Want in on a secret? A way to save money and possibly even get yourself a FREE dinner or some FREE mula to go shopping? Well, with a little restraint, and about 90 minutes of your time (not now, this post will only take you 2 minutes!), I can probably help you get a free dinner or a $100-$150 voucher anywhere you travel to.
I know, I know, you're probably getting all WEIRDED out right now that I'm going to try to SELL you something, but I promise, I'm not. Instead, I'm just going to let you in on a little secret that cheapskate old me uses ALL the time... timeshare sales presentations.
Ya see, the thing with TIMESHARE presentations is that they will PAY you for your time - REGARDLESS if you buy anything or not. All you have to do is follow their rules, and whammo, 90 minutes later, you've got yourself a voucher for $100-$150! And that voucher? Well it's usually good for a whole LIST of places - including restaurants, local shops, and more.
What are their rules you ask? Usually they include things like both you AND your spouse have to sit through the whole presentation, together you have to make over x amount of money, and if you leave even a MINUTE before their pitch is over, you void all chances at the free money. Some have a few different rules so you should read it carefully to understand what you're getting yourself into, but most - don't. And if you're anywhere for over 3 days - what's 90 minutes in return for money for a VERY nice dinner out!
The warning though? The big big BIG FAT warning - you COULD come out of there $15,000-$45,000 poorer. If you let yourself get sucked into their presentation, or you let yourself fall into the traps of their pitch, you really COULD end up a timeshare owner when you never ever even wanted a timeshare - you just wanted a free DINNER!
So... going in, take it seriously that these people do these presentations day IN and day OUT - they KNOW what buttons to push to make you want to buy, and they KNOW what tricks work. Do not by any means under-estimate how GOOD they are at their jobs.
Knowing that, how do you AVOID ending up $15,000-$45,000 poorer and just get that damn free dinner?
- Make a deal with your partner that you will NOT buy a timeshare no matter HOW cheap or how MUCH pressure they put on you. You are there for a free DINNER, not a vacation home!!!!!
- Prepare yourself AND your partner ahead of time that they will GUARANTEED tell you that it's a "one-time offer only", that "the second you walk out of there, the price goes up $5000+", that "they know you visit x often, wouldn't it make more sense to OWN?", that "you can sell it anytime, without ANY penalty", that "you can't sell it for any LESS than you bought it for so it's a SAFE investment", and even that "you can trade time in this location for time in that, that, or even THAT location".
- Do some quick math AHEAD of time on what you spend annually on vacations and HOW you spend your vacation money. Know this ahead of time so when they pitch you, you can reason that it doesn't balance out. For the husband and I, we're real BARGAIN-shoppers so we get cheap nightly rates wherever we go. We also usually travel at PRIME times of the year - so for us, the timeshare nightly rates are more expensive than what we'd usually spend.
- Leave your credit card behind at your hotel/condo. Do NOT take it with you. Without a credit card, you can't put a deposit down, without a deposit, you can't buy. Or at least you can't buy without LEAVING the presentation... and thinking it through further.
For those though that aren't sure they can handle the pressure, here's some questions to ASK the timeshare people - questions that'll help you fight back and keep your head on straight:
- Is there a monthly or annual fee on TOP of the "mortgage"? Usually there is. DO THE MATH on what this will REALLY cost - it's never as cheap as they say, and AGAIN, you went in for a free DINNER, not a vacation home!
- Are there RULES to how cheaply I can sell my timeshare? Usually, there are. Usually, the rule is that you can't sell it for any LESS than you paid for it - they'll tell you this is how you know it's a "safe" investment, but REALLY, what this means is that somebody who bought 2 years before you can sell it CHEAPER than you can, which means that if you're trying to sell at the SAME time as them, their timeshare will be more appealing to buyers because they can price it lower - and you can NOT compete with that.
- What are the nightly rates for the time of year YOU travel? If usually you go up to Whistler for example, at Christmas for example - what are the nightly rates in the timeshare vs that bargain website you usually book through? I'd bet the timeshare is more...
- How far AHEAD of time are the timeshares - even YOUR timeshare - booked? Do you have to book 2 years ahead? 6 months ahead? How far ahead to guarantee you even GET to visit your timeshare when you want? The last presentation the husband and I went to had a 2 year booking practice - non-refundable. Can YOU plan two years in advance? Didn't think so...
Now go get that dinner!!!
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