Dividing Expenses on a Charter

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

An Easier Way to Split Expenses: Dividing all the little expenses on a group charter can be a pain. Here's an easy way to keep it all equal!

More and more often, groups of friends or family are going in together on a bareboat charter.  It’s a great way to bring down the cost per person and to share both the work and the fun.

And while I don’t want to get into all the logistics of chartering with a group, I do want to pass on one tip that a friend gave us before our first charter with another couple.

No matter how well you know the people you’re chartering with, money is always a touchy subject. Now, usually the charter company will accept separate payments and each person/couple/family can make their own travel arrangements. It’s even pretty easy to divide up a provisioning bill, or get separate checks for a dinner at a beach restaurant.

Where it gets tough is all the little day-to-day expenses that are incurred by the boat as a whole:

  • Mooring or anchoring fees
  • Cruising guide (if not included in the charter)
  • Cruising permit (if not included in the charter)
  • Taxi to/from the airport or parking (if shared)
  • Ice
  • Fuel or water costs
  • Group activities where priced as a group (taxi to a restaurant or beach, guide for shore excursion, group price for snorkel or dive trip, etc.)
  • Extra provisions purchased along the way

You don’t want to have to get money from each person (or couple) every time one of these expenses comes up. It’s also a recipe for disaster to say “we’ll get it this time, you get the next one” as inevitably someone feels that they’ve paid more than their share. Yeah, you could all write down what you paid for and then square up at the end of the trip . . . but some things will be forgotten.

A much simpler solution is to have a kitty for those group expenses.

What we did was to come up with an estimate of what the total for these would be, added some extra for good measure and then rounded up to a number that was nicely divisible by the number of people (if memory serves correctly, I think it was about $100 per person — but that was over 15 years ago).

We put the money into a Ziploc that we put in a somewhat hidden place and whenever it was time to pay one of the “group expenses” we simply went and took the money from the bag and returned any change there. We didn’t bother to keep receipts with only two couples on board; we trusted everyone. If you think there could be controversy about what’s paid from the kitty, it’s a good idea to keep track of the expenses on a sheet of paper stuck in the bag.

Towards the end of our week, we discovered that the kitty needed more money — we’d underestimated taxi rides and shore excursions — and everybody pitched in another $20. At the end of the trip, there were just a few dollars left in the kitty; instead of dividing it up, we gave it to the person whose car we’d all ridden in to the airport.

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Comments

  1. Wed is this approach for years, and it works well. Once we’re provisioned, $100 per person is a good starting point for us.

  2. We also found that in the Caribbean islands, getting seperate checks was not the norm. We voted one person the Purser and gave them a pad and bag for the money. Each couple would put in a designated amount. Between $300 and $500. This was used for all expenses with the exception of beach bar tabs. The Purser would be responsible to pay all the dinner tabs and daily expenses and keep a record. This would keep everyone happy since the I’ll pay tonite, you pay tomorrow would inevitably be lobster one nite, burgers another and be unfair. If the Purser ran out of money we would all kick in some more. Of course, everyone was on the same page, and didn’t order outrageously.

  3. Super idea!!!

  4. Sharon Birzer Brad Benz Renee Sutherland Acosta interesting idea that might be useful in the future….

    • That’s EXACTLY how we used to do it on big whitewater trips. Everyone pitches in a “seed” amount to the kitty, and adds equally as necessary. it’s a simple thing of beauty.

  5. +1 on the kitty.

  6. Using this approach to our camping trip with friends … A great way to keep the air clear ….

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