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Timeshares: How To Buy and Mistakes to Avoid

Updated on January 16, 2014

The Tactic

Timeshares are known for a way to get a weekend get-away at a dirt cheap price. My wife and I have taken several 3 or 4 night excursions for $99.00 at very nice facilities with only the obligation of sitting through a 90 minute presentation.

It has never been a problem because I don't have an issue saying, "No!" But what you have to understand is that the whole process is about emotions. They get you to take a vacation at a very nice facility. You are enjoying yourself and then they talk about a lifestyle of being able to travel, make memories, and do what is important in life.

There is nothing wrong with any of this, except anytime you make a decision when you are in a high emotional state, you will probably make a mistake.

The first rule of buying and the first way to NOT make a mistake is to not get caught up in the emotional euphoria that has been created around you.

Buying a timeshare is a math decision not a memory decision. It is only good if it benefits you. I've talked with people who have spent tens of thousands of dollars and then spend huge amounts in maintenance fees for timeshares they can't use. Why would they have them? Because at the moment when the presentation was given to them they were caught up in a euphoric high that cost them dearly.

In this HUB I am going to show you have to make a good decision and how to save money. The first order of business is to not get caught up in the emotions! Why do I say this so many times? Because you are going to get caught up in the emotions no matter what I say, but you have to bring it into the realm of reality and look at the math.

My Story

I have, for most of my life, been the most anti-timeshare person you would ever meet. I would tell you that a timeshare is stupid, stupid, stupid. I would say things like, do you know how many vacations you could take for $20,0000? Don't limit yourself to be tied into one way of travel!

Now, I can say, "I'm a timeshare owner!" Why the change of decision? We recently signed up for four day / three night excursion to a coastal area a couple of hours from our home. It was a very enjoyable get-away and it is located at an area that we enjoy going to.

I tend to be a workaholic. I am not big on taking vacations, but do to the type of work I do I get to travel a lot. Therefore, the majority of our get-aways is taking on 2-3 days to a business trip and enjoy the sites of the area. So what ends up happening is that we have a couple days of events or site-seeing, but no real down time.

So as my wife and I sat and considered the options of this timeshare I realized that if I took the minimum level, which would cost me about $10,500.00 we could get away from home 3-4 times per year for 2-3 days each at a place that we really enjoy.

To come to this place and book a room one will pay $200-$500 per night depending on the time of year. Therefore, to stay three nights you will easily drop $1,000 or more, especially when you consider eating out and other costs. I am not one to spend that much money to get away for a couple days.

I knew if I purchased this that I would take the time to get away and for health reason I need to have some down time even though I typically will still work. Therefore, we purchased the timeshare and we have been using it with joy. I have never regretted making this purchase. In fact, I have a spreadsheet where I calculate how much I saved had I paid for a hotel each time I go. I've calculated that I will break even on the cost with five years.

On our last excursion we sat through an "update" session (to get a $100 Visa card). It was for them to make sure we are getting the most out of our ownership. Really it's a session to try to get a person to upgrade. I was amazed at the prices they were charging now. The lowest upgrade was $40,000 plus maintenance fees. Wow! I did not upgrade.

If a person made 5% on their $40K they would earn $2,000 per year. Since we don't take one week vacations, I could do a lot more of what I wanted with just the interest and retain my capital. What I am doing here is showing you that this is a math decision not an emotional decision.

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Mistakes People Make

In my opinion there are basically three major mistakes that people make when considering a timeshare. I've already covered one, which is making an emotional decision. This could actually be the most costly one.

The second is that they don't mathematically consider the maintenance fees. This fee is a lifetime fee. It's like Christmas it is going to come every year, therefore you have to budget it into your living expense. What most people think is that since we spend money on vacation, we'll just put that money toward our maintenance fee and we can go on vacation for free. In the end it will all wash out!

Here's the problem with that thinking. Do you go on vacation when money is tight? The answer is no! But the maintenance fee is due whether money is tight or not, whether you use your time or not, and the collectors for timeshares are not real easy to work with.

