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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}

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

  • Walk
  • Ride Your Bike
  • Use Public Transportation
  • Buy a Moped
  • Carpool With Friends or Co-Workers

Are you a one-car family? If so, tell us your tips and secrets for making it work!

Other posts in the 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year series

  1. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Bake Your Own Bread (Week #1)
  2. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 This Year: Make Your Own Coffee at Home (Week #2)
  3. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Cable Package {Week 3}
  4. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Order Prescription Glasses Online {Week 4}
  5. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}
  6. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Mixes {Week 6}
  7. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become a One-Car Family {Week 7}
  8. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Surround Yourself With Frugal Friends {Week 8}
  9. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Eliminate Disposable Products {Week 9}
  10. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 a Year: Cut Your Own Hair {Week 10}
  11. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Use Cloth Diapers {Week 11}
  12. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Become Best Friends With Your Freezer {Week 12}
  13. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Rent Movies for FREE {Week 13}
  14. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Ask for a Discount {Week 14}
  15. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cancel Your Gym Membership {Week 15}
  16. 52 Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Get the Best Bang for Your Buck at Yard Sales {Week 16}
  17. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Grow Some Of Your Food {Week 17}
  18. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Cut Back on the Soda Pop Habit {Week 18}
  19. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Buy in Bulk {Week 19}
  20. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Price-Match at Walmart {Week 20}
  21. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Ditch Your Landline {Week 21}
  22. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 This Year: Refinance Your Mortgage {Week 22}
  23. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Follow a Local Deal Blogger {Week 23}
  24. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Coupon Database {Week 24}
  25. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Plan a Weekly Menu {Week 25}
  26. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Strategically Use Daily Deal Sites {Week 26}
  27. 52 Different Ways to Save At Least $100 Per Year: Shop at Aldi {Week 27}
  28. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)
  29. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Clothing {Week 29}
  30. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop With Cash {Week 30}
  31. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat Less Meat {Week 31}
  32. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Is this really a good deal? {Week 32}
  33. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: 3 Ways to Save on Online Orders {Week 33}
  34. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Turn Your Clutter Into Cash {Week 34}
  35. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get Organized {Week 35}
  36. 52 Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Have an All-Cash Christmas {Week 36}
  37. 52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Cut Your Fuel Costs {Week 38}
  38. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Frequent the Library {Week 39}
  39. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Simplify Birthday Parties {Week 40}
  40. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Brown Bag It {Week 41}
  41. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Snacks {Week 42}
  42. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Use a Programmable Thermostat {Week 43}
  43. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Limit Eating Out {Week 44}
  44. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Get a Bang for Your Buck on Travel Expenses {Week 45}
  45. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Don't Pay For Pre-Made Baby Food {Week 46}
  46. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat More Beans {Week 47}
  47. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Homemade Cards {Week 48}
  48. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Shop At More Than One Store {Week 49}
  49. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Eat From the Pantry {Week 50}
  50. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Stay Home More {Week 51}
  51. 52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Develop Contentment {Week 52}

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118 Comments

  • We were a one care family for the first four years of marriage (my husband went to law school too!)

    Thankfully, both homes we lived in during that time were in town and I was able to walk to a grocery store (or at least the dollar store) and take walks around the neighborhood.

    I also did most of the hostessing (even though our school home was 650 sq. feet!) and occasionally my husband was able to catch a ride so I could have the car.

    If you’re willing to work together and be creative, it can work!

    The hardest part was that our one car was a 2-door Civic… and we had two carseats before we bought our second vehicle. 🙂

  • Julianne says:

    We are a one car family and have been for almost 2.5 years. Our vehicle is now paid off and we have no car payment. This helps so much. My husband works in the next town over and so he has to use the car for his primary transportation. I stay at home and either wait until he gets home and we do the errands together or I walk. I also have the blessing of family right across the street. Whenever I need it, my dad is there to give me and my little man a ride. Sometimes it does get stressful when Little Man or I have a doctor’s appointment. However, I just get up early and drive my hubster to work. I actually enjoy the few extra minutes in the mornings on days like that.

