Saving for Retirement as Yacht Crew

23 June 2021 By Oliver Maher
People saving money
Oliver Maher

Oliver Maher is a director at United Advisers Marine. Disclaimer: UA/BFMI is a member of Nexus Global and an appointed Representative of Blacktower Financial Management (International) Limited (BFMI). BFMI is licensed and regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (FSC). UA/BFMI are not tax advisers and clients should always seek independent tax advice for their individual circumstances. +34 871 115 928;

Regardless of whether you’re nearing retirement or just starting to plan your future, saving for later in life is essential. It makes good financial sense to think carefully about what you wish to do once you leave yachting, whenever that may be.

There are a few different factors to consider such as your ideal retirement age and what exactly a “comfortable” retirement means to you when you’re back on shore. Does it mean continuing to travel the world, even when you’re no longer crew, or do you imagine taking an early retirement and living a more modest lifestyle? Whatever you have in mind, you need to plan ahead and be honest with yourself about how much you need to save. This is especially important if your employer doesn’t contribute towards a pension.

In our first-ever Crew Financial Wellbeing Survey earlier this year, only six percent of all respondents said that their employers contribute to their personal pensions. That figure is low when compared to other industries, especially those based on shore. We also know from speaking with crew that many don’t feel supported enough when saving towards their retirement. As a result, they often worry about their financial future. When it comes to who should be responsible for paying pension contributions — crew or their employers — that’s a topic for another time. However, what’s important is that if you’re not receiving pension contributions from your employer, you need to start saving as soon as possible. And even if you do receive a pension, it’s not wise to rely solely on it when it comes to your retirement.

By putting aside regular amounts of money now, you can amass your own form of pension-like savings to enjoy later in life without making too many sacrifices to your current lifestyle. Yachting presents an incredible opportunity to build personal wealth with its high wages and reduced costs while working and living on board. 

As we always advise, the sooner you build the habit for saving, the better your savings-potential over time. Just remember to save in a way that makes sense to you, not your fellow crew.

The amount you can realistically save every month should always be based on your income and your expenditure. That’s why there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to a minimum amount you “must” save. Just be honest with yourself: What amount can you realistically commit to every month? Once you make the commitment to save regularly, you will quickly see how it can help you achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals.

When taking on a new role, talk about possible pension contributions with your employer. You won’t know what’s possible until you start the conversation.

This column originally ran in the November 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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