The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

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jackson313
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The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

Hi BH'ers,

Recently I posted a portfolio review thread and I got a lot of valuable feedback. Learning a lot from this community and figured it'd be wise to post about this financial decision as well since it's a big one.

Quick description of our situation:
  • 32 y/o (as is wife)
  • expecting first child later this year
  • live in HCOL location (NJ)
  • main hobby is golf; good at it by most standards, grew up playing with my dad, still the thing I enjoy to do most with family/friends
  • strongly desire ability to belong to a club that I can access for golf whenever I want, pool, tennis, meals with wife and future kid(s)
I am well aware joining a club like this, especially in my area (often $30k initiation, ~ $15k-$20k year) is a luxury and there are lots of alternatives (public golf, public pool, public tennis courts, etc.). I was lucky enough to grow up with access to a place like this however, and had a great experience doing so with my dad and siblings (and would love to give that experience back to myself and family if reasonably possible).

The financials:
  • joint income ~ $400k / year, with wife who recently started working earning ~ $60k-$70k of that)
  • my job is fairly stable
  • debt of ~ $490k on 30y fixed mortgage, applying $500 extra/month towards principal
  • maxed out all retirement vehicles + HSA and contributed ~ $70k "extra" to taxable fund this year
  • we currently spend ~ $70k-$80k/year incl. all home related payments
  • two paid off cars
  • club we'd join for variety of reasons would cost ~ $9k/year for first two years with ability to bail at any time, then ~ $18k-$20k/year beyond with a $17k initiation to full membership at age 38 if we stayed on
  • joining now would get me ~ 40% off eventual initiation (which is normally $30k) if we did decide to stay/convert as full members at age 38
I am leaning hard towards at least joining for the 2 year preview membership if you can't already tell. :) Of course given we are about to have our first kid in a HCOL area, this has significant financial implications and I'm not sure how comfortably we can really afford it as I hear daycare can cost $30k-$40k/year alone. My wife will at least stop working for several months to focus on the baby later this year, so our income would drop to ~ $330k-$350k. Of course, I am not willing to compromise on continuing to max out all retirement accounts or ensure our kid is well-provided for and those will always be the priorities.

I would expect to use the club quite a bit (at least 2-3 mornings during the week, most weekends, and pool/tennis/meals with wife and occasionally friends). Re: our house, we expect to live here for 7-10 years as it's big enough for us & two young kids (~ 1700 sq. ft.) but we'd probably want a bit more space down the road.

I know being a BH doesn't mean pinching pennies and living just to save, but next to the house this would be my biggest financial commitment ever and I'd love any input before jumping in (especially with a kid on the way).

Would appreciate any insight and happy to clarify anything if needed. Thank you!
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simplesimon
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by simplesimon »

jackson313 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:34 pm I would expect to use the club quite a bit (at least 2-3 mornings during the week, most weekends, and pool/tennis/meals with wife and occasionally friends).
Where will the baby be while you're doing all this?
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I'd do a cost per hour analysis. With a first kid on the way, you're going to have all of 3 minutes a year free.
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EdNorton
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by EdNorton »

Do your golfing buddies belong to the club? What's it cost for a guest? My buddies wouldn't like paying $100/round and I'd miss golfing with them. :sharebeer
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ThankYouJack
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by ThankYouJack »

I don't think this is a financial decision, but more of a time decision. When is your first child due? I would definitely wait until your child is born to see how that changes things.
would expect to use the club quite a bit (at least 2-3 mornings during the week, most weekends, and pool/tennis/meals with wife and occasionally friends).

Working full-time and golfing 4-5 times a week seems quite optimistic with a newborn if you'd like to be involved with the parenting.

If you plan to help out during the night (I would recommend it), you may not want to golf first thing in the morning because you may be exhausted.

Are you going to leave your wife and kid at home while you golf on the weekend? You may want to spend more family time. Also, taking a newborn to a pool isn't always fun, especially if the baby has colic.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by sailaway »

And everyone thinks of country clubs as upper class and yacht clubs as ultra rich. If they only knew the numbers! The difference more than pays for my boat, in many cases.