  • I’ve entertained this idea for when my husband’s car finally conks out. I really want to pay for his next car with cash, and we’re not quite there yet. I drive very, very little and fill up the gas tank just once in a typical month. The thing is, my husband commutes over 50 miles per day, and my car is a gas guzzler. I’m not sure we’d see enough of a savings to make it worthwhile as a long-term solution.

    • sarah says:

      My husband and I were a one car family for several months when his car finally bit the dust. We are committed to never, ever having a car loan but we didn’t have the cash to replace his car right away. We both work outside the home. My office is about four miles from our house. My husband oversees a dozen stores and drives a lot for work. My dad gave me a ride to work each morning (its on the way to his office) and my husband was able to pick me up from work in the evening. We coordinated our evening and weekend schedules so we wouldn’t both need the car at the same time. It wasn’t easy. Honestly, it hust my pride. But it was totally worth it save up and pay cash for a car.

      • Ledith says:

        Did you ever consider riding a bike to work—4 miles is not that far? When I started doing that, it saved money on gas and also because I lost weight (able to wear other sizes just waiting in my closet) and I dropped the athletic club membership.

        • Julia says:

          In our case, my husband rode his bike or took the bus; this meant that I had the car for running errands. It was very nice!

          Now we are a one car family again and my husband is close enough to walk to work.

  • Amanda says:

    We are a one car family. It happened out of necessity and not so much choice but once we got our car fixed I found myself staying at home and not to go as many places. We have play equipment at home for the kids, can visit the library or park easily and only go grocery shopping twice a month. This has saved a lot of money on gas (especially at 3.29+ a gallon) and all those extra stops to get a drink/snack or seeing a sale at Shoe Dept. Plus we don’t need tires, repairs or oil changes as often. Plus you can save quite a bit on car insurance. We made a few sacrafices in the beginning but it is totally worth it!

  • Jess says:

    We’ve been a one-car family for one year now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had actually wanted to be a one-car family for some time before that, but we decided to keep two for awhile. Both were completely paid for, but we just don’t have a need for two cars. I work mostly from home (except one day a week), and at the time, my husband worked completely from home. He works part-time outside of the home now but only a couple of miles away – in the spring/summer/fall, he bikes to work (we received the bike for free from a friend!). I agree – being a one-car family doesn’t work for everyone, but I don’t anticipate we will ever go back to having two cars. For us, it just feels excessive. I don’t judge anyone who has two (or more) cars, but for my family, two cars was just one too many. It’s just me and my husband right now, but in a few weeks, we will be welcoming our first human child into the mix.

    • My husband and I are in a similar situation. His office is under 1 mile from our apartment and he walks every day! We live in a neighborhood that is very walkable, and most things we do that absolutely require driving we’re doing together. His car can literally sit for months without being driven. The only time I really find myself leaning on the second car is if mine is having something fixed, but it is in good shape and that is rare. We’ve talked about adding the insurance to mine that would cover a rental car if needed, or looking into a service like Zipcar. We are on the cusp of selling his car, and I hardly feel nervous at all!

  • Shannon says:

    This idea has crossed my mind since I’m noticing that my car (our second car) can easily sit in the driveway for 7 days straight without use. We only fill up the gas tank once a month. I have always done our grocery shopping once every 2 weeks and we do activities with my toddler when my husband gets home from work typically. I think we should seriously consider being a one car family and I would love to put that extra money into a college fund for my son. The one thing that holds us back is not living within walking distance to anything being in a slightly rural area. I love these tips and it does get me thinking about the challenge.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is something I think about often because I simply do not use my vehicle much, and could limit my trips to town to work with 1 car only.

