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The Daughter and the Car
Old 06-06-2008, 08:17 PM   #1
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The Daughter and the Car

My daughter wants a car. She's 19, and has made the decision not to go to college at this point, she wants to get a cosmetology license instead.

If she were attending college, DW and I would pay her tuition and board, and had planned to get her a very used car at the end of her first year of school.

As it is, she's working about 45 hours/week at two fast food jobs. She's living at home, but she's saving up money for this car and to pay 1/2 of the rent in a cheap apartment she's going to share with a girlfriend. Signed the lease--she's committed and will be moving out as soon as she has a car. Oh, and the cosmetology school costs about $14k--pay up front, it takes about 18 months, then you're qualified to go out and earn the avg of $17k per year.

My preference has been to let her save for/buy the car herself. The sooner she feels what life is really like (IMO), including the real cost of things, etc, perhaps the sooner she'll decide that college isn't such a bad idea. She's working her tail off at these jobs, which is a very important part of her "education," IMO. She's saved $700.

That's the background. Much as I'd like her to have the experience (and the pride) of earning the $$ for her own car all by herself, I also want her to have a safe car. My guess is that she'll buy the cheapest thing she can get. New drivers crash a lot, and I can't say she's the most attentive driver on the road. DW and I have discussed possibly matching her investment in the car 1:1 if it meets certain criteria -- maybe a min of "acceptable" in the IIHS frontal crash tests, min wight of 3000#, air bags (driver's side-curtain bag, too?).

Buying her a car outright is not an option. It's not about the money: she needs to experience the reality of life as soon as possible so she can make some good decisions. She already threw away $6k in tuition and dorm fees while barely even attending classes. The clue light needs to come on.

So, opinions are solicited. What would you do? Stay out of this? Help her buy a car (thus denying her the satisfaction of earning it, but also helping to encourage her to get a safer one)?

What I'd like her to get: a 2003 Taurus or Sable, with plenty of pre-existing body damage (lower price, and she'll probably do it anyway) and side airbags.
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:39 PM   #2
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I think getting a college degree is great (I got 4) but don't assume she will ever want to go. Good stylists can make much more than $17 per year and if that's her passion and she is good at it, she could bring in some bucks.

Having a safe, dependable vehicle is extremely important to making a good living and I would definitely go at least halves with her on a purchase.
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Old 06-06-2008, 08:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post

So, opinions are solicited. What would you do? Stay out of this? Help her buy a car (thus denying her the satisfaction of earning it, but also helping to encourage her to get a safer one)?

What I'd like her to get: a 2003 Taurus or Sable, with plenty of pre-existing body damage (lower price, and she'll probably do it anyway) and side airbags.

In the interest of safety I'd help her buy the car but the insurance and registration is on her . We all want our children to go to college but frankly some of them will not . I've always gone to medium to high end beauty salons and the people I've gone to make way more than 17K .They travel a lot and live the good life . So cosmetology is not so bad !
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:04 PM   #4
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My daughter wants a car. She's 19, and has made the decision not to go to college at this point, she wants to get a cosmetology license instead.

If she were attending college, DW and I would pay her tuition and board, and had planned to get her a very used car at the end of her first year of school.

As it is, she's working about 45 hours/week at two fast food jobs. She's living at home, but she's saving up money for this car and to pay 1/2 of the rent in a cheap apartment she's going to share with a girlfriend. Signed the lease--she's committed and will be moving out as soon as she has a car. Oh, and the cosmetology school costs about $14k--pay up front, it takes about 18 months, then you're qualified to go out and earn the avg of $17k per year.

My preference has been to let her save for/buy the car herself. The sooner she feels what life is really like (IMO), including the real cost of things, etc, perhaps the sooner she'll decide that college isn't such a bad idea. She's working her tail off at these jobs, which is a very important part of her "education," IMO. She's saved $700.

