Budgeting Your Boat Bucks

boat budget spreadsheet

Planning your boating budget to cover annual operating expenses should lead to more enjoyable boating.

My friends and I use slang for the cost of boating—”boat bucks.”  One boat buck is equal to $100. So when we say, “it was a couple of boat bucks,” we mean it was $200 and it is used in such a way as to minimize the reality around the steep cost of boating. No one likes to hear anyone complain about the cost of boating. We’re lucky and privileged to be able to enjoy our passion, but that doesn’t make it any less expensive regardless of our language.

I was helping a friend wet-sand the bottom of his racing sailboat last weekend and we talked about how many gallons of paint he’d applied (at $194 per gallon), only to smooth some of it off before it hit the water. The conversation turned to how a broker acquaintance of his had given him an estimate, earlier this spring, of how much the 30-foot S2-9.1 sailboat was worth in today’s market. “Probably about 10K,” was the answer. My buddy estimated that he had spent nearly 80k on the boat over the 12 years he’d owned her, which included all operating expenses and an original purchase price of 19K. Given that he races it and buys new sails every couple of years, does the maintenance himself, and spends money to go fast (wet-sanding off perfectly good bottom paint). I thought his average annual expense of 6k per season or 60 boat bucks fairly reasonable. For help forecasting your own budget read my blog on Planning Your Annual Boat Budget and follow the link in that article to a handy spreadsheet you can download.

Using the term “boat bucks” is fun, but it won’t provide you with a realistic view of your boating expenses, or cushion you from related costs that often surprise less experienced boaters — and sometimes seasoned boaters, too. A realistic spreadsheet and methodical planning can help with those things.

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