      What is hard for me is that while both of our cars are paid for, they are both 10+ years old with about a 100,000 miles on each. That is not too terribly old for either, but I always worry if one car goes out will I come out ahead having sold my 2nd car for way less than I would get if I just kept it. We also live out in the country so if something happened it would take a while for him to come from work to get us to take us to town.

      On the other hand, we estimate that the insurance, tags, etc. (not counting gas) run us about $800-900 a year. I’m not willing to drop the coverage down to liability at this time.

      • Luba says:

        If you do not use your vehicle much, I just recently heard about storage insurance. Call your insurance company and tell them that you are not using such-and-such car from today til ____. When you need to use it again, call them and let them know that you need to use it (about a day in advance or so). They should credit you the money. If you hardly use your second car and are paying insurance on it, using storage insurance would save you lots of money!

      • Jess says:

        I agree – if you really don’t use one of your cars but you’re reluctant at this time to sell it, put it on storage insurance. We did that with my husband’s car for about 5 months, then opted to sell it. We have never regretted it, but it helps to test out having one car and see if it works for you.

  • Diana says:

    We have two cars, but one is a truck that guzzles gas. So my hubby takes the car to work every day except one, and I go grocery shopping on that day. It definitely saves money and hassle not to be able to run out on a whim, and when he gets his little commuter car running (and I have the other car more regularly), it will take some discipline on my part for our gas bill not to rise! 🙂

  • We were a one-car family for over a year. My husband sold his car so that we could pay for computer equipment – to further his education – without it impacting our savings account. The equipment didn’t qualify for tuition reimbursement through his employer so we were left with the cost, and the equipment wasn’t optional.

    He rode his bike to work on most days and carpooled with a nearby friend when the weather wasn’t cooperating.

    Having one car was SO FREEING! It definitely takes cooperation and coordinating of schedules, but it made some decisions much easier to make. We had to say no to many things because of having only one car, but it allowed us to spend more (much needed) time together as a family. We also did more errands and activities together, instead of he doing one thing while I did another.

    We have two cars now, but I’d go back to having only one in a heartbeat!

  • Lee says:

    We have only had one car for the last 7 or 8 years. It is nice to only have to pay for one car, but there are times when I wish we could afford the 2nd. We do have the benefit if my husband having a job that allows him a car. He uses it to and from work and all day at work. Because if that car we don’t have the added stress of getting him to and from work, and that relieves a lot of the burden of being a one car family (probably why we have been able to stick to it for a lot longer than most families). I like to travel and my husband has to work a lot, back in the two car days it was no big deal for me to take off for my parents or a friends for 3 or 4 days and let him work. Now it is a lot bigger decision – will he be working or off while I’m gone, willhe need transportation anywhere but work, can I find him a carpool to get to some of those locations, or do I need to rent a 2nd car? Renting that second car means I have to be going for a good reason, not just going to see everyone. :). Day to day life isn’t so bad for us, just keep in mind some of the not so day to day things, and the additional wear and tear on your one vehicle. It is going to get more miles than either of your cars got before you were down to one vehicle.

  • Julie says:

    We’ve been a one-car family for over 9 years – the entirety of our marriage! And we have (almost) 4 kids, and we live in the hectic San Francisco Bay Area (oddly enough, with my husband’s current job location, public transit is not an option for us).

    Truthfully, I love being a one-car family. Tight finances stresses me out much more than having limited transportation does, so our joint decision to make this work brings me a lot of peace. While this would not work for everyone, there are a few things that make it desirable for us:

    -I’m an introvert, so taking my husband to work once a week or so is all I need to avoid feeling trapped at home.

    -We home school, so driving kids to class every day isn’t something we have to do.

    -We have a grocery store within a mile of our home, and a Starbucks down the street (for our Swagbucks gift cards – it’s the little things, you know!!). 🙂

    -My husband works south of our home, meaning he has a reverse commute and making sharing a car much easier than for others who would be fighting Bay Area traffic every day.

