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Before You Buy a Boat, Determine It's Real Price

Before Buying a Boat, Budget for the Total Cost of Ownership


Genmar Holdings Four Winns H310 Large Runabout Boat

J.D. Powers 2008 Best Boats, Large Runabout, Four Winns H310

Courtesy Genmar Holdings

When you are considering buying a boat, the price of a boat is usually the number one factor. But being able to afford the boat depends on more than the initial boat price, even if it's a great deal. Whether you are buying a new or used boat, consider all of these expenses when you set your boating budget.

Purchase Price

Everyone wants the best possible price on the items they purchase, and probably not more so than on a big-ticket item like a boat. To be sure you get the best possible price on a boat you will need to shop around. Visit several dealers to get a sense of the range of prices for the model of boat you have chosen. Realize that dealers with a full service department may have higher prices than those who don't and use this to determine the appropriate price range for the boat.

If you are purchasing a used boat, NADA Marine Appraisal Guide lists boat values, but their estimates can be as much as 15% off the real value. Also, in order for NADA to list a boat, the manufacturer must have produced over 200 boats. Other sources for used boat pricing are The Powerboat Guide and Soldboat.com. Since boats are like cars in the sense they depreciate quickly, your goal when purchasing a boat is to be sure that you won't owe more than the boat is worth when you are ready to sell it.

Don't forget to include the cost of financing and insurance in your budget. Shop around for good loans rates, and get boat insurance quotes before you make the purchase.

Boat Operating Costs

Depending on the size and type of boat you buy, operating expenses will vary.

Fuel is easily the largest operating expense you will have. Estimate the boat's economical cruising speed, or consult the boat specifications to get an idea of the fuel efficiency of the boat. Boats that guzzle gas obviously will cost you more to operate, so you will need to consider this in your boating budget. Keep in mind that marina fuel can be as much as a dollar more per gallon than what you pay to fill up your car.

Other considerations when determining operating costs are marina and yard costs. If you plan to purchase a trailer boat and have a storage area at your home, paying for a boat slip or yard storage may not be an issue. If you intend to keep your boat at a marina or store it for the winter, include these estimates in your boat operating budget.

Boat Maintenance Costs

Maintaining a boat costs money too, and like operating expenses, will depend upon the size and type of boat you buy. If you don't want to spend a lot of money on maintenance costs, purchase a low-maintenace boat - the simpler the better. A boat that doesn't require a lot of maintenace will be of simple construction, require washing only, and will be easy to repair. Triumph boats are a perfect example of a low maintenance boat. Larger boats with teak or other high maintenance fixtures will require more money, and more time.

One way to relieve maintenance costs is to do the work yourself if you are able. Whether you do the work, or you have your boat serviced, the basic boat maintenance costs to budget for are: cleaning supplies, engine and hull servicing, and emergency repairs.

Set a Boating Budget

Before you start shopping for a new boat, set a boating budget that includes all of the costs of owning a boat so you can be sure to choose a boat that matches your needs at a price that matches your budget.

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