Anywho, to your actual question. Unlike many who are considering this option, you actually seem to know what it involves, since you grew up in a similar environment. I think that, plus the preview period, really work in your favor. I think it is especially important to be able to see how much you will use the club with a small child. Going forward, do they have a playground? Summer camps and after school activities? AKA, is this particular club family friendly? If so, I think that for a young family, regular access to these activities and a solid community can be way more enjoyable than $10-20k/ year worth of vacations to crowded places.
psteinx
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

How far is the club from your house?

How many months long is the golf season where you're at? I assume in NJ you wouldn't golf much in January...

How good are the nearby publics, and how much do they cost?

Is there any real, likely, career impact from being in this CC, good or bad?

Is your current ~$320-330K income near career peak, or will it rise significantly? How secure is your career?

You've mentioned $490K in mortgage. How's the rest of the net worth picture? (taxable and retirement savings, home equity...)
psteinx
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

Oh, and of course, how does your wife feel about all this?
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White Coat Investor
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by White Coat Investor »

In my experience, if your hobby is golf a country club is a whole lot better idea than otherwise.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by fyre4ce »

My wife and I both work and have a 7 month old. She took a few months off but is now back full-time. My wife's mom is basically living with us and providing more than full-time childcare. Even with that, we are barely able to keep our heads above water. The days are long, the baby doesn't sleep well so it's sometimes a multi-hour ordeal to get him down, then several wakings throughout the night. Our sleep is fragmented and even when we go to bed early it still doesn't feel restful. It's been this way for 7+ months without one day of respite. I don't mean to make this sound too grim- the baby is wonderful and it's a joy to have a new member of the family. But my point is, you don't know ahead of time what your routine will be. You'll probably have way less free time than you expected, and you'll find you will want to devote that time toward getting the oil changed, doing taxes, going to the dentist, and in the best case scenario a date night with the wife. My advice would be to wait until the kid has arrived before you evaluate how well this membership will mesh with your routine. The country club won't be going anywhere. While you can certainly afford it, you don't want to feel badly about buying something expensive that you hardly use.
Last edited by fyre4ce on Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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FlyAF
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by FlyAF »

I've been a member of CC's my entire adult life in every city I've lived, often times owning a home on the actual courses where I just jump in the cart and head out from my garage. In your situation I'd probably pass. You say you will use it a bunch, but I just don't see it. I assume you have a full time job? New baby on the way. Short season being in the NE, etc.........It's not a financial decision as you can obviously afford it, but a lifestyle thing. Trying to justify it financially is a fools errand as it will never make sense. I'd reevaluate after a happy healthy baby comes along and see where you're at. I don't have kids so that's never been a factor for me, so I might be way off base.
Last edited by FlyAF on Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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goingup
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by goingup »

Your timing to join the club might not be ideal for at least one reason. Your wife may not be thrilled that you plan to spend so much time at the club when she is home with a newborn. You'll be wanting to get your money's worth and she may have different ideas for your spare time. Perhaps she already is already familiar with your 4 hour absences on sunny weekend days, but it may cause some friction with a newborn at home. :|

My folks joined our country club when they were in their late 40's. It was a career benefit to my dad. It was fun for us kids to golf, swim and play tennis. It was a great way to spend summers.

I wonder if you're not a little young to join the country-club set.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Dinosaur Dad »

We live in a HCOL area and never joined a country club (I'm not a golfer nor is DW). The only thing I would say: Sometimes there's a "social life" aspect with this. In our area there was a pool club that many families joined, and the kids sort of used that as a meeting place...we didn't join because our child was in various camps and other activities, plus we traveled often.

Looking back it might have helped our child feel like he was a bit more of the neighborhood "pack."

But ultimately it's up to you. ...we're pretty independent-minded and went our own way on a lot of stuff.
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CascadiaSoonish
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by CascadiaSoonish »

Having just joined the fancy club in town (athletic club, not country club) I think they can be great if they're a fit for your family and your lifestyle. Our club has a lot of kid-friendly amenities such as free childcare when eating in the club restaurant. But it is expensive. Ultimately it's not a financial decision, though.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jjgil »

I am a father of 3 and I love to golf. I would amplify the comments about time being more important than the money. When our children were little I was not able to play very much. I went from playing about 40 rounds a year down to less than 10 for a period of about 8 years. I've never been a member although I am contemplating it in the future as part of retirement.

In the "lean" years most of my rounds were while we were on family vacation and I could play with my brother-in-law and there was lots of family around who enjoy time with the kids. I'd offer caution about the "working all week" and "golfing Saturday" dynamic, my wife was never a big fan. I found it worked well to schedule the odd day off during the week for golf (I'd play 36). My time away was about the same as a workday and it fit in with our routine pretty well. I know this is also true for some of my golf buddies who have younger children.

