How to Buy a Boat and Not Sink Your Budget

Are you eyeballing a vessel to get you out on the water this summer? You don’t have to be rich to own a boat, but you do want to chart a sensible course for your money — by choosing a boat that you can afford to buy and afford to maintain.

The array of possible vessels is mind-boggling, including things as different as:

  • Ski/wakeboard boats
  • Pontoon boats
  • Aluminum fishing boats
  • Fiberglass runabouts
  • Sailboats designed for ocean cruising

But how do you know what’s right for you? Take into account your activities first, then look at preferences such as passengers, propulsion and transportability.

Before you start shopping, ask yourself these seven questions:

1. What will you use your boat for?

This should be your first question, experts say.

Perhaps you like to fish, or to go tubing or water skiing. Other top reasons to own include cruising and sailing. Buy the simplest, cheapest boat for your use, Money Talks News founder and Florida boat owner Stacy Johnson advises.

2. Do you really have time to enjoy your boat?

Stacy’s 30-foot cabin cruiser sits on the water just 20 feet behind his office, but he has said he only gets out on it about once a month:

“I try to use it once a week, but it usually doesn’t work out that way. If it was in a marina, I’d probably be too busy to ever use it.”

And this is a common story. If you love boating, but really don’t have much time for it, consider options other than exclusive ownership. For more tips, check out “4 Cheaper Ways to Go Boating Without Buying a Boat.”

3. Do you really need a big boat?

How many passengers do you want to carry? Do you need room for cocktail hour with friends, a kitchen and sleeping quarters? Or just a place to sit alone as you drop a fishing line into a lake?

Generally, the bigger the boat, the more expensive it is to operate. Costs include:

  • Registration and insurance
  • Fuel
  • Moorage
  • Dry docking in the offseason
  • Launch and lift-out fees
  • Hull cleaning and treatment
  • Engine maintenance
  • Sail and line replacements for sailboats

You’ll also pay for equipment that ranges from fire extinguishers to life jackets, and stocking your boat with goodies, water skis, dinghies and more.

4. Where will you keep it?

Some people want to tote their boats on trailers and explore a variety of waterways. Others dock at home port marinas. The bigger the boat, the larger and stronger the trailer and car or truck you’ll need to pull it.

As size increases, you may need permits or professionals to move your boat. Also consider the cost of storage options when you’re not using your boat for long periods.

5. What should propel your boat?

Looking for a powerboat? Or, maybe you prefer paddles so you can quietly explore along a coast or race down a river. And then there are sailboats — propelled with skillful use of wind power.

Know what you like before you shop.

6. Should you buy new or used?

Pre-owned boats are far less expensive than new boats because they have already depreciated. Before buying used, Stacy says, have the boat checked out by a professional — who may be found through the National Association of Marine Surveyors — to determine its condition and value.

Are you a boating enthusiast, interested in plunging into this market or poking around at the marina wondering if there is a cautious way in? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
10 Mistakes That Cost You Money at Warehouse Stores
10 Mistakes That Cost You Money at Warehouse Stores

Wholesale clubs might have great deals, but these mistakes will cost you.

7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50
7 Deadly Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50

Simply avoiding these actions, or lack thereof, can improve the odds of a longer, more healthful life.

Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer
Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer

Earn cash by reading emails, taking surveys, playing games, shopping and signing up for offers through this website.

7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score
7 Surprising Things That Damage Your Credit Score

A seemingly small stumble can cause your credit score to plummet.

It’s Worth Paying Extra for These 14 Items
It’s Worth Paying Extra for These 14 Items

Here’s where to find the sweet spot at the intersection of price and quality.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon
10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon

These freebies are available to anyone — no Prime membership necessary.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

11 Disgusting Household Items You Should Toss Already
11 Disgusting Household Items You Should Toss Already

Never keep these items past their prime.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze — and How I Freeze Them
10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze — and How I Freeze Them

How many of the foods have you thought to put in the freezer?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.