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Costs to Consider Before Your Teen Gets Behind the Wheel

Costs to Consider Before Your Teen Gets Behind the Wheel

A simple discussion now can let your teen know what to expect.

Morgan Cihak, program manager of advocacy initiatives at the National Safety Council, has spent numerous years instilling healthy lifestyles and values to people of all ages through community and state-level programs.

Getting a license is an exciting time for your teen, but sooner or later that excitement turns to worry as your teen wonders how they’ll handle the costs that come with driving.

From insurance and gas to car payments and traffic tickets, driving is not cheap, so this is an excellent topic to talk about before your teen gets behind the wheel. Below is a checklist of questions to think through and discuss with your new teen driver, as well some things to consider before making decisions. A simple discussion now can let your teen know what to expect and help avoid confusion down the road.

Purchasing a car

The first and biggest question to tackle is the car itself. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Will your teen have their own car or drive the family car?
  • If your teen drives the family car, will they help with any ongoing car payments?
  • If your teen will drive their own car, who will pay for it? Will the teen save up? Will you split the cost with your teen? Will you pay for the full purchase?

Make sure your teen is financially prepared to help with car payments, if this is part of your decision. And stay aware of the safety features to look for in a car for your teen. The best decision here is one that protects both your teen and the family’s finances.

Paying for fuel

Another major topic to consider is the cost of fuel for the car. Depending on whether or not your teen drives their own car, consider:

  • Will your teen be responsible for all fuel payments or will you pay for some?
  • How far and how often will your teen drive?
  • Who pays for gas when you are practicing driving together?

Depending on how much your teen plans to drive and the vehicle’s fuel economy, these costs can vary quite a bit. Make sure your teen considers fuel costs carefully when planning to drive and understands how the prices can change from day to day.

Insurance

Insurance payments are another common expense for teen drivers that can have a big impact on theirs and the family’s finances. Remember to talk about:

  • Will your teen pay for their own insurance or will you pay for it?
  • Will you share the costs of insurance?
  • How might this change if your teen gets in a crash and their insurance costs increase?

Depending on the insurance company you choose, your teen may be able to help lower their costs. Some insurers, for example, may offer discounts for safe driving or even good grades in school. Talk to your teen about these costs and make sure they are manageable for whoever will pay for them.

Ongoing expenses

There are many other expenses that come with owning a car, including maintenance, parking, traffic tickets and repairs, all of which you should spend time talking through with your teen. Once you reach a decision, these topics can be added in to your New Driver Deal so that both you and your teen understand who is responsible for which costs.

Of course, teens – even those with part-time jobs – may not have much experience paying bills and can be caught off guard by these sudden expenses. Regardless of how your family proceeds, make sure your teen understands the costs of driving a car and try your best to be understanding when it comes to your teen’s finances.

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