If you can play early during the week that might be a big win and keep you connected with your game, in particular if you can negotiate one day a week after work. I'm sure if you can enjoy the other amenities of the club (gym, pool, dinig) with your growing family than it could make a lot more sense, but you want to avoid the situation where you're paying that much for 10 rounds a year. Many of my friends who are members tell me it just doesn't "pencil out" for value but they enjoy having a well maintained course at their disposal. Recognize that it a luxury item and make sure your time spent at the club is not excessive during your kids childhood.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by J295 »

Biased here. Member of a Pete Dye design golf club for 20 years.

To my way of thinking, one can never cost justify a golf club… well maybe now in early retirement when I get in nearly 80 rounds a year at the club, but generally speaking it’s a luxury. However, and I didn’t do the math for you, if you can reasonably afford it and you are a golf nut like myself and many of my friends, then go for it!

Just a sidebar… There were in fact many years when we had children at home who are not golfers that I got in very few rounds a year. That was fine, as it was my choice to dig in 100% with them at all of their activities knowing that in later years I would utilize the course more often.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

While every family will be somewhat different, I would be skeptical about putting significant emphasis on the kids social opportunities as a reason for joining this CC.

Socialization patterns for kids seem to have changed pretty sharply over the last generation or two. Kids in my day (1970s-1980s) had a lot of unstructured time, and a fairly loose reign, allowing them to explore the neighborhood, run around with other kids, etc.

My own kids (HS & college now) had more structured activities, were more inclined to entertain themselves in their own house, digitally, and even if/when they wanted to hang out with other neighborhood kids, it was harder because THOSE kids were also less available. Yes, there was some unstructured hang-out time, but a lot less.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by FrugalConservative »

So after two years it will be upwards of 20k a year?! $1700 a month ( not including the buy in). You live in NJ, did you consider a few months out of the year you wont even be able to golf or use the pool? I personally believe Northeast clubs are clicky and stuffy. I have been to many, both as guests and a client, I'm not a fan so it may skew my feelings. The people that are members of these establishments arent my type of people, they may be yours though. Are you even a golf nut!?!

At the end of the day , one kid will change your life and if you decide to have two, it's even more difficult.

What about day care costs since your wife is back to work?

Yeah... hard pass for me. For a few grand a month I could easily figure out somethign better to do with that money.
psteinx
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

I'm not really a golfer, but if I lived in NJ, was starting a family, and was looking to burn money, I'd consider a shore house instead. Seems more family friendly, among other things.
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

EdNorton wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:42 pm Do your golfing buddies belong to the club? What's it cost for a guest? My buddies wouldn't like paying $100/round and I'd miss golfing with them. :sharebeer
My main golfing buddy is also considering joining. The other is my dad, who belongs to another club. We'd likely trade times hosting each other, which I think would be really fun. I'm also hoping to meet more here through this "junior preview" program since I don't have a ton of golfing buddies.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by gr7070 »

It's called discretionary income for a reason. Knock yourself out and enjoy.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

DW and I joined our local country club when the DDs were living at home. We were social members, and I never played a round of golf there the entire time we were members. DDs and DW wanted to cut down our beautiful oaks to put in a pool, but I countered with country club social membership. It worked. Our beautiful oaks are still providing wonderful shade to our home.

Our experience was excellent. The DDs spent a lot of time after school at the pool (there were lifeguards), and we would come join them after work sometimes during the week. Every weekend when pool was open the club had someone grilling chicken, hot dogs, burgers, etc. with all the typical side dishes. And, it was kinda nice to have someone bringing frosty adult beverages to us. The food and drink prices were cheaper than outside the club. That's probably why there were always barflies around both the inside bar and the pool bar. Well-mannered barflies. And, frankly, the club was nice because you didn't hear foul language, and you didn't see unruly children and adults spoiling the member's time. In addition to the poolside menu, the inside menu offerings were very good.

A lot of times DDs treated their friends with food and soft-drinks, but they hung around a good group of kids we knew from extra-curricular school activities. So, it was all good.

OP, I'll bet your wife would love lounging around the pool, perhaps being able to teach the little one to swim, or other activities she might enjoy that are available to members. Perhaps golf when you watch the little one, or during the week.

