Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

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frugalhen
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Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by frugalhen » Sun May 11, 2014 7:13 am

Hello Bogleheads:

I can't say this is a particularly important financial decision, but I wanted to bounce the situation off the community.

Dear spouse and I have agreed  to look into a country club membership. The main reasons are to enjoy golf (me), pool (wife and daughter) and a nice place to eat. We also want to expand our social circle a bit. 

My wife basically states it is time to enjoy life a bit as she is concerned we are a bit overly frugal and limiting ourselves in the fun department. Of course there are other ways to have fun but this is just one possible outlet. I have played limited golf the last 20years but really enjoy it and am pretty good at it. My daughter would love the pool and financially we figure we should just assume our dining out will be at the club. I figure it is realistically about $1k per month I should budget for. 

Here are the numbers:

One child 6 years old
No debt, mortgage paid off (but may want a bigger place since we live in a town house). 
1.65 mil in taxable and tax deferred accounts, all bogle approved index funds
$150k annual income
$25k -$30k will be set aside annually for retirement savings
We have $50k in a 529
We are both closing in on 50

Club is $8k to join
$8 k annually
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Johm221122
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Johm221122 » Sun May 11, 2014 7:17 am

As long as your saving and planning for your family's future as you are, go for it :sharebeer
John
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HardKnocker
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by HardKnocker » Sun May 11, 2014 7:18 am

Bogelhead-ism is not a religion.

You will not be excommunicated for joining a country club. :D
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hiddensee
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by hiddensee » Sun May 11, 2014 7:19 am

At that sort of price you could rather just build a pool, golf club and restaurant in your house.

However you are really buying the friends, so make sure they are worth it. I imagine there is significant variation.

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frugalhen
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by frugalhen » Sun May 11, 2014 7:21 am

HardKnocker wrote:Bogelhead-ism is not a religion.

You will not be excommunicated for joining a country club. :D

Of course, but can I do it and not feel guilty??? :?
"get out and live, you are dead an awfully long time" - Jimmy Demaret

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by jimkinny » Sun May 11, 2014 7:36 am

I would not put the cost of a country club on a credit card that I could not pay off but gosh, we only get one life. If you can save for retirement, have a plan in place and can afford to join a club, take vacations etc ... and live within your means, why not do so if you would enjoy it?

Jim

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Wagnerjb » Sun May 11, 2014 7:49 am

HardKnocker wrote:Bogelhead-ism is not a religion.

You will not be excommunicated for joining a country club. :D
I agree. To me, a Boglehead is somebody who makes intelligent financial decisions. It isn't one who is a cheapskate. Save an appropriate amount of your income, and enjoy the rest!

Best wishes.
Andy

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by livesoft » Sun May 11, 2014 7:57 am

^Yep, don't be a diehard.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by ResearchMed » Sun May 11, 2014 7:58 am

Depending upon income and total assets, what is "living beyond your means" for one person might be "living below your means" for someone else.

If joining a golf club gives your family a way to enjoy life and each other more, and - this is the important part - doesn't interfere with appropriate and safe savings for retirement, college, housing, and emergencies (including enough for long term care in the future, just in case), then... that is what the money is *for*.
And only you can decide if it is important to leave a legacy. (There is currently another thread about that, and it is definitely related to this question.)

"Living Below Your Means" doesn't mean taking an oath of poverty (although sometimes the tone on this Forum might sound a bit in that direction).

I'd put it more as "Living WITHIN Your Means", where one takes into account food, shelter, medical, education, RETIREMENT, and any legacy desires.

I don't quite understand why there is an emphasis on living "below" that level.
That emphasis sometimes causes questions about guilt when one wants to - or does - enjoy the fruits of one's labor.
Or it generates criticism if someone mentions an expensive watch or house.
(Yes, that is heresy here, to some.)

Joining a country club might be "beyond the means" of Person A, but joining several clubs might be "below the means" of Person B.
And in each case, it also depends upon what else the money is spent on.

EDIT TO ADD: We belong to zero "clubs". We have *other* ways of spending money that some here might find "frivolous", but that's what helps to keep us happy and healthy.

RM
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Aptenodytes
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Aptenodytes » Sun May 11, 2014 7:59 am

We R not Suze Orman.

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Zabar
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Zabar » Sun May 11, 2014 8:36 am

I had three immediate reactions:

1. Join. You seem to be living well within your means. You have significant liquid assets. This is something that you think will give you and your family significant pleasure. Go for it and have fun.

2. Don't be surprised if many if not most of the members have joined for other reasons (e.g., prestige) and are not in good financial shape.

