Monday, January 17, 2011

The Real Cost of Time Shares

My wife and I recently took a trip up to Williamsburg, VA (about a 3 hour drive from home) for a "free" 2 night stay in exchange for a timeshare presentation. We had been to one of these before (see my post from June 2008) and figured it was worth our time in exchange for free lodging + $75 visa gift card.

Overall, the place was reasonably nice -- although to call it a "resort" is a stretch. It was more like a 2 BR townhouse I would expect to see in a typical suburb. But it was a comfortable stay and didn't cost us anything.

Throughout the process, what bugged me most were the half-truths of the time share presentation. The salesman kept making his pitch saying that every year the vacations he takes only cost $140. My wife and I had agreed before hand that the way to get out of there the quickest was to just agree and let them keep going -- so we both had to bite our tongues several times.

I've done quite a bit of reading on timeshares -- and one of the best sources out there is a forum called So if you are looking to learn, that's a good source.

Timeshares aren't necessarily a bad thing, IF you know how and what to buy. I would only suggest only buying resale (not retail) since you can get most of them for free upfront for taking over the maintenance fees (as opposed to retail prices of $15,000-$30,000). So if you are considering it, here is the real cost breakdown per year.

Any amortized up-front expenses (If you buy resale, this should be near 0.)
+Yearly maintenace fees. ($500-$700)
+Points network dues. (~$150)
+Points network exchange fee. (~$150)
Total $800 -$1000/year.

If you know you will take a 1-week vacation every year, this may be a good fit for you. But you should also know that you can rent timeshares from current owners for almost exactly the same price as owning -- with all of the benefits -- and none of the downside. So to me, renting a timeshare is the way to go.

To find timeshare units for rent, check sites like or

Friday, January 14, 2011

Scams that make me laugh

I'm always amused by the latest in low-budget tv commercials that are obvious scams.
I saw one today that made me laugh outloud. It claimed that the information about the benefits of Vitamin D are being suppressed (by the government?) and that we should "join together in one voice" by joining the "Vitamin D Health Initiative." And, the commercial says, you'll get free vitamin D for life.

The funny thing is that when you go to the website, they charge you $6.95 per month "shipping and handling" for your monthly supply of Vitamin D. (30 pills of 2000 IU). That made me laugh outloud. A quick search of shows 2000 IU Vitamin D is $9.00 for 200 pills, or about $1.35 per month. And of course, if you didn't know it, Vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight -- so you can get a healthy dose just by stepping outside!

I'm sure there are some unfortunate individuals out there picking up the phone and signing on to be part of the "initiative" -- but for the rest of us, it at least serves as entertainment.