    -We have a large vehicle, so we can permanently store jackets, snacks, and water bottles in the car and can jump in at a moment’s notice if necessary.

    -My inlaws are only 40 minutes away, so if there is a vehicle emergency – something that happened a lot with our run-down sedan we owned before we got the SUV – we had help.

    Some day, I’m sure we’ll want another vehicle, but for the foreseeable future, this will work for us. There are many areas of our budget where we cannot cut back, but I am so thankful for this driving situation that enables us to save so much per year!

  • Lori says:

    We have been a one car family for the 11+ years that we have been married…somewhat out of necessity. Our first 3 years we were going to Bible school and my husband worked 6-9 am and every other weekend and I worked lunches at a small restaurant. In the evenings we rode together to school. We’ve been in ministry ever since and now we are expecting our 5th child! Some churches have had a parsonage next door so my husband could walk :). Other times if the weather is nice and we lived farther away, he would ride his bike if possible. Now he also works part-time at a Christian school 45 minutes away. We are just mostly content to stay at home a lot. We live in a small town now with a grocery store about a mile away, but it is pricey. So my husband will go with a list and shop at Walmart or Aldi every other week after school. Every time we consider adding another vehicle, the costs involved stop us in our tracks. Like Crystal said, learning to be content has been key. But the Lord has always been so good to us and has provided us more than we need. And when our only van died suddenly before we were about to move last year, we were able to pay cash for a newer one! Praise the Lord!

  • Patty says:

    We’ve been a one car family for most of the past 3 years (for a few months, while I was working part time, a friend revived our old car, but that only lasted 4 months). We have two small kids and in that time have lived in the country (three miles from a small grocery store), to the city, with a bus stop down the street. Thankfully my husband works near the bus station, so when there was a day I really needed it (and didn’t want to haul the kids out super early in the morning), we would take the city bus (which is free for kids under 4, which ours are).

    Just a few weeks ago, we were given a mostly dead car, but thankfully my husband doesn’t commute long to work, so if it breaks down, I can be there in a few minutes. I will say that I have loved having a vehicle, even though I try hard not to use it daily, in order to continue to keep costs down. I would definitely agree with Crystal’s thoughts on how much money we saved and taught me to be thankful for what we have. I also would add that helped me save in other areas, too. Not going out as much = less places to spend money. 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    We did it several years ago. My husband rides the bus. The fabulous thing about it is his work pays for the bus pass. It saves us so much money! When I am “stuck at home” with out the car I get creative. We walk to the store or I put our boys in our bike trailer. Plus, I have amazing girlfriends that pick my son up for school when we are carless.

  • Thank you for adding the part about safety/practicality. I see the “be a one car family” thing all the time. I like how you point out how it isn’t always practical. We live a 20 min drive from all stores, etc. It is a 10 min drive to the library. I am in the country. If I didn’t have a car while I am home, it would not be good if we needed to be somewhere or had an emergency. My husband travels 25 minutes one way to work. Not practical for me to take him in and pick him up either.

    So many people that say to be a one car family if one parent stays home fail to take into account that not everyone has public transport, walking distance from places, etc. Thank you for not giving a blanket statement like I see a lot from others. 🙂

    • Whitney says:

      I think this is the situation for most people who live in the country. We’re just 15 minutes outside of a major city, but live on a farm. That means there is absolutely nowhere I can walk to – not even my next door neighbor’s house! If I didn’t mind not ever leaving the house during the week, we still couldn’t make one car work, because my husband works an hour away and it would never be practical for me to drop him off or pick him on days I needed the car for appointments. That said – I’d love to get away with one vehicle if we could. If my husband ever got a job much closer to home, I’d try it in a second!

    • I too really appreciated the part about being sure to really look at the safety and practicality of going one car only! I would so love to do one car but it just wouldn’t work for our family right now. I always appreciate that posts here leave room for various situations.

