Should you buy a car for your teenager? Tough question. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it depends.
First and foremost to any driver is that you know how to open the hood!
You’ve got three options. Let’s take a look at each one.
Option A: Buy a car for your child and cover all of the cost.
If reliability is your primary concern, option A might be your best bet. This puts you in control. Teenagers put style before safety. If left to their own devices, they will probably buy the “cool” car. If it’s your money on the line, you have the power to make the unpopular (but smart) decision.
The downside? It’s easy to mistreat something you didn’t pay for. Teenagers aren’t known for being grateful. They might even be mad, because they didn’t get the car they wanted. That’s 100% illogical (they got a free car!), but it’s often the case. Also, this doesn’t teach your child how to manage money. Reality will catch up with them sooner or later.
Option B: Share the family car with your child and split the cost.
If cost is your primary concern, option B might be your best bet. This is a gentle transition into owning a vehicle. Make sure your teen understands what costs they are responsible for. Ask them to pay for gas and oil changes at minimum. You can cover tire changes and other auto expenses until they save a decent amount of money.
The downside? The full cost of vehicle ownership can still come as a shock. Every time you get a repair, take your teen to the mechanic so they can see exactly how much you’re paying to maintain the vehicle. Even better, teach them about the importance of having a “car jar” to fund emergency and maintenance services. If you don’t teach them now, they will come begging for money later.
Option C: Let your child buy their own car and cover none of the cost.
If personal growth is your primary concern, option C might be your best bet. This is a brutal introduction to the real world. That said, your teenager might end up better off for it. They will get used to the responsibility that comes with owning a vehicle at a young age. And you better believe they will take very good care of that car!
The downside? Like I said, this is brutal. Most teenagers don’t have enough money to buy a good car. They would probably have to work a summer job. That could steal time and attention from studying. And they might get suckered into buying a car that isn’t safe or reliable if they are not taught how to care for their investment. If you choose to go this route, don’t let them go shopping without you.
Talk to me.
Do you plan to buy a car for your teenager? If so, are you going to cover the repair and maintenance costs? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments. Click here to share this blog on Facebook to invite your friends to the conversation.