I wrote here last week about what turned out to be a pretty quick search for a new car so the youngest child could have wheels while off at college.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta became ours with a mere 54 miles on the odometer. We choked down the down payment (it’s a one-time cost), purchased an upgraded alarm (the kid lives in Modesto, tops on the list for auto theft) and crossed our fingers on the final insurance hit.
Before I go any further, you should know what we were thinking.
Our motivation for walking this path is what you might expect.
We both experienced the relative joys of not having a vehicle while off at college. I got to take a family car to college the summer after my sophomore year. That opened up the possibilities for work while going to school, and expanded the options for where I could live.
The youngest child is hip deep in the second semester of her freshman year – taking the bus to and from classes – and was only able to carry six units her first semester and 12 this semester in part due to transportation limitations.
A reliable set of wheels, for her, would open up the possibilities for taking classes and for finding a part-time job to gain some pocket cash and the accompanying experience. It’s the kind of boon that only parents can offer to children in college.
So we jumped into the waters of a monthly lease payment and as-yet undetermined insurance costs.
We knew from the outset that our insurance costs would go up quite a bit to add the youngest child to our policy. We knew, for example, what it would cost to add her as an occasional driver to my Jetta. We talked to some “knowledgeable” people who estimated that having her drive the Ford Fiesta would pretty much double that, so we carried on our discussion leading to the lease.
I know what you’re thinking: You’re wondering why I didn’t call my insurance company to get a new quote for the specific car we were looking to lease. That’s simple: I did. But it was late Saturday and they had already closed, and they were not open Sunday. The shock came late Monday afternoon when the quote came in at about double our high estimate.
It gets better.
We discussed the financial aspect of the new-car lease at great length. We’ve made some well-reasoned financial decisions before, with positive results. We’re reasonably intelligent, have a fair degree of life experience, and have a pretty good understanding of how these types of things work.
Yet it never occurred to either of us that we would have to actually insure the new car before factoring in who drove what.
So instead of the youngest child driving the 2014 Ford Fiesta, she’ll drive the 2005 Jetta. The monthly insurance hike to have her as the Jetta’s primary driver falls just north of our original high estimate. I need to have a little work done on the Jetta first – things I live with, but that both Jill and I think should be fixed before we share the car with the next generation.
I’ll drive the Fiesta – and eat the accompanying insurance hike – for two years, at which point we’ll decide what comes next. True, it’s not the car I would have chosen for myself. I love my Jetta – how it drives, how it handles; pretty much everything about it.
But the price to have the kid drive the Jetta, as the popular television show title suggests, is right.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.