Investing In Happiness

Published in the January 2020 Issue January 2020 Feature Brady L. Kay

At my house the line between a “want” and a “need” if often quite blurry. This is especially true when it comes to teenagers who sometimes think they need to have everything and there are only two timelines: “now” and “right now.”

At times we all walk the fine line between what we truly need versus what is just a want and for some, boat ownership can sometimes be questioned. I would never recommend anyone to extend themselves financially to the point where their survival is in jeopardy just to buy a boat. Food, clothes, and shelter should, of course, come before recreation.

With that said, if you’re able to stay within the budget you’ve set for yourselves and comfortably be able to afford a monthly boat payment on top of your other financial obligations, there might not be a better investment for couples and families seeking happiness today.   

I shared a story in my September 2010 column, “Putting A Price Tag On It,” years ago that seemed to connect with a lot of readers. By the off chance you don’t keep PDB issues handy that are nearly ten years old, I’ll sum up this column and my battle with a former neighbor.

For years he would come over to my house and try to convince me that boats aren’t worth the hassle. He’d comment on our short boating seasons and any other negative thing he could think of just to convince me that boating was a waste of my time and resources. Oh yeah, he was quite the buzz kill to say the least.

Then one spring when I was loading up the boat for the weekend and I caught my neighbor approaching out of the corner of my eye. I just gave my wife that look of, “Here we go again,” but this conversation was a lot different than our past talks. He just kind of looked at me and smiled and asked where I was taking the family. Then he stated to my surprise, “I probably could have bought three of these boats for what our son has cost us.”

My neighbor’s son had fallen into the wrong crowd and distanced himself from his family by getting involved in drugs and alcohol. It had cost this family more than just money as they tried rehab as well as other programs to help their son overcome his addictions.

I’ve always known what boating can do to bring a family together, but I had never quite looked at it the same way my neighbor was seeing it. In his eyes he had made the connection that because we are boaters, we’ve stayed closer as a family.

My kids have grown up boating and since we seldom go out alone, other families have benefited as well. For us, boating has provided family togetherness and that’s what I would encourage for you. Our annual Buyer’s Guide (as well as our Shootout Boat Test issue) is so important to your success because it is centered on educating potential buyers. Take advantage of these resources by narrowing your search. 

Once you have your list broken down to a handful of manufacturers you’re interested in, follow these three tips. First, shop your local dealers and boat shows. Find the marina or shop that is motivated to sell to you. Second, know which amenities are must-haves versus those that are just wants. A depth/fish finder may be a priority to an angler, but not worth the price to the buyer who will never truly need it. Third, don’t under power. The most common “regret” for first-time buyers is wishing they had a little more horsepower.

While there is no such thing as the one perfect boat that will be great for everyone, I truly believe there is a perfect boat out there for each and every one of us. Enjoy the pursuit of finding your next pontoon or deck boat and may your investment lead to happiness within your own family.

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