We spent this vacation week at our condo near Siesta Key. We’re able to enjoy pretty frugal vacations here by spending time at the beach, walking, swimming, bike riding, and renting a Red Box movie or two.
There’s a Publix next door to the condo, so we walk to buy groceries and then cook out on the grill most nights. We’re happy to avoid eating out. We save both money and calories by not indulging at restaurants all week. And when we do go out for dinner, we usually get a burger at a place where we can listen to live music too – so it’s both a meal and entertainment.
But this week, we splurged on a something we normally wouldn’t do – renting jet skis.
My son turned 18 a few weeks ago, and one of the things he’s been waiting to be old enough to do is drive a jet ski. As Tawcan posted a few days ago, “Boys will be boys” and as boys enter adulthood – their taste for toys change. Jet ski’s certainly fit in the “man toy” category! So we rented two jet skis from Cool Breeze Rentals in Nokomis, Florida. We chose to rent there because we could easily get out onto the Gulf of Mexico to ride. Many rentals have to be kept in the intercoastal waterway (jet ski + no wake zone = no fun!)
We rented the jet skis for one hour and the total cost for both of them was $171.20. Ouch.
Was it worth it? Totally.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was 80 degrees and the ocean was calm. We could ride where we wanted and we only needed to dodge a few boats and crab buoys. We raced up and down the coast – laughing and jumping waves. And a few dolphins made an appearance at one point in the ride! The guide from Cool Breeze even took some pictures and posted them on Facebook for us to have.
As we walked to the car when we were done, we talked about whether one hour was enough. And we all agreed that it was. We probably could have enjoyed another half hour or so, but an hour was really plenty of time.
More time wouldn’t have made the experience better, it simply would have been more of the same fun.
Would we rent them again next time we visit? Probably not. But I’m sure we will rent them again in the future. We definitely had a great time – but we also understood that we were buying that fun. As Julie at ChooseBetterLife pointed out in her last post, you can’t buy happiness with glitzy or really fast toys like jet skis…
So how does spending $171 for an hour of fun tie in to making smarter spending decisions?
We talked about all the costs related to owning a jet ski on our drive back to the condo. Back in New York, we live near a beautiful lake and know people who own jet skis. We also talked about how often a “toy” like a jet ski would really be used (and in NY you only have a season of a few months to begin with!)
When you consider time spent with family & friends, time spent at work, and time spent with other obligations – there isn’t always a lot of time to go jet skiing! The weather certainly can ruin jet ski plans too. And if you don’t have a friend or two with a jet ski, how fun is it to ride alone or always have a passenger riding with you? Maybe you’d need to buy two jet skis to really have fun!
Then we dug into the math a little more. Buying one used jet ski, a trailer, and accessories would likely cost at least $4,000 (and I think I’m estimating low for one that doesn’t need a lot of work!) Then there are the registrations (trailer and jet ski), insurance, gas and maintenance costs to consider.
And this is assuming that you already have a vehicle to tow the trailer!
You could rent a jet ski 47 times (for an hour) for the same $4,000! That’s once a month for almost FOUR YEARS. Would your used jet ski even hold up that long? Or the vehicle to tow it? Would you even want to ride a jet ski that many times in four years?
And what about storing the jet ski? Or trying to sell it when you get tired of it? What a pain it would be to try to sell a used jet ski in your yard and prove that it actually runs… When you think about all the time, energy, and money required to buy one and maintain it, renting a jet ski makes a lot of sense.
There are always trade-offs when you have to decide whether to buy or rent something. In this case, renting also allows you to have money for different fun and exciting experiences too. Buying may give you the flexibility to ride when and where you want, but it certainly comes at a big cost – in terms of both time and money.
I realize there’s nothing frugal about buying or renting jet skis. We made a conscious decision to spend some money to have fun and never really thought much about it turning into a teachable moment. But our discussion about buying vs. renting may help lead my son to make smarter spending decisions someday in the future.
Well that wraps it up for 2016 here at Make Smarter Decisions! As always, thanks for stopping by! Our family has some really big decisions to make in 2017! And they all have direct ties to our finances! Two kids choosing colleges, a possible move from our home, and turning down another full-time job offer? (Did I say turning down? It’s not a “done deal” yet – but a week at the beach will certainly help you lean one direction!)
I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous New Year! Here’s to 2017!