3. See if there's a way to "pick up" the membership of a family that's in over their heads financially so that you can join at a discount. This may not be possible because of club rules, of course, especially if they don't have to compete with other clubs in your area. But it's a BH way to approach the situation. :happy

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LowER
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by LowER » Sun May 11, 2014 8:55 am

frugalhen wrote:
HardKnocker wrote:Bogelhead-ism is not a religion.

You will not be excommunicated for joining a country club. :D

Of course, but can I do it and not feel guilty??? :?
Join sans guilt!

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by jsandra » Sun May 11, 2014 9:32 am

DH and I recently joined a golf club. We had an earlier experience with a club before we had kids.

He enjoys it for many reasons: he loves golf and many people he knows through work (he's a physician) are members. He's gotten to know folks he otherwise only knew through phone calls and notes. And it's a nice outlet for him to vent with others about the hospital administration, etc.

I hate it for many reasons: I like golf, but club courses tend to be too difficult (and hence, frustrating) for my skill level. I work as a teacher, so I never run into people I know from work. In general, it kind of makes me feel like a snob. And of course, there's no way you can play golf/swim enough to make it a good value.

I'm giving it a second shot because the hubby likes it so much. Now that the kids are school-age they may benefit from swimming/tennis/golf lessons. And this time around I'll more likely meet people (through the kids and their activities) that I have something in common with. This has been sort of a contentious issue in our household, but it sounds like both the OP and spouse are on board. They should go for it.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by poker27 » Sun May 11, 2014 9:45 am

I don't golf, but I see how it can be worth it for a lot of people. Just don't kick yourself if you drop the 8k and want out after a year.

mhalley
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by mhalley » Sun May 11, 2014 9:47 am

Don't forget to factor in your $5000 watch when you calculate your budget.

Mike

amitb00
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by amitb00 » Sun May 11, 2014 9:58 am

Enjoy if you can afford it.
There is no point to feel guilty for things which make u happy and you can afford after taking care of other goals in life.
I will look forward to your response after you enjoy club for say 6 months.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by tainted-meat » Sun May 11, 2014 9:58 am

You can do it especially at your level of income and assets. Golf takes a lot of time, just make sure you don't get bored too soon. I wouldn't think twice about it if I really wanted to do it if I were in your position.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by nisiprius » Sun May 11, 2014 10:05 am

Read something like Bogle's The Twelve Pillars of Wisdom and see what it has to say about golf. Read it anyway because it's good, but I can tell you the answer: it says nothing about golf. Or fine watches. Or frugality. Or staying out of debt. Or not buying a bright red Mazda Miata. Or paying a vet to give your dog expensive treatment. Or not eating your broccoli when there are poor children starving for broccoli.

In Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life, Bogle mentions that he was amazed and delighted to find that Time Magazine had included him in a 2004 list of the "World's 100 Most Influential People," and that he "knew I hadn't been chosen for my golf swing (only fair)." He says "sad to say I no longer play squash, and playing golf on a grown-up golf course is now something of a stretch." He has been a golf player. Where he does it and how much he spends on it I don't know, but I expect he spends as much on it as he thinks it is worth to him.

I personally can't imagine that I could $8,000/year worth of value out of a golf club membership, but I can easily imagine that it could be a completely sensible and cost-effective purchase for someone who cares about golf. Or that it's worth a year or two's membership to find out how much you actually care about golf. Ultimately, you accumulate money in order to do something with it.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by goodenyou » Sun May 11, 2014 10:24 am

Most definitely. Categorize the investment in the asset allocation of happiness. For those of us who are avid golfers, we understand. Your tombstone doesn't have to read "Lived a good life, but wished he had saved more money."
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by livesoft » Sun May 11, 2014 10:26 am

I know it is probably not the same, but around us are many public golf courses or private courses that allow guests. There are many municipal swimming pools and YMCA pools. And there are many, many, great restaurants.

I think one can have all the benefits of a country club without joining a country club --- at least in some locations. I would at least compare the value of achieving nearly the same thing without the country club dues.
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hiddensee
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by hiddensee » Sun May 11, 2014 10:32 am

ResearchMed wrote:Depending upon income and total assets, what is "living beyond your means" for one person might be "living below your means" for someone else.

If joining a golf club gives your family a way to enjoy life and each other more, and - this is the important part - doesn't interfere with appropriate and safe savings for retirement, college, housing, and emergencies (including enough for long term care in the future, just in case), then... that is what the money is *for*.
And only you can decide if it is important to leave a legacy. (There is currently another thread about that, and it is definitely related to this question.)

"Living Below Your Means" doesn't mean taking an oath of poverty (although sometimes the tone on this Forum might sound a bit in that direction).

