Budget is a funny thing. Then again, when you think about it money being an artificial construct is also somewhat strange.
My issue has a lot to do with the words we use when discussing budgets and money. Words like affordable. We all understand what the word means, but we also know it has a unique value to different people.
When someone tells me the price of a lithium battery is affordable, I have to wonder what that actually means and can I afford it. I recently wrote about a boat that sells for $175K and I’m pretty sure some of my readers might consider it both a bargain and affordable. I also wrote about some boats that cost less than $3K. I’m pretty sure some of my readers would still consider that to be a serious strain on their budget or unaffordable.
Something of a conundrum that.
Obviously, we’re not all on the same page where spendable income is part of the equation. Which is made even worse by the sheer magnitude of disparity in income and wealth.
So, what’s affordable for a VolksCruiser?
When I started this blog, I had two groups in mind. The first was those working minimum wage jobs. While the second was that hazy middle ground of skilled folks making more than minimum wage, but not quite in the professional zone. Throw in the people who don’t quite fall into easy categories like ski instructors, musicians, freelancers, and artists and you have a hazy idea of what sort of incomes are involved.
The current poverty cutoff point in the US of A for a couple is $17,420 a year, or just about $1452 a month. Keep that number in mind…
Another number that crops up regularly when discussing cruising budgets is the $500 a month cruising budget, which has been a thing since I was in college. I’ll point out that in those days, a Snickers cost a nickel. Think about that for a moment or two.
Now, here’s the funny thing; a lot of cruising budgets I’ve read by cruisers who are on more expensive boats than lowly VolksCruisers still use the $1000 and $1500 as their target budgets. Too often, the thing that keeps them from achieving those budget goals is the added costs generated by a larger, more expensive boat with complicated systems. They still seem to get by on near-poverty level expenses, showing how affordable living and cruising on a boat can be.
Even more telling is that even with inflation and all that, some folks are still getting by on close to the $500 a month zone. Certainly not for everyone, but I’d love to learn just how they manage it.
Which is all a roundabout way to trying to define what sort of financial budget makes sense for a couple cruising on a sustainable finite budget. As well as what sort of boat needed to make it happen.
We’ll look at a couple of examples next…