My parents in law want to give my kids a used car as a present for their 17th birthday (about 8000 dollars). I know that this is going to add about 250 monthly on gas+taxes+maintenance to our expenses. Since we have just started to save as much as we can, the idea of getting a new car goes against our current ideology.

We want to speak with them and switch it to something else (an asset ideally) that can still be for my kids but have the chance to make it grow.

Do you have any ideas about what to ask for?

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    Perhaps the kids could use the vehicle to make money and cover those costs, would be valuable to learn cost of car ownership. – Hart CO Nov 8 at 19:16
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    You're forgetting insurance, which will kill you. – Fattie Nov 9 at 4:53
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    Car is like an animal. If the kid want's it need to take care of it. And be able to take care of it (so expenses are on them). If they don't want/need a car then there is no point in keeping it. – SZCZERZO KŁY Nov 9 at 9:15
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The simple solution:

Tell the parents thanks and to

  1. Buy them a normal $1500 car

  2. Give them $6500 cash in the form of an investment for the future.

Do you have any ideas about what to ask for?

Cash money in a bank account, or any form of investment.

Gold ounce coins would be ideal if you lean that way.

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    Gold coins would be a great way to learn that investing in physical gold coins is only for two types of people: lucky and dumb. (Not mutually exclusive.) – stannius Nov 9 at 20:38
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    @stannius , I really understand that sentiment. However a token amount of gold is a great "life" investment that really gives you the feel for holding an asset indefinitely. A half dozen gold coins (to keep for life, first financial lesson) is incredibly better than a vehicle which is not only a dead loss but an astounding cost. – Fattie Nov 10 at 2:53

A car is an asset. Just because it has maintenance costs does not mean it is a liability. You can sell the car, keep the money, and have no more costs to pay. If the car had a loan attached that you were expected to pay, then it would be a liability.

The kids could use the car to go to their job(s), or keep you from having to drive them, so you can spend more time at your job, and make up for the difference.

If the kids do not NEED a car, then I can see where it might be a burden. In that case, why not ask for a cheaper car and, say, a year's worth of gas money?

Since we have just started to save as much as we can, the idea of getting a new car goes against our current ideology.

What are you saving for? What if you ask for a contribution to that goal, and when you reach it, then you can start saving for a car?

Either way, if the kids already know that they are getting a car, it might be a VERY difficult conversation if you decide that you want something else. In that case I would probably just accept the generous gift and figure out a way to make up the expenses that go with it.

Finally, don't overlook the interpersonal aspect of this. Your in-laws want to do something incredibly generous four your children (their grandchildren). I would be very careful not to treat this gift as a punishment just because it was not in your financial plan. If this car will create a strain in your finances then you can have a conversation with them, but be sure that you acknowledge the significance of this gift. If you don't show the proper appreciation for the gift, you may find yourself with nothing but an awkward relationship.

  • Thanks for the answer. Yeah, my kids don't know it yet. – Andres Nov 8 at 19:41
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    To prove D's point, you could sell the car and that asset could be turned into cash. The largest exception to this is if the car has a lien. In most areas even a non-running car without a title can be turned into some amount of cash. Does your child have the ability to pay for the upkeep of the car? – Pete B. Nov 8 at 20:11
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    Where is @fattie when we need him? – JoeTaxpayer Nov 8 at 20:50
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    A car is not an asset. That is a mindboggling comment. Assets throw off cash. – Fattie Nov 9 at 4:51
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    I just can't follow this answer. "Your in-laws want to do something incredibly generous four your children" For sure, but incredibly inappropriate gifts exist. Also you do is politely say the words "Thanks, but that is inappropriate. What about ABC?" If my rich friend wanted to give me a Lear Jet, what would I do? Be unable to say 2 words explaining it's not possible for me to accept that? – Fattie Nov 9 at 4:55

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