I'd put it more as "Living WITHIN Your Means", where one takes into account food, shelter, medical, education, RETIREMENT, and any legacy desires.

I don't quite understand why there is an emphasis on living "below" that level.
The only thing that concerns me, not being American, is whether this is the cheapest way to achieve those goals.

$8k/year prepayment plan obviously isn't the cheapest way to dine out as a family a few times a week, and if you're going to the same establishment each time, nor is it the most enjoyable or interesting. Nor is it the cheapest way to take your daughter to a swimming pool; you could probably just build one for the first year's fees.

Now maybe this is the cheapest or only way to play golf. So the question is then, does the OP like golf? Apparently so. We all have different tastes, so I can't judge whether the OP enjoys goal more than (for instance) three foreign holidays a year. That is for him to judge.

Then there's the social aspect. There are other people at the club, and they are a big draw over building a swimming pool in your house. But I know nothing about them - are they interesting, kind, sociable people? Does the OP know? This information greatly affects the value of the service he's buying.

Finally, there's the aspect of being able to say, "I am a member of a country club," which seems to be US equivalent of being member of a London Gentlemans' Club in Britain. That's the sort of thing that people can very well persuade themselves is worth a lot more than it is.

So of course, don't sit on money you don't need for retirement. But be sure to spend it in the way that will bring you the most pleasure. That might be joining a country club, but before writing a cheque for $16k it makes sense to be sure.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Hayden » Sun May 11, 2014 10:36 am

We joined a CC and have no regrets. I figure there are financial accounts and there are health accounts. Both are important. The CC supports our health through physical activity and healthful meals. I am vegetarian, and the CC is the only restaurant in my town where I can reliably get a healthful meal.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by ResearchMed » Sun May 11, 2014 10:49 am

hiddensee wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:Depending upon income and total assets, what is "living beyond your means" for one person might be "living below your means" for someone else.

If joining a golf club gives your family a way to enjoy life and each other more, and - this is the important part - doesn't interfere with appropriate and safe savings for retirement, college, housing, and emergencies (including enough for long term care in the future, just in case), then... that is what the money is *for*.
And only you can decide if it is important to leave a legacy. (There is currently another thread about that, and it is definitely related to this question.)

"Living Below Your Means" doesn't mean taking an oath of poverty (although sometimes the tone on this Forum might sound a bit in that direction).

I'd put it more as "Living WITHIN Your Means", where one takes into account food, shelter, medical, education, RETIREMENT, and any legacy desires.

I don't quite understand why there is an emphasis on living "below" that level.
The only thing that concerns me, not being American, is whether this is the cheapest way to achieve those goals.

$8k/year prepayment plan obviously isn't the cheapest way to dine out as a family a few times a week, and if you're going to the same establishment each time, nor is it the most enjoyable or interesting. Nor is it the cheapest way to take your daughter to a swimming pool; you could probably just build one for the first year's fees.

Now maybe this is the cheapest or only way to play golf. So the question is then, does the OP like golf? Apparently so. We all have different tastes, so I can't judge whether the OP enjoys goal more than (for instance) three foreign holidays a year. That is for him to judge.

Then there's the social aspect. There are other people at the club, and they are a big draw over building a swimming pool in your house. But I know nothing about them - are they interesting, kind, sociable people? Does the OP know? This information greatly affects the value of the service he's buying.

Finally, there's the aspect of being able to say, "I am a member of a country club," which seems to be US equivalent of being member of a London Gentlemans' Club in Britain. That's the sort of thing that people can very well persuade themselves is worth a lot more than it is.

So of course, don't sit on money you don't need for retirement. But be sure to spend it in the way that will bring you the most pleasure. That might be joining a country club, but before writing a cheque for $16k it makes sense to be sure.
Here it is: "...is whether this is the cheapest way to achieve those goals..."

I daresay that just about everything most of us spend money on is NOT the "cheapest way to achieve [whatever is desired]", be it meat or produce for dinner, a home, a car suitable for X people and "stuff", clothing, and... and... and...

If one is fortunate enough to have the means to purchase a lifestyle that is above bare sustenance, then how one allocates that money isn't (or shouldn't be) for others to judge so quickly (or sometimes, harshly, as in the case of the proverbial $5k watch, or even a collection of them).

If OP has all of the basics (current and future) covered, then who are we to judge whether a municipal course (in particular, the one closest to OP, not to "us") is satisfactory?
Others might (and here, they do!) say that NO golf is "called for", given the expense of the clubs, the fees, and the still-exclusive nature of almost any golf course.

