DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just turned 16, and she got her driver's license. It seems like all of her friends are getting cars as gifts to go along with their new freedom to drive. My husband and I are not in a position to buy a car for our daughter, but she really wants us to. My husband told her to get a job if she wants a car. She can save up money and buy one when the time is right. I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I had a part-time job when I was 16, but she has only had baby-sitting jobs. Is that enough? I don't know. I do know that we can't buy her a car right now, nor do we think that is a precedent to set. What do you think? -- She Wants a Car, Detroit
DEAR SHE WANTS A CAR: It can be tough on children and their parents when peer pressure takes over, especially when that pressure includes doling out big bucks. I learned early on that people value things most when they have to work for them. You are perfectly in line to want your daughter to work to buy her own car. There are plenty of used cars on the market that can be much more affordable than new cars. You may want to look online with her at some of these options. This will help her define a financial goal. As far as work goes, baby-sitting can be lucrative. She may want to expand her hours and save as much of the money as she can. As her parents, you may want to match her contribution to a car or give whatever amount you can. This will help her see that you are there to support her, but that she has to put forth significant effort, too.
As far as driving right now, let her drive your car as often as is viable. That way, she will still be able to be mobile without having to rely on her friends.