Bank It or Blow It

19 March 2015 By Hillary Hoffower

“All of our wages have gone into paying off our rentalproperties and into investments; we live very well off our tips and manage atleast six weeks vacation a year,” writes a captain and chef team in’s money management poll.“Working on yachts has completely transformed our retirement horizon. Knowingwe can retire any time makes this job ever more pleasant. This is truly anextraordinary industry.”

That it is, indeed. With no rent, utilities, car payments ormonthly groceries to pay, crew wallets may be a little fatter than thoseworking the typical 9-to-5 grind. But are you frivolous or frugal when it comesto managing your money?

It seems that most at least attempt to save. The majority respondents save roughly$1,200 to $5,000 a month, with several saving slightly more or upwards of fivefigures.

As one master puts it, “I save as much as is painful.”

But just because most are saving doesn’t mean they’reputting away all they could be. For 34.8 percent of respondents, there are nochallenges to saving money, but for others it’s not so easy. Temptation to buystuff was cited as the biggest challenge (30.4 percent), followed by the desireto travel (23.9 percent), spending too much when going out (21.7 percent),earning enough (19.6 percent) and paying off debt (15.2 percent). Thirteenpercent cited other.

In fact, 21.7 percent of those polled felt that the exposureto the excesses of the yachting lifestyle made it harder for them to savemoney. However, 30.8 percent did not feel this way and 47.8 percent only sometimesfelt that way.

With such challenges to saving money, does budgeting comeinto play?

“I don’t have a set budget,” comments one mate/stew. “At themoment, I’m living off my savings and just started looking for a job again. Sothe earnings from winter 2014 have just vanished, but I had a great summer withlots of fun and time to live for a change!”

While roughly 32 percent of respondents were of a similarmindset and lacked a budget, the majority of respondents do have a financialsystem.

“Predominantly all of my salary goes to my savings account,”says a stewardess. “I allow about twentypercent of my salary to go to a fun fund, which can be for travel, drinking,shopping, whatever. I am paying off a loan each year, hoping to complete thiswithin the next two years.”

Most budgeting respondents operate along similar lines,putting away a good portion of their paycheck into savings, investments andbills if necessary. As one captain puts it, “Strict and to the penny. Don’thave it in my operating account, don’t spend it.”

Also included in the poll was the top five spendingcategories. At the top, 82.6 percent of respondents allocate money toward theirsavings. It may be no surprise that the second highest category is food andalcohol (80.4 percent), next to entertainment (76.1 percent), travel andleisure (73.9 percent) and shopping/splurges (65.2 percent). More than halfbudget money toward investments (54.3 percent) and a clever 80.2 percent haveno debt.

When it comes to preparing for retirement, 45.7 percent usetheir savings, 43.5 percent have a diversified investment portfolio, 34.8percent have a house, another 34.8 percent have an investment property and 4.3percent employ other methods. Only 17.4 percent haven’t started preparing yet.

Budgeting properly and planning for retirement can certainlybe daunting and even stressful when it comes to knowing your options and makingthe right choices, especially if you’re not that financially savvy. To make ita little easier, 15.2 percent of respondents have a financial advisor. Whilesome find their advisors to be valuable for reasons such as filing U.S. taxesand receiving expert and impartial advice on investments, almost just as manyfind their advisor to hold little value.

Yet, one thing that all respondents almost unanimously hadin common was having both short-term and long-term financial goals.

By the end of 2015, most respondents want to buy moreproperty and save more and as much as they can. A chief stewardess who hopes to“stop being frivolous” wrote, “I will be meeting with an advisor next month andwill be making a more solid plan to have my money make me money instead ofsitting in a bank account.”

A few others hope invest more, buy a place to live, pay offdebt or travel. Things aren’t much different when it comes to goals for thefuture.

“To be able to pay off the other mortgage and save enoughmoney to be able to buy an investment property,” says a mate/stew. “And also tomake some lump sum pay in my retirement funds, so there will actually be somemoney to get once I’m retired….”

Adds the chief stewardess, “I would just like to make asmart, conscious effort to save wisely and prepare myself for the future and besecure financially.”

This reflects the consensus when it comes to long-termgoals, which mostly fell among buying property or a house, making investmentsand planning for retirement, with a few hoping to start their own business.

But some just don’t want to part ways with the seas. As onemate writes when asked of his long-term financial goals, “Buy a catamaran to gocruising.”