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Cars and Teens: How To Keep Costs for Both Under Control

Cars and Teens: How To Keep Costs for Both Under ControlWhile it is still early into a new year, parents and teens alike are already planning months ahead for the inevitable - sweet sixteens and high school graduations. One of the most sought-after gifts from the teen side of the equation is the want of a new car. As many parents find it difficult now to maintain their own cars, adding an extra one to the mix can be difficult; though not having to chauffeur the kids around town to practice and part-time jobs, it can be a relief to turn over responsibility to the kids.

The task of buying and maintaining the spare car for your teen can be quite expensive but it doesn't have to be over the top. Here are some tips to expenses low and expectations for your kid's responsibility levels high:

Split the Responsibility
  • There are a lot of different expenses that come with car ownership. Make a list and divide up the responsibilities between you and your child. Put it in writing so everyone will be on the same page. Some expenses include:
Insurance (whether a teen gets their own insurance or is added to the parent's policy)
Registration
Inspections
Oil Changes
New Tires
Car Washes/Cleaning
Parking/Speeding Tickets
  • There may be advantages to shopping elsewhere for a teen's vehicle insurance. Adding a teen driver to a parent's policy may not be the cheapest route. This will depend mostly on the type of car your child will drive. If you allow them the more expensive family vehicles, expect to pay a large sum for added coverage of a teen driver. If your teen drives a reliable used car, it may be less expensive to shop around for a policy all their own and get the basic insurance coverage.
  • Adding a teen to your policy also has advantages if your policy offers discounts for multiple vehicles or loyal customer incentives. Don't be afraid to shop around to find the best situation for your finances.
  • Require that your child become responsible for maintaining the vehicle at all time by keeping it clean and performing daily maintenance checks on tires, paint, and fluids in the engine.
  • Lay down the ground rules about driving safety and make it clear that as parents you will not be paying for any violations incurred by your teen. Make sure your child understand the consequences of driving at unsafe speeds, disobeying traffic rules, and other reckless acts - from the realities of tickets to fatal accidents. You can also incorporate in the rules the different consequences for different actions - such as traffic violations will result in the loss of driving privileges.
  • Make sure your child knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Any mistakes can cost both you and your teen in the event of an incident or accident.
  • One of the most important things a parent can do is continue to educate their teens on the true costs of owning and maintaining a car of their own. Make sure they go through the process of registering the car, shopping for insurance, and scheduling maintenance appointments. Go so far as hypothetically creating the financial devastation as well as the emotional one of being the cause of an accident due to careless acts or driving under the influence. The more information the child learns along with you, the more inclined they might be to take greater responsibility for their driving.
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