speed boat

The Two Happiest Days in a Boat Owner’s Life

by Kristina K. Bolhouse, CPA/PFS, CFP®

I saw an interesting poster in a novelty shop recently. It said,

“The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life: the day you buy the boat, and the day you sell the boat.”

The cartoon showed the before and after pictures of a boat owner jumping for glee after each transaction.

Why is that? Why would the happiest days be both the buying transaction and the selling transaction?

Well, the first transaction is the realization of a dream. Many people long for something to call their own. A typical boat owner may dream of the day they have their own vessel. It might come from a romantic notion or childhood memories they want to share with the family. Whatever the reason, I’m sure the first few months of boat ownership are absolutely wonderful.

Then the reality sets in. Boats require maintenance and never-ending expense. For example, every time you take your boat to the lake for a fun weekend, there is work involved. It requires steps like planning ahead, transporting the boat, finding the launch point, and a parking spot in which to keep your auto and boat trailer. (Oh, by the way, you can’t just have any old car to tow a boat. You need to make sure it has the proper towing capacity.) An easier solution is storing the boat at a dock where you’ll use it, but that requires additional ongoing expense as well.

After the excursion, the boat will need a good cleaning. You will also need to maintain all the mechanical requirements, licensing, and insurance. There’s also the storage issue. There’s the storage between trips, which may simply be in your driveway. As long as there are no hail storms or tornadoes, your boat will be just fine with a simple tarp over it. Then there’s the storage over the winter months, which means more costs.

Then there are all those weekends where you would really like to be doing other things, but your boat beckons you. After all, you spent all that money on your dream boat. Isn’t it important that every weekend be spent utilizing it?

Over time, the dream gets shattered. The burden of boat ownership becomes more and more evident. Eventually it becomes cast aside like many other toys. This is why the second transaction (the sale) can trigger an equal amount of joy: It is the relief of a burden.

The Lesson

Always be aware of and prepared for the exit plan. If there is no exit plan, consider evaluating the purchase in the first place. The analogy above applies to houses, cars, and many other situations. An awareness of the exit strategy before the initial purchase will lead to wiser choices, more realistic expectations, and possibly more money in your pocket.


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