Thursday, October 7, 2010

Your Kids First Car

Only One DoorImage by Brave Heart via FlickrThe journey we parents go through to raise kids is hard and never ending. One of our hardest tasks is the purchase of the first car. Your child is anxious and you have reservations, but you know it has to be done. 
There are many factors that go into this fun purchase. First there is deciding to get either a new or used car. I'm sure junior wants to get that new 2011 Camaro. But you know it's to expensive and it's a accident waiting to happen. Plus who's going to write a check for that. We are going to use this car purchase to teach many things like living within your means and not going into debt. Hopefully by the time the car purchase date arrives you and junior have saved money for this car. Junior should have been working and saving. Mom and Dad should also have been saving to make this a debt free purchase. It's best for the child to save an amount of money and the parents match it. But if the child has all the money he should pay all of it. When junior has some skin in the game the car is going to stay a little cleaner and driven a little better, we hope. 
Is this car going to be new or used? Hopefully your savings will determine that. There is no excuse to not buy a used car. The argument of there being more reliability in a new car is moot because we only have enough money for a used car. Used cars are reliable and give many years of good service. Junior's learning a lot from this experience. 
Now what kind of car? I think many people believe that a big car with plenty of metal to protect your kid is the way to go. A big land yacht surrounding your kid is not the right choice. A small economical car like a Honda, Toyota or Ford will do just fine. In our house the 4 children drive 3 Honda's and 1 Mitsubishi. With proper maintenance they have really done the job. 
We bought 2 at the used car lot and 2 private sale. For us the private sale equaled less money spent. The cars mileage when purchase were from 50,000 to 75,000. I wouldn't buy a car with higher mileage. Also the cars were 5- 6 years old. 
The age when they get to drive their own car can vary. Some kids are responsible some aren't, you have to decide. We have one child who is 19 and we won't let him get a car because of behavior problems. In our family the rule was you must be 18 to have a car. This rule kept them out of a car a little longer and also the car is in their name and you can't be sued in an accident. 
When you drive by a high school look in the parking lot and see what cars are there. I bet you will see new cars there. Handing a kid an expensive new car is teaching them the wrong values. The first car is what I call the "practice car". Let them dent, scratch and mess up a used car. 
A car will always be one of the biggest purchases your children will make in their lives. You must teach them the proper ways of doing it right, because hopefully this car will see them through till they graduate college. So the next car they can buy themselves. 

Here's a list of some decent used cars:

1 comment:

  1. In my book you always buy used for a kid. Your rules of thumb are a good guide.


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