    • Ledith says:

      If your library is 1o minutes away and other things 20 minutes away, they would seem to be close enough to bike to instead of take the car. Maybe I am not getting something, but there are a lot of people who bike those distances, some even with their children…I think that sometimes (not always, I realize that and since I know nothing about your circumstances this may totally not apply to you) it depends on how hard core you want to be about saving money. I have had things I was certain I could not live without and then when I suddenly lost them, it was amazing. Life went on without a cell phone and without a television, and we managed to pay off debt and build a contingency fund much faster.

      • Angela says:

        We are very rural also. There is no way we could do with one car! Even if I don’t drive a lot every week, I am grateful for my huge van. It’s awesome that besides fitting our family of 8, I have room for a few extra friends or family! That helps them save gas! 🙂 we will probably be a 3 car family soon once all these kids start driving. Lol. Hopefully we can pay cash for a used truck.

      • Katie says:

        The thing about biking in rural areas is that there is a very small shoulder on the road, and the minimum speed limit here is 40-45mph. VERY unsafe, even for adult bikers, let alone children.

        I didn’t realize that when I lived in the city, but – it’s actually very difficult to walk anywhere here, and truly a danger for children.

      • April says:

        Rural areas often do not have paved roads, shoulders/biking lanes, etc. making walking and biking extremely dangerous. It’s not necessarily an issue of saving money, but in using wisdom.

        • Megan says:

          Yes, that is our problem- We have a grocery store only maybe 1 1/2 miles away but it’s a windy road with a speed limit of 45, so I wouldn’t feel safe taking the kids in a bike trailer. But luckily that wouldn’t stop me from being a one car family. I can certainly grocery shop when the car is home, and stay home during the day. Since we’re rural we have a large garden, room for the kids to run & play, plenty of books in the house and I’m getting ready to homeschool. I actually think this no car thing sounds kinda fun! My cousin said this the other day: The challenge is this- To live simply, so others may simply live. I LOVE that. I am going to talk to my husband tonight about this. If we could save $100 or more a month with one car, that’s $100 more we can give to missionaries. Or we could “adopt” THREE more children from Compassion International. It could have a huge impact on others, and very little on us!

      • Yup. Agreeing with the others. Biking is not practical here. I am not going to try to bike, with a baby, on a very busy 55mph road with many log trucks on it. 🙂 Library is 6 miles away, grocery store is 11 miles. Not gonna happen. I live in an area of farming right outside a town where the paper mill is king.

        Really, I was just appreciating that Crystal acknowledged that being a one car family isn’t for everyone as I almost never see anyone say that. It was refreshing to have some “one size doesn’t fit all” in there. 🙂

    • Tammy C says:

      I agree with you on that.At times we were on a 1 car family and it was not worth the aggravation of what we went thru.

      Now we are a 2car family and could say we are a2 car family and not a 3 car family.Our 18 year old son shares the car with us.Saves on insurance big time.

  • Elisa says:

    We moved across the country a year and a half ago and because it was too expensive to take our second car with us, we sold it. We haven’t been able to afford another one yet, so have done without since. Not only does it save on gas and maintenance, but also the insurance cost! I just do the grocery shopping every other Wed. night and if there is an amazing deal somewhere, I just wait till my husband gets home and run out. We have 4 kids 4 and under, so it is a lot harder to travel with them in tow anyway, so it works. Our oldest will be starting kindergarten this fall, so we may have to buy a clunker for my husband so I can take our son to and from school in the truck, but I am wondering if there is a way we can still make it work.

    One down side: I think it takes away from our family time. If we had a second vehicle, I could do the grocery shopping during the day and spend all the time my husband is at home with him.