After DDs left home, we quit for a few years, but rejoined when MIL came to live with us, as she loved to swim, and she liked the happy hours as well.

I say go for it. Try very hard to make sure your wife is able to enjoy the benefits as well, even if you have to be the one perhaps staying home to babysit.

Broken Man 1999
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lessismore22
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by lessismore22 »

It seems like the memories you made at a club growing up are meaningful to you. It's VERY hard to put a price on that. As long as your don't have to sacrifice saving for retirement, 18k is a small price to pay to see if you'll be able to create similar memories with your own family/friends. Go for it.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by lessismore22 »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:54 pm I say go for it. Try very hard to make sure your wife is able to enjoy the benefits as well, even if you have to be the one perhaps staying home to babysit.
Broken Man 1999
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knowledge
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by knowledge »

Something to consider - it was much easier to sneak out on weekends for a round when we only had one. When we had our second kid, my rounds per year went from 10-20 down to less than 5. I get the same sentiment from other golfers I know that had kids.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by HomeStretch »

lessismore22 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:03 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:54 pm I say go for it. Try very hard to make sure your wife is able to enjoy the benefits as well, even if you have to be the one perhaps staying home to babysit.
Broken Man 1999
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When several friends who were CC members had their first child, the CC time became a serious issue between the working spouse and the stay-at-home spouse (SAHS). Just one round of golf usually means 6 hours away from home between course time and the 19th hole. The working spouse was pretty adamant they wanted some rec time at the CC. Meanwhile the SAHS wanted some time off from baby to shower etc. Having done both (working and SAHS), the SAHS has the tougher job IMO. So be sure to offer the SAHS the right to use the CC first each week!

$9k for each of first two years is reasonable for dues for a CC. Usually there is also a pretty hefty required buy (meals and liquor) at the clubhouse so check if that’s on top of the $9k. It can also be awkward to invite friends... either they don’t want to pay the non-member fee for a round or it can be awkward to ask for the money. You might find yourself footing the bill for the other 3 in your foursome.
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celia
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by celia »

If you didn't previously belong (pre-kids), I'm confused as to why you want to join now with less free time coming up soon.

Do you plan to do half of the child caring responsibilities and at least half of the household duties, so your time and your wife's time are split such that you both think it's fair? Even with your wife taking care of the baby instead of working, that doesn't mean she should do everything. (Yes, parenting is a full-time job FOR BOTH OF YOU.) But without some time for herself and to spend with you, the "fairness" will soon be "un-fair".
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

ThankYouJack wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:46 pm I don't think this is a financial decision, but more of a time decision. When is your first child due? I would definitely wait until your child is born to see how that changes things.
would expect to use the club quite a bit (at least 2-3 mornings during the week, most weekends, and pool/tennis/meals with wife and occasionally friends).

Working full-time and golfing 4-5 times a week seems quite optimistic with a newborn if you'd like to be involved with the parenting.

If you plan to help out during the night (I would recommend it), you may not want to golf first thing in the morning because you may be exhausted.

Are you going to leave your wife and kid at home while you golf on the weekend? You may want to spend more family time. Also, taking a newborn to a pool isn't always fun, especially if the baby has colic.
All fair questions and points, thank you. Child due in September, so at minimum we'd get to use the club a bunch this year (but next year could/will be rough). I should have mentioned my workday typically doesn't start until 11:30am/12pm due to the locations/teams I work with, so I often have a few free hours in the mornings especially on Fridays (I understand most free time will go away later this year).

I do plan to help during the night; really good points on the fact that I'll likely be wiped in the mornings as well as the point about a crying baby at the pool. I probably had much too rosy of an image of my wife, baby and I just relaxing peacefully there. :)
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

sailaway wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:53 pm Unlike many who are considering this option, you actually seem to know what it involves, since you grew up in a similar environment. I think that, plus the preview period, really work in your favor. I think it is especially important to be able to see how much you will use the club with a small child. Going forward, do they have a playground? Summer camps and after school activities? AKA, is this particular club family friendly? If so, I think that for a young family, regular access to these activities and a solid community can be way more enjoyable than $10-20k/ year worth of vacations to crowded places.
This is one of the other major reasons I'm leaning towards doing this. It's a very, very family friendly club with a ton of activities. I don't think there is a playground but they definitely have summer camps. Last time I was there they had an ice cream cart next to one of the tee boxes and reserved one of the 9s just for little kids to go play around on the course and hang out (simple but awesome idea IMO).
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Nearly A Moose »

ThankYouJack wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:46 pm I don't think this is a financial decision, but more of a time decision. When is your first child due? I would definitely wait until your child is born to see how that changes things.
would expect to use the club quite a bit (at least 2-3 mornings during the week, most weekends, and pool/tennis/meals with wife and occasionally friends).