Note: I played golf exactly once, in my early 20's. It wasn't my cup of tea. This isn't "my thing" at all. But it's OP's choice.
But most of us - and definitely DH and I - probably do make choices that others would "judge" somewhat or even wildly "frivolous".
As long as we are saving or have already saved "enough", then "why not"?
We'll leave much of what is "left" to charities. Why shouldn't we - and OP and others - enjoy our lives now, even if that involves "non-essentials" that each of us choose for ourselves and our loved ones?

I'll try to refrain from writing more about this, but the judgmental tone here, and sometimes the sense that we can - and should - make lifestyle decisions for others... it's not attractive...

RM (now putting on flame-resistant attire that, by the way, doesn't come cheap :twisted: )

N52570
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by N52570 » Sun May 11, 2014 11:36 am

The problem, at least from the golf side of things, speaking from experience. You get trapped into having to play the same course over, and over, and over, again and again (very boring, and rote) to make it even remotely economically worthwhile. Throw in seasonal slowdowns, course assessments, "bill at grill" minimums, etc,..$,$,$,$,$,$...Its was cheaper for me in the long run, (and more interesting, challenging, fun) to just pay as you go out of pocket and play anywhere I wanted! Or it was for me, as someone who played 3-5 times a week for a couple of decades.

Having said that, if it'll make the wife and daughter happy to hang out at the pool, or you like the idea of rubbing elbows with the local who's who, (along with the inevitable club politics) then it may be worth your while.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by placeholder » Sun May 11, 2014 11:53 am

Aptenodytes wrote:We R not Suze Orman.
Hey Suze has approved people to join golf clubs as long as their financials support it.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by hiddensee » Sun May 11, 2014 12:04 pm

ResearchMed wrote:Here it is: "...is whether this is the cheapest way to achieve those goals..."

I daresay that just about everything most of us spend money on is NOT the "cheapest way to achieve [whatever is desired]", be it meat or produce for dinner, a home, a car suitable for X people and "stuff", clothing, and... and... and...

If one is fortunate enough to have the means to purchase a lifestyle that is above bare sustenance, then how one allocates that money isn't (or shouldn't be) for others to judge so quickly (or sometimes, harshly, as in the case of the proverbial $5k watch, or even a collection of them).

If OP has all of the basics (current and future) covered, then who are we to judge whether a municipal course (in particular, the one closest to OP, not to "us") is satisfactory?
Others might (and here, they do!) say that NO golf is "called for", given the expense of the clubs, the fees, and the still-exclusive nature of almost any golf course.

Note: I played golf exactly once, in my early 20's. It wasn't my cup of tea. This isn't "my thing" at all. But it's OP's choice.
But most of us - and definitely DH and I - probably do make choices that others would "judge" somewhat or even wildly "frivolous".
As long as we are saving or have already saved "enough", then "why not"?
We'll leave much of what is "left" to charities. Why shouldn't we - and OP and others - enjoy our lives now, even if that involves "non-essentials" that each of us choose for ourselves and our loved ones?

I'll try to refrain from writing more about this, but the judgmental tone here, and sometimes the sense that we can - and should - make lifestyle decisions for others... it's not attractive...

RM (now putting on flame-resistant attire that, by the way, doesn't come cheap :twisted: )
I don't think that seeking value for money becomes unimportant after bare subsistence in satisfied.

Note that I am not saying "The OP should not spend $8k/year on having fun". I am asking, "Is this the most fun the OP can buy for $8k/year?".

I agree that depends on the OP's own tastes and preferences. I am merely suggesting some questions that the OP could ask himself, and the others involved in the decision.
Last edited by hiddensee on Sun May 11, 2014 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by tim1999 » Sun May 11, 2014 12:04 pm

I will make a few points as a self-described "golfaholic" who joined a club immediately after graduating college, has been at one ever since, and has played at least 80 rounds per year since then. 125 rounds was my record in 2006.

-Make sure you understand the maximum financial exposure of joining the club. "8k" may be just the dues or all in, but make sure you understand extra charges like food minimums, capital assessments, operating assessments, cart fees, walking fees, guest fees for your buddies, on and on and on. Just so you don't get surprised if you end up spending $12k the first year (like you are budgeting for in your post) if the dues aren't all inclusive.
-Make sure you have looked into the general financial health of the club and the operating setup. Is it owned by a company or by the members? Are members liable for assessments or no? Can you resign anytime or must they resell your membership for you to get out? Are they hurting for members? The club business isn't doing well right now. As the number of members in a club declines, the few members there are to divide the fixed costs among, therefore fees must go up.
-My time is valuable to me, and I am very impatient. There is NO WAY I can deal with a 4.5+ hour round on the local public courses without going ballistic. I prefer to play my club at off-peak times where I can get around in less than 3 hours, or less than 4 hours if playing with friends. Where I live it is virtually impossible to play after work during the week at a public course, they are all jammed up with slow moving league players. Therefore to play after work I pretty much had to join a club. If you value your time similarly, the club may be for you.
-Many clubs have "reciprocal" agreements with other clubs so you can try out other private courses for a change of scenery.
-The "snobitorium" factor depends on the specific club. Mine is pretty laid back. You can find everything from a 20 year old Civic to a new Mercedes S550 in the member parking lot. Everyone from retired teachers to C-level execs, and all get along pretty well. Unfortunately this "factor" can be hard to determine until you're in, unless you can get some local word of mouth.