That's the background. Much as I'd like her to have the experience (and the pride) of earning the $$ for her own car all by herself, I also want her to have a safe car. My guess is that she'll buy the cheapest thing she can get. New drivers crash a lot, and I can't say she's the most attentive driver on the road. DW and I have discussed possibly matching her investment in the car 1:1 if it meets certain criteria -- maybe a min of "acceptable" in the IIHS frontal crash tests, min wight of 3000#, air bags (driver's side-curtain bag, too?).

Buying her a car outright is not an option. It's not about the money: she needs to experience the reality of life as soon as possible so she can make some good decisions. She already threw away $6k in tuition and dorm fees while barely even attending classes. The clue light needs to come on.

So, opinions are solicited. What would you do? Stay out of this? Help her buy a car (thus denying her the satisfaction of earning it, but also helping to encourage her to get a safer one)?

What I'd like her to get: a 2003 Taurus or Sable, with plenty of pre-existing body damage (lower price, and she'll probably do it anyway) and side airbags.
You're a parent so you know that each child is different and an approach that might work with one might not with another, and so on. So, no matter what we say on this thread, use your own instincts.

That said, when my daughter was 18, going to college full time and working 3/4 time, and living in her own apartment, we gave her my 8-year-old very lightly driven Daytona, and I got a crummy used K-car for myself. The reason we gave her my car is that she needed a safe car and we didn't see any possibility of her ending up with one on her own. We even paid for her insurance, though she had to pay for gas and maintenance. The reason we paid her insurance was that we did not have confidence that she wouldn't try to go without to save money. Later, when we were sure that she had more of a clue, she paid for her own insurance.

Had she simply been working full time, I think we would have done the same. Because she was going to college, we contributed to her other living expenses and we wouldn't have done that if she had not been going to college. However we felt the car was genuinely necessary due to her hectic schedule.

So I guess if I were in your shoes, I'd encourage her to move out and support herself, but buy her the car yourself so that you have complete control over what kind of car it is. I might even consider using the car as "bait" to get her to make the big jump from living at home to living on her own, because independence can be a good thing. At least, it was for Christina. She was always a little timid and so we were really proud and happy when she had the courage to leave home.

As for the clue light, it will happen, it will happen. Her parents have a clue and so will she. It just takes time.
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:44 PM   #5
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I think if I were in your shoes I might try for a Volvo as their results seem to be better in side impact, injuries, and deaths:

Volvo Crash-Test Results, Volvo Safety Information, Volvo Insurance Data, NHTSA, IIHS, NCAP, S60, S70, S40, V70, V40, S80, S90, V90, DL, GL, GLE, 760, 740, 780

Ford Crash-Test Results, Ford Safety Information, Ford Insurance Data, NHTSA, IIHS, NCAP, Mustang, Crown Victoria, Focus, Escort, Contour, Aspire, Tempo, LTD, Thunderbird, Probe, Festiva, ZX2

Also, the Volvos tend to do better in rear impacts:

Head restraints: Volvo

Head restraints: Ford
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:51 PM   #6
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Help her buy a safe car. I believe you and your wife will sleep much better for doing so.
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:36 AM   #7
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The young lady who cuts my hair graduated from the same high school as my oldest son, and after discovering that fact one day we had some conversations about parents supporting kids in their post high school endeavors.

She went to college because she and her mom had an agreement that she would at least try it, and if she didn't want to continue, mom would foot the bill for cosmetology school. She made it clear before she left for school that she was not interested in any careers that required a college education. She did the one year and got decent grades because that was part of the deal, but she said that 4-5 years later she doesn't regret her choice to switch to cosmetology school.

I've got a 19-year-old who just finished his first year of college. He had a few bumps during the first semester, but gained some maturity and made it through with an invitation to return while keeping his scholarship. But there were a few moments when I had to wonder what I would do if they sent him back home to "take advantage of other educational opportunities". I can empathize with your situation.

