- My husband and I decided to buy a boat in the first year of the pandemic since we live near water.
- We budgeted $8,500 total for the boat, saving $700 a month.
- To reach our savings goal, we cut back on travel and dining, and we picked up extra hours at work.
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Boats have a bad reputation for being a poor financial choice. And while that might be true for some, I have no regrets about splurging on our boat.
Here’s why we went forward with this big and unnecessary purchase. Plus, how we paid for it in cash.
Our big splurge: A boat
To splurge or not to splurge? That was the question my husband and I asked ourselves as we considered the idea of boat ownership.
We started kicking around the idea of buying a boat when we moved to a coastal area. At first, we thought the boat would be too expensive. But at some point, we realized that we didn’t need to purchase a brand new yacht. Instead, a small, used boat would suit our needs.
After saving up and checking out a dozen different deals, we moved forward with purchasing a small boat. It cost $7,500 to take the boat home with us, plus another $1,000 to get it ready for the water.
2 things we did to budget and save for the boat
All in, the boat ended up costing us $8,500. But we didn’t just decide to buy a boat without saving up for this considerable expense. Instead, it took us around a year to save up for the boat.
Each month, we set aside $700 as savings for our eventual boat purchase. We accomplished this savings goal in two ways.
We cut back on some expenses
First, we lowered our expenses by cutting back on meals out and scaling back on travel, which wasn’t too difficult because our savings period aligned with the pandemic.
We worked extra hours to bring in more income
Second, we worked to increase our income. By picking up extra hours at work, we were able to boost our savings.
The process of saving up for this major purchase didn’t happen overnight. But the act of saving up slowly for the boat made the eventual purchase more rewarding.
We had to stick to our budget to land the right boat
Once we had reached our savings goal, the next step was sticking to the budget while shopping for a boat. That was definitely easier said than done!
Shopping the used boat market comes with tons of bad options — some of the boats barely float, and others are extremely overpriced. Beyond the terrible options, there are plenty of beautiful boats out there that were simply out of our budget.
We were tempted to spring for a more expensive boat on more than one occasion. After all, who couldn’t use the extra space? Or why wouldn’t you want more shade options? We had to be extremely honest with ourselves to nail down exactly what we wanted in a boat.
It took us several months of searching to find a boat that met all of our criteria — and stayed within budget. The constant searching for the right fit forced us to hold on tight to our budget and our wishlist. Plus, the demand for boats in our area was high at the time, so most good deals sold quickly.
In the end, we decided that sticking to our cash budget was more important to us than a boat with a few more bells and whistles.
Was it worth it?
You’ve likely heard the saying that the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell. But one year later, we still love the boat!
The boat we ended up with was definitely within our budget, and it has served us well as a family that loves to explore the water. In the last year, we’ve spent many happy days fishing and soaking up the sun.
Of course, it was still an expensive purchase. But the splurge is not something that either of us regrets. The lack of regret likely stems from the fact that we spent over a year planning for this purchase. And in the end, we made this big purchase in cash. Without any big debts attached to our small boat, we can enjoy our days on the water without any shame creeping in.