At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.
Some of you have already rolled your eyes at this idea because you know downsizing to one car would never work for your family. I totally get that. I know that this suggestion isn’t for everyone.
But would you do me a favor and at least consider it, if you haven’t already? Because you’ll never know if something will work if you don’t at least consider it. Plus, if you’re really struggling financially, becoming a one-car family at least for a short while might be a way to find some breathing room in your budget.
How Much Can You Save?
Downsizing to one car is going to mean making some changes and sacrifices. However, if you think about how much you could save, it makes the changes and sacrifices sound a little more doable. So start there, if you’re needing some convincing.
Add up how much you’re paying in taxes, car repairs, and car payments (if any) per year. Then, think how much you’d save in gas if you dropped one of your cars and carpooled, used public transportation, road your bike, or just stayed home more.
Combine these two numbers together, and you’re more than likely to get a number somewhere in the vicinity of $1000 to $2000 per year — or possibly more. That’s certainly not an amount to sneeze at!
Our One-Car Experience
When Jesse was in law school, we had two rather used and unreliable vehicles for the first year. Since we were both working and he was in school, this was a near necessity. Or so we thought.
Then, I got pregnant and very sick. So I stopped working and came home to try and set up an online business (you can read my very long story of Becoming a Work at Home Mom here).
Not too long afterward, our second vehicle gave out. Because we didn’t have money to replace it and because I was now home full-time, we became a one-car family and we stayed a one-car family for the next few years.
Yes, it was a little challenging at times. I had to do all of my grocery shopping and errands on Saturdays. Or, I had to get up early (with little Kathrynne in tow) and take Jesse to work.
When we moved to Kansas City and Jesse started working for a law firm downtown that was a 45-minute commute, it was no longer feasible for me to take him to work. So I stayed home every day, all week long.
We lived close enough to walk to Aldi, if need be, and we were also within walking distance of the library and a park. So truthfully, I really didn’t feel all that cooped up. If I wanted to get together with friends, I invited them to come to our house. No one seemed to mind that I was always the one hosting things — and I loved it!
A few months after our second daughter was born, we were in a financial position to purchase a second vehicle and we’ve been a two-car family ever since. It makes it more convenient, but I’ve told Jesse that I’m always willing to go back to being a one-car family if the need arises. And I truly mean that.
Because honestly? Life was a lot simpler when you didn’t have the option of running out to do or buy this or that during the day.
How Much Did We Save?
Recently, I was being interviewed for a piece and they asked me for a specific number of how much we saved per month by being a one-car family for those few years. Honestly, we’d never sat down and done the math, so this was a fun exercise.
After lots of number-crunching, Jesse determined that we saved around $1500 per year by downsizing to one car. Since our budget was so tight during those years, that $1500 was huge for us — and likely one of the things that helped to keep us afloat.
A Priceless Lesson Learned From Being a One-Car Family
You know what was more valuable than the money we saved by being a one-car family? The lessons I learned on contentment during our one-car family experience.
I learned that it’s not stuff or busyness that brings fulfillment. Contentment is an inner state of the heart. Learning to bloom exactly where I was planted and to be content in my quiet, simple, ordinary life is something that all the money in the world can never buy — and these are lessons I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
Things to Consider Before Becoming a One-Car Family
You’ll want to think long and hard about the sacrifices being a one-car family will require. It has to be a family decision, or it will make everyone miserable. Everyone is going to have to be on board and be willing to be flexible for it to work.
In addition, it’s important to think about safety. If you live out in the country, far from civilization and you’re a mom of young children who is home all day, it might be wise to have access to a second vehicle in case of an emergency.
Finally, it’s necessary to consider how much extra time and effort becoming a one-car family will require. If you have a busy schedule, work two jobs, and are running children to lots of different activities, trying to share a car with your spouse might lead to more headache and frustration than it’s worth. Count the costs ahead of time before downsizing.
Transportation Options Aside From a Second Car
- Ride Your Bike
- Use Public Transportation
- Buy a Moped
- Carpool With Friends or Co-Workers