True Cost to Own® (TCO)

This week’s Prompts For The Promptless is about true cost:

True Cost is a term for the often-overlooked, comprehensive expense of something, including the time-related and emotional costs.

Consumers are mostly familiar with this term as it relates to cars in this example from

And major appliances as in this example from Amazon

But they don’t have True Cost to Own® (TCO) for most things and they probably should. For example, pets.


I have two pets. I have a seven-year-old cat and a two-year-old dog. Let’s do the cat first.


Hm. That doesn’t seem like a very wise investment. A $75 cat ends up costing you $17,840 over the course of five years. Let’s try the dog and see if that’s any better.

My dog is just over 2 years old. I already made a spreadsheet of things she destroyed in her first year on earth, so we can add these costs in.


Let’s see what the TCO calculator has to say on the subject.


Well, that’s a bit pricey, but honestly, I thought it would be more than that. I thought for sure that the dog would be double the cost of the cat in the long run, but it turns out that’s not the case. While the cat is still the more cost-effective of the two, owning a dog isn’t as much more as I would have guessed. Perhaps if I had selected the short-haired model cat and the long-haired model dog, it would be a different cost analysis. Plus, cat litter is expensive.

In any event, you should always do some research before you buy. Or you could just do like I did and not be able to walk away from their cages.

Happy shopping, informed consumer!