Now that my son is 14 and getting ready for a driver’s permit, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about buying a car. (Yes, you read that right. In Idaho, you are eligible for a permit at 14 and a license at 15.)
It’s a few years since I’ve bought a car; I tend to buy something late model that I like and then drive it for as long as possible.
As I get ready to move forward with a vehicle for my son, here’s how I’m preparing to make the decision:
1. Figure Out What You Need
It’s not always about what you want, but what you need. My son would love a brand new sports car but he doesn’t need something nice. What he needs is something that will get him from point A to point B around town. At his age, he doesn’t need something that will help him go on an epic road trip. Nor does he need something that accelerates really quickly. In fact, a car with more horsepower is actually bad for a new driver because it’s a bit harder to control. It’s also more tempting for him to drive dangerously. I just want him to safely and conveniently get himself to fencing practice and (eventually) work.
2. Acknowledge What’s Practical
This is about tempering expectations. When I bought a Saturn wagon 14 years ago, what I really wanted was a Subaru. It just wasn’t practical at that time. The car didn’t fit in the budget and the Subarus that did were old with high mileage. Be realistic about your situation before you buy. I got the car I wanted…
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