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I'm not cheap, but...
Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 6:20 PM

Dear Crew Confessor, I am happily employed and have been working on yachts for nearly ten years now. The first few years I was a partying maniac and spent much of what I earned. Then I went to work for a captain who had recently returned to the industry. This captain gave me some advice that I took seriously to heart, namely: take full advantage of the opportunity that we have in this industry to save as much money as you can. So I've been saving. The stock market has taken it's toll so I've redoubled my efforts to save even more. All good, right? The yacht I am on now has a great crew and they love to socialize and go out. I'm relatively new and it's important that I make an effort to fit in. The problem is, they all go out together and have these extravagant dinners, with lots of drinks, expensive wine etc... Seems like every other week it's someone's birthday or another occasion to "celebrate." At the end of the night the bill gets split equally between us all, so even if I just have one drink, or order the chicken I'm paying for the sushi boat the deckhands ordered. These nights have sometimes cost hundreds of dollars, easy. What to do, Crew Confessor? I'm not cheap, nor am I anti-social, I am just trying to save money and plan for the future. If I ask for a separate cheque I'll look like an arse. If I beg off they'll look at me like I'm not a "team player."

Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 9:13 PM

Easy !  Not to worry. Be a team player.    Next time your out with the gang, simply tell them  you are going frugal so that you can save up enough cash for your captains ticket and give them all jobs when they get beached  !  They will understand, volunteer to pay the bill and even throw in a few extra chicken wings for you !! us they trust....

Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 11:14 PM
Go on every 2nd dinner. Tell them you have a big credit card debt and a mortgage to pay off and you are on a budget, thank them for the offer and tell them you will attend next time. Open a savings account for savings only and have a budget. Bank half and spend half, there not to know if you have a house or not. You will be surprised how many will ask you how to save and budget and there may be some that will do the same as you.
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 2:49 AM
I totally hear ya! A few weeks ago about a dozen of us went out to dinner to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls on the boat. Not only was the ordering and drinks out of control, but we paid for the birthday girls tab too. $200! Each. You almost want to order the most expensive stuff on the menu to get your money's worth because everyone else does. Doesn't seem to be an easy way around it though. Don't want to rock the boat.
Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2009 7:29 AM
I like to save - it's sensible and that's in my nature.  But moaning about splitting a bill down the line when it happens every fortnight - that is tight.  If you're only going out once a fortnight then why are you counting the difference between a chicken dish and a bit of sushi? 

I haven't been able to drink for the last 6 months due to medical reasons.  I save but I still go out and am always happy to split the bill for a meal plus drinks.  If however someone realises and takes off a chunk before giving me my part of the tab then I take this as a bonus.

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2009 1:12 PM
have you thought about talking to them about saving some of their cash too, you were obviuously inspired by this captain to do something about it so why not try to inspire too, if everyone is saving then you can still all go out, split the bill but all of you can cut back on the champagne and just have some beers!!
Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2009 2:42 PM
If your friends are always going out to expensive restaurants and you can't just pay for your exact order because you don't want to break status quo or don't want to make an issue out of it, then go less often and find friends who are more flexible with their spending needs and tastes.

Start by managing your money before it gets to your pocket.  Have one account that is for savings and a completely separate one for spending.  Having a CD that you need to keep for a certain amount of time (eg 12 months) to get an interest rate on is good as that will also give you interest on the money you are saving.

With every amount of money you make, ALWAYS put a certain percentage of that away for savings be it 10% or 90%.  You could use 10% when you're in between jobs and 90% when you work on a yacht.  ALWAYS give yourself spending leeway but NEVER dip into the savings.

Crew Confessor
Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:54 PM
Joined: 20/11/2008
Posts: 94

Dear I'm Not Cheap,

Thank you for posting this question. In these uncertain economic times, okay, lets call it for what it is, in these lousy economic times this is an issue that's bound to come up and have an effect on all of us. It's also not an issue certainly not limited to the yachting profession, but we yachties do enjoy having a big night out with our friends and as you so aptly described, the price tag can start getting a little out of hand. Given the economic climate this topic has been coming up a lot lately but let me assure you, it is not new. I recall uncomfortable times at the table when I, in between jobs or just starting a new profession on land would feel the beginnings of a cold sweat as I watched my dinner companions order another bottle of Kendall Jackson, and doing the mental arithmetic. Only once in all my years of yachting did I run around with a crowd who had a more sensible approach. We all ate together, at great but reasonable restaurants BUT we did not drink during dinner. We'd drink before and after but there your bar tab was your own. This worked out really well and I would encourage crew to consider this approach when they want to have a dinner out with their mates but don't want to blow so much of their money on drinks/wine that can often cost more than the food!

Remember when I said this issue has gotten a lot of publicity lately? There is even a name for it, it's called the "Suicide Split." It refers to the scenario you mentioned of ordering something reasonably priced on the menu and going easy on the extras like apps and dessert, wine and cocktails; unfortunately your friends have no such compunction and you pay for their indulgence. If it's someone's birthday your share is even larger. It's not realistic to ask for separate checks without looking like an arse.

What to do? If you have a core group of friends, like your crew mates that you regularly go out with you can rationalize that eventually be your birthday and you get a freebie. Limiting your dinners out to just birthday occasions would preserve the crew camaraderie. If you are invited to other group dinners consider meeting the group for after dinner drinks, or dessert. I would also encourage you to bring up this issue of saving money to your crewmates. Unless they are living in a vortex they cannot be unaware of the economic situation, and even in the best of situations job security in the yachting industry has never been guaranteed. Suddenly the owner dies and the boat gets put in limbo while the family fights over the fortune, or if your boss is Bernie Madoff or one of the many other yacht owners currently facing jail time your job security is flushed out the scuppers like a rogue wave. Explain how the captain you worked with in the past really did you a big favor when he encouraged you to save as much as you could. The greatest opportunity to build capital exists when you are young and working on yachts with your expenses covered, because of the miracle of compound interest. Not really a miracle at all and I'm not a financial whiz but if you invest carefully it'll really pay off and give you the freedom to do what you like when you decide to leave the seafaring lifestyle (which trust me nearly all of you eventually will).

The world of yachts can be very hard work but full of fun and financial rewards. The danger lies in being surrounded by so much wealth and fine, over the top living that we may become accustomed to it, even start adopting some of their spendthrift habits. Splurging on a bottle of Cristal doesn't seem so outrageous anymore because you see your guests doing on a daily basis. Don't fall into this trap. In the end my advice is to cut back on the group dinners to birthday dinners with the crew only, and order what you want to eat! Have a talk with crew and explain that you are committed to saving money. No one should be ashamed of planning for the future, especially now.

Your Crew Confessor
El Velcro
Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 3:04 PM
Joined: 19/03/2009
Posts: 17

As an old hand at this but having left over 20 years ago, I can honestly say I didn't save much when I was Chief Eng for the fifteen years I was in the Med and across the pond. Nevertheless, I did manage to buy an apartment and a car, along with a windsurfer, motorcycle and the usual accoutrements that goes with our kind of lifestyle. I wouldn't worry too much. As one other said, just don't volunteer to go every time they ask you. Spend what you can afford and enjoy! Consider yourself lucky that you get paid at all. Be thankful that you're paid the equivalent of a Manager with the bonus of a rent and food free environment, other people have mortgages and bills, you don't. There were times when we had to do without but we managed.
Just relax and chill...

Posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 10:33 PM
Excellent advice on the Suicide Split crew confessor!
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