Owning a Boat without Drowning in Debt
With Spring around the corner, the sun is shining, the skies are clear and you’re counting down the days until you can relax on the beach or river on the weekends. If this is the case, you may be in the market for a boat this season. While some boat-owners like to joke that “boat” is an acronym for “bring on another thousand,” we have some money-saving tips to help your hobby fit within your budget.
Avoid Stuff Labeled ‘Marine’
Retailers know that we want our purchases to be tailored to our specific needs. They also know that people who own boats tend to have more of a disposable income and an expectation to spend a lot on maintaining their watercraft.
This can lead to a markup on items specifically designed for your boat – like rope or window cleaner. In many cases, conventional products will do the same job just as well for much less. It may seem like saving $5 here and $10 there isn’t much, but over the life of your boat it can add up quickly.
Find a ‘Boat Buddy’
If you’ve got friends who also own boats, see if you can alternate trips each weekend. You can take them out on your boat one weekend, and then they can do the same for you the next. You’ll each get to enjoy the boating experience you love with half the hassle and expense.
Each of you will alternate absorbing the costs of fuel and getting your boat to-and-from the beach or lake. Plus, you’ll save wear-and-tear over time instead of both taking your boats out every weekend. By sharing the load with a friend, you may also enjoy your hobby longer, as the “new” won’t wear off as quickly because of all the work it entails.
Get Gas Beforehand
Consider the marina prices for fuel. They’re likely higher because once you’re there, you’re a captive audience. With a 15-gallon spare tank, you can make the trip to a gas station and save a few bucks on what is one of the most significant expenses of owning a boat.
However, be aware of the kind of gas your specific boat requires. If the gas station sells fuel with ethanol in it, pay attention to what you are buying. Many gasoline-powered engines (especially older models) were not built for ethanol and it could damage the motor. Again, saving $10 may not seem like a big deal this weekend, but over the course of a year it could add up to hundreds of dollars if you take your boat out frequently.
Do Your Cooking on the Water
Sure, you can pack sandwiches and snack in the cooler, but after a few weeks, that may get old. You can always stop to get something to eat near the marina, but eating out adds up quickly. Instead, invest in a single burner electric hot plate so that you can prepare meals out on the water.
Not only will this save you money, but it will also make your trips more fun! With a hot plate and a skillet, your options are almost endless – burgers, tacos or BBQ wings can all be on the menu. Just prepare your ingredients at home, pack them in the cooler and enjoy!
Cut Down on the Alcohol
Beer and boating seem like such a natural fit, but the cost of drinking really adds up. Worse yet, boating under the influence (BUI) is just as serious an offense as driving under the influence. Getting a ticket could cost you hundreds of dollars or worse! If you’re out in the sun all day, staying hydrated is important. Trade those beer cans for water or sports drinks with electrolytes and designate at least one sober boat driver.
With these tips, you can save money over the course of life as a boat owner – meaning more financial freedom to enjoy your hobby to the fullest.