If Colin Macy-O’Toole from Below Deck Mediterranean could do it all over again, he’d start out working on yachts in his twenties. “I’d probably start right out of college at age 22 and then put in about five years of work on yachts,” he told The Cheat Sheet.
That way you can bank as much money as possible and use all that lucrative tip money toward paying off debt and even get ahead. “Depending on where you live, you could even save enough money to buy a house,” Macy-O’Toole says.
Indeed, young yachties can make bank and save more than the average person starting out because not only can you live for free on the yacht, you may not have to pay taxes on your bounty.
This yachtie banked $4,500 a month
A chief stew shared in one of Refinery 29‘s “Money Diaries” that she is able to save about $4,500 a month from her $72,000 annual salary. She’s only 28 years old and added she is able to save so much because her living expenses are minimal. Plus she doesn’t have to pay taxes on her salary.
“I don’t have to pay taxes as I don’t reside in my home country, or anywhere for more than six months at a time,” she disclosed.
Although most of her week is dedicated to hard-core work, she’s certainly ahead both financially and adventure-wise. Her expenses include her cell phone, Netflix, Spotify, and Stitcher (a podcast service). However, she seems to have a lower amount of debt than other millennials. Millennials carry an average of about $30,000 in student loan debt when they graduate from college.
Overall, millennials have a little more than $80,000 in total debt, which includes student loans and credit cards. Imagine being able to pay down that debt quickly by not having to pay rent, utilities, car payments, and groceries.
Rhylee Gerber lived for a year on four months of work
Although crew members put in a significant amount of sweat equity, they certainly get an amazing return. Rhylee Gerber from Below Deck told The Cheat Sheet she made about four months of her boating salary stretch for an entire year.
“Of course I’m very frugal and live a pretty minimalist lifestyle,” she says. “But I was able to stretch the two months I worked on My Seanna on Below Deck, plus about 60 days working in Alaska.” Gerber is a fishing boat captain in Alaska and said last season was plagued with some bad weather too.
Like the chief stew in Money Diaries, Gerber’s expenses are also at a minimum. She only incurred some debt when she finally purchased a car. Otherwise, she said there were instances where yacht owners would even provide some perks and amenities to the crew. At least on Below Deck, “If I wanted $60 face cream, it would be paid for,” she laughed.
Both she and Macy-O’Toole stress that yachting also provides a great way to travel and see the world. “I’d never been to Europe so it was pretty exciting when I got the chance to travel through the show too,” Macy-O’Toole says.
Bosun João Franco says you can make bank on tips alone
João Franco told The Cheat Sheet tip money alone can set you up for some serious savings. “On charter boats, tips can be as much as €4,000 per person, per week and in some cases even more,” he explains. “We’ve heard of crew members that rack up €40,000 in a summer season each, just on tips!” That’s close to $45,000 U.S. dollars.
He adds there is one downside to making so much so quickly. “Yachties are also known to grow accustomed to this type of money,” he says. Which means they’ll blow it as quickly as it comes in.
“In between charters or after a long charter season, some yachties will spend a couple of thousand euro in over a weekend,” he adds. But if you plan carefully there is true potential to save for a down payment for a home in about two to three years. “Not bad for a 20-year-old yachtie,” he exclaims.
Don’t forget some fun
When working on a yacht, there is also the travel and luxury you aren’t going to get at a desk job. In addition to a free room, everything is covered from your socks to your toothbrush, Franco says.
“The more luxurious boats have a gourmet chef that will cook all crew food every single day! The fridges and pantries are stocked with an endless supply of all you can think of,” he says.
Franco added that the travel aspect is simply amazing too. “On private yachts, there is definitely more free time to enjoy different coastlines and countries,” he describes. “On the bigger boats, mainly charter, we’d sometimes be lucky to set foot on land in a port we’re docked in before we head to the next destination. If we are fortunate enough to get a few days in between charters we would be able to go and venture out.” Not a bad way to spend your twenties.
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