My $3K (and counting) mistake that you can easily avoid

Here’s one for the lessons-learned-the-hard-way file. I realized on Monday that I’d made a really dumb mistake that’s cost me $3K so far. Maybe someone can learn from it. Or if you’re willing to 'fess up to a careless mistake that cost you big time, we can drown our sorrows together.

In December, I lost my wallet. I immediately called my bank, ordered replacement cards, switched my accounts to the new ones, and that was it. But wait… I forgot one bill! My pet insurance.

I didn’t realize it until early Monday afternoon when I was sitting in my vet’s office. My hound dog mix, Kermit the Dog, is normally a rambunctious lad, but he seemed a bit sluggish, so I took him in for bloodwork.

The vet discovered Kermit was dangerously anemic. I needed to rush him to the emergency vet nearly an hour away. She warned me about the massive bill I’d get from the blood transfusion, bone marrow biopsy, imaging, and so forth that he needed. “I’ll manage,” I said. “I have pet insurance.”

I logged into the policy and found that it was canceled in February for non-payment. Then I logged into my bank account. Sure enough, the pet insurance company hadn’t taken money out of my account since December. And buried in my unread junk emails was a notice of cancellation dated Feb. 3.

I hadn’t noticed that the money wasn’t coming out. When I budget, I tend to look at my overall spending for that category. I was well within budget for my pet spending category, so it never caught my attention.

The pet insurance policy would have paid 70% of the tab. Thus far, the bill was around $650 at the regular vet, plus $3,900 at the emergency vet, so roughly $4,550 total. Had I monitored my bank account more closely and noticed that I wasn’t being charged for pet insurance, I could have saved 70% of that pet insurance bill, or around $3,185.

Mind you… we’re still waiting on diagnostics to come back. Treatment is likely to cost another several thousand dollars. So what’s now my $3K mistake might very well be my $6K mistake in a couple of months. Kermit is only 5 or 6, so I’m going to do whatever I can for him, so long as he can have a good quality of life.

The lesson is pretty obvious here: Any time you switch bank accounts or debit/credit cards, scrutinize several months’ spending and make sure you’ve transferred every single account. I always manage to forget one minor bill whenever I replace a card. But until now, it’s been something inconsequential, like Netflix.

Anyways, Kermit is out of intensive care and resting comfortably at home. We won’t have his test results for about a week, but he’s been barking at cats and trying to steal my lunch… so he’s getting back to his old self, I hope.

Has anyone else made a really careless mistake like this that came at a huge cost? If there are any budgeting apps or general tips for avoiding this type of mistake moving forward, Kermit and I want to hear from you!


I feel your vet bill pain, Dear Penny, but I am happy that Kermit (good-looking lad) is up and running. You pull out all the stops for your pets. I’ve been close to that kind of situation with insurance cancellation but fortunately caught it in time. Keep us posted how Kermit gets along.


Oh no! I am sorry to hear about your dog, and the hefty bill. How frustrating!


I hope Kermit is back up on his paws and in tip-top shape soon! This is great reminder for me to pursue pet insurance. I have two cats. Both are healthy, but one is about 10 and other is 15. Would hate if something happened to either one of them!

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wow. so sorry for what you went through, glade Kermit is doing well

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I’m glad Kermit is out of the ICU and you were there for him! He’s so handsome! I’ve paid plenty of emergency vet visits, so I understand the financial pain. I even brought my parents with me so they can show their military/dependent ID cards for 10% off the bill! I looked into pet insurance, but several companies said that my dog’s diagnoses were considered pre-existing conditions which would not be covered. I even inquired before I adopted my senior chihuahua! I’ve also read reviews about insurance companies not paying for reimbursements. To avoid the hassle, I opened a doggie savings account, which is now at $2000. It’s not enough for one emergency vet bill, but it’s a start. This past week I saw that Petcube started an emergency fund for $29/month which would pay $3000 for emergency treatment once a year. I signed up for that since it’ll cost me about $360/year.

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Have you ever gotten to the bottom of why Kermit became anemic? So sorry you had to go through this.

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I am so sorry that you are going through this with your buddy, Kermit and I hope he i back to good health.

I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes through the decades, but I’m getting too old to go back and recount all the ways. I just wanted to let you know what I did that was helpful when my credit card changed. It’s always a BIG DEAL because I pay everything with a credit card for the reward points and pay off the bill at the end of the month. I looked up the last three credit card (or bank) statements line by line to make sure I didn’t forget to notify anyone. It worked out and no one was forgotten.

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Glad to hear Kermit is doing well!

Thanks for sharing this even though I am sure it isn’t fun to have to deal with this mistake.

I have thought it might be a good idea to set up a separate email address to send important emails to, this makes it seem like that might be a really good idea as I do find emails from time to time where I wasn’t looking for them and my main email inbox gets so flooded with emails its hard to keep track of everything.

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Thank you everyone for your kind wishes. I am heartbroken to share that Kermit the Dog died suddenly last week.

His test results looked good. No signs of cancer or bone marrow disease, which were the big concerns. He seemed to respond well to the transfusion and medications. I was supposed to take him in this week for more tests and another transfusion. But he declined very rapidly last Sunday night and died before he could get to the emergency vet.

It appears that he had internal bleeding, which was causing the anemia. He didn’t have any of the risk factors or typical symptoms for internal bleeding, but his internist said that he will check dogs that present with similar symptoms for internal bleeding moving forward. I’m afraid I’ll never have answers about what caused it. All the vets who treated him said it was a very strange case.

It puts into perspective what really matters. Staying out of credit card debt and maintaining a decent amount of savings are both important to me. But I would gladly max out my credit cards and burn through most of my savings if it could bring me my happy, healthy Kermie back. My heart breaks for anyone who has to say goodbye to a pet too soon because they can’t afford treatment.

I plan to adopt another dog at some point. I know that’s what Kermit would want since he loved other dogs so much. I have a two-week trip planned for early September that I’ve spent the last couple of years saving for. I’ll hold off until then, so I can give the pup the time and attention he or she deserves.

In Kermit’s memory, please hug your fur kids extra tight.

I am so sorry to hear that. I hope you are able to receive some comfort from other loved ones for now.