Can I afford a boat?


Woman relaxing in a boat.
Consumers recreational loans

If you want to make a splash in the boat of your dreams, Consumers has a loan to get you on the water.

Learn more

Look at all the costs then choose the boat that fits your budget.

Do you find yourself daydreaming about being out on the water in your own boat? You’re not alone. Michigan ranks #3 nationally in marine sales, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. If you feel like this is the season to get the boat you’ve always wanted, here are the things to consider when deciding how much to spend.

Look at your finances first

Have you saved enough to buy your boat with cash? Congratulations! Start shopping—but first read the rest of this article so you’re aware of the costs of owning a boat beyond the purchase price.

Many buyers decide that their best path to boat ownership is through a loan. There are lots of lending options available: dealer financing, boat loans (also called recreational loans) and personal loans. If you’re new to boat buying, learn the basics of financing a new boat.

Only you can decide what purchase price and/or loan payment works within your budget. Don’t let anyone pressure you into buying more than you’re comfortable with.

Set a maximum price limit before you start looking at boats for sale—and stick to it. If you think you’ll be tempted to go over budget, enlist a trusted friend to be your accountability partner. Share the maximum price you want to pay with your friend and the reasons you chose that number. If you find yourself trying to justify a purchase price higher than you decided on, call your friend and ask them to remind you why you chose your maximum price.

Will you DIY maintenance or hire it out?

If you have the mechanical know-how, tools and time to maintain your boat, you can save on big on marine mechanics. Keep in mind that boat electrical and plumbing systems don’t operate like those in your home. However, many boat owners are capable of doing routine maintenance.

If you don’t have the skill or desire to keep your boat in good working order, be sure to budget to hire it out. How much to plan on depends on things like the size, type and age of the boat. Ask people who own a similar boat what their upkeep runs.

At a minimum, your boat will need basic annual maintenance (oil change and filter, new fuel filter, gearcase lubricant change and inspection) before the first launch in spring and winterizing before storing it in the off-season.

Where is the boat stored?

If you have a garage or barn where you can store a boat, you’re good to go. However, don’t assume that just because you have space in the driveway that you can store your boat there. Some communities and homeowner associations prohibit the storage of boats and recreational vehicles outside homes. Do your homework before you buy a boat.

If you need to purchase or lease boat storage space, include this cost in your boat budget.

Will you need a trailer to tow your boat?

One of the delights of boating in Michigan is exploring our many lakes and waterways. To do so, you’ll need a way to get your boat to the water. If you don’t already have a trailer, price them out. Buy a used one and you’ll save money that you can put toward other boat accessories.

Also, don’t forget to check the towing capacity of your vehicle. If your current vehicle can’t carry the load, you’ll need to budget for one that can.

You’ll need insurance and registration

Just like autos, boats need to be insured and registered.

Boat insurance can cover collision damage, property damage liability, bodily injury and more. If you finance your boat with a loan, your lender will likely require comprehensive insurance.

All motorized watercraft must be registered with the Michigan Department of State. For most watercraft, the registration fee is based on length, so your fee will depend on the boat you choose. One advantage boats have over cars is that the registration is good for three years.

Marina fees

Marina fees will vary by location, inside or outside storage, how often you use your boat, and services provided. Call around and compare both pricing and services.

You’ll need additional equipment and accessories

Without question, you need to budget for safety equipment. This includes things like PFDs (personal flotation devices, a.k.a. life jackets), a horn and signal flares. You may also need a cover. Allocate funds for fun things too, like water skis, tubes and fishing gear.

Consider all the costs of boat ownership and you’ll be able to choose a boat that fits your budget. If you want a loan to make your dream of owning a boat reality, let us help! You can get a Consumers boat loan by working directly with us or requesting financing from the dealership. Contact a Consumers loan officer who knows the ropes at 800-991-2221.

Consumers provides banking services for more than 100,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want.

Federally insured by NCUA

Consumers recreational loans

If you want to make a splash in the boat of your dreams, Consumers has a loan to get you on the water.

Learn more

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