Buy One Get One

I went perusing through the mall for deeply discounted items, right after the new year started. It’s commonly known that retail stores eliminate inventory and old styles after people have spent excessive amounts of money on holiday gifts. I was lucky enough to get two pairs of jeans BOGO for $18, but the real savings started after I completed my purchase. 

I walked out of the store (not naming since they aren’t paying for space on this site) and a gentleman stopped me, advertising for a commonly known timeshare company. The guy was able to lure me in with the promise of a free cruise and $75 in cash. In exchange, I would agree to pay $25 in taxes for a 2-night hotel stay in Orlando and attend a 2-hr. sales presentation. I already planned to take another cruise this year, so I delightfully agreed to the terms of the deal so that I could get my cruise certificate. I just began to practice saying “no,” in response to the inevitable sales pitch. 

Pause. A timeshare is the purchase of shared ownership to resort-style vacation properties. Owners pay anywhere from $8,000 to $75,000 for a set of travel points or a specific number of travel days in a year that renews annually. After the package is purchased or paid-off(financing) the points reset every year without additional expenses, but you’re still required to pay annual maintenance fees. A maintenance fee is pretty similar to a Homeowners Association (HOA ) fee. 

I arrived at the preview center for the timeshare and braced myself for a boring sales presentation and an aggressive salesperson. To my surprise, the presentation was engaging and the presenter, a former America’s Got Talen contestant, made me laugh a few times. In truth, I learned and agreed with how the savings could stack-up for families. After about an hour, my “coordinator” greeted me for a tour of two model rooms. 

We returned to the preview center, and I was approached by a sales lead – I’ll call him Homer. I explain to Homer that I’m single with no kids and only travel once a year. (SN: Traveling is a lot of work for me. The packing, planning and last-minute expenses annoy me. Plus, I live in Atlanta, there’s plenty of things for me to do during a STAYcation.) I also told Homer that I needed to see a fee schedule before I could make a decision.  Homer talked for a little bit longer, before fetching a fee schedule that presented 20,000 points at a retail price of $75,000. Ummm no. He pointed to a “first-timer discount” that sold the same 20,000 points at $48,000. Still no, and Homer already knew I wasn’t going to fly with that. After all, I just came to get my “free” cruise. Homer then came back with a good deal, 3,000 points for $8,000 + $650 annual maintenance fee.

So, I don’t enjoy going to random cities and just exploring the city. I prefer cruising because cruises provide a one-stop-shop experience and fee; cruise to a spot, explore and come back to the ship with other vacationing people. My “No” became a, “Actually, that’s an excellent deal” because this company offers an opportunity for owners to use their points for cruises and 3,000 points could equate up to 3 cruises per year. I was a signature away from being a new time-share owner until I stopped to “count up the cost”. Realistically, I wouldn’t be able to take three cruises in a year based on my vacation time restrictions, and I frequently don’t feel like leaving Atlanta. I would be wasting all of my savings if I purchased this timeshare, even though it was a fantastic deal because I wouldn’t maximize the number of cruises I could take. 

Would I recommend a timeshare to other people?. . It depends. Our lifestyles, family dynamics, and cash flows differ so much that it’s inappropriate to “cookie-cutter” this vacation solution to anyone, but I believe that there is value for families of 3 or more who vacation at least twice a year. Here are some questions to ask yourself before exploring timeshare purchases. 

o    How often do you like to vacation?

o    Can you afford to pay for travel (flights or driving) that many times per year?

o    Can you afford the misc expenses that aren’t covered? i.e., Food, park tickets, entertainment, etc.? 

o    Are you able to afford maintenance fees & membership dues for the rest of your life?

o    Will you still have to pay out of pocket to travel during “prime” travel seasons?

o    Do you and your partner or family have the work flexibility to schedule vacation time together?

o    Would you be willing to sell unused points/vacation time?

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