The Cruising Life: Women’s Perspectives. Part 10: Your Best Budget Tips

**Lol, I JUST realized that today is actually Tuesday and not Wednesday. One aspect of boat life that I didn’t expect… I never know what day it is! Back to our regularly scheduled Wednesday and Friday posting after this!

In the world of cruising, there is a wealth of difference in peoples’ budgets. If you’re like us and traveling on a tight budget or just trying to draw out the cruising kitty as long as possible, here are tips and budget ideas from other women living the cruising life!

Best budget friendly ideas?


Abyni @AbynisYouTube Catch your own dinner a.k.a. Go fishing and/or spear fishing. Find cheap books on places like bookbub for the kindle. We found several good books that way. Of course then we had to pay for the rest of the series, but at least we already knew we liked it without having to spend a fortune just to try it out!

Barb @HartsatSea This is actually where we have not done as well as other cruisers. Unfortunately, neither of us excel at this, which is why we are back in St. Thomas.



Bed Sheet Sets- To protect new upholstery from messy little 5 year olds, I bought some turquoise matching bed sheet sets from Target to sew washable covers.

Coconut Oil- Lots of uses for coconut oil- dry skin, cooking, hair conditioner, massage oil, and oh yes, ladies- natural lubricant for love.

Inexpensive Cockpit Lights- Hope Depot sells a solar rope light set for about $20 that we zip tied inside our full enclosure for lighting.  Works great!

Dawn & Vinegar- I use these 2 products for a wide variety of jobs- cleaning, degreasing, pouring down heads, wash down, mildew retardant, and more.  I wrote a blog post last year about how I got rid of old boat smells, and Dawn and vinegar featured heavily. Improving the Smell of Your Boat



CJGrabens @SVRAGNAROCK Cook all your own food and never (rarely) stay at a marina. Before you leave look for problems. I really do hate it when we find something small that means major work, but I’d rather find it now while it’s a minor issue vs later when it’s major. Example would be our fuel tank. I was upset when my boyfriend insisted we pull it out and clean it. Well after the cleaning we found tiny pinholes of leaky corrosion spots. Those spots were basically plugged with debris and when he cleaned it they leaked. Soooo, glad we found that and replaced it, even though it wasn’t an issue before he messed with it. Also do all your own work. My boyfriend is really smart and good with his hands and has so far been able to fix everything. We wouldn’t be able to do this if we didn’t do it ourselves.


Cheri @SVConsort Buy a stovetop pressure cooker and learn to use it. It saves money on eating out, saves propane, and saves you from getting excess heat and steam in your boat. Also, learn to use local produce and brands. If you’re not sure how to prepare something, just ask! It’s a great opportunity to make a connection, and most people are proud and happy to show you their native cuisine, I’ve found. If you feel you have to have your familiar brands, you will spend a lot more than if you are willing to try items produced in-country.

Duwann @MakeLikeAnApeMan  Anchor out – never go to a marina.
Katy @SVKlickitatII Stay out of marinas except for refueling, taking on water, showering, meeting up with people, and other luxuries.


Kerry @YaNevaKnow Buy fresh local produce when you can, stock up well on all other provisions whilst in Europe, USA or Panama. Buy in bulk and store as much as you can. I found it hard to buy certain products whilst cruising in remote areas. Be self sufficient as much as possible. COSTCO


Susie @Wanderings Learn to do your own repairs whether it’s sails and canvas work, engines or heads; you can learn on the job by giving it a go as there are plenty of cruisers out there who are more than willing to advise. Also, making your own courtesy flags can save a lot!


Laura @FortunesAfloat The best way to save money while cruising is to anchor out and cook all your meals on the boat. Marinas and dining out are way too expensive.


Liza @TravelPod Try to live without it first, and *then* buy it if you really do need it. There are so many things that I thought I’d need to survive, but I’ve truly embraced the “less is more” concept.
For example: that includes my want/need for wifi – in the end, I live just fine with simply going ashore to get wifi at a bar or restaurant. It amazes me that people spent hundreds of dollars on cell phones and data plans.
For example: I thought we were going to need hot water. I mean, how do you do dishes and bathe yourself without hot water? Tony said that if we got to the Bahamas and I *still* felt I needed hot water after a month, he’d buy and install it. We never bought it. Smart man. “Just because your dreams are big doesn’t mean your budget has to be.” – me 😉


Melinda @BurnettsAhoy  Even though there are grocery stores everywhere, it really pays to stock up on food in cheaper places before you go to expensive places like the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, BVI!!  Also, sometimes it pays to not get the cheapest stuff and just go for quality.  For example, we did a breakdown – over five years of use, Lithium-Ion batteries cost just as much as Lead-Acid batteries for the same amount of power because of efficiency reasons, and you avoid all of the maintenance/replacement costs.  There’s just a bigger up-front hit you have to take, and you have to know you’ll be out for at least five years…


Melinda Taylor  Don’t buy it. It’s so easy when you haven’t seen shops for while to go a little crazy. A shirt catches your eye or a new cockpit cushion so unless you need it and I mean really need it walk away. Chandleries are the worse for this.
If going overseas change your money here and take cash, ATM fees are outrageous.
Tammy @ThingsWeDidToday I guess that would have to be Amazon Prime.  We joined before leaving home when it looked like we would be ordering a lot of provisions from Amazon.  When they added the Prime video we figured that we could replace Netflix with Prime and for the yearly cost of Netflix,  Prime would basically be FREE.  Since then, it has paid for itself many times over.  Sometimes you have to do a little bit of sleuthing to get the best deal with free shipping… but it’s worth it and we have lots of time!  The downside is that you can’t really use either Prime shipping or video outside the US, but they do count USVIs and Puerto Rico so we really loaded up while visiting the US territories.  (some sellers do NOT ship to PR so you have to shop around)

