Although I’m not sure I remember every car I’ve driven over the years, I do remember the first one. It was big, green, and nearly as old as I was. But, it was mine.
It was my brother’s car first, purchased before he went away to college. Once he graduated and got a job, he bought a newer one and turned the keys, and the car, over to me.
My family didn’t have much money. I was sure I wouldn’t have a car at all until I could save enough to buy one myself. Therefore, even though I didn’t pay for it myself, I still appreciated my car and tried to take care of it.
Not all of the kids I went to school with had cars back then. Times have changed, though, and it’s almost expected now for parents to provide their kids with a car.
But maybe buying your teenager a car isn’t the best thing you could do for them. Here are 5 reasons you might not want to buy your kid a car.
1. They Need to Learn How to Earn What They Get
One of the reasons you shouldn’t buy your kid a car is because they need to learn how to earn what they get. Part of your job as a parent is to teach your kids responsibility.
Of course, you should provide for their basic needs, such as housing, clothes, food, etc. But giving them everything they want in life is not going to teach them to appreciate what they are given.
You could argue that they will have to pay for the gas and any repairs but not the actual car. Even with those financial responsibilities it may not be enough to teach your kids that they get what they earn for themselves.
There is a saying that if you “give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime”. Applying it to this situation means giving your kid a car isn’t the best thing you can do for them.
2. They May not Take Care of it
Another one of the reasons you shouldn’t buy your kid a car is because many teens are not good at taking care of their stuff. If yours is one of them, do you really think it’s a good idea to spend thousands on a car for them?
Before shelling out a ton of money on a vehicle, consider whether or not your kid is ready to take responsibility for the car. Talk to them about changing the oil, filters, wiper blades, and other regular maintenance.
If it is clear your kid expects you to pay for repairs and give them gas money you can certainly say no to the car.
3. It Could Help Them Build Credit
Putting your kid in debt at a young age isn’t necessarily the ideal situation. For one thing, you will probably have to co-sign the loan. But perhaps it’s a better option than buying your kid a car and paying for it yourself.
A loan could work to their advantage when buying their own car. If they are responsible in making their payments on time, it can help your kid build their credit for future purchases.
4. Is it the Best Use of Your Money?
Buying your kid a car may not be the best use of your money. This is just one more reason you shouldn’t buy your kid a car.
For instance, you might be able to take the money and invest it for your future retirement. Or, pay down debt instead of buying your kid a car.
5. It May Cause Them to Study Less
If your child is given a car, it may lead them to feel like they are free to come and go as they choose. This is especially true if you have not given them strict rules on when they should be home at night.
With too much freedom, your teen may spend less time on the things they should be doing, such as studying. This could cause their grades to drop and threaten their ability to get into a good college.
So, what do you think? Should you buy your kid a car?
Jeanne is a married mother of 2 grown children who works a full time job, has two side hustles, and also helps out occasionally on the farm she and her husband own together. Her background is finance and medical office management, and she hopes to help others improve their finances and change their futures.