Sunday, October 28, 2007

A True Tale: Making Lemonade out of a Lemon-Sized Inheritance

I recently caught up with a friend who shared the following true story.
When she was a young adult, her dad remarried a younger women; as often happens, Wife # 2 walked away with most of his assets when he passed away at a fairly young age. [Pre-nups are a topic for another day....] Each of his 3 kids received $5000, and will probably never inherit another dime from their father's estate, since it is supporting his 2nd wife.
One sib took the 5K and paid off credit card debt. The second used it for a dream family vacation in the Caribbean.
The third, a single-parent breadwinner with 2 kids, used it to buy a resale timeshare - at a fraction of its original cost. Living on the West Coast where there are many fabulous destinations and an abundance of timeshare resorts, this has enabled them to vacation annually at beautiful location, sharing quality time together. There are annual fees and of course transportation and on-site expenses, but the centerpiece is pre-paid. While feeling cheated of a larger inheritance, she enjoys this annual dad-funded holiday; this has created a positive legacy which shifts the cosmic balance a bit. They've been to Hawaii, Canada, and all up and down the Pacific Coast, including Mexico. The kids have invited friends along, they've taken extended family, and in general it sounds like a hugely positive treat and something to look forward to all year long. Talk about redeeming a bad break in life into an annual gift. (Let me add a fictional fourth child, who spent all the money on therapy.) By now you've guessed my friend is the 3rd child; I am so impressed by her wise investment!

A huge word of caution. The acquisition was well-researched and, as I mentioned, purchased at deep discount. In general timeshares have a rep for being very sleazy, much of it deserved. If you live on the East Coast, the timeshare options are quite limited. I admit after hearing this story, I've spent a chunk of time researching them. I love the idea of having a second home - one week a year. No one thinks timeshares are good investments on a strictly financial basis, but when they go well, like this one has, they do offer a pre-paid accommodation which makes vacation planning much, much easier and increases the likelihood the getaway will actually happen.

Dear readers, do please do share any positive or negative timeshare experiences - recommendations and cautionary advice alike!


Anonymous said...

Nice move!

I've got one: my high school GF inherited a tidy sum and the first thing she did at 18 was to buy a house on the Jersey Shore. Like about a stone's throw from the ocean.

Looked it up on Google recently, it's now worth $1.5 million. Wow.

Anonymous said...

How weird that East Coast options are so limited! Any sense of what that is about? I love the idea of the money being used in a way that can be such a gift from the Dad...

Betsy Teutsch said...

the only east coast ones I've seen are around Atlantic City, which is pretty sketchy, and closer to Ocean City, MD which is kind of a mini-Miami. Real estate in the smaller NJ beach towns must be too expensive, and or zoning prohibits these types of developments? There are timeshares in the Poconos, however. For me it wouldn't be worth thinking about a non-beach location!

Anonymous said...

There are lots of east coast timeshares: Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, for instance; Newport, RI; Vermont, Western Mass., Cape Cod, Williamsburg, VA, and many more. Disney has a ton of them all around Orlando, for instance, if you like that kind of thing.

A good place to check out timeshares is TUG, the Timeshare Users' Group at this link: (Once there, scroll down to the resorts discussion section; the first one is US-Eastern). Great resource.