Nike @WhiteSpotPirates 

  • Having a kayak instead of a dinghy with an outboard surely saves money. Not only do you save money for fuel, the risk of theft is also way lower!
  • Learning to do your own repairs helps a lot with keeping costs low, of course. If I cannot teach myself from books or internet, I try to hire someone that is willing to explain me whatever he or she is doing or in the best case just tell me what I have to do so I can do it myself which increases the possibility that I will actually remember.
  • Recycle, upcylce, collect stuff that other people throw away but you could still use for something or simply what nature has to offer.

Byn @OhSailYes We have a lot of experience living on a tight budget. Raising 5 kids on one income in the US is a challenge, especially when that one income isn’t large, by any stretch of the imagination! I was really surprised to discover how much less expensive it is to live off the grid. I hadn’t really put much thought into the fact that our monthly expenses wouldn’t include an electric bill (solar and wind power) or a mortgage payment (we bought our older, far less expensive boat outright) and in the Bahamas, we even got free water 99% of the time! I post our monthly Costs of Cruising to our blog, starting from the very beginning with the costs involved in boat shopping, surveys, repairs, provisioning and then on with the month to month expenses involved in actually living the sailboat life.

My Tips:



Humans: We don’t have hot water. Instead we use a Coleman Shower Bag when we need it. (Actually, we didn’t use it once in the summer and just bathed in the ocean because the weather was way too hot to want hot showers anyway!)

Laundry: We save a lot of money by washing our clothes on the boat. We had a washing wand for a while, but the handle broke in fairly short order. We just wash our clothes in buckets literally by hand. They hang on the line to dry. After a few months, we’ll take our sheets and towels to a laundry place, because those are just really hard to get “really” clean… and we all appreciate nice, fabric softener soft sheets Smile Other than that, its hand washing most of the time, because laundromats add up FAST, especially with a crew of 4-6!

We also clean pretty much everything on the boat with vinegar &/baking soda. We did wipe things down with bleach when we first moved aboard, but when that ran out, we stuck with vinegar instead.


We save a LOT of money by cooking at home 99.9% of the time, making our own cocktails at home and avoiding things that we can just as easily do at home. That does hinder the social life to an extent. We did end up spending money for the kids to go to poker nights in Georgetown for a while. It was generally just $5.00 buy ins for an entire night of socializing and making friends, so it was well worth it.

One of my biggest challenges on the boat is that we don’t have a refrigerator or freezer. On land I saved money by always cooking in bulk and had frozen foods ready to go. Its been a bit more of a challenge to have to cook daily, but we’ve still saved by buying a lot of dried goods in bulk. We eat a lot of rice and beans (we get creative sometimes and end up with totally freaking delicious recipes!) a lot of homemade breads (we bake them on the grill, rolls, bread, cinnamon rolls and the BEXT pizzas ever!).




Oh! And let’s not forget towing insurance! This saved us money almost immediately, when our engine broke down just 4 hours after leaving West Palm Beach and had to be towed to a marina 5 HOURS away.



Other Blog posts to check out:

A favorite blog of mine is The Cynical Sailor. She covers their monthly cost of cruising as well as writing about 5 Frugal Things and More 5 Frugal Things. Her writing style is awesome, it feels like you’re just sitting around having a chat… so go check her out as well!

ALSO Check out The Monkey’s Fist blog! This is a site that compiles blog posts based on topics. You can see their post on The Costs of Cruising to see what other cruisers spend their money on to help you plan ahead and budget. A big part of saving money is being realistic and planning for those things that are necessities as well as knowing what you might need to cut back on ahead of time!

A lot of cruising women were awesome enough to contribute to this blog series about women who are living/lived the cruising life. Whether they’ve been cruising for 6 months or 30 years, these are the perspectives of various women from different parts of the world. I know I’m already learning from their stories, I hope you can learn something new as well! I’ll be posting a question from this series every Wednesday and Friday for the 10 week series, so keep an eye out for our posts! The topics range in topic from typical cruising questions, to more personal anonymous stories that might make you feel like you’ve met a kindred spirit.

If you are a current or former cruising woman and would like to contribute to future posts, please email me at with the subject line “Cruising Questions from Byn” and I’ll send you the list of questions. Answer as many as you like and return with a few photos and I’ll add your contribution as we go

See the other posts in this series:

Part 1: What Makes it Worth it?

Part 2: What Would You do Differently?

Part 3: What has been your most surprising experience?

Part 4: Where Would You Revisit?

Part 5: What is Your Favorite Physical Activity Onboard?

Part 6: What were the biggest struggles for you in your first year? How did you deal with them to get through?

Part 7: What Technology is Essential for You?

Part 8: What is your best piece of advice for people who are getting ready to take off on a cruising adventure?

Part 9: What has been your scariest moment?

Part 10: Budget Friendly Tips?

Part 11: Best Social Media Tips?

Part 12: Your Best Life Hacks for the Boat

Part 13: Your Favorite Photo

Part 14: How Did Cruising Affect Your Marriage/Relationship?

Part 15: Let’s Talk About Sex