I live in northern Minnesota where fishing and exploring the great outdoors is a huge part of the culture.
Each year we dutifully buy our fishing licenses so that we can legally fish the 10,000+ lakes of Minnesota.
After all, you can give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but you can teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
The state of Minnesota offers lifetime fishing licenses (among others) – meaning you pay one big chunk of money and never have to pay again for the rest of your life. The idea intrigued me, so I took a closer look to see what the benefits would be.
The biggest perk to the lifetime fishing license is that it is good for your entire life – regardless of where you live. So if I were to buy the lifetime license and later move to California, I could still fish legally when I came back to visit relatives in Minnesota without having to purchase a more expensive short-term, non-resident license.
But unfortunately, you still have to “renew” the license each year – no fees, mind you – but you still have to go through the hassle of annual paperwork. And unlike the annual licenses, there is no option for a husband and wife license. Each of you would need to purchase an individual lifetime license.
So, like any good money-saver, I did the math on whether or not a lifetime fishing license made sense for me and my husband (I’m 35 and he’s 30).
If we were to get a combined husband/wife fishing license each year for the next 40 years of our lives, based on the current rates, we would spend a total of $1,000. This, of course, does not take into consideration that the annual license fee can (and probably will) increase over time. A lifetime license for both of us would cost $766.
My next consideration was the kids. They don’t even need a fishing license in Minnesota until they turn 16 years old, but the younger you are when you get a lifetime license the cheaper it is. If we bought our 5-year old a lifetime license right now, he would save at least $703 over the course of his lifetime. Our twin 3-year olds would each save a minimum of $766 with a lifetime fishing license.
So from a money standpoint, if you really enjoy fishing, the lifetime license is a good deal. But there are so many unknowns, that I’m not sure this expense would be a smart choice for our family.
While we love to eat fish, we don’t get out on the lake as much as we’d like. How much would we actually fish? Who knows what our health will be like in 15, 20 or 40 years?
A lifetime is a long time, and for all we know, the state of Minnesota could make a lot of changes to the whole licensing system.
In addition, our children may not like to go fishing when their older, or they may even leave the state and rarely come back (gasp!).
And then there’s the whole apocalyptic idea that during their lifetime our environment could get so bad it wouldn’t be safe to eat the fish anymore (okay, that’s unlikely, but still).
In the end, I think our kids would be better served by us tucking away the money we would’ve spent on lifetime fishing licenses into interest-bearing savings accounts that they could use toward their college education.
What do you think? Would you consider a lifetime fishing license?