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Help me decide whether I should get my daughter a car!

May 3rd, 2009 at 10:08 am

OK, for the hardcore here, I'm sure that the correct answer is no, since I do not have the money. Case closed!

So if we go with that, do we be really mean and make a senior ride the bus to school, or more realistically, have her mom take her as in the last two years since the bus leaves WAY earlier.

One big problem is that the darn high school parking lot is like a demolition derby for not just door dings, but MAJOR door dents! They just about ruined the beautiful 2002 Accord my older daughter took there her senior year.

The killer for me is I am a cheap car guy (yes, I know, definitely an oxymoron, especially with insurance and repairs). So one of my favorite things in the world is to get a nice old fully depreciated Honda for her to drive. The killer is the insurance. Ouch! But I'm still thinking of a REALLY cheap car with only liability. Help me decide!

28 Responses to “Help me decide whether I should get my daughter a car!”

  1. Blue Eyes Says:

    No...I wouldn't buy her a car. Does she have a part-time job? or a savings account? You could certainly help her with a certain dollar amount, but I wouldn't foot the whole bill.

    My DD is almost 17 and has had a PT job for 1 1/2 yr. She will be responsible for the majority of the purchase of her vehicle, including insurance & maintenance. Until she has enough to purchase a vehicle (with a bit of help from me), I am allowing her to drive my older car. She still will be responsible for her portion of the insurance though.

    Just my 2 cents!

  2. Ima saver Says:

    I started saving for a car when I was 12 years old. I got a part time job and worked weekends and all summer. I paid for my own car at age 16 and my own insurance also. So, I think she should save for a car herself.

  3. fern Says:

    I saved for my first 10 speed bike, and i saved for my first used car, which my grandfather, a mechanic, picked out for me.

    I don't think there's anything "mean" about your daughter riding a bus to school if she has to. I think the reality of your financial limitations is more important. Don't pass up this important teaching opportunity for your daughter. The lesson being that you need to save for what you want and not feel entitled to things. She'll be a better person becus of it.

  4. disneysteve Says:

    Since you haven't given us any financial info, it is hard to say one way or the other. You did say, however, that you don't have the money, so that's probably the answer right there.

    Assuming you were to get her a car, is the school parking lot her only option? At my high school, we could park on the streets anywhere near the school. Some days, that was right across the street. Other days, it might have been a block or so away depending on availability of parking spaces.

    Personally, the car I drove in high school was the spare family car, a 73 Chevy (I got my license in 1980). We had 4 drivers and 5 cars in the household. So nobody actually bought me a car.

  5. monkeymama Says:

    If she wants a car she can buy one. Case closed.

    You can't afford it. If it's important to her she can work to pay for it.

    My dh and I both got cars at 16. We had a little help from parents in the beginning. He didn't buy his but he was responsible for all costs, from day 1. I bought mine and my parents helped with insurance for first year (until I paid off $1500 purchase). Needless to say, if our parents couldn't have helped at all we would have been expected to go it alone or forego the car. Both are reasonable options in my opinion.

    There really seems to be little need for a car, in your post, but to not "be embarassed" or "have to ride the bus." Little reason, in my opinion, to buy something you can't afford.

    The main reason we both ended up with cars right at 16 was because we both worked and I know our parents were tired of driving us around. If your daughter has a job at least there's some room for negotiation. Otherwise I have no idea why a teen would need a car.

  6. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    If comparisons help, we did buy our kid a used car, but not until he was 18 and in the month he was leaving for college in a town to which there is not even bus service. We wanted him to be able to move himself and make trips home under his own steam. He lives close enough to campus that he leaves the vehicle (actually a truck) at home daily. Probably half of the kids he knew had cars earlier than him, but he was pretty immune to peer pressure. When we did get it, we could afford it, no question. We also pay his insurance and for tires and repairs while his in an undergrad. We got him a vehicle not because or when he wanted it, but because we parents thought it was the UTILITARIAN thing to do for our young man who was to be living at a distance.

  7. Analise Says:

    Unless your daughter contributes significantly to the cost of buying and maintaining a car, she SHOULD NOT have a car. My stepchildren were each given a new car by their dad when they were in high school, and not only did they take it for granted, they ruined the cars and expected their dad to pay for gas, insurance, repairs, etc. It used to be a sore point with me because it was very different with my own children.

