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The Money Dock: Yacht bosun chooses to think like an owner, not spend like one

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The Money Dock: by Bosun Alex Kempin

I know, yet another article about personal finance and someone telling you to do something you will never do. I get it – boring. But before you grab your phone and scroll through Instagram, just give it a chance; this one is different.

First, think about what money allows you to do, how much money you have, how much you have spent in the last month (be honest) and how much you earn. Perhaps as you focus on your personal finance zone, it will inspire a willingness to learn and an open-mind toward new information.

Now, it’s only fair that I answer some questions you might have. My name is Alex, I am currently a bosun on a 164-foot (50m) Westport, and I have a passion for personal finance and education. After moving from Dubai to New Zealand to attend university, where I received a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I quickly became aware of the financial differences between both places. The fields of finance and psychology began to merge, and I started to research the ways people spent their money, why most households have garages full of things they don’t use, and how ordinary citizens can afford top-of-the-line cars. 

Fast forward to the end of 2016, where I found myself day-working on several boats before landing a full-time gig on the boat from which I am writing this very article. After working just a couple of months, I noticed a significant positive change in my bank account that, as a 21-year-old student, I was not used to, despite having a part-time job at a local hardware store.

As the months flew by, I found myself repeatedly wondering what I would do with “all this money.” Surely there must be something better than having it just sit in the bank. As it turns out, there is.

I would listen to hours and hours of financial podcasts, and on weekend watches you would find me researching and watching videos about all things personal finance. It wasn’t until my partner, a stew, gave me the book “The Barefoot Investor” that I started to actually invest and move some money around. Like most beginners, I had initial doubts and thought that investing was only performed by professionals or geniuses who spend all their time at a computer watching the markets. However, with some support from my financially savvy mother and armed with hundreds of hours of research, I quickly poured more and more money into the stock market. By the end of 2017, I had about 90% of my money invested and still do to this day. I haven’t wavered, and I have total confidence in my financial decisions.

I remember questioning the typical yacht crew narrative that suggests we should spend money and that somehow working for the wealthy elite creates a desire to spend like them. The only way I was going to get anywhere near the level of wealth yacht owners possess is if I begin to think like them. How do I cut costs? How do I maximize my income? How do I get my money working for me? These thoughts helped me differentiate between spending like I’m already wealthy versus spending so I can be wealthy.

This doesn’t mean I never leave the boat or volunteer for weekend watches. No, I just make small adjustments that eventually lead to bigger changes. For example, instead of eating dinner out, I will eat onboard and then meet the crew out for drinks. Or learn to fix my surfboard myself to avoid high labor charges. I don’t consider myself to be giving anything up or missing out on events, I simply create a balance between using the benefits of the industry and my social life. I realize for some it might seem unnecessary or “tight” but I see it as a pathway to future financial security.

Initially, I kept this information mostly to myself as I know most people don’t particularly enjoy talking about money or personal finance. However, I remember becoming frustrated by the lack of accessible information available, especially for the yachting industry.

As time went on, I became increasingly confident and interested in sharing this information with fellow yacht crew. I searched for a forum in which I could find like-minded people but failed to find anything. All I could find was information written by financial advisers or banks, which consisted of confusing language and too many numbers. I didn’t feel like the right information was out there or that yacht crew knew enough about personal finance to make the best informed decision. So, I took it upon myself. First, I started talking with my crew and then the crew from the boat next door, and so on. My suspicions were confirmed; there is a knowledge gap amongst personal finance optimization and the average yachtie.

This discovery inspired a motivation to create a personal finance dialogue within the industry, a forum where crew can discuss, learn and share. Themoneydock, my website and Facebook page, provides this space for crew.

There are forums in which all of my learned information is available for free. My intention is to change the way yacht crew deal with money and personal finance through my online forums and coaching. 

Personal finance can mean a lot of things, but for me it means educating in techniques for saving, investing and general financial optimization. It can be difficult to see the need for this in our young and lucrative industry, but I’m here to show you that yachting is an extraordinary industry that, if played right, can give you a secure and achievable financial future. Believe me, it’s not as hard as you think. 

Bosun Alex Kempin has worked on yachts for more than three years and combines his passion for personal finance and his degree in psychology to share personal finance information for yacht crew at themoneydock.com or themoneydock on social media. Comments are welcome below.

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