Sam and Gina haven't had a real vacation in almost five years. Between the "necessary evil" expenses—the mortgage, car payments, utilities, their three kids' school and activity costs, insurance, credit card debt—there just doesn't seem to be anything left over for expendable funds such as a vacation.
"And we don't want to put a vacation on our credit cards," says Gina. "We've already got too much debt!"
Good news: There is a way to have a memory-making summer holiday break without breaking the bank.
Why not share your time with timeshares? Some couples receive several weeks on their ownership program each year, and sometimes they can't use them all. Anne, from New Mexico, uses two of her three timeshare weeks and then "tithes" the other week to a couple on a tight budget.
Most timeshare owners pay an average of $250 for the week. If you can't find a solo timeshare, consider sharing space with a friend or family member. There might be a family in your neighborhood, church, work, or community who's willing to split that fee and share the space. Or you could offer to pay the week's worth of fees, because $250 is still an inexpensive rate for a week's worth of fun at a nice resort.
What to know before you go: (1) Be sure you agree on a price before you take over someone's timeshare. (2) Ask the other party about any and all expenses--including cleaning fees and maintenance charges. (3) Make sure you know what facilities are available. You may assume you have access to a full kitchen, and budget accordingly, only to discover there are no such amenities. Ask also about laundry facilities, recreation perks, parking, and any clubhouse benefits.1