    I do not believe parents should just "give" kids cars... my twin daughters shared a car when they were in high school (age 16). There was no public transportation where we lived and it was hard for me to drive them to track practice, work, etc. Their car was a used but reliable Honda they bought with money they had saved from their 4H projects. They also had jobs so they could pay for gas, maintenance, and insurance, so it did not cost me a dime. The car lasted for years... and when they went off to college, one DD bought the other one out because they moved to different cities.

  8. lizajane Says:

    Hmmm. I never thought my parents were mean because I had to take the school bus! I took a different school bus to get to my job after school, and then when I got done there I walked a short distance to the library and waited to be picked up when my mom got out of work. I think she'll be psychologically ok if you don't buy her one, especially if it's not in your budget.

    I really don't get the idea now that riding a school bus is uncool. It was just the way you got to school, period. Sure some kids drove and I'm sure some had their parents drive them, but I just don't remember it having the bad connotations that it has these days. And I'm not THAT old!

  9. dmontngrey Says:

    I didn't have a car until the summer before my senior year of COLLEGE. My parents didn't have the money to buy me one either. I worked that summer and put a $500 down payment on a used car. My dad cosigned a loan for me, but never gave me a dime towards the car. The best thing he did was teach me to drive a five speed! Smile
    So if you don't have the money, you really shouldn't be buying her a car. It's not a guarantee, an entitlement, and you are NOT being mean. She can work to earn some money and you can help her pick out a reliable car.

  10. whitestripe Says:

    i didnt have a car until six months out of high school - i worked for 6 months to be able to buy a 1989 nissan for $1500. i caught the bus to school. i hated catching the bus, but i would not expect my parents to buy me a car, or drive me 30 minutes to school. if it's uncool or embarrasing to catch the bus/be driven to school, so what. there are many times in life when you will have to deal with things like that, and i think by buying them a car you are showing them that, when they don't *want* to do something, they can throw some money at it and take a shortcut. it is even worse if they throw money at it that they don't have.

  11. baselle Says:

    I'm with the rest. They pay and perhaps you help with car buying negotiation and step them through insurance buying, etc. I had to ride the bus for my senior year also ... and it was on the farm in Wisconsin. (long enough that walk or bike was not an option).

    I remember it wasn't cool, but it was necessary and it wasn't a mortal wound. To a teenager, it only seems that way.

  12. toyguy1963 Says:

    I agree with everyone else too. It would be nice if you could afford it and if your daughter is responsible enough but since you already said you can't then you should not. Plus I think high school kids tend to be a bit irresponsible and should have to wait a little while.

  13. north georgia gal Says:

    I can completely relate since I just went through this with my son. And I can relate to the pressures of being a teen. If you can afford an older car, that would be the best thing. The insurance though...we found a way to afford it. We have a seperate policy with 2 cars on it, my husbands and my sons. Since there are three drivers(me, DH, son) and two cars, he is only listed as an occasional driver instead of a dedicated driver. It helped alot on the premium. And he is covered on any of our other vehicles since he is insured. He also has a job and has to pay for the insurance.

  14. princessperky Says:

    Before you start thinking it is mean that a girl ride a bus, try thinking of the poor sucker(my husband) who has to leave 20 minutes (or worse) early to be at work during the school year because of all the folk driving their kids to school

    He has to wait behind folk turning in to get in the 'carpool line' (why do they call it that when NO ONE baring twins drops off more than one kid?)

    Besides public school attenders are all about socialization, that bus ride is the perfect time for it.

  15. scfr Says:

    I'm looking at the comment on your sidebar about college for your two kids. Wouldn't getting her a car negatively impact your ability to save for her college education? And which is more important in the long run?

  16. Petunia Says:

    My parents actually did buy me a car. . . when I graduated from college at the age of 29. Between 18 and 29 I walked, rode the bus and occasionally got rides from friends. I got along fine. In the last years of high school my folks let us use one of their cars to drive to school (me and my siblings). Never in the world did I look at that car as "my" car.

    If you can't afford it don't do it. Not having a car might give her incentive to work and buy a car on her own.

  17. Amber Says:

    Thanks Ralph for checking in with me sometimes I forget about my extended family Frown and I have no excuse.
    As far as the car thing... I rode the bus my senior year and turned out just fine.

