How to budget for and buy your teen’s first car

It seems like only yesterday you were bringing home your little one from the hospital. Helping them take their first steps, say their first word and then taking them to school for the first time. Now, they’re getting ready to pass their driving test and get their first taste of freedom and independence. It’s an incredible time with mixed emotions of pride and loss; you may be missing your little one but now you’ve got an independent and strong-minded young adult on your hands.

As a parent, it’s down to you to help them get their very first car – click here to find out how much you should be spending on a car – but it can be a little daunting. You want them to have a vehicle that looks good, gives them confidence and have something that they’ll look back on fondly. But at the same time, the car needs to be prepared to take a few knocks and bumps as they get used to driving and parking for real. It’s a fine balance of style and practicality that you need to get right. So, read on for how to budget for and buy your teen’s first car.

Make a budget

How much you have to spend on a vehicle for your teen solely depends on your current disposable income, it’s not advisable to get yourself into debt when purchasing your teen their first car. Consider whether or not you want to purchase a car on finance or with a one-off payment. Your teen should probably pay something towards the purchase of the vehicle, that way they’ll appreciate it more and probably take better care of it and be mindful when they’re driving.

Take a look at your current finances and see how much money you have at the moment – is there anywhere you could make some cuts or some frugal savings? If your teen has a job, maybe they could take on some more hours to help? As long as it doesn’t interfere with their school work.

Work together

You’ll both have your own opinions of what’s best. And often, the topic of a first car can evoke some very strong emotions and some arguments. You must get your points about safety and practicality across without implying that they’re incapable of driving or likely to have an accident. Remember that they’ll want to look cool and want to enjoy driving around. So, try to come together to find something that ticks all the boxes.

Buy a used vehicle

A new car sounds lovely. But a second-hand car is much more practical for a first-time driver. You can still buy attractive and economically sound second-hand vehicles. So don’t let your teen be put off by the term “used vehicle”. If the car needs replacement parts then they’ll be cheaper to replace. Even a car that is just two or three years old will be cheaper to buy, to run and repair and still look good on the road.



I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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