Many think, well if we can't afford it we'll just turn it back in. Good luck! These companies are created to sell timeshares not buy them. You will be stuck with this in good times and bad. Can you afford the lifelong maintenance fees. Consider the selling point about "something you can leave as an inheritance." Do your heirs want the maintenance fee? Because when you leave it to them you are leaving them an annual bill. So don't get so excited about being an "owner" of something you can leave behind.

The third major mistake is getting a timeshare in an exotic location far far away. Far away in an exotic location can be a very nice vacation, but you still have to get there. Can you afford the travel, every year, to get to your exotic location? The reason my timeshare works is because it is 2-3 hours from my home depending on traffic, the area looks and feels totally different than our home area, and it is a place we enjoy going. Therefore, it is very usable to us. We do not use ours for "vacation" we use it for down time. We use no other properties in the company, we only use this one and mathematically we worked it out so that we will break even in a short period of time.

I was talking to an individual recently who told me about a timeshare they own in Mexico! Mexico? That requires an airplane and a passport! Having said that I know another person who owns a timeshare in Mexico and they use it one to two times per year, but the thing is, they make the kind of money that an airplane ticket is no problem.

The final side point in this is that a timeshare is NOT an investment! Investments make you money and you will make no money with a timeshare. Timeshares can save you money if set up properly. As I've stated I will break even within five years, therefore after five years I will actually be saving money doing something I need to do, but that I wouldn't do had I not purchased this. Timeshare ownership does not go up in value it only goes up in cost at the retail level. Even though you get a deed that deed is worthless other than the value of use.

Don't make these common mistakes!


  • Timeshares are not an investment
  • The resell value is basically nothing
  • Maintenance fees are a lifetime event
  • Keep your emotions in check
  • Do the math

How to Save Money

Timeshares are expensive and there are a ton of people who want out. Therefore, why buy retail? I told you that I initially bought for $10,500 and on a subsequent visit they offered me an upgrade for $40K. I declined the upgrade but then started thinking about how an upgrade could benefit me. Therefore, I started watching eBay for timeshares that were the same as what I currently own.

It took me 48 hours for a listing to show up and I was able to more than double what I am able to use for a whopping $53.00! That's not a typo...I paid $10,500 for one level and I purchased a better additional deed for an additional $53.00! I've doubled my maintenance fees, but that's not a problem as I have mathematically figured that one out also.

If you want to buy a timeshare, find the company you would like to own with. Maybe sit through one of their presentation and get a free TV, Visa gift card, or a weekend get-away. Ask a bunch of questions so you know how the timeshare works. Then, with patience, look on eBay and find that same program for sale and get it at a major fraction of the cost.

There are many timeshare re-sellers out there. Many are legitimate and some are scams. The reason I recommend doing this on eBay is because of their rating system. The company I bought through had nearly 1,000 eBay sells with a nearly 100% positive rating. This gave me the confidence to move forward.

Happy Vacationing!

© 2014 The Rising Glory


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    • The Rising Glory profile imageAUTHOR

      The Rising Glory 

      4 years ago from California

      @RachaelOhalloran - thanks for commenting the only thing I would have to address is the use of "investment." A timeshare is not an investment its a liability as it does not return any financial gain. Having said that, it may have been the greatest purchase you've made. We've really enjoyed ours!

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 

      4 years ago from United States

      I started to write a comment and it became so lengthy it is now on the drawing board for my next hub. Just wanted to let you know I have owned a timeshare since 1981 and it was the best investment I ever made for vacations. Voted up and shared.

    • The Rising Glory profile imageAUTHOR

      The Rising Glory 

      4 years ago from California

      @breakfastpop - thanks for the feedback. Things are changing a lot in the industry and that is an area that people need to be mindful of.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      4 years ago

      M husband and I owned 2 timeshares in St. Martin. We spent 2 weeks there for 20 years and enjoyed every moment, Our places were considered to be the nicest on the island. The maintenance fees were reasonable and the properties held up beautifully. Having said that, I believe the age of the timeshare is over. We gave ours back last year because things started to change. We never considered our purchase to be an investment. Instead, we thought of it as a guarantee that we would take time to enjoy some time off.


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