How to Actually Afford a Boat

It’s Not as Impossible as You May Think

One of the biggest reasons people don’t get into boating is because they automatically assume that they can’t afford a boat. In fact, this is one of the biggest myths of boat ownership: that only rich people own boats. The reality is that many people can afford to own a boat, as long as they take the time to explore their options and find the right financing or payment solution that works for their needs. Whether you save up for a used boat or take on a loan for a newer model, you probably have a lot more options than you might realize.

How to Afford A Boat

Photos by Skitterphoto and Josh Sorenson from pexels.

Step One: Stop Saying You Can’t

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to wrap your head around the idea that you really can afford to own a boat, because you can. Almost anyone can, with the right resources and commitment to exploring all of the available options. If you’re going to find a way to afford a boat, you need to first believe that you can. Remember, boats come in all shapes and sizes, so there is more than likely a boat out there that’s just right for you and your needs. Whether it be a small kayak, inflatable, RIB boat or a used cabin cruiser for you and your family, you can find the boat that best suits you.

Step Two: Know Your Options

When it comes to buying a boat and maintaining that vessel, there are a lot of different ways that you can go about paying for things. There are also different options, based on your budget or means, as well as what you want out of boat ownership. Make sure that you explore every avenue. After all, while you might not be able to afford to finance a brand new 40-foot yacht, you can probably afford to invest in a small, older fishing boat to enjoy your fishing hobby.

Setting a budget is tricky because you have to research what’s out there first so that you know what you should expect to spend. At the same time, you’ll already have an idea of what you can afford. Even if you think it’s not going to match, you should check out the available options for buying a boat, because you might be able to afford more than you think. Explore the pros and cons of buying new versus buying used, financing a boat or saving up and paying for it outright, and so forth.

Step Three: Look at the Numbers

Again, a lot of people make assumptions before they look into the actuality of things. If you truly want to afford a boat, it is easier than you think. Just sit down and break down the numbers so that you know exactly how much money you need to save and how much it is going to cost you to buy your boat, as well as to maintain and own the boat over time. This way, you will know exactly what you can afford and, perhaps more importantly, that you can indeed afford to own a boat.

Find Ways to Save Up Where You Can

When it comes to affording a boat, you want to look at your financial situation and see where you can start saving money for the purchase of your vessel. You might even want to set up a separate maintenance fund that you throw a little cash in here and there to build up a nice account to cover the expenses related to owning your boat, such as docking and storage fees, transportation costs, and other expenses.

Whether you’re able to save $20 a week or $200, you can find plenty of little ways to chip away at the cost of owning a boat if you break down the numbers and really look at your financial situation, as well as the financial reality of boat ownership. Make sure that you don’t set yourself up to fail by choosing something that’s out of your price range.

Step Four: Get Creative

If you already know that you are close to affording a boat, but not quite there, you might want to start looking around and seeing if there are other things that you can do to help cut the costs or save a little extra cash. Consider shopping for a boat during the off-season or at the end of the season, when you’ll find the best sales and deals on boats.

You can also look into investing in a boat as a sort-of reward for another accomplishment. Maybe you want to pay off your credit card, and then use the monthly payment amounts to go toward a boat payment, instead. Make goals and find creative ways to come up with the money that you need.

Now that you’ve taken a minute to break things down and look at the actual numbers, it won’t be nearly as intimidating for you to consider the reality of buying a boat. In fact, you’ll see that it’s a lot more feasible than you think. If you truly lack the funds to get what you want, maybe consider reevaluating your demands and starting on a smaller scale or with an older vessel just to get out on the water.

It’s up to you, but there really are a lot of different options out there that make it easy for anyone to afford a boat. Some people will even choose to store their boat at home and trailer it to the water rather than paying marina storage fees, to help cut the costs of ownership. You can also look into DIY maintenance and other ways to reduce the amount of money you’re putting into this investment if you are on a limited budget. If you are willing to do a little leg work, you can afford a boat.

The Bottom Line

Everyone has a different idea of what boat ownership means to them. However, it shouldn’t be something you feel like you can’t attain or don’t “deserve” because you aren’t rich. There are plenty of affordable ways to enjoy boat ownership. Use this information to help you come up with a plan that puts you on the path to becoming a boat owner, no matter what type of water sports or boating you are hoping to enjoy.

Written by: Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.


Boat Values and Pricing Guide for both Sellers and Buyers.
Boat Values and Pricing Guide
Category: Buying

A close look at new and used boat values and sale prices, including answers on how to price a boat as...