Cheap? Free? Maybe. Maybe not.

As promised in an earlier blog, here it is.  The big scoop.  The source of excitement.  The opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

Many years ago at Scout camp, I learned to sail a small boat and I really enjoyed it.

Fast forward a few too many years and I was gifted a very small sailboat by a camp that didn’t want it any more.  Before I could get it back to ship-shape (see what I did there?), we decided to move back to South Dakota.  With the move and a new child, I handed the boat off to another family before I was able to get it on the water.

Quite a few more years down the road, and I was presented with an opportunity to buy a sailboat that a camp in Iowa didn’t want any more.  And so, I am now the proud owner of my very own 16-foot sailboat.  I’m excited!

Better yet – I got a 16-foot sailboat, with sails and Sailboata trailer for a mere $150.  All the parts are there other than needing some new lines (‘ropes’ anywhere other than a sailboat).

Now, how could you turn down a deal like that?!?

Well, I didn’t come to that decision lightly.  Here’s why.

When we teach financial literacy, we often talk about the difference between price and cost.  Price is easy.  That’s what the price tag states.  In my case, $150.  The cost, however, can be much, much different.

If, say, we are talking about buying groceries or new clothes, the cost could be significantly less if we use coupons or shop for discounts.  Put those items on a credit card and take a few months to pay them off and your cost goes up from the price due to interest.

In the case of my sailboat, my goal is to have a boat that we can get on the water and enjoy sailing.  To reach that point, the cost is going to be higher than the price.

First, I had to drive over and get the boat.  There’s a tank of gas and one meal of eating out.

Then I had to license the trailer and boat when I got home.

To really make it road worthy, I need to redo the trailer lights and wiring.  (Thanks, Dad, for the perfectly good lights you took off another trailer.)

Sailboat2This boat is plywood construction and has been sitting out in the elements for the last 6 years.  I’m going to be taking all of the hardware off, stripping the paint, replacing plywood, and then probably fiber glassing the outside.  Oh yeah, and a coat of paint over that and varnish on the inside.

Then there are the new lines (ropes) that I need to replace.  I’ll probably get a little paddle to keep in the boat just in case we lose wind and need to get back to shore.  If we come up with a good name for it (as all sailboats should have), I might even get the vinyl letters to put the name across the back of the boat.

And one more thing – I don’t have a vehicle with a hitch to pull the boat to the lake.  I used my dad’s truck to go get it, but I’m going to need to put a hitch on our van before long.

My cheap sailboat is turning out like a free pet – there is no such thing.

As I said earlier, I didn’t make this purchase lightly.  I did some research, knew what I was getting in to, and only then did I make the decision to move forward with it.

Are you that intentional about purchases?  I have to admit, I’m not always that good, but I’m working on it.

Start by evaluating even the little purchases.  That gets you in the habit so that when the large opportunities come around, you won’t even have to remember.  You will just automatically evaluate the price and cost before you commit to anything.

I’m not against spending money.  I’m not even against spending money on things that are only ‘wants’.  If I were, well, I’d be a bit hypocritical.  All I ask is that you be intentional with your purchases.  If you need a tool or helper to do that, then find one.  Find someone you see every week that will check in with you and ask, “So, how’s the budget going?”  They don’t have to know the details, but knowing they are going to ask and not wanting to admit failure, you will be more likely to stick to the plan.

We as Americans tend to be at bit short-sighted, and I’m not talking about your eye prescription.  We tend to only think about right here and now.  I want it and I want it NOW!  I’ll worry about paying it off later.  It’s why people buy furniture and electronics on rent-to-own programs.  Did you know the cost of a new TV by rent-to-own could easily be more than three times the cost of buying a new TV at a big box store for regular price?  But we do it because $29.99 a month doesn’t sound so bad.  And that TV may not really be new…..

If you have or are struggling with high-cost living, the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources can help you out.  Nearly all of our first appointments involve  the defining of a budget.  This doesn’t start with where you should or want to be.  This is looking at where you currently are.  Then, based on your goals, we work together to find a way to make your dreams come true.  All you need to do is call us at 605-330-2700 or go online to schedule an appointment.

Who knows?  Maybe someday you’ll have your own sailboat and we can blow past each other on the water.


written by Breck Miller

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