I am a recent college grad still working retail during a pandemic, I am far from financially well off. However, like most people my age now, pets are the most important thing in the world. When I first started acquiring guinea pigs, I wanted 3. Here I am now with 6. They all came home to me in their own ways and I don’t regret them, but they do hurt my wallet. Over the months, I’ve had to figure out how to cut costs in safe ways so that I can continue to give them the best care while not being bankrupt by them. When I only had 3 pigs, I was spending about $200+ a month. Now with 6 pigs, I spend around $50 a month while spending $50 every 3 months. Let me explain.
If you have any hay consuming rodent, you’ve probably had to buy your hay from the pet store. I mean, where else would you buy it from? I was buying Oxbox timothy hay from my local PetCo for about $10. For 6 guinea pigs, I was going through 2 or more bags a week, so I was spending about $100 a month on just hay. I did some research, asked guinea pig groups, and cried over my debit card that was on life support and found an even better option. At Tractor Supply, they sell a compressed bale of hay for $21.99. This compressed hay bale weighs 20 lbs and has enough hay to feed a literal horse. This has saved me a ton of money and stress, plus the pigs love it.
Because it’s so much hay for a great price, the pigs not only have enough to eat but enough to play and hide in. The downside is that it’s a bit dusty but i usually sift out the dust before giving it to them. The other downside is it can be difficult to store. I have to use two large plastic totes to store my hay, and getting it into the totes can be tricky since the hay is so heavy. It’s also a bit messy to get from the totes into the cages so I have to sweep twice a day. One bale of hay can last my 6 pigs a month and a half, which is a huge difference compared to the pet store bags twice a week.
Bedding can get expensive. I use 75% fleece 25% aspen myself. I buy my aspen from PetSmart, and it’s a decent sized bag for about $10. I could not imagine using it exclusively for my 6, it would become so expensive. I buy aspen about once a month to keep their kitchens clean. What I had done before was 100% fleece. Fleece, if premade, is not cheap. I have 8 GuineaDad liners, you can check the link to see how expensive they are. They’re great, they help with smell, easy to wash, no issues. However, my pigs are messy when eating so I switched to my 75% 25% to save the fleece a little more. Before, I was washing fleece twice a week with 1/2 cup white vinegar and half cap free and clear detergent. That was adding up. Now, I just wash them once a week. Some pigs can even go as long as two weeks with the same liner. You can DIY your own liners for much cheaper, though.
WalMart sells cheap fleece blankets (I want to say they’re under $5). You can wick the fleece at home and put that on top of a reusable dog pee pad. Presto! This is what I will most likely be changing to when I upgrade the cages for my boys. The upfront cost can be a little much for fleece but it saves a ton in the long run.
Pellets and Treats
Prior to researching, I was buying a 10 lb bag of pellets from PetSmart for $20. It could last me about a month and a half, so not the worst. However, I learned that you can buy a 25 lb bag for $30 on amazon, which I’ve had almost 2 months and I still have a ton left. When I first got my pigs, I was buying every single available (and safe) treat at the pet store. Granted, this is a given thing to do since you won’t know what your pigs like. However, once I narrowed down what they liked, I stuck to just those. Then I narrowed it down further to only buying treats that had nutritional value. The only treats I have now are Oxbow Vitamin C tablets, Vitacraft Nibble Rings, and Oxbow Simple Rewards. Narrowing it down keeps them happy and keeps treats within my budget.