(Want to meet me in person and attend my live lectures? Please join me at the White Coat Investor’s Financial Literacy and Wellness Conference, February 5-8, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. I will be giving two lectures at this amazing conference where I have been a speaker multiple times in the past. If you have some of my books, bring them with you to get them autographed at my book signing event or catch me in the hall. There will also be books available to purchase on site. A few of you can even have dinner with me! Hope to see you there.)
Timeshares are so misunderstood, which is the main reason I wrote my book, A Guide to Loving Your Timeshare: How to Get the Most for Your Money in Family Fun and Experiences. I was tired of reading comments that slammed timeshares from people who didn’t know what they were talking about. My timeshare experience has been very positive and so has the experience of millions of other timeshare owners. Learn from the people who are successfully using them. I couldn’t find a single unhappy timeshare owner at the swimming pools of the timeshares I was staying at when I was doing interviews for my book. I think the unhappy owners stay home because they haven’t figured out how to use their timeshare.
The poor perception is so ingrained in the media that even after hearing the truth about timeshares they still talk them down. I recently had an interview with a social media influencer where I shared the truth about timeshares using real examples from my own experience and corrected some of the interviewer’s misguided information. By the end of our time together he seemed to understand what I had been teaching. A couple of months later he posted an article slamming timeshares and used the same wrong information I corrected in our interview. Even learning the truth did not change his misguided perceptions.
Some of the misconceptions that are passed on as truth include the following: You have to vacation at the same place every year (I’ve never vacationed at the timeshare I own), the maintenance fees are too expensive (My maintenance fee cost me $193 per week of vacation last year), it costs over $100k to purchase a timeshare and then they severely depreciate (You should be buying them on the secondary market for less than $2k, which does not leave much room to drop in value).
If you hear anyone giving advice about timeshares and they say any of the three things I mentioned, rest assured, they don’t know what they are talking about so please don’t take their advice. Listen to those who own and use their timeshare well.
Following is my actual use and expenses from owning my timeshare for 2023. Trust the facts!
Where we traveled
First off, we own one week of a timeshare in New Orleans, and we have never stayed at our timeshare. We always do our trades with RCI (Resort Clubs International). When you do smart trades by looking for value, you can trade for many more weeks of vacation than you own.
Last year we traveled a bit less than usual. We now have grandchildren and help with the childcare during the school year. Until the grandkids are in school themselves, we expect to travel less than we did at our peak in 2019, when we were gone on an adventure 56% of the year.
While my daughter-in-law was on maternity leave, we took advantage of her not needing childcare and booked a three-week timeshare trip to Texas. Our hope was to go south in February to get out of the Oregon cold/wet weather for three weeks.
We flew into San Antonio, rented a car, and drove to our timeshare located on the river walk. Years ago, we vacationed at a timeshare near San Antonio and came into town for one day. I loved the river walk and wanted to stay on the river walk in the future. This was the fulfillment of that wish.
We had a great week exploring San Antonio and I would love to come back again. Each day we walked on the riverwalk and found a new restaurant to try.
Next, we drove 80 miles north to Austin. This is the capital of Texas and is known for great food and music. We had a lot of interesting things planned to do while we were there. Unfortunately, central Texas was hit by an ice storm that shut down the city. So much for getting out of the Oregon cold. We were lucky our timeshare did not lose power during the storm as there were thousands of people without power.
Our timeshare had a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and a bathroom. Since we had already stocked the kitchen before the storm, we just hunkered down and waited out the storm while we read books, watched movies, wrote stories, and hung out together. We did not leave the room for four days. Consequently, we didn’t get to experience much of Austin, so we will need to come back in the future.
After the storm ended and the roads thawed, we drove 216 miles to Galveston and checked into our timeshare right on the beach. Every day we took a long hand-in-hand walk on the beach. The weather was great, and we had a fun time exploring the sights of Galveston.
We then drove to Houston to turn in our rental car and fly home.
In March, at the tail end of the maternity leave, we had a Caribbean cruise booked that left from Miami. We like staying in a timeshare the week before cruises, so we don’t miss our cruise or lose our luggage from tight flight connections. We traded for a timeshare in Westin, Fl, about 40 miles NW of Miami beach. This timeshare borders the Florida Everglades and is not far from the beach. We explored Southern Florida that week before hopping on the cruise ship.
Those four trades were the only timeshares we used last year, using 55 of our 68 annual points available to trade. Incidentally our annual points have increased from 68 to 81 beginning in 2025. Our timeshare must have increased in popularity. The 13 remaining points that we didn’t use for these trades will carry over to this year. We can use them to go on future trips or we can gift timeshare trades to family and friends.
We also went on a couple of cruises and rented a large house for a mini-family reunion during the summer along with a few other small trips.
Cost of our timeshare vacation housing
So, what did it cost us to be timeshare owners last year? Was it the horrible high fees we read about in social media right before the ad stating they can get us out of our timeshare?
The maintenance fee we paid for 2023 was $773. That is the fee to maintain a single week of our timeshare. Since we traded that week for four timeshare weeks of vacation, that cost must be spread over four weeks of vacationing. $773/4 = $193.25 per week.
Can you imagine someone complaining about the maintenance fees when they were only $193 per week of vacation? Most doctors pay more than that per day when they vacation at a hotel. I got a one-bedroom suite with a kitchen for that.
We also had to pay a fee for each trade. The three Texas timeshares cost me $259 each to make the trade. The price increased before I made the Florida trade and that one cost $289.
There is an annual fee to be a member of RCI which is $80 a year paid five years at a time. This membership allows me to trade my timeshare for others in the RCI pool.
The resorts also charged me a maid service fee of $40 per week.
$773 Maintenance fee
$1066 Trading fees
$80 RCI Membership fee
$160 Maid service resort fee
$2079 Total housing cost for 4 weeks of vacation
That comes to $519.75 per week to stay at a 1–2-bedroom suite with a kitchen, not to mention all the amenities accompanying each suite. Having a kitchen saves us both money and calories when we travel. It is also very convenient to not need to get dressed to go to breakfast in the morning. When was the last time you spent only $519.75 for a week at a resort?
To be fair, we should add to this year’s costs the initial purchase price to buy our timeshare 30+ years ago. Back then I didn’t know about buying on the secondary market and I made the mistake of paying full price for our timeshare. Had I bought it for near zero, like I advise you to do, the $519 would be my entire cost. I paid $16,000 for my timeshare. I have made 84 trades since I purchased our timeshare which adds an additional $16,000/84 = $190 per week of use.
Adding this year’s weekly costs to my weekly purchase cost our housing cost comes to $519 + $190 = $709 per week of vacation. That rounds to just over $100 per day to stay in a nice resort. That is a 1–2-bedroom suite with a kitchen for about the cost of staying at a Motel 6. The argument that owning a timeshare is an expensive way to travel just doesn’t hold water.
If you want to have great vacation accommodations at a bargain price, you should think about picking up a timeshare on the secondary market. Before you do, read my book on loving your timeshare and be sure you take the test on page 137 to find out if you qualify as a happy timeshare owner. If you skip this step and don’t meet the appropriate qualifications, you may become an unhappy timeshare owner, even if you acquire your timeshare for free. Do it right and you too will be a happy timeshare owner, like me, who gets to experience great vacation accommodations at a bargain price.