Yesterday I had lunch at a marina that houses boats off the Mississippi River.  They have about 125 slips, and all appeared to be full.

During our lunch, I saw a total of four boats coming or going.  It was a gorgeous weekend day, and I wonder if people don’t use their boats on an 80 degree Sunday in August, when do they use them?  It seemed like conditions were ideal for a little ride on the river, but apparently owning a boat is better in theory than in actual practice.

The same is true with a swimming pool.  My neighbors have a beautiful pool and deck which they used regularly the first summer they got it, but I think I have seen them in there once this season.  In Iowa, the season for swimming is short, so again, if a sunny Sunday in August isn’t a pool day, when is?

I think the allure of things is often better than the actual ownership of them.  Having an exercise machine sounds great — no more driving to the gym — until you learn that it wasn’t the driving part that you were procrastinating about.  Installing a bar and pool table seems like a wonderful idea, but it is only used a handful of times each year.  The same could be said for home theatres or wine cellars or basketball hoops or a host of other amenities that have more hypothetical appeal than actual usage.

If the marina is any indication, you should use caution before letting your recreational whims take sail.  Trying may be better than buying if it is not part of your routine already.

— beth triplett

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