“Mom, it hit my car! What if it dies?” Rachel screamed into the phone.
“Rachel, are you ok? What happened?” I asked, trying to remain calm while emerging from a deep sleep.
“A deer jumped on my car, it broke my headlight and windshield, then ran into the woods. Should I follow it to see if it is ok?” she cried hysterically.
I counted to ten, pausing to remember she was only 19 and not close enough to hug. I inhaled deeply to calm my racing heart. Just a few months earlier I moved her into her dorm and drove the rest of the family across the county on yet another PCS. Leaving a college kid behind is hard.
Incidents and accidents like these make me grateful my husband and I chose to be intentional about teaching our kids the value of money and analyzing priorities. When my children first got their permits to drive, one of us had to be in the car with them. As soon as our first driver, Rachel, earned her permit, we implemented three changes.
The first change we made was to raise our deductible. Because of this change, our insurance cost went down not up when we added her to our policy.
After they passed drivers’ education and the state mandated driving test, we required them to give us $1,000 which was the deductible on our insurance. I invested that money in an individual savings account. If they had an accident and we had to pay our deductible, I would use this money. Then they could not drive without one of us in the car until they paid the $1,000. Always having the deductible in the bank allowed them to have money to cover emergencies, like a deer hitting a car.
We also “invested” in an umbrella policy to protect us in case anyone was involved in an accident. Umbrella policies will pay up to the limit of the policy. With new drivers, we decided to protect ourselves as well as our future plans. It gave us peace of mind that we were covered if anything happened.
With these three plans in place, I didn’t panic about the deer incident. After looking at the pictures, I knew the only thing we had to fix was the smashed windshield. The multiple dents were cosmetic and the misaligned headlight could be put back into place.
After discussing what needed to be fixed, Rachel had to choose between using her $1,000 for the deductible and returning the car to us or paying for the repairs herself. A friend said he could fix the headlight, and the dents weren’t too bad, which left just the windshield. Rachel decided to use her paycheck to repair it so she could keep the car at college.
Teaching young adults about money is essential. Don’t wait until you receive a panicked call late at night for life or a deer to teach them hard lessons.