Working full-time and golfing 4-5 times a week seems quite optimistic with a newborn if you'd like to be involved with the parenting.

If you plan to help out during the night (I would recommend it), you may not want to golf first thing in the morning because you may be exhausted.

Are you going to leave your wife and kid at home while you golf on the weekend? You may want to spend more family time. Also, taking a newborn to a pool isn't always fun, especially if the baby has colic.
I love to golf. My buddies love to golf. Many of my clients love to golf, and I could expense the whole round. I’ve played about a dozen rounds in the past six years since my oldest was born. Being one of two working professional parents, I simply could not justify the 6-7 hours a weekend that I’d be gone and not caring for my kids or making forward progress on the million things that need doing. Perhaps your life and professional pace allow you more time, in which case I’ll tip my hat. But unless you have a ton of support and your spouse and broader network are fully into this country club, I think you’re rather optimistic about the time you’d be able to spend there. And, in a couple years, you will be spending every other weekend at a bounce house or something for kids’ birthday parties, which cuts into club time. Finally, that annual fee could pay a big chunk of school (if you do private), childcare (to a lesser degree), or college savings. Perhaps you already have the covered. But I’d do a lot to get another ~18k a year post tax right now.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

psteinx wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:57 pm How far is the club from your house?

How many months long is the golf season where you're at? I assume in NJ you wouldn't golf much in January...

How good are the nearby publics, and how much do they cost?

Is there any real, likely, career impact from being in this CC, good or bad?

Is your current ~$320-330K income near career peak, or will it rise significantly? How secure is your career?

You've mentioned $490K in mortgage. How's the rest of the net worth picture? (taxable and retirement savings, home equity...)
Thanks for these really good questions. You're right about the shortened golf season; I'd probably only play between late March and mid-November, because I'm a golf nut. The good publics I actually enjoy are ~ 40 minutes away. Unfortunately they get really crowded and can take ~ 6 hours to play a full round in.

Career impact would be neutral for me since I'm not in finance, law, consulting etc. and from what I can tell those industries dominate most clubs in this area. I'm very happy in my career though, and would from a networking perspective mainly be looking to make some friends along with my wife.

Career is quite secure but tough to say on income. In my current company/role I'll probably grow ~ 5-15%/year and cap out around $500k total.

Net worth is ~ $775k with ~ $420k in retirement savings, $100k taxable, $100k cash, and ~ $136k in home equity (~ 22%).
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by London »

I’m not into golf but you should do it if you think you can make it work time wise. Everyone has something they enjoy enough to waste money on. Life is short.

We’re also in NJ and are members of a very expensive beach club. We have a pool so we were hesitant at first. Turns out we love it and have a lot of fun there. There is zero financial case for doing it and we have to make time. But it’s still worth it.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

jackson313 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:40 pmNet worth is ~ $775k with ~ $420k in retirement savings, $100k taxable, $100k cash, and ~ $136k in home equity (~ 22%).
Hmm, that seems a little light to be considering, IMO, a fairly frivolous expense. Only $200K in taxable. While your career may seem stable, one can always be caught off-guard, unpleasantly. Yeah, you could drop the country club in a bad case, but still.

Another consideration about a pricey CC, is that, I suspect, if you really used it, it might lead to lifestyle inflation. Are you the only one arriving at the club in an 8 year old Accord? Are your wife's new friends wearing designer labels & fancy jewelry? Do the little ones go to the "right" (private) preschool?
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

psteinx wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:58 pm Oh, and of course, how does your wife feel about all this?
She has a balanced POV on it from our discussion so far. Knows longterm it would absolutely make me happy, and is supportive of it being a part of our family life. She is not a "traditional country club person" although I am not really either (in terms of the stuffy/snobby reputation many have), so she is open to feeling this preview period out, meeting people, and seeing how much of it we can enjoy together. She's also excited at the prospect of occasionally bringing a friend or two to the pool or to play tennis.