  • Jen says:

    Mopehead or moped? LOL

  • Ana L. says:

    We’re actually a zero-car family and neither of us have ever had a car. The cost savings over the years has been a big help in keeping us comfortable in bad times and to live on one income in a very expensive part of the country. Where we live there is decent transportation, but it’s not NYC or anything nearly that convenient. We walk a lot, take the bus a lot, and make it work. Obviously, living without any car at all goes beyond sacrifices to a completely different lifestyle, but I give advice to friends all the time who are temporarily without a car, and the biggest secret for car-less happiness for me in recent years has been Google Maps.

    Not only does it have walking and transit directions for a lot of areas (always double-check the first few times, they’re not perfect), it’s just a handy way to check a place out before you’ve walked three miles or ridden two buses to get there. If I’m running an errand to a part of town I’m not familiar with, I always zoom in to see what stores are nearby or along the route, to maybe combine trips. I use street view and satellite view to take a look around at places I’m considering visiting, so I feel comfortable going to new areas. I especially like to checking out green spaces this way to find new parks and playgrounds. Sometimes I just pick a random place to virtually explore, or I’ll search for something fun like craft stores or indoor playspaces, just to see what might be new or different to do. In winter especially I do this to make plans to look forward to on sunnier days. I’ve found a lot of hidden gems this way, and I’ve made my own Google maps marked with playgrounds, favorite stores, local museums, etc. to save time and brain power.

  • Monica says:

    Great advice! We are now a one car family. Our second car has needed some work done on it for a while. We’ve decided instead of getting it fixed we are just going to make do with one vehicle for now, and then we will re-evaulate in the future. It works for us since I am a stay at home mom.

  • Kelsey says:

    We’ve always been a one car family! We don’t believe in having debt (other than a mortgage but we’re military so we don’t even have one of those!) and so we bought our car out right. We also use our tax return each year to pay off our entire insurance premium to help save on that monthly bill. We have three little girls all three and under and I am home with them day in and day out while my husband works crazy Army hours. I couldn’t be more thankful! I am so blessed to be “stuck” here with them all the time and just get to be Mom with out any other distractions. Yes, there are days where I just want to get out and see a friend. Yes, there are Saturdays spent grocery shopping with the masses that I wish I could go during the week. All in all, though, the good really out weighs the hardships! Not having a car payment, not having a car insurance payment, and only having one car making minimal trips to and from work has really saved us A LOT of money. I honestly don’t think we could make ends meet otherwise. 🙂

  • We were a one car family for over a year. We had three small children under age 4 during that time. We were not within walking distance of anything except a smoothie shop, but we had a small, but really fun backyard full of fruit trees and a garden that the kids would utilize. It was hard. It took planning out our days and making sure we knew who had to be where and when (I stayed home at that point, so I didn’t have much to do). Thursdays were our hard ones- we knew we could not make Thursdays work with one car. SO….we found a friend who lived nearby who didn’t “need” one of their cars on Thursdays! Early Thursday morning, we’d go pick it up. After youth group Thursday nights, we’d drop the car back off at their house. It was perfect! We’d pay for the gas, of course, and a little extra, too, for their generosity. But borrowing a car once a week and buying $5 in gas in comparison to making a car payment of $350 per month was well worth it!

    If you think one car would work for your family, but there are times or days that may not work, see if a friend would be willing to share a vehicle during that time. You can even “pay” for the use with a little extra gas in their tank or a nice coffee 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    We’ve been a 1 car family for 9 years. We’ve made it work by having my husband carpool, bike, take the bus or work from home depending on where we’ve lived. I’ve worked out preschool and after school activities with carpooling. We also recently bought a home based on it’s proximity to the kids school, so we can walk every day.

    Over the years we’ve had a few things that have made it difficult- a kid at school far away who had an accident (had a neighbor bring a change of clothes to school), sick kids who need to see the doctor (borrowed a car), and other minor inconveniences. However, we’ve been able to work it out so well, we’re hesitant to ever have 2 cars. If you can do it by making things stretch a little, I’d say it’s worth it.

