Over the years, you’ve helped your child with math homework, English papers, and last-minute science projects. You’ve attended art shows, choral performances, track meets, and basketball games. Now that child is … gulp, getting a drivers license (or … double gulp, graduating!), and you’re gifting that lucky kid a car. Here are a few key things to consider before you hand over those keys.


As a parent, you’re already used to thinking “safety first.” The same goes when it comes to choosing a car for them. While it may be slightly tempting to gift your grad that sports car they’ve been dreaming of, your first priority should be safety. Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for detailed ratings and reports on pretty much any make and model out there. Choose a car you can feel comfortable sending your new driver in — especially since teens can be notoriously distracted drivers. The safer the car, the more peace of mind for you.


When deciding to buy your teen a car, remember to consider all the costs, including insurance, monthly payments, maintenance, repairs, and even gas. You may even choose to have your child shoulder the responsibility of some of the costs. It’s a personal decision, but the most important thing is to communicate clearly, especially when discussing finances. Whatever you decide, make sure you and your teen are on the same page.


No matter who’s buying a car, there’s always plenty of paperwork and buying a car for your teen is no different. Be prepared by having all the documents in advance so you can streamline the process. If the car’s title will be in your teen’s name, you’ll need a copy of their driver’s license and proof of current insurance.


Make sure your teen understands the driving laws specific to your state. Sit down with them to discuss the dangers of the road as well as the privilege (and the responsibility) of having their very own car. The more knowledge the better!

And before you add that big red bow, make sure you’ve tucked a fully stocked roadside emergency kit into the trunk. Then fill the gas tank and get ready to see your teen’s eyes light up.

Safe and smart | For your finances


about Hannah

Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, and making sure she gets in at least 10,000 Fitbit steps a day.