One afternoon while my 15-year-old son was driving me to the mall, he asked me if I would co-sign a car loan for him. He told me that instead of investing the three thousand dollars or so he had saved in a used car, he wanted to buy something newer and make payments.
I agreed without hesitation.
Why I’m Co-Signing:
1. I trust his expertise.
My son will be 16 in a few weeks and he has been looking at cars since he was 10. There was a time when he could have recited the blue-book value of every car that caught his eye. In fact, before he even hit puberty he was fielding questions from my adult friends about which car was better for their needs. They trusted him—the kid has done his research and read and memorized reviews and ratings.
The summer he turned 12, my father taught him how to drive a tractor and gave him driving lessons in his F-250 in an open grassy field. So, when my son got his permit last winter and got behind the wheel with me for the first time, I was a lot more comfortable than I thought I would be.
2. I trust his work ethic.
Not only is my son a confident drive who isn’t afraid to parallel park, merge onto a busy highway, or find his way after taking a wrong turn, he’s a hard worker. He worked 45-hour weeks all summer, by choice. I’ve watched him morph from a lazy teenager who sleeps in, to a young man who gets up at the crack of dawn to make himself a protein shake, pack a lunch, and head off to work.
He’s responsible with the money he’s earned and he saved all summer so he can buy a car after he gets his license. He even has a few cars picked out and he regularly sends me pictures of his favorites.
A few years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of co-signing a loan for him.
How can a teenager take on a car loan and be responsible for repairs, taxes, and insurance? I know some of my parent friends may not agree with my decision, and it’s not something I’d recommend to everyone, but it makes sense for us.
Of course he’s not working 45-hour work weeks, but he still intends on working during the school year. When he got burned out playing sports, his father and I encouraged him to get back into it for years, but right now he finds more joy in working—and saving for something he wants—and that’s ultimately his choice. As long as he keeps up his grades, there’s no reason to discourage him.
3. I know he will learn from this experience.
By co-signing his car loan, he will learn earlier than most young adults how to budget, be responsible with money, and build good credit. He knows the car he buys is his responsibility. We agreed to keep the loan under ten thousand dollars so the payment is manageable for him, because I have no intention of making his car payments. He is proud of the fact he will be doing this himself.
It’s easy to say what you will and won’t do for your kids before the moment arrives. But my teens have taught me that parenting isn’t one-size-fits-all. My son is ready to take out a loan, he’s aware of the responsibilities, he already knows what it feels like to make money and save it. I have watched him do all these things and I know he’s ready. And I’m proud to sign a contract saying I believe in him.