By Special Guest Blogger, Sam D’Antonio

Getting a driver’s license and driving are two of the greatest joys in the world. But there are obstacles to cross before using that plastic ID. Buying a car and getting your license incur a mountain of expenses. In addition, a great deal of time is spent earning the license. During my first experience at the DMV, it took two days just to get my learner’s permit. It cost me hours of my weekend standing in line–in the cold–because I had overlooked key information. Take my advice to save your weekend and some dollars.

 While you may be impatient to drive, be aware: arriving at that stage takes time. Before you get a car, you need to know how to drive one. This journey starts with 30 hours of online training needed to take the DMV written permit test. I was terrified about taking the test, but if you pay attention to the online lessons, it’s an easy pass. Going to the DMV is the next step, where you get to enjoy lines that take hours to get inside. I had forgotten my birth certificate, social security number, even my pink slip from my online lessons. I needed all of these to take the written test. Then you need 6 hours of driving lessons (costing $50- $100 an hour) from a certified instructor. The next step is driving with an adult for 50 hours (including 10 at night).

After passing the written test, you wait six months until you can take the DMV driving test. Overall, there’s a minimum of 86 hours needed to even attempt getting a driver’s license. Don’t celebrate your license yet, you need to learn about the costs of owning a car.

It takes more than time to get your license; it also takes a bucket of money. The price of a car tends to be the number that stands out to any buyer. If I can afford the car, I can buy it, right? Wrong. Buying the car is the first step of many. You still need to account for a myriad of other expenses like gas (about $3.00 per gallon) and car insurance (around $1,720). Another cost is routine maintenance like tune-ups ($200-$800), changing the oil ($20-$55), and rotating or buying new tires ($50-$200/ea). These are a hassle to pay, but it’s better than spending money on unexpected repairs resulting from improper maintenance.

An average used car will cost $7,395 says www.costevaluation.com, but other expenses can amount to $2,500-$3,000. Of course, this depends on how much you drive your car and how much wear it receives. An unlucky car accident means repairs, and it jacks up your insurance rates. 

Driving safely will keep your car sound and keep it running longer. Some insurance companies will even offer discounts to students with good grades. However, if the car you own is too old and broken down, you may be wasting money on constant repairs. The same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum: expensive cars require expensive repairs. Don’t make the mistake of buying a car and not being able to repair it. 

Driving a car is a step into adulthood and responsibility, so you need to be responsible enough to figure out if you can afford it.