Expensive Lessons

I don’t like it when I make, what I consider to be, costly mistakes. I especially dislike feeling pressured into something I never wanted, and I can’t stand it when I make poor financial decisions. This is likely the reason why it has taken me 10 years to close a (somewhat shameful) chapter in my financial history. I have a confession. In 2008, I bought a timeshare. I never wanted one, in fact, I thought they were silly. I didn’t like the idea of being locked into maintenance fees and whatnot for the rest of my life, but I did like the idea of getting a free trip somewhere for just going to the presentation. What I did not anticipate, was the conditions I would be subjected to while at the “presentation” — really a high pressure sales pitch where you are not left alone for one second and are continuously made to feel as though you are stupid.

I made the mistake of going to the presentation by myself. I was assigned to two older gentlemen who, every time I said no, made harder and harder sales pitches. I was very uncomfortable the entire time, and I kept saying I was not comfortable spending money that I didn’t have (‘don’t worry, we have financing plans,’ they said), locking myself into a single location for vacations (‘not a problem, we have exchanges,’ they said), making a decision at this age when I had no idea what I wanted to do next, I’d rather save the money for school (‘you’ll own your vacations!’ they said). I finally just agreed –to make it stop, which was my youth and inexperience showing through, as I would NEVER do that same thing today. From the time I agreed to the purchase to the time I signed the papers, they did not leave my side. In fact, they took me from room to room, further away from other people, and I felt trapped. As soon as I signed the papers and they told me “Congratulations!” with their slimy grins and triumphant handshakes, I felt sick to my stomach. I was extremely upset with myself.

Over the course of the next 5 years, I paid off the timeshare, but I never once used it. I was so upset every time I had to even look at the paperwork, I saw failure and felt angry all over again at myself for being so gullible. I looked into the possibility of selling the timeshare, but believe me when I say — no one wants to buy a timeshare, not even the people who sold it to you. I also found out that there is a buyers remorse sort of protection where you can cancel the purchase within 7 days, no questions asked, but I didn’t know that at the time, and of course, the salespeople never told me. One day, I just stopped paying the assessment fees. They never called. One week turned into 2 months, turned into 3, then 4, then 5 years, and…nothing. I checked my credit reports annually, nothing.

When I told my fiance, now husband about the timeshare, he encouraged me to call and find out what the status was. In fact, he sat the duffel bag they had given me to hold all of the documents and paperwork in my office, so I had to look at it, every. Day. Today, I finally called to confirm that my account was closed, I owned nothing, and I owed nothing. They confirmed and I tossed out the contents of the bag that had been sitting in my office for nearly 6 months, and lifted the burden that had been resting on my shoulders for 10 years. I will happily shred the documents, but I learned 2 valuable lessons over the course of this sorted affair —

  1. Never, and I mean EVER, let someone pressure you into doing what is not right for you. Anyone willing to belittle and coerce you, does not have your best interest at heart, and you should feel 100% confident with ZERO regrets about standing up, putting your shoulders back, and loudly saying: NO. 
  2. Everything “free” is not free. Count the cost, and understand what it will really mean to put yourself in a situation where you may be vulnerable. 

It was an expensive lesson, I hope you can learn from my story, so you don’t have to experience something similar. Happy (almost) New Year!