Last night, at dinner, my 17-yo daughter interjects (paraphrased): “Dad, (mumblefrotz-family-friend) is getting rid of their Volvo, and I hear we can get it for $3,000.”
You can imagine the discussion this started. So let’s present the salient facts, and I’d welcome your thoughts on the matter.
As background: My daughter, an excellent student, doesn’t have her own car. For most of her senior year and all summer, she’s been using either my car (Toyota Matrix) or my wife’s car (Honda CRV). She prefers my car. She’s about to go off to UC Berkeley, where she will be living on campus for at least one year. After that, it may be a coop or apartment. She does not plan on taking a car with her to Berkeley (at least the first year). She does not currently have a job.
The vehicle in question is a 2000-era (if memory serves correct) Volvo S-class sedan (likely a first-generation S60). It has had a single owner, and has been well maintained. I have not yet confirmed the supposed price.
We don’t have specified funding budgeted for her car. Other than a few small specifically designated college accounts, we essentially have a single pot of money used for college and household emergencies. Funding would come from this.
I see both pros and cons to this.
On the pro side, it would get her a car at a reasonable price. The brand has a good reputation. It would stop her from borrowing our cars.
On the con side, we would be spending money now for a car that would be mostly unused and sitting for months at a time. There would be additional insurance costs, and additional registration costs (one solution to this might be to require her to get a job on campus and pay for the increased insurance). My understanding is that maintenance on Volvos is more expensive than on Toyotas and such. I’m also worried about a higher-end car in the hands of a teen as a first-car (which usually gets trashed).
Part of me wants to defer getting a vehicle now — instead, after she turns 18, look into purchasing a used Toyota or Honda with a credit-union loan, co-signing it. This would have the advantage of building her credit rating by demonstrating the ability to pay off a loan. Insurance should be less expensive on a Toyota or Honda, and maintenance should be lower as well. I’d still be worried about her getting a job that could even partially cover the payments, plus provide her with spending money.
Thoughts from the peanut gallery?