Remember your first car? Whether it was brand new and shiny, right off the lot, or purchased from a friend or cousin, it was all yours, and it meant so much more than just a way to get from here to there. It was a true symbol of independence, a badge of honor and a concrete step toward adulthood.
While some people get that first vehicle the minute they're old enough to have a learner's permit, many others spend years driving Mom's car first. Some people won't get a first car of their very own until they move out or graduate from college, meaning they'll receive a nice, fat new car payment to go with it.
But even a car payment can't take away the excitement of owning your own ticket to ride. Of all the items a young person can buy, a car may be the most culturally significant.
Because of this, many parents find themselves caught up in a stress cycle, feeling guilty because they can't provide a car wrapped with a bow on their son or daughter's 16th birthday, or worrying over the safety of the cars they may be able to afford.
The lessons learned through allowing the young driver to save for his or her own vehicle, however, are priceless, and encouraging a teen to reach savings goals in order to receive matching funds from parents or other loved ones is a great way to supplement any existing money available for the purchase.
For a new college graduate looking to start a life and a career, have clear-cut savings goals for buying that first new car off the lot can make the difference between paying for repairs on an old vehicle on an entry-level salary and having a reliable way to work.
Recommended savings goal: $3,000 - $5,000 (for a down payment on a new car or to buy an older used car in good condition)