For most teens, learning to drive and earning that cherished driver’s license are milestone they can’t wait to accomplish. Many also dream of buying their own car. Although it might be tempting to cruise around on their own “wheels”, there are several reasons why they should wait until after graduation to purchase a first vehicle. Consider the following:
Increased Maturity Level
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the risk of accidents is higher between the ages of 15 and 19 than in any other age group. Teens tend to underestimate hazardous situations and are likely to take more risks because they want to show off in front of their friends. Alcohol can be another risk for teen drivers.
By waiting until after graduation, many kids are better able to handle the pressures of driving a car and the responsibilities that accompany car ownership. Then, if they are attending college or working at a job, they also are more likely to protect their vehicle so they have a reliable way to get to school or work.
More Financial Choices
Waiting until after graduation also gives students more time to save money. Increased savings translate to a larger down payment, which gives them a wider variety of choices when selecting a vehicle. This also makes it less likely they will settle on a “beater” that may not work after a year’s use. Instead, with more cash in hand, they’ll have the ability to choose a vehicle that is both economical and reliable. In addition, insurance rates tend to be higher for younger teens because of identifiable risks, such as accidents, tailgating and reluctance to wear seat belts, according to DMV.org.
If graduates need help financing their vehicle, there are several resources available to help with their purchase. DriveTime.com offers practical advice about financing and payment plans. Information about cosigning, student loans and planning for a down payment are helpful topics to explore when purchasing a vehicle.
Want vs. Need
After high school there is an increased need to commute long distances for work or college, which isn’t the case in high school. Buying a car after graduation is more practical and beneficial; in high school, when busing is provided, it’s an unneccesary cost. Every family should make a choice based on their needs, but, in most cases, a car is utilized more after a student graduates.
A Lesson in Independence
By taking ownership of and responsibility for a car, graduates learn more about finances, budgeting and asserting their independence. They are likely to depend less on their parents for transportation. Owning a car after graduation may also plant the seeds for establishing limits on spending, investing in the future, and better preparing to make financial decisions.
It’s worth the wait to buying a car after high school is finished. Graduates are likely to be more mature and ready to enter the real world and less likely to take their new “wheels” for granted.