On the flip side, she is tempering the fantasy image I have in my head of her and I happily meeting for a drink at the pool with the newborn. Her ultimate advice on it has been to the effect of, "do this for you because you work hard, but know in the short-term it's unlikely I fall in love with the place and you're probably not going to use it even close to as much as you'd want to early on".
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

celia wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:26 pm If you didn't previously belong (pre-kids), I'm confused as to why you want to join now with less free time coming up soon.

Do you plan to do half of the child caring responsibilities and at least half of the household duties, so your time and your wife's time are split such that you both think it's fair? Even with your wife taking care of the baby instead of working, that doesn't mean she should do everything. (Yes, parenting is a full-time job FOR BOTH OF YOU.) But without some time for herself and to spend with you, the "fairness" will soon be "un-fair".
We lived cross-country and weren't nearly as settled up until about last year. If we had been, I would have jumped at an opportunity like this one.

You hit on our biggest shared concern. I do plan on splitting the responsibilities and don't intend to ditch my wife and kid for the golf course. However, I do think based on my flexible work schedule and the fact that we have lots of local family support, I'll have a a fair amount of random 1 to 2 hour blocks where either of us can take a break to visit the club, practice a bit or grab a bite. It's quite possible this is overly optimistic, but for any of those moments where we *can* get away for little chunks of time, I'd love that to be at a place like this (relaxed atmosphere, treated well by staff, can take out some stress on the driving range, etc.).

As another poster hit on, it is important that my wife also enjoys the benefits and that I try to nudge her to take time for herself there when I stay home with the child. My thought is that for this 1-2 year trial period we see if that actually plays out, and if it doesn't, scrap the membership and move on.
Last edited by jackson313 on Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
London
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by London »

psteinx wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:44 pm
jackson313 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:40 pmNet worth is ~ $775k with ~ $420k in retirement savings, $100k taxable, $100k cash, and ~ $136k in home equity (~ 22%).
Another consideration about a pricey CC, is that, I suspect, if you really used it, it might lead to lifestyle inflation. Are you the only one arriving at the club in an 8 year old Accord? Are your wife's new friends wearing designer labels & fancy jewelry? Do the little ones go to the "right" (private) preschool?
I see this point of view on the board all the time and I guess it’s derived from the plots of teen movies. Even in very “nice” towns or clubs, no one cares about this stuff.
psteinx
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

How far away from the CC do you live? Big difference between a 3 minute drive and a 15 minute drive...
corysold
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by corysold »

To take a slightly contrarian view, I think something like this could be a boon to your family if used properly, which means both you and your wife having a place to go to spend some time doing something you enjoy. I understand she may not want to use the club, but if she gets the same amount of hours per week to do something for herself, I think that is healthy.

With six kids, my life essentially consists of working or parenting. Granted I don't mind that so much, but I rarely do anything I used to do in my free time. I hardly every golf, don't play softball with the buddies anymore, don't play video games, don't go out on weekends, don't go watch adult themed movies (that sounds weird, I mean something over PG), etc.

One thing I wish we had done before life got away from us is to set aside a certain amount of time per week/month for us to keep our hobbies and friendships alive. We didn't do a very good job of that I don't think.

That doesn't have much to do with the club, but if that is "your" time and your wife has "her" time, and you still have family, couple and work time, I think in the end that is a healthy idea and a good balance.

Besides, if it is as family friendly as you say, I can't think of a better Saturday then riding around playing a quick nine, with a kid or two tagging along hitting some shots here and there and getting to drive the cart, the wife spending a few hours doing something for herself, meeting for a quick lunch, home for naps and spending the afternoon together as a family. Sound Utopian to me.
psteinx
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

London wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:56 pm
psteinx wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:44 pm Another consideration about a pricey CC, is that, I suspect, if you really used it, it might lead to lifestyle inflation. Are you the only one arriving at the club in an 8 year old Accord? Are your wife's new friends wearing designer labels & fancy jewelry? Do the little ones go to the "right" (private) preschool?
I see this point of view on the board all the time and I guess it’s derived from the plots of teen movies. Even in very “nice” towns or clubs, no one cares about this stuff.
Hmm, my observation is that peer pressure plays a LARGE role in spending norms for adults and kids. This isn't an observation based much on CC culture (I don't have much experience there), but more broadly.