  18. ralph Says:

    Wow, I'm surrounded, 16-2 - thanks for having my back, north georgia gal. Smile
    Yes, I've been telling her we/she can't afford it. She should understand, since she is using her savings for a trip abroad. I've mentioned that she could easily buy a car instead, but that's what she wants. I know, I know, a trip to Europe is incredibly extravagant for a family in our situation. Oh well - it's one of the things we disagree on, but at least it is a very memorable event for her. And there is something about having four cars that just doesn't seem right.

  19. baselle Says:

    Then its easy - you've got a handle. Whining about the car means you get to remind her about the trip to Europe. FYI - its far more common for a European to have no car. She can think of going carless as good practice.

  20. MICLASON Says:

    I agree with baselle... if she doesn't want the car badly enough to forgo the European trip... that's your cue!

  21. nance Says:

    I agree with others who said that your daughter should be reminded that she made her own decision, and chose the trip. If you cave you are setting a very bad precedent.

  22. Buckhorngal1 Says:

    Ok, here's the deal. My son has an intership for three summers in a field he is studying at university. The bus ride is almost 2 hours for his job this summer. My DH and I worked out the cost of the car, insurance, gas, and considered the fact that he bashed my van last year with just a "sorry" note attached to it. We rode bikes and paid for our own education. If your child really wants a car than make her pay for it out of her earnings and then she will respect and take care of it. Because the of the high income community we live in he expected a car at 16 since "that's what all my friends will get". Can you imagine? My DH and I just rolled our eyes. Kids think we will do anything and everything for them. And we're paying $80K for his degree. My Mother would have smacked me for thinking that I was owed a car. Teach her that she has to earn it!

  23. Nika Says:

    I would not. I would match whatever she could save by working and only if she is responsible all around.

    Putting a teenager behind the wheel is a risk - they have to be mature enough to understand the gravity and consequences of a mistake that could take their or someone elses life. I would let her drive a lot while you are in the car and observe and correct her when needed.

    I know somebody who has a teenage sun who drove drunk, got a bunch of speeding tickets and moving violations tickets, yet mom goes to court, hires a lawer, and keeps paying for the car, insurance and gas because she "does not have time to drive him around" "so what can you do - he has to get around somehow". That infuriates me. If he kills himself that's one thing, but what if he kills someone else, someone who was responsible and was just going about their life?

  24. guezwho Says:

    My kid is missing with the car we purchased. She was going to school full time, 20 hours of work a week and then met this guy. He had no car, no job, no school, and was getting kick out of his home. Fast forward, Daughter quit College, down to 5 hours week, and was they both were kicked out of his parents home and she is hiding the car. Sad, as we have babied her and given her everything, but she gave up everything for a 4 month relationship with an ADHD (nothing wrong with that, but he uses that as an excuse.) So..NO, if we had to do it over again, cheeeeeep cheeeeep car and lot's of liability. Good luck!

  25. crazyliblady Says:

    You have already indicated that you can't afford it, so I don't think whether you want to do or she wants a car is really an issue. Most teenagers don't realize all the responsibility and expense that comes with owning a car. While I did want that kind of independence as a teen, I would not have wanted that responsibility and could not have handled it at that age. I always resented the fact that my mom bought my brother a car outright when he was 16, but would not even teach me to drive. I was 17 before I got my license because I had to get lessons from other people. A bicycle would be much less expensive, and unless she needs to go very far, should get her where she needs to go.

  26. RedThunderBird Says:

    I read every post , and the obvious have been said already , but I am going to play the devil's advocate or be a contrarian on this one . This is a very especial moment not just for her , but for you as well------ this moment would never come back , ever . I would not like to see her in a bus going to her graduation ---- and yes in Europe many would do this ---- believe me I know ! but can we find another alternative , outside buying a car , and having a trip to Europe ? can a car be rented ? for a few days or even one ? can any one lent her a vehicle for that night --- this is a moment in life that money could never buy back , is magical --- you may call it an investment in joy ----- I do hope she gets to enjoy her prom as well as you will cherish her joy ----

  27. whitestripe Says:

    i thought this was about buying a car for a year, not just a graduation night...? if i've gotten my wires crossed and it's for a single night, then i think that's ridiculous!

  28. ralph Says:

    whitestripe, the proposed car was permanent car, not for prom. RedThunderbird, I have no idea where you got that idea!

    And crazyliblady, that hits a lot of what I am fretting about. We did get my oldest a car, so of course now in fairness we should also for the youngest, right?

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