In your daughter's situation it may be the case that college was not a good choice. Or, as you seem to believe, it's just a case of some immaturity getting in the way of success. Given that neither of you know how this is going to turn out, I wouldn't make any major financial commitments to her future. $14K for cosmetology school, up-front? - That's not happening right now, come see me after you've been on your own for a year. And that would be the same answer for a renewed college bill.

If you believe that working for a living at a low-end job, and paying her own bills will get your daughter to snap to the fact that Dad's offer to pay for an education (college or cosmetology) is the great gift that it is, then I wouldn't do too much to stand in the way of those lessons. Pay for part of the car if it helps you feel better that she's not hitchhiking to work, but that's where you should draw the line.

The goal is to have your daughter get motivated about making the most of her opportunities as quickly as possible. If the worm turns for her and you feel better about spending big bucks for education, then negotiate a realistic plan for accomplishing that.

My fingers are still crossed against finding myself in this situation, and you have my best wishes for success. I think they call it "tough love" not because it's a tough experience on the kid, but because it's tough for the parents to implement.
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:00 AM   #8
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When I'm considering two options with negative consequences I generally try to imagine how I'd feel if the worst happened.

Worst case if you buy her a safe car -- it takes her longer to find a clue, or the gift of a car renders her permanently clueless and she cuts hair for the rest of her life.

Worst case if she drives an unsafe car -- the unthinkable happens and you live the rest of your life in pain and regret.

IMHO, the gift of a safe used car, in and of itself, is unlikely to tip the balance one way or the other for her. I'd leave it out of the equation -- tough love may be a good idea if your kid is a crack addict, but that's hardly what you have here.

For what it's worth I bought my first car, with my own money, at 17 years old. All it did for me was carry my backside back and forth to my fast-food job, which got old pretty darned quick. I gradually came around to a clearer way of thinking, and I'm betting that with a little time your daughter will too.
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Old 06-07-2008, 03:21 AM   #9
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I can be a hard ass at times..... but I think that if I was willing to buy 1/2 of a car if she were going to college... I should be happy to buy her 1/2 if she is going to any school that would give her a career...

I think I would try and focus her on a group of cars that all are good, but let her make the final decision since it is 'hers'.... just show her how to pick well as this is her first time... lower miles if available, a reliable brand etc etc.. and get it checked by a mechanic.... some more lessons learned...
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:55 AM   #10
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My preference has been to let her save for/buy the car herself. The sooner she feels what life is really like (IMO), including the real cost of things, etc, perhaps the sooner she'll decide that college isn't such a bad idea. She's working her tail off at these jobs, which is a very important part of her "education," IMO. She's saved $700.
IMHO:

Do not spend any money to help her out. If she is going to purchase a death trap, help her get a vehicle that is at least safe. Perhaps the best thing you can do is help her pick a car out. Once she picks the car out, you can help her understand the cost of insurance and car maintenance, rent, etc.

Do not buy her a new vehicle.

If you subsidize her now, she may never decide to go to college. Once she sees how expensive it is to live, she may decide to go to college (a little later). You can help her out with expenses then... she will need it.

This is a tough love exercise. But there is a trap for young people who avoid college (after high school) and come to their senses later... they get into debt.

All along encourage her to go to school (college) but do not push. Help her to understand the interesting career choices out there. Also help her to understand that college is not like high school.
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Old 06-07-2008, 07:53 AM   #11
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I say help her buy a safe, as inexpensive as possible used car...I would have her live at home while she goes to school if that is a possibility, and I would make it a condition of helping with the car expenses. Make her pay rent, and if you feel bad about that, save it and give it to her for her wedding, when she buys a house, etc. I would not pay for more schooling though, given she threw 6k overboard.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:36 AM   #12
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"Your mother and I are more concerned about your safety than about your having a car. We're happy to help research what's out there, pay for the first month of unlimited CarFax, go with you to look at them, and even pay for a mechanic to check it over.