Do you think it's ONLY financial capacity that governs the disproportionate number of BMWs and the like in some neighborhoods versus others?

I don't mean so much neighborhoods across the street from each other, but across town or across the country. In my neighborhood, there are relatively few luxury car marques, not so much from an inability to afford them, but I think that it's just not done here. In other places, I suspect the reverse holds - you're looked down upon for certain cars, clothes, handbags, or the like...
London
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by London »

psteinx wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:02 pm
London wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:56 pm
psteinx wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:44 pm Another consideration about a pricey CC, is that, I suspect, if you really used it, it might lead to lifestyle inflation. Are you the only one arriving at the club in an 8 year old Accord? Are your wife's new friends wearing designer labels & fancy jewelry? Do the little ones go to the "right" (private) preschool?
I see this point of view on the board all the time and I guess it’s derived from the plots of teen movies. Even in very “nice” towns or clubs, no one cares about this stuff.
Hmm, my observation is that peer pressure plays a LARGE role in spending norms for adults and kids. This isn't an observation based much on CC culture (I don't have much experience there), but more broadly.

Do you think it's ONLY financial capacity that governs the disproportionate number of BMWs and the like in some neighborhoods versus others?

I don't mean so much neighborhoods across the street from each other, but across town or across the country. In my neighborhood, there are relatively few luxury car marques, not so much from an inability to afford them, but I think that it's just not done here. In other places, I suspect the reverse holds - you're looked down upon for certain cars, clothes, handbags, or the like...
I should have been more clear. Yes, people buy things to keep up with the Jones.

What I’m skeptical about is the Jones looking down on people for them not keeping up. I think that’s mostly insecurity that drives that opinion.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

There is no reason to not live within your means. There is nothing wrong with re-calibrating your spending as your income rises.

Believe it or not, one can drive a decent car, live in a nice home, send your kids to college, and stuff your portfolios for retirement.

Lifestyle creep is desirable; who wants to live in crappy, crowded homes, and drive hoopties? We sure didn't want to do so. We had a whole lot of lifestyle creep, thankfully.

Just live within your means. You honestly don't have to live like you only have two dimes to rub together.

There are countless discussions where a poster in lamenting the fact they have difficulty spending their money, even though they are in great shape, financially speaking.

Sad. Don't be like them. Me, I don't want to be the richest person in the graveyard. Life is for LIVING.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Dottie57 »

lessismore22 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:03 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:54 pm I say go for it. Try very hard to make sure your wife is able to enjoy the benefits as well, even if you have to be the one perhaps staying home to babysit.
Broken Man 1999
+1
+1.

Don’t be surprised if DW objects. It does sound like fun and games for you and not so much for your wife.
psteinx
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by psteinx »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:24 pmJust live within your means. You honestly don't have to live like you only have two dimes to rub together.
My guess is that there's a wide spectrum between comfortable middle class to upper middle class lifestyle (not driving a hooptie), and the median lifestyle of members at a NJ country club with $18-20K in dues.

Perhaps OP is already living the latter lifestyle or aspires to live it. But it's worth considering that if OP is NOT living that lifestyle now, there may be social pressure to do so.
BuckyBadger
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by BuckyBadger »

As the mom of a 16 month old, I share the perspective of those who say that it's an awfully big time commitment for someone about to become a father.

My husband and i played and still play tennis, which as you know happens in much smaller chunks of time than golfing does, and it's hard enough for us to keep doing that. I encourage my husband to take time for himself and he does the same for me, but neither of us would even dream to assume that meant playing golf 5 times a week. That's an insane amount of time to spend away from the house, in addition to work, with a new baby.

And seeing your net worth makes me hesitant as well. You make a lot but you haven't saved a lot yet.

I think this isn't the time for this. But of course that's just my own opinion.

Oh, and can we stop using the word "babysit?" It's called parenting, and referring to a father watching the child as "babysitting" creates a distance between father and child that shouldn't be there. If a dad must be convinced to "babysit" his own children there is something wrong.
corysold
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by corysold »

Just a further point of clarification, not every round of golf is a 6 hour marathon.