Bottom line, if you are going to play more golf for certain, and your family will enjoy the other aspects as you said, then go for it.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by nisiprius » Sun May 11, 2014 12:27 pm

livesoft wrote:...I know it is probably not the same, but around us are many public golf courses or private courses that allow guests...
I hadn't known it, but I was surprised to learn a few years ago that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been an avid golfer before contracting polio, and part of his legacy was to popularize the sport in the United States... in part by personal example, but in part by having the Works Project Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) build some 300 public golf courses. I remember seeing a municipal golf course somewhere with a rather strange-looking-to-me, somewhat rustic-looking stone building, that turned out to have been a CCC project.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by ResearchMed » Sun May 11, 2014 12:34 pm

hiddensee wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:Here it is: "...is whether this is the cheapest way to achieve those goals..."

I daresay that just about everything most of us spend money on is NOT the "cheapest way to achieve [whatever is desired]", be it meat or produce for dinner, a home, a car suitable for X people and "stuff", clothing, and... and... and...

If one is fortunate enough to have the means to purchase a lifestyle that is above bare sustenance, then how one allocates that money isn't (or shouldn't be) for others to judge so quickly (or sometimes, harshly, as in the case of the proverbial $5k watch, or even a collection of them).

If OP has all of the basics (current and future) covered, then who are we to judge whether a municipal course (in particular, the one closest to OP, not to "us") is satisfactory?
Others might (and here, they do!) say that NO golf is "called for", given the expense of the clubs, the fees, and the still-exclusive nature of almost any golf course.

Note: I played golf exactly once, in my early 20's. It wasn't my cup of tea. This isn't "my thing" at all. But it's OP's choice.
But most of us - and definitely DH and I - probably do make choices that others would "judge" somewhat or even wildly "frivolous".
As long as we are saving or have already saved "enough", then "why not"?
We'll leave much of what is "left" to charities. Why shouldn't we - and OP and others - enjoy our lives now, even if that involves "non-essentials" that each of us choose for ourselves and our loved ones?

I'll try to refrain from writing more about this, but the judgmental tone here, and sometimes the sense that we can - and should - make lifestyle decisions for others... it's not attractive...

RM (now putting on flame-resistant attire that, by the way, doesn't come cheap :twisted: )
I don't think that seeking value for money becomes unimportant after bare subsistence in satisfied.

Note that I am not saying "The OP should not spend $8k/year on having fun". I am asking, "Is this the most fun the OP can buy for $8k/year?".

I agree that depends on the OP's own tastes and preferences. I am merely suggesting some questions that the OP could ask himself, and the others involved in the decision.
Perhaps it is just semantics?

I absolutely agree that "value" is important. But that's often quite different from "the cheapest".
Sometimes what seems to be "cheapest" ends up costing a surprising amount, because it breaks, isn't quite what one wanted/expected, etc.
And sometimes the "cheapest" fits the bill perfectly.

RM

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Taylor Larimore
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Clubs

Post by Taylor Larimore » Sun May 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Bogleheads:

This quote by Groucho Marx is good for a laugh:
I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.
Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun May 11, 2014 12:41 pm

placeholder wrote:
Aptenodytes wrote:We R not Suze Orman.
Hey Suze has approved people to join golf clubs as long as their financials support it.
Girlfriend, you are APPROVED!!! :mrgreen:
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Re: Clubs

Post by goodenyou » Sun May 11, 2014 12:45 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:Bogleheads:

This quote by Groucho Marx is good for a laugh:
I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.
Best wishes.
Taylor
He was divorced three times too...no wonder.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" | "The best years you have left are the ones you have right now"

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by freddie » Sun May 11, 2014 1:05 pm

It all depends on where you live and what your joining. The club in my old place was 300/month with 0 initiation. I got my monies worth. Golf 6/monthx40 bucks + 80 month for practice + 32+ pool for 4 months (call it 30 month)+ gym 30 month made it a win. And that is ignoring the lifesytle advantage of being able to play a round in 3 hours versus 4 which is pretty priceless. The current place on the other hand is a financial loss as it was 2x as much per month and you had to put 25k down and can't golf much for 3 months of the year. It is a lifestyle advantage (i.e. rounds play 30-45 mins quicker and it is 5 mins closer to the pool. 10 mins of driving 5x week during the summer is worth something.).

