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Personal Budget Management: Buying a Timeshare

The following article is one example of our take on one of issues we care a lot about here at Mint, including: personal finance and debt management, etc.

I took advantage of one of those vacation packages offered by a timeshare company. Personal budget management is easier with a free vacation. I had just finished my first year of work and was looking forward to a nice week off. The package included a 2 day stay in Fort Lauderdale, a 3 day cruise, and a 2 day stay in Orlando. I had never been on one of these trips and I had no idea what to expect. I was excited to get away from New York for a while.

On the second day of our arrival, we were loaded on a bus to view one of the properties. It looked nice enough, but I wasn’t really interested in a timeshare at all. During the “sell”, they presented me with various facts and figures in regards to vacation inflation and how I could protect myself if I bought a timeshare now. Not only would I be protecting myself, they said, but I could “bank” my week and vacation almost anywhere else in the world. For one reason or another, I got duped into buying one. They even made me feel better for picking a $14,400 unit as opposed to a $16,900 unit. Whoopdidoo!

My home budget was in for a shock. The interest on the loan was 19.99% and they would bill my credit card — which had already had a balance on it! The monthly amount charged on the card was about $260. I thought that charge was the end of my financial commitment. I was wrong, though: towards the end of the year, I received a bill to pay for real estate taxes as well as maintenance fees, which seemed to have increased every year. My last bill was over $600. Not only that, but today if I want to bank my week and use it someplace else, I have to be a member of a vacation exchange company which has annual fees all unto itself. I also have to plan my vacation nearly a year in advance if I want to go to any remotely popular location.

I’ve paid off the loan (and my credit card) but I am trying to get out of my timeshare. Little did I realize that timeshares are a heavy buyer’s market. My timeshare has been sitting listed at about $4500 and I’m thinking about reducing it again. Next time I take advantage of a “timeshare” marketing ad, I’ll make sure to pass on the sales pitch and most likely will pitch the offer in the garbage.

Mint’s Take Away:

Timeshares are a form of vacation property ownership where the use and costs of running the resort are shared among owners. They can be a suitable purchase for some people and a very poor purchasing decision for many people. It is definitely a purchase consumers should take extra care in, as it can easily be a long term financial commitment! In the story below, our train wreck submitter shares their experiences on buying a timeshare.

Purchasing a timeshare — as with many financial decisions — should require an in-depth research before commitment. If you solely rely on the timeshare salesman’s pitch, you will surely be doing yourself a disservice.

Additional Resources:

  • The Pros and Cons of Owning a Timeshare from AskMen.com
  • Timeshare Pros and Cons at Redweek.com

Train Wreck Tuesdays are a weekly post of horrible financial mistakes. They are posted anonymously. Submit your story; if you’re selected, you get a free personal finance book. The best comment gets the same prize! Check out past Train Wreck stories.