Ask Stacy: The Most-Asked Money Questions of 2016

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Here are some of the most popular categories of reader questions from 2016, along with answers. Odds are you've probably wondered about some of these things yourself.

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 2016, along with brief answers and links to additional information. If you’re a regular reader and these questions and answers look familiar, that’s because many remain the same from year to year.

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 2016, many along these lines:

Cannot continue with my timeshare.  What can you suggest so I can get rid of it. Please help since I cannot pay the taxes and maintenance fees every 2 years.  It is fully paid.
– Owner

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

The short answer to this common question is to try selling, or at least renting, your timeshare at some, or all, of these sites:

You 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, most recently less than two weeks ago.

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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