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Better Investment: A Kid Or A Boat?


Everyone knows that kids and boats will both cost you a ton of money.  I wanted to take a deeper dive into which will actually cost more.

The first question I wanted to answer is which is cheaper, raising one kid to the age of 18, or buying a gently used 1997 Viking Yachts Convertible with twin inboard engines?  A: The boat is listed on boattrader.com for $229,500, while Babycenter.com estimates that over those 18 years, the kid will drain your wallet of $230,610.  Advantage: boat.

The first year of owning a boat is especially expensive.  Not including operating costs like fuel, you can easily spend $20,000 or more on things like insurance, maintenance, registration, storage, safety equipment, fishing gear, and various other items. Some of these costs are one time costs, but many of them are recurring.  This puts the four year cost of owning a boat around $65,000.  College is also very expensive.  According to Collegedata.com, the average cost of a moderate, in-state public college for 2015-2016 was $24,061.  That puts the cost of four years of sending a kid to college at $96,244.  Advantage: boat.

Both kids and boats require maintenance.  For boats, the maintenance requires a marine mechanic.  A little research shows that marine mechanics can make $90 or more per hour.  Kids need diaper changes.  The average hourly cost for a Nanny can run you about $15 per hour.  Advantage: Kid.

Both kids and boats can give you great memories.  A one day trip to Disney World costs the average family of three about $500.  With fuel, bait, tackle, food and drinks, an offshore fishing trip on your boat can run about $200-$300 per outing.  Advantage: Boat.

In New York, both kids and boats will get you a tax break. No matter what you spend on your boat in New York, you will only pay sales tax on the first $230,000.  This can be a rather large savings if you are considering a high-end boat.  However, having a kid will give you a $1,000 tax credit if you make less than $75,000 as a single person or $110,000 as a couple.  In order to afford a boat that costs more than $230,000, you have to have a substantial amount of money and/or income.  Therefore, I’m going with the advantage to the kid because the value of that tax credit, if you can get it, is higher.  The total savings has the potential to be much higher for the boat if you can afford it, though. 

What is the point of all this?  Both kids and boats are very poor investment decisions.