At the tender age of 15, my mother asked me the all-important question: was I planning on getting a car when I turned 16? My answer: of course. She then dropped a major bomb and told me to get a job. She told me that if I could take on the responsibility of driving, I could also take on the responsibility of paying for gas and car insurance.
As I have grown older, I have realized on more than one occasion that mom actually knew what she was talking about. One of the best lessons I have learned from her is financial independence, a lesson parents can easily begin teaching their teens when driving comes into play. I, for one, had no intention of being the only 16-year-old at my school without wheels, so I landed a job as a receptionist and entered the wonderful world of bill-paying.
At first I was a little upset with mom for expecting me to work for something I wanted. I had plenty of friends who were having cars handed to them with no expectation of paying for anything associated with said vehicles. However, I also had friends who were handed no cars. So, I thanked my parents for my 1991 Ford Tempo and went to work.
Insurance for a 16-year-old doesn’t always come cheap, but I learned that there are ways to help keep the cost down. I am all for parents helping out their kids, so adding teens to a parent’s insurance policy is a great way to receive a discounted rate for the inexperienced teen. Also, purchasing a slightly older vehicle that can be paid in full can help. If this is the case, the teen can have liability instead of a full coverage policy. This can also be a lesson in responsible driving. I was told if I caused an accident in my car, my insurance would only cover the other driver. I would then have to come up with the money for another car. Insured teen drivers who excel in school are also offered a good-student discount. Any parent that is worried about grades dropping as a result of their child spending time at work can rest assured. After realizing that a bit of their paychecks could be spared by stepping it up at school, many teens may actually try harder to achieve good grades.
Too many teens today are missing out on such an important financial lesson because parents want them to be happy. Many parents believe they are doing their children favors by taking care of pesky little bills like car insurance. Many parents don’t want to take away from their children’s studies by asking them to earn the dough to take care of pesky little bills. If you ask me, parents who pay their teens way all the time are robbing them of a very important life lesson.