Yeah you play the same course a ton but most places have some exchanges with other local clubs. And the snob level differs greatly between places. Some are about golf. Some have golf as second or 3rd on their list. Pick which one suits your personality.
livesoft wrote:I know it is probably not the same, but around us are many public golf courses or private courses that allow guests. There are many municipal swimming pools and YMCA pools. And there are many, many, great restaurants.

I think one can have all the benefits of a country club without joining a country club --- at least in some locations. I would at least compare the value of achieving nearly the same thing without the country club dues.

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Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by shawcroft » Sun May 11, 2014 1:06 pm

Frugalhen:
Being a Boglehead isn't equivalent to living in a cave.......though I would probably do that if I hadn't married and gotten my wife accustomed to living in a house. If you can afford it and will fully utilize all the features of the club membership, enjoy!

Remember, golf (as Mark Twain is reported to have said) is a good afternoon's walk ruined.

I didn't become a member of the local golf club because of the upfront cost to join or the annual membership fee. Those I could manage. What I couldn't afford was the cost of the numerous golf balls I would lose each time I attempted to play.
Shawcroft

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by DFWinvestor » Sun May 11, 2014 2:36 pm

You have a paid for home and net worth I'm guessing over $2 million. Join the club and enjoy yourself!

I haven't yet joined a club but if wife and I have kids I would imagine we will eventually. It's a good outlet for kids. Most clubs I would imagine have kid's camps in the summer, opportunities to learn to play tennis and golf, a swimming pool with other kids around.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Erwin » Sun May 11, 2014 3:06 pm

frugalhen wrote:Hello Bogleheads:

I can't say this is a particularly important financial decision, but I wanted to bounce the situation off the community.

Dear spouse and I have agreed  to look into a country club membership. The main reasons are to enjoy golf (me), pool (wife and daughter) and a nice place to eat. We also want to expand our social circle a bit. 

My wife basically states it is time to enjoy life a bit as she is concerned we are a bit overly frugal and limiting ourselves in the fun department. Of course there are other ways to have fun but this is just one possible outlet. I have played limited golf the last 20years but really enjoy it and am pretty good at it. My daughter would love the pool and financially we figure we should just assume our dining out will be at the club. I figure it is realistically about $1k per month I should budget for. 

Here are the numbers:

One child 6 years old
No debt, mortgage paid off (but may want a bigger place since we live in a town house). 
1.65 mil in taxable and tax deferred accounts, all bogle approved index funds
$150k annual income
$25k -$30k will be set aside annually for retirement savings
We have $50k in a 529
We are both closing in on 50

Club is $8k to join
$8 k annually
You must be joking! Bogleheads is NOT a cult, just a bunch of people with a strong believe in an investment approach. If golf is your thing, DO enjoy yourself!
Erwin

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by frugalhen » Sun May 11, 2014 3:13 pm

mpt follower wrote:
frugalhen wrote:Hello Bogleheads:

I can't say this is a particularly important financial decision, but I wanted to bounce the situation off the community.

Dear spouse and I have agreed  to look into a country club membership. The main reasons are to enjoy golf (me), pool (wife and daughter) and a nice place to eat. We also want to expand our social circle a bit. 

My wife basically states it is time to enjoy life a bit as she is concerned we are a bit overly frugal and limiting ourselves in the fun department. Of course there are other ways to have fun but this is just one possible outlet. I have played limited golf the last 20years but really enjoy it and am pretty good at it. My daughter would love the pool and financially we figure we should just assume our dining out will be at the club. I figure it is realistically about $1k per month I should budget for. 

Here are the numbers:

One child 6 years old
No debt, mortgage paid off (but may want a bigger place since we live in a town house). 
1.65 mil in taxable and tax deferred accounts, all bogle approved index funds
$150k annual income
$25k -$30k will be set aside annually for retirement savings
We have $50k in a 529
We are both closing in on 50

Club is $8k to join
$8 k annually
You must be joking! Bogleheads is NOT a cult, just a bunch of people with a strong believe in an investment approach. If golf is your thing, DO enjoy yourself!
wow ! I must say I am surprised by all the reactions. Maybe a more appropriate question would have been, can we do this and be financially sound?
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by nisiprius » Sun May 11, 2014 5:13 pm

frugalhen wrote:...I figure it is realistically about $1k per month I should budget for....
...$150k annual income...
Club is $8k to join
$8 k annually
frugalhen wrote:...Maybe a more appropriate question would have been, can we do this and be financially sound?...
There's no way to answer that. It all depends on everything else. You say you have $150K annual income and you are proposing to spend $1k/month = $12,000/year = 8% of your income on golf. Obviously, that's a lot. A whole lot. But, just as obviously, back about, let me see, twelve years ago, I had to take a 10% pay cut. Of course that cut taxes etc. too, but still. A 10% pay cut was noticeable, but it didn't sink us.

