Some kind of restriction here is a must, and in some states the decision is already made for you. For example, in the state of Maryland, it's now illegal for someone under 18 to:

  • Get a ride to school with your friend.
  • Answer a phone call while driving.
  • Drive your date to the movies.
  • Check a text message while driving.
  • Be a designated driver.[i]

Make sure to check your state laws! Along with that, you know your child and what he can handle. Knowing how easily people are distracted by some of these things—and given the fact that your teen is an inexperienced driver—I would recommend being pretty strict on these in the beginning. You can always relax the rules later as your child demonstrates responsibility.

8. Who owns the car? This question is bigger than it may appear. Ownership of the car may be important in determining how your child views your ability to restrict or take away car privileges, where he can go, how long he can be away from home, and so on. In my view, these are significant responsibilities that need to be grown into.

9. What type of consequences will come into play if your teen is irresponsible with the car?

10. Are driving trips outside school, athletics and work subject to prior approval?

If you decide to pay for some or all of the car expenses, make sure you add a section to your budget just for the car. Also, discuss what happens if your child exceeds his budget in this area, and who is responsible.

I'm sure you know that cars are some of the bigger expenses in life. Between purchasing, gas, maintenance and insurance, they can take a huge chunk of the budget. Also, cars are depreciating assets; they cost you money! Rarely can you sell a car for more than you paid for it.

It's good to have a balanced perspective on the whole situation. Really, a car is a way to get from one place to another. I say this as a reformed "caraholic." In the past 19 years, I have owned 27 cars and trucks! To say that I am somewhat familiar with negotiating for a car and all of the other details is an understatement. Safety and reliability are worth something, but the basic purpose of a car is to transport you and/or your child from one place to another. Getting caught up in specific makes and models or extra features is usually not healthy for your budget.

Decisions made in this area of transportation can make a significant impact on your children's future. And your modeling will be crucial in molding your child's view.

September 3, 2010

[i] Maryland Legal Assistance Network. "How Changes in Maryland Law Affect Minor drivers." <>, 31 August 2007.

Shane has a passion for teaching dads how to intigrate Biblical financial values into their children's lives. Shane has a degree in Business Administration from John Brown University and has 10 years experience in the financial consulting industry. He currently serves as the President of Dad the Family Shepherd. Shane and wife, Valerie, live in Topeka, Kansas with their three daughters.