A good golfer with a cart and an open course can play 9 holes in an hour if they wanted to.
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Watty
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Watty »

jackson313 wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:34 pm joint income ~ $400k / year, with wife who recently started working earning ~ $60k-$70k of that)
I might have missed it but even if your wife is planning on going back to work after the baby is born then that might not happen. If the baby has even minor and temporary health issues then daycare might not be a good or even possible option. It is also not uncommon for people to change their minds when it comes down to actually dropping off a newborn at daycare.

Even if you just count $330K as your income you can still afford it. The question is what you will be giving up to free up the disposable income that you will need to pay for the membership.

There are several variations on the saying, "You can afford to do anything you want, but not everything you want." Which would apply to your situation.

I don't see any big reason not to delay the decision a year.
jsapiandante
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jsapiandante »

I enjoy golf as a hobby. Used to play multiple times per week. After having our first child, I thought I’d at least get to play once a week. Nope. He’s turning 3 this year and I’ve played less than 10 times since he’s been born. I prefer spending time with him instead of being out 4-6 hours playing golf. Eventually he will be old enough to maybe play with me or take him with me to the course but it certainly isn’t right now.

OP, you can afford the country club but not sure if it’ll be worth it since your expectations of playing often during your kids first few years will be easy. It’s not, at least in my case. I would wait until he’s a little order before you decide. Financially speaking, paying $800+ a month for a club membership isn’t worth it since you can play certain courses much cheaper unless you’re playing everyday.
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Ah, the leisurely walk into the club and ease into the pool area with the wife and newborn and sitting down to a light snack and a drink.

I'll inject my 2 sons into this.

Son #1 slept through the night from day 1. Could fit in your vision.

Son #2 started crying when he was born. Didn't stop until he was one. He didn't always cry while he was sleeping, but he didn't sleep all that often. I'd add ear plugs to that pool visit and perhaps buy a round of ear plugs for others there.
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jackson313
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by jackson313 »

BuckyBadger wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:45 pm As the mom of a 16 month old, I share the perspective of those who say that it's an awfully big time commitment for someone about to become a father.

My husband and i played and still play tennis, which as you know happens in much smaller chunks of time than golfing does, and it's hard enough for us to keep doing that. I encourage my husband to take time for himself and he does the same for me, but neither of us would even dream to assume that meant playing golf 5 times a week. That's an insane amount of time to spend away from the house, in addition to work, with a new baby.

And seeing your net worth makes me hesitant as well. You make a lot but you haven't saved a lot yet.

I think this isn't the time for this. But of course that's just my own opinion.

Oh, and can we stop using the word "babysit?" It's called parenting, and referring to a father watching the child as "babysitting" creates a distance between father and child that shouldn't be there. If a dad must be convinced to "babysit" his own children there is something wrong.
Thank you for your input. To clarify, I don't expect to play golf 5 times a week with the baby. The baby is due in September this year, so I'd plan to use the club a lot until then in small chunks (quick early AM 9 holes, 1 hour on driving range randomly, etc.). Once the baby is born, our thought is the club could be the main place to spend our quick "breaks" when one of us is with the child or our parents insist on giving us a break.

I am also interested to hear more on the net worth / financial aspect of this. I see several folks saying this isn't as much of a financial decision, I can afford it etc., but I'm still not clear if that's the case. We bought our house 1.5 years ago and the current savings rate seems healthy (~ 40%+ of gross income), but I know that savings rate will go down between the child, my wife temporarily stopping work, and potentially adding the club expense.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: The annual "Boglehead considering a country club" thread

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

BuckyBadger wrote: Fri Feb 07, 2020 3:45 pm As the mom of a 16 month old, I share the perspective of those who say that it's an awfully big time commitment for someone about to become a father.

My husband and i played and still play tennis, which as you know happens in much smaller chunks of time than golfing does, and it's hard enough for us to keep doing that. I encourage my husband to take time for himself and he does the same for me, but neither of us would even dream to assume that meant playing golf 5 times a week. That's an insane amount of time to spend away from the house, in addition to work, with a new baby.

And seeing your net worth makes me hesitant as well. You make a lot but you haven't saved a lot yet.

I think this isn't the time for this. But of course that's just my own opinion.

Oh, and can we stop using the word "babysit?" It's called parenting, and referring to a father watching the child as "babysitting" creates a distance between father and child that shouldn't be there. If a dad must be convinced to "babysit" his own children there is something wrong.
You are free to call babysitting parenting, but I am also free to call it babysitting. See how that works? Hopefully the child won't be scarred for life.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain
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