June brings the official start of summer and with it, all the activities we associate with warm weather and good times: grilling, swimming, fireworks, and boating.
If you love the water and have been dreaming of buying your own boat for some time, you may currently be in the throes of boat buying fever. But is it worth it to make that plunge? After all, we’ve all heard the saying that the best days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy AND the day they sell.
Before you commit to boat ownership or go buy a captain’s hat, let’s weigh the good and bad together.
When it’s your boat, you can decide when you want to head out on the water, for how long, and where you want to go. If you have ever tried renting a boat or using a charter, you know that those decisions may not always be in your control (ever try to book a charter for a weekend during Red Snapper season? Ugh!).
Spent summers on a boat as a kid? You know how much joy and how many good memories come from family time on the water. That’s why many boat owners choose to use their boat as a vacation getaway.
When compared to the costs of a family trip, it’s not hard to see how a boat might pay for itself in terms of sharing that time together and enjoying a vacay on the water. Think of it as an investment in your family’s happiness.
Fulfilling a Dream
Even though a boat isn’t a “necessary” purchase, it can add value to your life. Being able to spend on the items that matter to you is part of living life. Once the cost of ownership is determined, you may decide the cost of fulfilling your dream is worth it. It can be a great way to spend your time and give you joy.
Boats are fun purchases that can be planned for and fit into your life plan. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a boat, do your research to determine what the true cost is and determine if the cost is worth the reward.
The main problem with buying boats is just like cars, you know exactly which way their value will go once you drive away- DOWN! Whenever you are about to purchase a depreciating asset that has high maintenance costs, BEWARE, things are going to be expensive! I mean, there’s a reason they say that BOAT stands for “Break Out Another Thousand.”
- Rapid Depreciation (expect 25-40 % in the 1st two years)
- Registration and insurance
- Trailer maintenance
- Towing and storage
- Slip fees and fuel costs
- Repairs and maintenance
These are just a few of the many additional costs that can add up and drive up the costs of owning your boat. Be sure you understand all the costs you may incur over time, and whether you can truly afford the ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
Speaking of maintenance and upkeep, you’ll need to put in some serious elbow grease to properly care for your boat and ensure years of continued use and enjoyment.
Besides the large tasks of winterizing and de-winterizing your boat, you’ll need to flush the engine every time you take the boat out, keep an eye on the oil and potentially change it after every 50-100 hours on the water, clean, clean, CLEAN thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew, treat and repair upholstery, wax, check and clean the batteries… you get the idea.
If you don’t want to spend the considerable time it takes to properly maintain your boat, you’ll simply be throwing your money away.
Have you or anyone you’ve known ever spent a lot of money on gym memberships or workout equipment, convinced that it would ensure a commitment to regular exercise, only to see that membership card at the bottom of a drawer or the equipment covered in dust?
Yeah. It happens to the best of us. Unrealistic expectations can cause us to spend money on things we plan to do, with the results sometimes coming up far short of what we envisioned.
The same can be true of what you expect to gain out of boat ownership. You may have grand visions of spending every weekend out on the water, surrounded by friends and family. But the reality may be far different:
- The weather may not always cooperate
- Family schedules may dictate other weekend plans, especially with graduations, weddings, holidays and other summertime activities
- If you don’t live close to a body of water, it can add another level of difficulty in making time to get out on the boat
- Again, think of the maintenance and upkeep you’ll need to do which will also take away from actual time spent on the water
Having a clear understanding of how much you will truly be able to use your boat may uncover how realistic it is to buy one.
I am a card-carrying boat-a-holic, but the reality is, you may wind up saving yourself some time and money by using professional charter guides or simply renting a boat. And who knows, you might even catch more fish! Check sites like Airbnb, Boatsetter or Louisiana Fishing Guides.
As with any large purchase, do your homework and carefully consider the pros and cons I’ve listed here to arrive at an informed decision. Your financial advisor can also help you run the numbers to ensure you’re not biting off more than your wallet and lifestyle can chew.
Here’s to a great summer!