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List: Posted: 12/10/10
Financing a car for yourself can be very stressful. Financing a car for your teenage daughter can be downright nerve-wracking! Before you go to the dealership and look into financing for a brand new Mercedes, stop and think about a few things first...
Firstly, consider not her age, but whether or not she has a real need to be driving yet. Just because she turned sixteen today doesn't mean she needs a car. If she can ride to school with her friends for a little while until you're in a better financial position to buy her a car, then that's okay. However, you'll need to look into financing a car for her if she goes from school, to tennis lessons, to work every day. You can't always drop what you're doing just to ferry her around, and friends may not always be available. If she has a job and has to take the bus, several missed start-times can mean the loss of her job, meaning a bigger financial burden on you.
Think about whether you can really afford financing for another car or not. Sometimes grandparents can help, but it's always a good experience to ask your child to save some money to at least contribute towards the car, even if it's just a few hundred dollars. Pitching in will give her a sense of ownership, as well as ensuring she is extra-careful with the car. If she helped pay for it, she's not going to want to pay out more money for repairs or upkeep if she neglects its appearance.
When you're financing your child's first car, you don't want to spend an outrageous amount of money on it, but you don't want her to drive something that's unsafe either. Forget what it looks like and look into crash test ratings. Also remember that the more expensive brands such as BMW may be prohibitively expensive to repair, as they require name-brand replacement parts rather than a generic part, and the part may turn out to be many times more expensive.
If you're buying a used car then always ask to see the Carfax report first (which will tell you if its been crashed or in an accident before, as well as useful info such as how many owners it's had, its service record and registered mileage at each service, etc).
Before you talk to the dealer about financing, ask if you can take the car to your mechanic for a checkup and estimate before the purchase. If the dealer is reluctant, this may mean he knows something you don;t about the car. A good dealer selling a 'clean' car will be willing to let you do any inspections you like in order to secure the sale.
Finally, don’t be shy about asking your daughter to help with a percentage of the monthly payments. If she couldn’t pay cash for a car up-front, and you’re financing her car in your name, ask her to help out every now and then. Have her pay for her own gas and maybe for her insurance each month if you’re taking care of the monthly payment yourself. It's a great lesson in financial responsibility!
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