Save Money on a Pool
By Steve Gillman
How do you save money when you purchase a swimming pool? Shopping
for a great sale or negotiating a lower price are two ways that
come to mind. But there are more fundamental ways to save money
on any large purchase that have to be addressed first.
Pool Purchase - Questions to Ask
Think carefully about how you will use the pool, and what
your true purposes are. Do you just want a way to cool off in
the summer? Or do you want something to use year-round? Do you
want the pool primarily for your own use or for parties with
friends? Do you want a pool to impress people (a far more common
purpose than you might think)? If the latter is the case, it
will be especially difficult to save money.
Before I go any further, I have to tell a short story. I was
at the house of a friend the other day and as we stood there
in the 95-degree heat I noticed that his swimming pool was empty.
It was just one of those free-standing pools that costs a few
hundred dollars, but it seemed a waste to not be using it.
His daughter had been gone for a couple weeks, and since she
was the only one that really used it, he decided to drain it.
It had been collecting dust and leaves and growing slime. That
was earlier in the summer. Although his daughter had been back
for a month, he just hadn't gotten around to cleaning it and
filling it up again.
Now, there are important two lessons here. First, that a pool
is a lot of work, and unless you can afford to hire a pool maintenance
company, you get to do that work. There is cleaning, emptying,
filling, adding chemicals on schedule, replacing parts and making
The second point is that we all tend to overestimate how often
we will actually use the things we buy. This is especially true
with large purchases like pools. You might imagine yourself coming
home every summer day to take a swim, but the reality is usually
something else. Although I have not seen a survey done on this,
I see a lot of pools around that are mostly decorative. I suspect
that many people use their pools about once or twice per week
or less during summer.
That brings us to the most fundamental way to save money on
a pool purchase: Don't make it. I can't speak for you, and it
is possible that you'll get every bit of value from that pool
that you hope to get. But you might want to at east do some realistic
calculation before you make the decision.
For example, suppose you have an in-ground pool built for
$30,000 in your backyard, with a nice deck and all. You roll
the cost into a home refinance. Of course that means that your
true cost with interest will be closer to $65,000 (30 year 6%
loan). Then there are the other costs. Water, cleaning, repairs,
chemicals, added property tax due to the home value going up.
These probably will add another $1,200 per year even though you
only get to use the pool for a few months each year unless you
live in a warm climate.
Now suppose that you use the pool more than most - we'll say
several times weekly for four full months each year. Your net
cost per use will be lower than most people's then - maybe only
$20 to $30 per hour. That's still pretty expensive, isn't it?
It might make more sense to go to a water park several times
each summer. Certainly the kids will like that, and it almost
certainly will cost less in the long run.
There is one more issue here. If you spent a thousand dollars
each summer going to public pools and water arks and beaches,
you always have the option of discontinuing this expense if times
get tough. It is much harder to stop paying on that loan and
stop maintaining that pool. That's worth thinking about unless
you have a lot of money and your income is very secure. To save
money on a pool then, seriously consider just saying no.
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