My Sister: The Plan

Woah little sis! Nice ride you got there!

So in a little less than 3 weeks my 16 year old sister will be coming to live with me. I’m supposed to be her “half-way house” between living with her mom and living on her own. She graduated high school in October (online charter school) and has been loafing around in California and Arizona the past few months.

While she’s living with me there are a few things that I have to ensure she gets done:

1. Teach her about finance. I plan on using Gail’s jar technique for our grocery spending to help teach about budgeting. I’m making her get a part time job, in addition she’ll be getting the $200/month that I would be getting from her mom. In exchange I’m going to charge her $100/month rent and utilities and have her contribute to the groceries (in the jar, of course!)

2. Get her educated. We’ve got her application in for the local community college. Right now she’ll have out of state tuition (suck) but after the spring semester is over she’ll be in state (win!). I have her signed up to apply for financial aid. Her mom has told me that she plans on helping pay for some of her college tuition, but knowing her mom I doubt this will be very much. I’ve always assumed that it would be my responsibility to help pay for her tuition. The goal is for me to be able to pay her tuition and her to buy her books (from her part time job). Once we’re at in-state tuition rates this shouldn’t be more than $2,000/year on my end (without financial aid).

My plan is to pay for her AA degree out of my pocket and then she’ll take out loans to pay for her last two years at a 4-year school. Thankfully I know some tricks to getting her a really good price at the school I teach at if she decides to go there.

Those are the two big goals. But here’s the thing…

I like my life right now.

I like having the house to myself. I like BF coming over whenever. I like my things where they are and not worrying about another person. It will be such a huge change having her around.

I love her. But this is going to be an enormous change for me.

Even with classes and work she’ll still be around a lot. I’ve decided that the only way that I’ll be able to keep my sanity (and a good relationship with BF)  is to get her a car. Give her freedom to go hang out with friends she might meet, get her to classes, get her to work. The nearest bus stop is a 20 minute walk and her school and mine are in opposite directions from each other, so I’m thinking this is the best idea for the two of us.

So a few ideas crossed my mind:

1. Get myself a new car and give her my old one. While this is a sweet idea, I don’t really have the money to afford the debt/car payments of a new car. So as much as I would like to get myself a snazzy 2009/2010 Toyota Yaris – I’m afraid this one will have to wait. The plan is to start saving for a new car when the debt is paid off… *sigh*… when….

2. Get her a decent car for $3,000-5,000. There are a lot of cars in this range that wouldn’t be too bad. They are reliable, dependable, and will last her through college. The problem? I don’t want to PAY that much for her car when my car is barely worth the bottom end of that price range. Secondly, I’d still have to finance, though the payments wouldn’t be terrible for a 24-month loan. Also, I have a pretty strong aversion to buying teen agers decent cars – if they want a nice one I feel like they should work for it and pay for it with their own money.

3. Get her a clunker. This is the option I’m leaning towards. Spending $500-$800 on a car that is old as mud, still runs, but won’t last forever. I’d use the extra money in my Yearly Fund and the money I’d spend on her birthday (Dec 20th) and Christmas gift to get her a throw away car. Then she has something to drive around in. She can start saving up money from her part time job. And when it dies she can use the money she’s saved from her job to get herself a car of her choice (within reason). She can even sell it or trade it in if she wants when she gets a newer car.

I did some searches on Craigslist in the area and found 3 cars the fit the bill: $500-800, currently run, not too bent up, made in 1995 or later, reputationally sound brands. I emailed all of the owners, we’ll see if I get any responses. Who knows, I may be the owner of a new car this weekend. 😉

As much as I deplore the idea of buying a car for a teenager, in some sense I’m not just buying it for her I’m also buying it for me. She gets freedom… and so do I. I think this is the best scenario budget-wise for me and a great way to teach her about how to save up for a car and pay for it in cash after she gets a job.

….sure do hope she gets a decent paying part time job!!