How to Buy a Boat on a Budget



Before shopping for a boat, look at your finances. What can you afford? How much wiggle room do you have? Once you are certain as to what you can pay, set a budget, and stick to it. Browsing for boats before you know your budget can be a very dangerous game. It’s like going puppy shopping before you’re ready to have a dog. We all know the second you go to the puppy store, a little one is coming home with you.

Seeing your financial history and budget in real numbers will give you the extra push to stick to it. Be sure to also make room in your budget for extra costs like your trailer, insurance, taxes, fees, off-season maintenance, etc.

Use this financial checklist as a resource when setting your boat budget.



Browse online for different types of boats and features. See what interests you, while also keeping your budget at the top of your mind. Once you have decided on boat type (speed, sailboat, fishing, pontoon, etc.) make a list of your want-to-have and need-to-have features. There are plenty to choose from. Boating manufacturers are always coming out with new technology, designs, and architectural details. Decide what is necessary for your needs and what will be utilized the most.

When researching boat types, use Boat Trader or YachtWorld. For your feature search, use this Boat Selector Tool.



Since the topic of this article is affordable boating, I bet you think I am going to recommend buying a used boat. This is not the case.

There are benefits to buying both a new or used boat. When buying a brand-new boat, it will be more expensive, but may require less upkeep. For pre-owned boats, the benefit, of course, is that they are much cheaper, but may require more investments over time depending upon their condition.

There is no right answer here. Think about what will make sense for you financially now and in the future. If you are completely unsure as to which route to take, consult a financial advisor to help you make the decision and verify what you can afford.



There is so much value in visiting your local boat show. Browse the inventory, chat with the dealers, and go on as many boats as possible. Get a feel for what your budget will get you. Getting familiar with the inventory and features available for each model will help you discover what is right for you and your wallet.

To search for a boat show, click here.



When buying a boat, you do have the option to pay for it upfront or finance the boat. The benefits for paying for the boat outright are obvious, but for most of us this just isn’t doable. There is good news here – interest rates for a boat loan tend to be relatively low compared with other loans. Sometimes lenders will let you finance some features as well. In addition, if your boat can qualify as a residence, you may be able to deduct that from your taxes.



Looking at your finances and setting a budget is crucial when buying a boat. Doing this from the start will set you and your wallet up for success at the end of the purchasing process.



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