Can I Afford It? Big Toys Edition

Read the Article

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Did you know that Sunday was National Splurge Day?

To me, that means an excuse to take Lyft instead of the subway. To others with deeper pockets, it may mean springing for that fancy boat, Maserati or second home.

If you like to go big, here’s a piece on what to know ahead of springing for these mighty splurges.


A boat is a true luxury. But it can run the risk of becoming a money pit, “a hole in the water you throw money into.” The upkeep – oil changes, filters, waxes – can cost up to 10% of the boat’s value each year, says Priceonomics. If you paid $50,000 for your vessel, that’s $5,000 in annual maintenance costs.

For this purchase, you may want to go used. According to the PowerBoat Buyer’s Guide, boats and yachts can lose up to half their value within the first five years. Just be sure to have it properly inspected ahead of time (Priceonomics recommends a marine surveyor), in case there are any small issues that could end up snowballing into hefty repairs later.

Entrepreneurs: A possible tax perk to owning a boat, says Sophia Bera, founder of Gen Y Planning, is that the maintenance costs may be deductible if you use the boat to entertain clients. “Consider talking to your accountant to see if this can be deducted as a business expense,” she says.

Sports Cars

While you may be able to afford the sticker price on a sports vehicle, can you afford to maintain it? “Finding a good mechanic can not only be costly but difficult,” says Ray Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at auto site “For example, there’s a car called the Nissan GT-R and not every Nissan mechanic has the requirements to work on this vehicle.” And once you find someone who can work on your specific car, they will likely be expensive since it’s a special car, he says.

Prepare for higher fuel and insurance costs, too. Your Corvette will probably require premium gas and since they’re designed for driving at high speed and have pricey parts, insurance companies will demand a bigger premium. Shop around and compare rates to find the best deals on insurance.

Finally, you better love the car. That’s because the resale market for sports cars is not huge, says Montoya. “Unless you have a high-end Ferrari or exotic car you can’t really make money off the sale of a sports car,” he says.

Vacation Homes

Some financial planners recommend easing into a second home purchase by renting in the area first to be certain the location is right for you. “Often times, it might be less expensive and less of a headache to rent an Airbnb for a few months or a year…rather than buy a second home,” says Bera.

Can you afford it?” The only way to know is by analyzing your complete financial picture,” says Brittany Castro, founder of Financially Wise Women. This includes evaluating your monthly budget to see if you can comfortably afford a second mortgage payment, as well as your cash cushion. Your retirement savings and life insurance payments should also take precedence over a second home purchase, advises Castro.

As far as financing the purchase, plan to have more cash for a down payment than you would to buy a primary home. That’s because banks tend to rank second homes as riskier ventures and prefer borrowers to have more skin in the game. The rational is that if you come upon great financial hardship, you’re more likely to bail on that second home than your primary residence.

While a 10 to 20 percent down payment is the norm for primary home loan borrowers, banks may ask for a 25 percent or greater down payment to qualify for a mortgage on a second home.


Have a question for Farnoosh? You can submit your questions via Twitter @Farnoosh, Facebook or email at (please note “Mint Blog” in the subject line).

Farnoosh Torabi is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, she’s become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further