing if you chose the right one.
That's why, to the extent that we can, we pay for things that can remove these difficult decisions.
That's why we pay for pet insurance.
Meet Tobey — he's our 14 (or 15) year old Beagle that we rescued about six years ago. I say 14 or 15 years old because we don't know how old he is. Some of his paperwork implies 15, the shelter said he was 14, we just know he's old and old dogs have maladies.
He's a pretty good dog, keeps us on our toes, and his floppy ears are always fun. He's a little cranky in his old age but still barks like a champ. Our kids love him, even though our daughter is mildly allergic to him (and me too probably!).
One of the nice things about our financial situation is that if Tobey gets sick, or perhaps needs an operation, we can afford it.
You may think that's a good thing — it's actually not a good thing.
If your dog gets sick or needs an operation and you cannot afford it, there's no hard decision. The result sucks but you didn't make that decision, circumstances did. If saving your pet required you to go into debt and borrow thousands of dollars, there are few people in the world that would question your “decision.”
When you do have the means, it's a much harder decision.
If I have three thousand dollars in an emergency fund and Tobey needs a $3,000 operation, do we pay for it? He might only have a year or so with us and the operation may not improve his quality of life. It's also $3,000 we don't have in an emergency fund for something that might happen to one of us, or our car, or our house – or to another loved one.
I don't want to have to make that decision so I've decided to pay money today to avoid it.
That's why we buy pet insurance – it's one less hard decision I have to make.