If your teenager is anything like mine, they dream of Teslas and BMWs, not reliability and safety ratings. Now that my kids are getting ready to start driving, they are ready and eager to buy the car they’ve always dreamed of—as long as I’m the one footing the bill.
Teens may not understand the ins and outs of car buying, but helping them select their first car is an important milestone and a valuable learning opportunity. No matter how much they fancy that shiny red sports car, it’s not the best car for a new driver (and their insurance bill would make them weep!). It makes sense for teens to start driving with a reliable used car, no matter how much they beg for fancy new wheels, and here are the reasons why.
Hopefully, your teenager won’t get into any major accidents, but almost every new driver encounters a few bumps along the way. As unpleasant as minor collisions can be, they are even more frustrating when a shiny new car is involved. Let your teens learn to drive in a car that won’t leave you sweating every time they practice parallel parking.
2. Model responsibility
No matter how much money you can afford to spend on a car, it’s important to foster a sense of responsibility in your teenager. This means that teens should be working to pay for at least some of their car expenses, like gas and car insurance. When you give your child an overly expensive car, this can jack up their insurance premiums, too. Model responsibility for your teenager by purchasing a car for them that you, and they, can afford.
3. Instill a sense of ownership in your teen.
If you buy your teenager a car, it’s important for your teen to feel a sense of ownership of their car. This means they should take over basic maintenance like oil changes and keeping the car washed and vacuumed regularly. If you buy your teen a shiny new car, odds are that you’ll feel much more invested in its care and upkeep. It’s much easier to stand back and let your teen learn to care for a vehicle that you feel less invested in (emotionally and financially!).
4. Raise a smart consumer.
Odds are that your budget is very different from what your teen’s budget will be when they leave home and strike out on their own. If all they have ever experienced is a brand new car, they are likely to head into a dealership and sink some serious cash into monthly payments they can’t truly afford when it comes time to purchase their next car. Teaching your teen the value of buying used, and how much money it can save them, will better equip them to make their own choices down the road.
5. Focus on what matters.
Sure, everyone wants the latest and greatest new car, but most of us will do just fine with a safe, reliable used car. By teaching your teen to focus on what they really need, you’ll instill a lesson that extends far beyond buying a car. It’s tempting to get caught up in the trends, but learning how to cut through all of the marketing and flash and buy what you really need is a skill that will last a lifetime.