Minimalist yachting lifestyle ideal for retirement

Oct 7, 2013 by Guest Writer

One of the advantages of working on a yacht is that you can live comfortably with the most minimal possessions in life. This also means that you likely don’t have the normal living expenses of a house, car, utilities, food and other expenses that go with these purchases. Plus, you make a decent salary.

Imagine taking your income of $30,000 to $150,000 a year and investing 80 percent of it. If planned out properly, this could complete your retirement for life in just 10 years, no matter how old you are. If you have a spouse and plan this together, you could collapse the time. For the typical landlubber, saving for retirement usually takes a lifetime to achieve, if it’s achieved at all.

I’ve experienced the life cycle of starting off with the homemade furniture and hardly anything to fill my closets to the real furniture and lots of stuff, and back again.

Working on yachts, I had no expenses and my credit card debt disappeared fast. Shortly after having things all paid off, I got married to a yacht chef.

We had two incomes and were so busy we did not have time to spend it all so we saved a lot that first year. Unfortunately, due to an extreme charter schedule, my new wife got burned out and was ready to move ashore, with or without me.

I was not ready to give up my captains’ career so we moved to Ft. Lauderdale. All the money we saved up in that one year was spent on first, last and security. Oh, and we now each needed a car. Good bye savings.

By the time we both found work, we had some credit card debt, not my dream financial plan. Life went on and we bought a house, had a daughter and started our cycle of accumulating stuff.

Eventually, I wanted a career transition to be home with my family. (Changing from a yacht captain’s salary to a land-based job making the same kind of money is a whole different article.)

I ultimately went into the financial services industry where I have built my own financial practice. Some people ask how do you go from being a captain to financial planning. My answer is simple: both jobs involved planning trips. Whether you plan a trip to the Caribbean or a trip to retirement, as long as you know how to research and aren’t afraid to ask for help from someone with more experience or local knowledge, you can plan a successful trip.

As many have experienced, divorce sometimes happens. After some time, I remarried and now have a family of five, so it’s two times the stuff and a bigger house to hold all this stuff because nobody wants to give up their stuff. The kids have left home now and we recently moved into a smaller house.

I have really considered this whole idea of minimalist living and the effects it has on stress, finances, etc. We are now going through everything we own and are dealing with “do we really need this or even use it anymore?” It takes a few times asking this question to actually let anything go as we naturally have a hard time giving up things, especially if there are memories tied to them. But slowly, we let things go, as well as the expense and stress that go with those things.

I don’t regret decisions I have made because then I wouldn’t have my daughter or be married to my new wife. But I do wish that I would have saved more when I was younger. For those of you just starting out in the yachting industry, focus the next 10 years of your life with the right financial plan and live the extreme minimalist life of a yachtie. If you do, you could have a stress free retired life.

For those of us that have all this stuff now, think about taking the time and filtering through it. You will feel better and have less stress and more time. I do.

Information in this column is not intended to be specific advice for anyone. You should use the information to help you work with a professional regarding your specific financial goals.

Capt. Mark A. Cline is a chartered senior financial planner. Contact him at +1 954-764-2929 or through Comments on this column are welcome at