The Back Yard Oasis Money Pit and Lessons in the Cost of Ownership

One of my BIGGEST money mistakes was making a large ticket purchase and only focusing on the sticker price.  I conveniently ignored the cost of ownership and that’s just dumb!

How did it happen?  Well, we had a very nice, albeit boring back yard.  Our kids begged us for in in-ground swimming pool and deep down; I think I really wanted one too.  We tried splashing around in kiddie pools or sprinklers and graduated to larger blow up pools but they just didn’t offer all the glory of an in-ground pool.

messy money cost of ownership

We had several contractors come by to draw up quotes to install a pool and the quotes ranged from $40,000 to $70,000 plus miscellaneous costs.  We hemmed and hawed and just could not see how we could make it work.

One day on a whim, we visited a hot tub showroom.  The spas looked so relaxing and fun and hubby and I thought – “What a great alternative to an in-ground pool!”  A week or two later we went back and ordered a blinged out model, complete with a TV and stereo and ordered a fancy cedar surround so we could lounge in privacy.  Then we needed to complete the oasis with a professional stone patio, loungers, umbrella, dining area……

Fast forward 2 years later, and I curse at that tub every time I look at it.  The kids don’t really like it and it makes me ache all over. Our hydro usage jumped from an average of 35 kWh/Day to 53 in the month we installed it.  In February we were using 61.5 KWh/Day – even with the tub turned down low.  The electricity bills have been a shock and so are the water bills in the months we drain and refill.

The tub itself was not that expensive.  In fact, I think it was the lease expensive part of this whole adventure.  I have made a list of many of the costs we should have seriously researched before we took the plunge.  Don’t take a sales persons word for it!

Cost of Ownership

Let me know if you think I have missed anything……. Items that can contribute to cost of ownership:

  • Increases to property taxes
  • Insurance
  • Skilled trades/contractors/inspectors
  • Installation
  • Maintenance (effort, materials)
  • Accessories
  • Repairs
  • Supplies
  • Gasoline/fuel/electricity
  • Water
  • Storage/parking
  • Permits/Licences
  • Improvements
  • Interest costs

So, now if I do consider buying an in-ground pool, vacation property, boat, snowmobile, ATV,  sports car, pet, another home, replacement car or any other big-ticket purchase I will do my due diligence.  I have the hot tub to remind me every day!

This post linked up at Friday JetFuel.


Photo Credit : Darron Birgenheier


  1. We did put the in-ground pool in when the kids were younger. That was one of our first mortgage refinancings in a series. I don’t enjoy it anymore, all I see is work. I’m hoping that maybe this summer I might a bit more because we have a grandson who might like to swim with us, but I also worry about the safety factor.

    But you know I wanted a hot tub for a number of years also and was complaining to my husband about why we couldn’t get one. That would have been so dumb. I don’t want one anymore.
    DEBt DEBs recently posted…Throwing up a Blog Time CapsuleMy Profile


    1. If you find yourself tempted – drop me a line and I can either sell you mine (LOL) or talk you out of it. I had no idea what I was getting into.


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