So, it’s finally happened. The months and years have passed in the blink of an eye, and suddenly that tiny baby you were holding what feels like only five minutes ago is on the brink of gaining their driving licence. You now find yourself faced with one of the toughest purchases you will ever make: the vehicle that your child will drive.
This is a challenging time; so challenging that many parents resist and insist that a car is not necessary for a teenager. Then, slowly but surely, the resistance begins to be futile. There’s no doubt that your teen having their own vehicle is an important part of their independence, not to mention nigh-on essential if you live in an area with poor public transport. Even more importantly, if your teen is on the verge of going to college, then you’re going to want them to be able to drive home whenever they wish.
So you need to buy a vehicle; a vehicle that is strong enough and good enough to protect your precious child. It also needs to be a vehicle that fits into your budget– and then you have to learn to live with that vehicle. Living with the vehicle is often overlooked; it’s fair to presume you’ve thought through all the questions about safety, but have you considered these other factors?
#1 – Consider your vehicle options
Many of us assume that our teen’s first vehicle will be a car. Cars are the most popular method of transport in the world, but they’re also among the most expensive. The running costs for a car can be prohibitive to both your budget and your teen’s, to the point they can seem outright unaffordable to some families.
If this is the case for you, then you should consider a motorcycle instead. The same benefits of independence can be enjoyed, but with much lower insurance and running costs. You can save yourself even more money when if you choose to opt for a secondhand buy; you can see here for used motorcycles to give you an idea of how much you’d be able to save.
So while your teen may still prefer the idea of a car, it’s essential you consider the alternative options if you’re on a budget– you might be surprised by just how much you could save.
#2 – A thorough calculation of running costs
Whether you choose a car or a motorcycle, you’re going to need to sit down and work out the full running costs of your teen’s vehicle.
Estimating running costs is tough for most of us, as our car-related expenses are just absorbed with the rest of our household budget. As a result, it may be awhile since you have sat down and gone through the exact costs you can expect for getting your teen onto the road.
It’s best to run through running costs when you have a specific vehicle in mind, so you can accurately compile a list of what it may require to keep it on the road. You will want to include:
- Purchase price,
- Estimated gas usage; you can usually find the MPG of a vehicle listed on the manufacturer’s website,
- Insurance costs,
- Potential repair bills; the older a car or bike is, the more you should budget in this area.
When you have a full idea of the ongoing running costs, you can then move on to your next consideration…
#3 – Who pays?
Buying your teenager a car is just the beginning; the vehicle itself is then going to need continually funding to keep on the road. You have to decide how you’re going to handle this.
Below are a few different options you may want to consider:
- You buy the car, but your teen pays for the upkeep.
- You buy the car, the insurance, and fund any repairs, but they pay for the gas.
- You buy the car, but everything else is their responsibility.
- They buy the car from their savings (such as birthday money or gifts from grandparents) and you provide them with a budget for the running costs.
There is no “right” or “wrong” decision here; it’s all about what best suits your family and your budget. If your teen is working, then they may be able to take on some of the car costs themselves. On the flip side, if you want them to focus on their studies, then you may have to consider providing a budget to ensure they can keep their car running.
It’s important that both you and your teen are 100% agreed on the strategy for managing the financial side. You don’t want to be getting into “but I thought you were paying for that!” arguments in the future. It’s beneficial to write down your agreement, so that you both have something to refer back to if there are problems in the future.
#4 – Whose car is it?
You will need to decide if you own the car or whether it is registered in your teen’s name, and they are insured on it as a second driver. If your teen is soon going to college, it is better to put the car in their name.
#5 – Where will the car be parked?
If your teen is heading to college, this question answers itself. However, when they are at home (or if they still live with you full time), you will need to make arrangements to ensure the car can be correctly parked. If you’re going to use street parking, it’s worth checking the rules and regulations regarding this with your local authority.
If you’re willing to search, stick to a rigid set of rules, and compromise a little, then you can be sure of finding the perfect vehicle for their teen. The first time they ride alone is going to be tough for you, but in time, you’ll find yourself delighting in their independence and ability to handle themselves on the road.
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