Ask Stacy: Answers to the Most-Asked Money Questions of 2015

Here are some of the most popular categories of reader questions from 2015, along with answers. Odds are you’ve probably wondered about some of these things yourself.

Better Investing

As regular readers know, my normal “Ask Stacy” column typically involves a detailed answer to one reader question. But for my first column of the new year, I instead provide short answers to multiple questions in some of the most popular personal finance categories of the preceding year.

So here we go: Here are some of the most-asked questions of 2015, along with brief answers and links to additional information.

Questions about timeshares

Ever since I started answering questions in this column six years ago, the subject of timeshares has been consistently one of the most popular. I received dozens of questions about timeshares in 2015, many along these lines:

I would like to know if there’s any way on earth to get rid of a timeshare? I was swindled into a timeshare when I was very young and have not been able to find a way to get the thing out of my life. I never use it, but of course continue to pay for it. Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. — Ginger

Answer: We’ve done a lot on this topic. See Timeshares: Fabulous Opportunity or Financial Trap? and Ask Stacy: How Can I Get Out of My Timeshare Without Being Robbed?

The short answer to Ginger’s question is to try selling, or at least renting, her timeshare at some, or all, of these sites:

Ginger should approach a sale with very low expectations. Most timeshares don’t have an active aftermarket, which means buyers are scarce. If you borrowed money to buy your timeshare, you might have to pay off your loan to get out of it. While you might start by talking to the developer you bought it from, don’t be surprised if they tell you they can’t help you.

The most important thing to know about selling a timeshare: Never pay a big upfront fee. Fraudulent resale services commonly say they already have a buyer for your unit — all you have to do is pay an upfront fee ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Don’t bite. Odds are that the buyer doesn’t exist. The FTC has been warning of these scams for years.

And when it comes to buying a timeshare, the most important thing to know: Timeshares are very easy to get into and very hard, if not impossible, to get out of. If you like the idea of a timeshare, buy it for pennies on the dollar from a private seller at one of the sites above. Never buy from a developer and never borrow the money to do it.

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