So, it’s happened. Your child has grown up into a teenager, which means that you both have new challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities ahead of you.
No aspect of raising a family is completely perfect, but there’s plenty of joy to be found at every stage of their growth.
One of the most exciting and important times of your teenager’s life is when they’re old enough to drive. This milestone opens up a whole world of freedom for your teenager, but it can be a rocky period for your family.
Here are some tips to help you to work out how to handle this as a family unit and to help your teenager to grow into a confident and skillful driver.
- Driving Lessons
Before your teenager can drive safely, they will need to learn how to drive. Different areas have different requirements before someone can drive unsupervised, so the first step is to find out what the local regulations are.
Learning how to drive is generally a combination of learning practical skills and gathering knowledge about the rules of the road. Make sure that your teenager is familiar with what certain signs and other directions mean so that they can drive safely.
They should also know other rules, such as when to indicate a turn, which lanes to use, and when and where they can safely drive. As well as the rules of the road, your teenager should know how to use the vehicle.
However, nothing beats getting in the car and driving. You can choose to hire a driving instructor who can provide professional advice and training for your teenager. Or, if you’re a confident driver, you can teach your teenager yourself.
As you’d expect, teaching a teenager how to drive can be a stressful experience for you both. Remember to be patient and try to recall what it was like when you were in their shoes.
You do save money with this method, but some families prefer to use a driving instructor instead. The best approach is whatever suits your circumstances and your family.
- Budget and Funding
Once your teenager can drive, you have several options. Many families leave it there, perhaps adding their teenager to the family car insurance and letting them use the car on occasion. However, this isn’t always practical or viable.
Another popular option is for your teenager to get their own car. As you’re likely aware, a car is an expensive investment. As your teenager is more likely to get into bumps and scrapes, many families prefer buying a used car, as they’re far cheaper than a new vehicle.
So, how can you finance your teenager’s vehicle?
The first option is to buy a car for your teenager. This means that your teenager can start driving right away. However, it might be more beneficial for your teenager to be involved in the purchase, even if you can afford to buy the vehicle yourself.
Another option is for your teenager to pay for the car on their own. This might be your only option, especially if you don’t have the funds. However, if your teenager buys a car without your assistance or advice, you could hit some other road bumps.
Teenagers don’t always make the best decisions and blowing a few thousand dollars on a car that breaks down immediately is a very harsh lesson for them to learn.
For many families, the best option is in the middle ground. Offer to cover part of the cost of the vehicle, and help your teenager to come up with a budget and a savings plan. This way you get the best of both worlds.
As you’re involved in the purchase, your teenager is more likely to listen to your advice and you can have some say in what vehicle they end up purchasing.
However, they’re also responsible for raising their portion of the money for the car and can learn the importance of financial literacy. Besides, there’s nothing quite like the pride of their first major purchase.
Driving a car provides a lot of freedom for a teenager, but it should always be coupled with responsibility. If your teenager can earn money and they’re the main user for their vehicle, then help them to budget for the running costs as well.
Again, there’s no harm in helping them to cover their expenses, but make sure that they have a measure of responsibility.
- The Right Vehicle
As mentioned above, there are plenty of ways to go wrong when finding a car for your teenager. Every teenager is different, and some have more practical ideas than others.
However, you should always remember that your teenager is bound to scrape or crash the vehicle at some point, especially when they’re still inexperienced.
While it might be tempting to get the cheapest vehicle possible, you should prioritize safety above all else. Your teenager might prefer a sporty model, but this might encourage them to speed and drive irresponsibly.
A reliable, safe vehicle is your best bet. However, you don’t have to get them a minivan. There are plenty of stylish cars that will work as a starter vehicle.
Many families purchase used cars. This is because a used car is usually thousands of dollars cheaper than its new equivalent, and they aren’t necessarily beaten down and past their best. When purchasing a used vehicle, pick something that still has plenty of life in it.
A car that’s older than your teenager might be cheap to buy, but it won’t be cheap to run. An effient car will save you both more money in the long run, as will a vehicle that isn’t likely to break down at the drop of a hat.
If your teenager is involved in paying for the car, they’ll likely want to be involved in purchasing the car.
One way to make sure that they make a wise choice is to create a shortlist of potential vehicles in their price range and offer them the final choice. This way, they’re still picking the car, but you know that they’ve chosen wisely.
- Warranties and Insurance
When purchasing a vehicle, you also need to look into warranties and insurance. A car warranty, otherwise known as a service contract, protects you from any catastrophic vehicle failure.
In short, you pay a monthly fee and, if your car does fail, then the repairs will be largely reimbursed. Used car warranties are an especially good idea, as they’re more likely to break down.
A car insurance policy is potentially even more important. Many states make it a legal requirement for drivers to be insured, and this includes teenage drivers. Car insurance will also protect your teenager if they’re in a collision, whether they’re responsible for it or not.
However, car insurance for teenagers is rarely cheap. Teenagers are less experienced drivers, which means that they’re more likely to get into trouble on the road. While you can get them a separate policy, many families find it cheaper to add their teenagers to the parent’s policy.
This is a simple prospect when your teenager is driving your vehicle, but you may need to do more research if they drive a separate car. It’s usually a good idea to insure yourself to drive their vehicle as well, even if it’s just in case of an emergency.
You should always spend some time shopping around for the best car insurance policy for your teenager.
Do your research and look for a good deal, so that you get good coverage without breaking the bank.