I bought my first car when I was 18! I had to let go of it this past summer when I bought a new one and I miss it. But oh well. Going in hand with my last post on learning to drive, I'm also glad I own a car. Knowing how to drive breaks down barriers in life, and having a car breaks down even more. It took a couple years of saving for me, almost two years of driving my parents' minivan, and often getting rides to work, but the sense of accomplishment when I drove my Mazda home for the first time was great!
Not only does owning a car break down a lot of barriers in life, it's also a great way to learn responsibility. So far, cars have been my biggest investment and it's a continuous investment. A car is something you have to save for, then when you buy it, you may be either broke or have regular payments if you finance. Then there's the insurance company to pay, fuel to put in the tank, maintenance, repairs, buy new tires for the winter, etc. It sucks a lot of cash out of your pocket. The good thing about it is that you learn to manage your money better when you know that a good chunk of your paycheque has to go to keeping a vehicle on the road. It gives you a taste of what it's like to pay the bills.
Also, notice I say OWN a car. If at all possible, I encourage you to pay cash for your car. I was very happy I did this with my first car when my hours at work were cut back shortly afterward and my expenses increased. There is no way I would have been able to handle any debt. When I purchased my second car, I was initially going to finance. I thought I had no other choice. I wanted a real nice car this time. But since I was only working part time, the bank wouldn't grant me a loan unless I lied about my income (which I was actually told to do). That wasn't an option, so I had no choice left but to save my pennies and wait until I could again pay cash and not get my dream car. I had also calculated that even if I legitimately met the bank's requirements for a loan, I would have had to choke my other spending to meet my financial obligations and that was not a burden I wanted.
I do see a downfall of having a car. Yes, it allows me to keep my job and be independent, but I would have a hard time having this independence taken away. There's something I'm very afraid of right now. I have seen young couples get married and have to move down to one vehicle to cut expenses. That would be extremely difficult for me. But I would understand the reason for it. I know how much it costs to keep a vehicle on the road. If you never have your own car, you don't have to worry about that.
Some young women are very privileged and their parents buy them cars, or have one they're always allowed to drive. I haven't had that luxury and I'm actually happy for that. I value what I've been able to learn through owning my own cars. Just please don't take it away from me.
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