Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Being A One Car Family

by heather

 It has always been our policy to avoid debt like the plague. And for us this has meant ever since we have been married we have only had one car. There are numerous times that it has been inconvenient, but for us it has been worth it. Given our circumstances, to afford a second car we would have had to do one of two things a) Not spend money on anything fun and put that money (plus some) towards a car or b) I would have to get a second job and work more than I already do. I don’t really like either of those options, and it is more important to me to spend time with my family than to have a second car. Many times people have said to me, ‘I don’t understand how you can possibly survive with only one car’, I guess it just comes down to priorities.
 Now I fully understand that having one car per family just doesn’t work for some people’s circumstances, work schedules, distance from work, etc. But here are some things that we have found to make one vehicle per family work for us.

  • At least three days a week my husband bikes to school/ work. (Weather permitting.) The college is  about 5.5 miles from our house and his old job was almost 7. It’s doable. Well for him it is. If I had to get up before 4 am so I could bike to work before a 12-13 hour shift I would cry, really.
  • Previously where we lived this was not feasible, so most days he took the bus to school. Yes, public transportation is not always the most desirable method, and sometimes very inconvenient, but it played a big part in both of us getting through college without debt.
  • Every week I plan one day where I do most of my shopping, errands and activities (like take the kids to the library or museums). I try to be organized and make shopping lists so I don’t need to make as many trips to the grocery store.
  • We make good use of the park that is within walking distance of our home.
  • We spend a lot of time at home. My kids love to play in the backyard and I can watch them from my kitchen while I cook, clean or blog. I enjoy being in my house.

In addition to not having an extra car payment, not having an extra car has the following benefits:

  • Less money spent on gas, licensing fees, insurance and maintenance
  • I feel like I waste less time, I rarely go to the store for one item and subsequently spend less time running errands.
  • Fewer trips to the store means less impulse buying.
  • Less driving is better for the environment. :)
  • If you’re using public transportation (especially as a college student), you can use your transportation time as study time, which is harder to do when you’re driving.
  • Walking and biking, when feasible, provide good exercise.

4 Responses to “Being A One Car Family”

  1. Shawnie says:

    This is a great thought. I think less really is more so many times. The more we have, the more our possessions drain us. I've been contemplating about downsizing in many different ways…

  2. Shara says:

    We're a 2 car family, but that is a bit deceptive.
    My husband and I share a car and we do a lot of the things you listed. (We made the decision to cut back to 1 car about a year and a half ago.) My college age son lives with us and he has his own car so if I truly had an emergency he would share. (We're not in an area where public transport to school is available for him.)

    I've found like you that I learn to adjust and make do with what I already have on hand rather than just run out to do things.

  3. Julie says:

    Way to go! We made it 21 years of marriage before adding a second car. We finally sucumbed last year when we had four drivers, and we splurged on a 1992 station wagon (which the teenager and/or college student drive, while daddy still relies on the bus). It can be done! especially when there are so many better ways to spend yer monies!

  4. Erwin Calverley says:

    My husband and I have been together for 10 years now and we survived being a one-car family all these years. What's nice about it is it's more eco-friendly and you can save more money than if you had more than one car! =]

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