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3 Smart Strategies To Help Your Teenager Purchase Their First Vehicle

money.jpg It's no secret that buying and maintaining your own personal vehicle is a major responsibility. But for many teenagers, becoming one of the 214 million licensed drivers in the U.S. is among the greatest of achievements. Once your teenager passes their driver's test, they're bound to want to take to the open roads as soon as possible.

We all knew the kid in high school whose parents bought him or her a brand new Mercedes for their 16th Birthday. If spoiling your teen with a brand new vehicle is both out of the question and out of the budget, here are a few money-saving strategies to help your teen purchase their first vehicle.

Set Realistic Savings Goals

Ideally, your teen will have some of their own money saved up by the time they get their license. However, you can't expect them to save every penny of the money they earn from allowances and/or part time jobs. If you can afford it, consider giving them a motivation boost by offering to match their savings when it comes time for car shopping. Similarly, offering some sort of incentive if your teen sets and meets a savings goal will not only help them grow their savings faster but will teach them responsibility and help shape their mindset about the value of money.

Prioritize Both Safety And Cost

When it comes time to do some car shopping, it's generally best to stay away from certain private sellers, such as Craigslist, where users can make up any details they want about the condition of their vehicle. Some features have become standardized over the years, such as mass backing, which became the industry flooring standard for car manufacturers around 1990. As for safety features, however, consult with a dealership in your area.

Always opt for a vehicle with at least six airbags; anti-lock brakes are also a beneficial safety feature for young drivers. Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies a car's windshield as one of the primary components of a vehicle's safety restraint system, so if there is any uncertainty about the quality or strength of the windshield glass, move on to another option. Family Circle writer Rick Newman compiled this handy list of vehicle models that are ranked highly on both safety and affordability.

Consider A Hand-Me-Down

Most people think that buying a used vehicle is always a better financial option than buying a brand new vehicle. This is true in most cases, but if you feel as though your family car would make a great first vehicle for your teen, it's certainly acceptable to pass it down and purchase a new vehicle for yourself. Newman explains that this method can save money in certain situations.

"This strategy may actually save you money," writes Newman. "That's because prices for some used autos have risen steeply -- so much so that you'd pay only a few hundred dollars more for a new vehicle compared with a one- or two-year-old version of the same model. Factor in the higher rates for used-car loans, and a new set of wheels can be cheaper overall."

Ultimately, buying a car is never an easy or fast process. Take as much time as you need to help your teenager grow both their savings and their sense of responsibility. Keeping these money-saving strategies in mind is the best way to equip your child with an affordable vehicle in which they feel safe and comfortable driving for years to come.


  1. I like the idea of giving them your current car and getting another for yourself.
    slehan at juno dot com


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