Annual Boat Budget Plan and How to Save Money


Prepare a budget plan to avoid overlooking hidden costs.

A lot of people today jump at the chance of buying a boat since it can provide them with some peaceful recreational time alone or with their family and friends.


 However, the fact is that you might be able to buy a boat but you may not be in a position to maintain its upkeep for a long time.


So, before you make the decision of getting a boat, you carefully need to consider all the costs associated with it and make a budget in order to ensure that you can actually afford a boat.

What Kinds of Costs Should Be Considered?

Simply put, there are two types of costs you need to consider when you are purchasing a boat; one-time and on-going costs. One-time costs are easier to understand since they include the actual purchase price of the boat and the customization costs incurred.

The continuing costs, however, can be much more complex in nature since they include a number of costs, most of them that the buyer is usually unaware of. The factors that usually contribute towards the price of boats are their sizes, the intended use and their location.

Many people who do get a boat by paying the initial cost upfront end up losing money or reselling it because they can’t afford to operate or maintain it. So, when you are making your boat budget, here are some costs you should consider:

  • Insurance
  • Maintenance
  • Fuel
  • Storage
  • Dockage or Mooring
  • Transportation
  • Hauling
  • Winterizing
  • Excise Tax
  • Cover
  • Marina or Yacht Club fee
  • Commissioning
  • Trailer Registration
  • Dinghy Storage
  • Registration and Documentation
  • Safety Equipment
  • Other Boating Equipment

For estimation’s sake, we could say that all these operational expenses in total would cost you at least 15% to 20% of the total value of your boat. However, there is a lot of control you have over how much you pay for your boat’s operations annually.

First, these costs rely on the size of the boat you pick. The bigger and more expensive your boat is, the more it will cost you to keep it operational. Moreover, bigger boats create issues with storage as well, which is the second controllable cost factor.

Boat Trailers can have Hidden Costs attached to them

If you decide to trailer your boat and do the maintenance work on your own, you will have a considerably lower operational cost. Another option is to keep your boat in the water where there is tender access and mooring but you still handle the maintenance work on your own. 

The last and most expensive option is to not only keep your boat in the water but also get it docked, maintained and stored by a professional boatyard service provider.

So, if you go for buying a 30-feet powerboat, the average annual expenses you can incur by trailering, DIY and dockyard storage would be around $3,500, $6,500 and $20,000 respectively.

If you go for a boat bigger than 30-feet, it would leave out the option of trailering since that cannot be applied to larger ships


Costs for fuel, insurance and several other expenses usually remain the same in all cases but costs like equipment, taxes and broker fees might vary from boat to boat. Then, if you want to make some customized changes to the boat, those one-time costs would be included with the initial purchase price as well.

How to Save Money on Your Boat Operations

While all these operational costs do sound magnanimous, there are several ways you can control them to accommodate a tighter budget. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. The best way to save money on your boat’s operational costs is to do as much as you can on your own. If you think you can handle them, try to wrap up small repair and maintenance jobs on your own.

    You can also clean and polish your boat on your own quite easily, saving money would eventually pay to professional boat servicing companies.

  2. Another way to save money is to look for fuel and maintenance programs offered by marinas and yards. If you are a regular fuel customer at a marina, check for their frequent fuel programs that can help you reduce annual fuel costs.

    On the other hand, if you are a yard customer, you can ask them about their long-term maintenance programs. By becoming a member of a yacht club, you can enjoy benefits like launch services or visitor mooring and facilities in other harbors free of cost.

  3. If you are tempted to let the insurance go, you need to know that it is a necessary requirement of boatyards before you can store your boat there. However, you can get a reduced premium by negotiating the value, shopping for insurance policies carefully before getting one and by choosing your boat carefully.

    The better the condition of your boat, the more chances you will have of getting your insurance premium reduced.

After you have carefully planned out all these costs, and it turns out that you can afford them annually without ending up a financial pitfall, you can go ahead with your boat purchase.

The main thing you should remember is that most of these operating costs can be controlled if you are careful with how you are using your boat. Make sure you are not under-utilizing your boat to get the best value out of it.


Find the right boat or ship that fits you budget now!