The question is: where is the money going to come from? It's all one big balancing act. Can you cut $12,000 a year in expenses you are paying now for things you can do without? Probably not, but you can cut some. You say you plan to save $25K to $30K "will" be set aside (what are you doing now?) That's 16.7% to 20% of your salary. So, if you join the golf club then maybe you will only be able to save 16.7% instead of 20%. Obviously you will have more at retirement if you save 20% than if you save 16.7%, but it would be difficult to say that 20% will be luxurious and 16.7% intolerable.

The real question is how important this is to you and to your family, traded off against other things. You have somehow got to come to grip with the tradeoffs. If you spend 8% of your before-tax income on a golf club, you will have less to spend on other things; what, exactly, are you going to do about that?

One good thing. I assume it works this way but never having belonged to such a club I don't know. After the membership fee it is just an annual expense. It is known, and you can cut it out at any time. It maybe intensely painful psychologically if you are used to it and like it and see it as part of your identify, but financially you just quit and the expense goes away. You are not stuck with paying taxes on something, or being forced to sell it into an illiquid market, or letting an insurance policy lapse.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by ryk1861 » Sun May 11, 2014 5:34 pm

If you can afford it and would enjoy it, go for it!

Life is more than staying home and corroborating with others on how best to pinch pennies. :beer

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by JDaniels » Sun May 11, 2014 5:55 pm

To me, a Boglehead is someone who is smart with their money. Not someone who is a miser with it. As far as answering the question if the golf club is worth 8k, honestly, only you can do that. It would be different for each person. Ask yourself this, would joining the golf club give you 8k worth of pleasure? The answer to that question if your answer.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by J295 » Sun May 11, 2014 6:12 pm

For us, being members of a golf club for nearly 20 years has been a very good fit. Most clubs have their own "personalities," and this one is right for us. Best wishes.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by LH » Mon May 12, 2014 12:37 am

frugalhen wrote: I I have played limited golf the last 20years but really enjoy it and am pretty good at it.
Thats quite the trick.

Anyway, on to the main point:

Yeah, read Your money or your life, its a great book that hits on this type of question. I bought an earlier version that did not go so heavy into the "green" stuff, but if you like that, get the newest version.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Money-Life-T ... 0143115766

I think thats the newest version.

The important thing is, that you make the decision knowingly, which it sounds like you are.

So whatever you choose to do, will be right for you : )

Everything is a tradeoff. Again, read the book, it addresses head on the question you are asking

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by lululu » Mon May 12, 2014 1:05 am

hiddensee wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:Depending upon income and total assets, what is "living beyond your means" for one person might be "living below your means" for someone else.

If joining a golf club gives your family a way to enjoy life and each other more, and - this is the important part - doesn't interfere with appropriate and safe savings for retirement, college, housing, and emergencies (including enough for long term care in the future, just in case), then... that is what the money is *for*.
And only you can decide if it is important to leave a legacy. (There is currently another thread about that, and it is definitely related to this question.)

"Living Below Your Means" doesn't mean taking an oath of poverty (although sometimes the tone on this Forum might sound a bit in that direction).

I'd put it more as "Living WITHIN Your Means", where one takes into account food, shelter, medical, education, RETIREMENT, and any legacy desires.

I don't quite understand why there is an emphasis on living "below" that level.
The only thing that concerns me, not being American, is whether this is the cheapest way to achieve those goals.

$8k/year prepayment plan obviously isn't the cheapest way to dine out as a family a few times a week, and if you're going to the same establishment each time, nor is it the most enjoyable or interesting. Nor is it the cheapest way to take your daughter to a swimming pool; you could probably just build one for the first year's fees.

Now maybe this is the cheapest or only way to play golf. So the question is then, does the OP like golf? Apparently so. We all have different tastes, so I can't judge whether the OP enjoys goal more than (for instance) three foreign holidays a year. That is for him to judge.

Then there's the social aspect. There are other people at the club, and they are a big draw over building a swimming pool in your house. But I know nothing about them - are they interesting, kind, sociable people? Does the OP know? This information greatly affects the value of the service he's buying.

Finally, there's the aspect of being able to say, "I am a member of a country club," which seems to be US equivalent of being member of a London Gentlemans' Club in Britain. That's the sort of thing that people can very well persuade themselves is worth a lot more than it is.

