A lot of the time, the big milestones in your own life don’t feel so big. They just feel normal. They’re just a progression of you growing, right? But that all changes when you become a parent and you start seeing your baby reach these milestones wondering, “where the hell did the time go?”
One day it is first words and first steps and the next it is the first day of school, first sports day, first boyfriend or girlfriend. But of all the milestones you’ll bite your bottom lip and wonder how you got here so fast, it is the driving thing that will hit you the hardest. It always does. It’s that sudden realization that independence is theirs and that’s a pretty big deal.
But it isn’t just the impending empty nest thing you need to worry about. It is also the finances. They can slap you silly too, not that this is a surprise given you know just how expensive it is to run your own car. But add a novice driver to the equation and you can find the amount of month left at the end of your money is rather daunting.
With this in mind, we have pulled together a few tip and tricks on how you can stop your teenager from wrecking your budget entirely or – if you are lucky – their budget. The struggle is real, but so are the solutions.
- The 401-Drive Plan
Buying your child a car is a lovely thing to do, but it also comes with a few negatives to bear in mind. Think about it for a moment. If you just buy them a car, what lessons are you teaching them? None, other than the fact you are super-generous and loving parents (which is cool). If however, you can, then we recommend you incentivize them somehow, and a great way to do this with a 401-Drive plan. Think of it as a matching plan. If they save up $3000 for a car, you will match that amount. Not only will this help them understand the value of money a bit more, and even learn how savings can help them reach their goals, you will find they are much more careful when it comes to driving because, well, they’ve had to put their own money into it. That’s a powerful incentive to drive steady.
- Flashy Cars Aren’t First Cars
Every teenager has dreams of passing their test and returning home to find a Camaro sat on the driveway with a big red bow tied to the roof (which is mainly thanks to MTV’s Super Sweet 16). However, the realities are somewhat different. Flashy cars are something that we all have to work toward, not just expect, which is where we have a little bit of good news for you: you can pick up cars for much less than $2000, or even $1000. Sure, they may not win any races (good!) and they may not land them a date (also good!), but they will get them from A to B. What’s more, in years to come, your child will look back on their first car – that beat up Mark II VW Golf – with the fondest of memories and wistfully explain how it was the best car they have ever owned. All this said, just make sure the car is safe by taking a mechanic to check it over with you.
- Advanced Driving Courses Are Ace
The day your child passes their test is a weird one; they are shaking with excitement and you are paralytic with dread. That’s the way it goes. That is where an advanced driving course could save the day. On the one hand, it will make your child a way better defensive driver, drastically reducing the chances of them getting into an accident and you having to call some legends in the matter of collisions, like Lopez and Humphries. After all, car accidents are the number one cause of death for people between 15 and 24, meaning anything you can do to make them better drivers is a great idea. But even though safety is the absolute priority, there are financial benefits too. First off, crashing is costly. Duh. That’s one of the ways a driving course can help. The other way it can have a positive influence on your bank balance is in terms of your insurance. Someone that has done an advanced driving course is a better driver in the eyes of an insurance broker; it’s as simple as that.
- Not All Insurance Was Born Equal
What we are trying to say is, there are ways you can reduce your child’s car insurance costs, and the most effective way of doing this is to shop around. Now we know there are a thousand commercials where companies claim to be the cheapest, but it is impossible to be the cheapest option for everyone. So, the only way to guarantee you have the best deal is to shop around. That isn’t all, though. Things like adding your teenager onto your car insurance policy, bundling your car insurance with your other policies, pay the fee upfront instead of monthly, add safety features to the car, store in a secure place, have a multi-car policy and raise your deductibles. Like we said, insurance is specific to you, which is why you need to find out what you can do to lower the costs. Oh, and thanks to the internet, it’s pretty simple.
- Sharing Is Caring
Your teenager probably has no idea how expensive it can be to keep a car. They just see the price tag on the windscreen and that is that. As such, it is your responsibility to play the messenger and go through all the costs – the insurance, the gas, the maintenance, the repairs, the cleaning and all the other little day to day costs. That is where charing the cost can really come in handy, for both of you. Come up with a plan together. Say you will fork out for the car up front if they agree to pay for every else, or agree that you will split everything except gas down the middle (they should have to pay for gas). Whatever suits you.