January 25th, 2023
Not This Time
I’ve never been one to sit around waiting for just the right time and circumstances—not once I’ve made my mind up about something, at least. These past few years have been no exception, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it has been difficult to do anything with a high level of certainty. I’m a pretty conservative guy and I don’t tend to be impulsive, so when I hear someone say, “I wouldn’t do that,” or, “Not right now,” it gets my attention. I’ve heard that advice more in recent years than ever before, but it’s always subjective.
When COVID-19 arrived, I was an inch away from making a big purchase—or what to me was a big purchase, anyway. It’s one that many describe as acquiring “a hole in the water into which one throws money.” I am, of course, talking about a boat. And by the time you pay for fuel, maintenance, repairs and insurance, I’ll admit there’s plenty of truth to this adage. But amid the pandemic, that hole also became much larger.
That said, boating just made sense to me and even more so amid COVID-19. Growing up, it’s what we did, so I always saw this as something I’d eventually share with my own family. I’d planned for it and had been saving, but there was just one problem: Just as I was finally prepared to make a purchase, everyone was taking to the water. In these parts, at least, there were no boats to be found. Prices for those that were available rose by anywhere from 20-30% under stiff competition. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, finally ready, and then this.
Cars, boats, houses—in recent years, Americans have overpaid for just about any and everything (and even more so now with inflation). Housing shortages, automobile shortages, microchip shortages (boat shortages … toilet paper shortages)—they’ve driven us to compete with one another like never before, as we all aim to get what we want and need. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you: I stay home for amateur night. That is to say, I’m the type who is content to sit back and watch everyone else butt heads and wallets. But not this time. I made my plan and I carried through with it, despite the added costs and headaches. Did I overpay? You better believe I did. But as it turns out, I couldn’t have made a better investment. The time was right for me, despite the circumstances.
As a family, we’ve been on countless boating and fishing trips. We’ve smiled, relaxed, laughed, swam and spent hours together, including in what were the toughest days of the pandemic. You can’t put a price on that. And I know I’m far from alone. All of those who followed through on purchasing homes—despite inflated prices, record competition and now higher interest rates—I have no doubt that many have never been happier. Those who stayed put but moved forward with plans to expand or remodel probably couldn’t be more pleased with their investments.
By comparison, my little 18-foot boat is, as they say, small potatoes. But if the pandemic didn’t sway a financially conservative guy such as myself, then I’m tempted to believe that, in one way or another, we’ve all learned this lesson. For this reason, if you ask me what to expect from 2023, I’d say that I expect builders to build, homeowners to move and/or improve and for doors and windows to keep moving. Me? I might just follow through on my next set of plans, despite higher interest rates. Who knows, I might find a little house down by the lake where I can tie off my well-timed (but over-priced) investment.