So of course, don't sit on money you don't need for retirement. But be sure to spend it in the way that will bring you the most pleasure. That might be joining a country club, but before writing a cheque for $16k it makes sense to be sure.
It sounds like the OP is considering this primarily to acquire friends, given that there are other ways to golf, etc. and those ways have the benefit of diversity (more restaurants and so on.) The question for me is, does he want the CC people as friends, or is his family likely to find more compatible friends in other groups not costing $8K a year.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by EnjoyIt » Mon May 12, 2014 2:13 am

We can not answer your questions with the minimal information provided.

Have you done a budget? Have you decided what you need to retire and when?
After you pay off yourself (retirement savings,) and pay your bills, then you can afford to spend whatever is left on whatever you want.

There is nothing else to discuss here.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Pacific » Mon May 12, 2014 2:24 am

frugalhen, to me this is a slam dunk -- join.

The $8K to join and $8K per year isn't the expensive part -- it is the price of all the darn lost golf balls that adds up.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by IlliniDave » Mon May 12, 2014 4:49 am

Is this a trick question? Obviously your family can afford to drop $8K/yr on recreation. You seem to have all your financial bases covered. If you feel being in the country club is worth the cost of admission, then no real reason not to.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by HardKnocker » Mon May 12, 2014 6:19 am

Cherokee8215 wrote:I will make a few points as a self-described "golfaholic" who joined a club immediately after graduating college, has been at one ever since, and has played at least 80 rounds per year since then. 125 rounds was my record in 2006.

-Make sure you understand the maximum financial exposure of joining the club. "8k" may be just the dues or all in, but make sure you understand extra charges like food minimums, capital assessments, operating assessments, cart fees, walking fees, guest fees for your buddies, on and on and on. Just so you don't get surprised if you end up spending $12k the first year (like you are budgeting for in your post) if the dues aren't all inclusive.
-Make sure you have looked into the general financial health of the club and the operating setup. Is it owned by a company or by the members? Are members liable for assessments or no? Can you resign anytime or must they resell your membership for you to get out? Are they hurting for members? The club business isn't doing well right now.
Very good points. All this money is after tax so you have to earn about 30% more to pay for it. $12,000 after tax is about $15,000 of wages.

A relative of mine belonged to a very nice CC for many years. Although his greens fees were included he still had to pay cart fees, guest fees, driving range fees, monthly restaurant/bar minimum (whether he went or not was like $200/mo), attending member functions, etc. It adds up.

As mentioned, many CCs are really hurting for members nowadays and making concessions to attract new members. Consider bargaining for your initiation fees/dues.
Last edited by HardKnocker on Mon May 12, 2014 6:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by Flashes1 » Mon May 12, 2014 6:20 am

FYI: John Bogle belongs to one of the most elite golf clubs in the country. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for one of us.

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by HardKnocker » Mon May 12, 2014 6:26 am

Flashes1 wrote:FYI: John Bogle belongs to one of the most elite golf clubs in the country. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for one of us.
The difference is Bogle is worth a few hundred million. :D
“Gold gets dug out of the ground, then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility.”--Warren Buffett

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Re: Can I be a boglehead and join a golf club?

Post by dabretty » Mon May 12, 2014 10:52 am

I think what I love most about periodically reading this website is the group discussions on topics like this!

Frugalhen - I particularly enjoy your question because my family is similar to yours about 15 years behind you (we're in our early thirties), with assets on a similar growth trajectory (conservatively), and very similar interests. We actually bought our house inside a gated community attached to a country club two years ago, became "non-golfing/social" members a year ago, and are now likely about to join the golfing membership level. This CC/area is decidedly inexpensive, however, with no buy-in (they've been "waiving" it for 15 years I've heard) and annual dues for the family at $1,680/yr for the social. If we go to the golf level, it'll bump up - but, thanks to a "junior executive" rate - the whole family will be golfing for $2,400/yr. Yeah, absurdly cheap I know.

Anyways, what I would tell you is that it's by far the best pool in town and keeps my wife very, very happy. (I like to vacation to mountains, she likes to head to the beach ... so this is right up her alley) Our son (two years old) enjoys it as well. Private pools like this often allow a lot of stuff that the public ones don't - inflatable kid toys and balls in the pool, and a snack bar that happens to serve cold beer and wine. As others have mentioned, the clientele is not always the best (a lot of "fake" people that clearly are all image) but we have met a lot of people with similar backgrounds as us (I'm an engineer, my wife is a PA).

My vote - absolutely, go ahead and enjoy this! We have no regrets here.

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