Your mother and I think that safety is worth ____. If you find a car that we agree is safe then we'll contribute ____ toward its purchase and we'll also pay for the first six months of insurance. We think that gives you enough time to decide whether a car is an affordable part of your new lifestyle, and after the first six months you're on your own."

Optional: "If you sell that car someday then we want our share of the money back."

This is going to sound like a dumb idea, but perhaps one of the issues is whether or not she's willing to listen to you these days. Moving out is the first step toward resolving that "problem", but maybe it's worth finding someone else that she will listen to-- someone with plenty of scary "This is what can happen" stories.

It's not easy to find a friend or a neighbor who you can point to and say "Go spend more time with that mentor", but perhaps you could make consumer debt counseling a mandatory part of buying a car. You'd pay for the apppointment and she'd have to attend as part of learning how to budget for a car and the risks of driving without medical/liability insurance. (She goes on her own-- you're not even in the building.) As a side bonus she'd get one heckuva talk about the boost in lifetime earnings afforded by a college degree-- even if it's in business administration.

I don't know if you can find it, but you want a safe car that's been beaten up a little-- especially if it was done by its owner who's feeling guilty and tired of the payments. Our '97 Nissan Altima was banged up a couple years ago. (Spouse spun out on a rainy exit ramp and ended up on top of a guardrail.) We had the car checked out and damage was largely cosmetic (plus a new muffler and a front-wheel alignment) and we've driven the car with no problems ever since. However anyone who can see the bent rear stabilizer bar, let alone the chewed-up fender & bumper, would know that the car had an accident. No one, not even our friendly neighborhood mechanics, wants to buy a car that's been in a collision. I don't want to sell the car to anyone who could later sue me for a car accident caused by "undiscovered damage". If a buyer gave me $1000 for it (parts/salvage value) I'd be thrilled. That's the kind of seller you're looking for.

A Volvo, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, or Honda with a crumpled fender may be a bargain.

While I was training my thousands of sailors & officers I heard a very common refrain: "When I graduated/quit high school I wasn't ready for college, but by the time I was in my 20s I'd had enough and realized that I really wanted to get a degree." When I look around our dojang at the parents waiting on their kids to finish class, just about every freakin' 20-something is reading a textbook or tapping away on a laptop. The assistant instructor is working at a tire shop to save tuition money-- he "gets it".

Maybe you could put a copy of "A Teenager's Guide To The Real World" on the car's front seat and let her know that you're saving the college fund until she's ready for another try.
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:39 AM   #13
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This is never a simple as it may appear. My case involves XW. I helped my son get his first car at 19. X cosigned for college loan at 20 to go after he did not pass in cummunity college. Son only wanted to go to college to be with friends and the grades were the expected. I am now out $4K do to his not listening for 6 months he needed to have timing belt changed and then helping to get the engine replaced. He was to pay me back $100 per month. I have seen nothing in over 6 months and never here from him either. He had to drop out of school this spring because he spent all his loan, $25K+. He has never accepted my advice nor solicted for it. I have finally realized he will have to learn about life on his own. I pray he is safe but can do no more.

My daughter turned down a car at 16 with conditional use and her paying the $25 per month for half of the insurance,(company benefit of DW2). She argued and left to live fulltime with XW. She bought her own $1000 car while still in high school. Only took to months to wreck the front end. i repaired it with parts form junk yard and she paid me back my cost. She got in troble drinking and etc and eventual had to have the car taken away by XW. After getting out of substance clinic she stopped going to school, didn,t graduate from HS. She at least got a job and learned how tough life is without and education. I paid for her english correspondence course so she could graduate. It took 11 months for her to finish this and finnaly this month she graduated. She has another car that she bought for $300. And she paid me for parts to do the front brakes, fix a rear brake line, replace ball joints and tie rod end, replace a broken trailing arm over the first 9 months she owned it. She has completed two clasees at Cummunity College and did it all on her own. BUT I GET THE MONEY FIRST! This morning it is off to look at the car again as soon as I am done here. Broken down at the grocery store with shredded front tire, etc.

