You want to build a pool, but you don’t want to take out a gigantic loan to pay for it. It’s a sensible stance to take given that pools are luxury amenities. But it also presents a problem – or rather, a challenge – because the cost of pool installation is more than most people have sitting around in a bank account.
Saving up the money might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re determined to get an inground pool with expensive features. But with enough time and discipline, just about anything is possible. Here’s a one-year plan for pool ownership that, followed closely, could get you enough cash to avoid onerous financing.
1. Design as you go
Whatever form your dream pool ultimately takes, you know you’re going to need a big chunk of change to pay for it. That means you should start saving now, while you’re still figuring out what type of pool you want. You may have to adjust your plans as you learn how much different features cost and get a handle on how much you can save.
2. Get an actual quote
Once you have a solid idea of what you want, you should get a quote from one or more pool builders in your area. You may not be ready to hire someone right away, but it will give you a dollar goal to shoot for. It’s also a reality check to see if the pool you’re aiming for is realistic.
3. Create a budget
If you don’t already have a household budget, you’ll need one. Keeping track of where your money is going and setting limits are key to building up your pool fund. These days it’s easier than ever thanks to money managing services like Mint.
4. Set aside money in a separate account
Set up a separate savings account for your new pool, and keep it off limits (unless you truly need money for emergency expenses). After you build the pool, you may want to keep this account open and continue to save up for future repairs and renovations.
5. Find painless ways to save
A lot of personal finance experts recommend cutting out your daily latte, but that’s just cruel. There are likely ways to save that don’t negatively impact your day-to-day life in any noticeable way. Here are some ideas:
- Cancel cable TV and switch to streaming services that are cheaper and arguably better
- If you spend a lot eating out, replace some of those meals with a delivery service that enables you to cook gourmet meals at home
- Buy regularly used items in bulk whenever possible
In short, before you contemplate painful sacrifices, make sure you’ve exhausted all the easy options for saving money.
6. Bank your tax refund
The average tax refund is $3,120. You may not be lucky enough to get that much, but whatever you get, plan on adding it to your pool fund. Ditto for any other windfalls (inheritances, gifts, etc.) that aren’t part of your normal income.
7. Skip or downsize your vacation
Minor changes in spending can certainly add up over the course of a year, but you also need big chunks of money if you’re going to reach your goal. Whether you’re used to taking one big vacation or multiple small trips, scaling back for one year can free up a lot of cash for your pool fund. Console yourself with thoughts of the staycation you’re building in your backyard.
8. Put a moratorium on other major purchases
This goes without saying, but if you want to save up for a pool, you’ll probably need to avoid taking on any big new expenses for the time being. That includes things like new vehicles and home renovation projects, but also smaller recurring expenses like gym memberships.
9. Sell off valuables you don’t need
When’s the last time you used that kayak? Now would be a good time to get real about which possessions you really need, and which should be sold off to clear space and build up your pool fund. Keep in mind that once you have your pool, you’ll have less time for other recreational activities.
10. Work more
When all else fails, look for opportunities to earn more money – either by picking up overtime hours at your current job, or by taking a part-time job on the side. It might make life difficult in the short term, but the higher quality of life you’ll enjoy with your new pool will make it all worthwhile. As a side benefit, working longer hours also leaves less time to spend money on fun stuff – boosting your savings even further.
Is this plan foolproof? Not at all. It relies on a lot of financial discipline over a long period of time. And even if you follow it slavishly, your personal finances and the scope of the project could make things impossible.
That said, these ideas will get you closer to paying for a pool. Yes, you may ultimately find yourself looking into pool financing options, but with a healthy pool fund in place, you’ll be in a much better position.