I can say these are two different children. Both started out very disrespectful. The gifts to the first did not teach as well as the just the simple support of the second.

I wish you all the best. It will never be easy and you will always second guess your self... and as above, wake up at night.
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:50 AM   #14
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I was telling this story to the folks out front at the Unemployment section...they laughed and all agreed they had not seen a barber or hair stylist here in the office...yet we see plenty of college educated white collar workers (especially lately) on the UI books. My SD is a hair stylist (self employed on the side) and at least I know she will always have a trade to fall back on if the hospital she works at ever downsizes, etc. Yes, we were bummed when she only finished her frosh year at UT! Employed and making a suitable living wage can be more important than the almighty degree for many.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:00 AM   #15
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As it is, she's working about 45 hours/week at two fast food jobs. She's living at home, but she's saving up money for this car and to pay 1/2 of the rent in a cheap apartment she's going to share with a girlfriend. Signed the lease--she's committed and will be moving out as soon as she has a car. Oh, and the cosmetology school costs about $14k--pay up front, it takes about 18 months, then you're qualified to go out and earn the avg of $17k per year.

.
Sounds like a hard working young adult who has her head aimed in the right direction, as a parent well done.i'm sure she will appreciate your efforts in helping her out with her first car.Safety has a lot to do with sensible driving skills and it sounds like she probably has them. I'd buy her a good used Civic and help her out as much as possible on her future educational objectives
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:58 AM   #16
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Thanks to all for the very good advice and ideas you've provided. As you get more, pile them on. DW and I will have a discussion tonight and figure out a plan, then pitch it to DD.

I think you guys hit it on the head--as it turns out, this is only tangentially about the car, it's mainly about our daughter.
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:32 AM   #17
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We offered each son $5000 towards the purchase of their first car upon graduation. First one used it as a downpayment on a 3yo Nissan 240zx coming off lease (GE Capital) and took over the payments.

Second agreed to take my 15yo Mazda RX7 and $3000 in cash.

Different strokes.
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:47 AM   #18
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I wouldn't be so harsh on your daughter because she has chosen a vocational career rather than an academic. Not everyone is cut out for a high flying white collar career, though I am sure that every parent wants their child to be on that track. My hairdresser tried the college route but dropped out after one year. However, based on what she charges me, I figure she is making at least $30k a year before costs working one day a week. I have a friend who owns her own beauty salon and she regularly makes $1k a day.
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Old 06-09-2008, 12:13 PM   #19
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As others here have said, a safe car is worth the bucks. My folks bought me a used Volvo 240 sedan with 100K miles on it my freshman year in college. I then added several cosmetic "changes" to it over the following 13 years, but it was dirt cheap to insure ($25 a month) and I got another 120K miles out of it. It was a big, heavy car and probably the safest thing for the money at the time. I have no doubt that both my parents and I think it was an amazing value for the dollars spent.

As far as the college thing -- I understand the disappointment for you. Again, as others have said, learning a trade that can be plied anywhere is a good thing. $14K sounds like a lot, up front -- I'd offer to split it with her, or contribute a percentage of the tuition (similar perhaps to the percentage that you'd have given her for college?), contingent upon good grades or progress in her program. That way, she's invested in it as well.

BTW -- 45 hours a week while juggling two jobs doesn't sound like much of a slacker schedule to me -- I think she'll do fine once she figures it out. Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2008, 01:13 PM   #20
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i never got a new car - only hand me downs...my sister's both did (although younger one got a newer used one) and both are worse with money than i am!

i think matching her fundraising is very generous - and remind her she has to pay the insurance, maintenence and gas so that's a big "growing up" financial responsibility that she will have to plan for too.
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