  • We were a one-car family for the first 8 years of our marriage while we paid off our debt and saved for a down payment for our house. I commuted to work on a bus. If I worked late, I asked for a ride home. When we moved 4 years later, I was a stay-at-home wife.

    After we built our home, we continued to be a one-car family until right before the birth of our second child. With my husband having a company vehicle around year 6 of our marriage, we did not need two vehicles of our own. When he changed jobs, we chose to be a two-car family.

    Though there were times that I hated asking for a ride, I never regretted our choices because I knew it would not be forever. Happy choosing!

  • Lindsay Ackerman says:

    We have been a one car family for a few years. I work fulltime about 20 minutes from our house, and we live out of district so I have to drive my 13 year old to and from school/activities. What makes it feasible for us is that my husband runs his own business just 1 mile from home; so he can either walk/bike or catch a ride fairly easily. And it is not out of my way to just drop him on the way to school/work so we often do that. Our current car is paid for and if we added a second, it would be as well, so I would guess that we save about $150/month on gas and insurance and repairs. We’re renting right now and saving for a house down payment, so that extra $1,800 is great.

  • LisaM says:

    We have been a one-car family for a couple of months now. Try as we might, we are unable to find older dependable cars for less than $3,000. My 1981 Buick has outlasted two other vehicles, a 1993 F150 and a 1994 Grand Prix. However, now it’s winter and I don’t want to drive my Buick, especially now that it has a mysterious noise in the front end somewhere. My hubby works nights and I stay home with our 16 year old son. We live within a half-mile of a large grocery store, so it’s not like I go without, but on cold icy days, it’s not the thing I really want to do, go shopping and lug home an armload of stuff. I am finding it a challenge to do this in the winter.

  • We have always had two vehicles, and generally one just sits 99% of the time. Our main vehicle isn’t paid off yet, but the secondary one, which doesn’t get used much, has been paid off. Unfortunately it’s a truck and not as good for hauling around the kids as the SUV which we still owe on. It would be nice to not have a $600 a month car payment and just use the paid off vehicle, but it’s just not practical at the moment. I guess I could sell the truck and pay down the SUV. Might be worth doing.

  • Anonymous says:

    We are a 2 car family, but we still try to limit our trips to town especially during the winter. It is not uncommon for the kids and I to only get out to go to church and then about once every 10 days or so for me to go grocery shopping. It helps me b/c I spend less because I am not out where I can spend $10 or $20 here or there and have it add up. This has helped us in budgeting.

  • Cheryl says:

    Does your town have a taxi? It’s much cheaper to use a taxi once a week (or even twice) to bring your shopping home than to have a car and pay the attendant expenses of ownership.

  • Lora says:

    We’ve been a one-car family for 7 of the 9 years we’ve been together. We only owned a second car for a few months after marriage and from 2009-2011. Recently, our 5 year old asked his father why we have “only one car,” his dad replied, “Well, we used to have 2 jobs and 2 cars and 1 kid, now we have 1 job (I stay home), 1 car, and 2 kids. I wonder if we’ll have to switch to a mo-ped when the baby is born (3 kids).” The 5 year old was amused.

    Generally, we’ve been able to make 1 car work well. Before kids, we worked on the same campus, so that was easy. After kids, I drive him to work some days, he bikes others (30 min ride), and he takes the car once in a while. It’s a bit complicated, but we make it work. I am thankful that our new home is more centrally located to parks and the library so that I can get the kids out and about when I don’t have the car. Until October, our home was very suburban and we just didn’t have that option.

    Now, how we are going to fit 3 car seats in the back of that little Toyota Corolla come August is a bigger question.

  • Elizabeth says:

    We were a one car family for the first 3 years and for us it did not work. It may have been cheeper we were too poor at the time to even think about a second car but sadly we were a young family (I was 19, he was 21 and we had our first child) so at that age when your friends are that age you don’t get visitors (or I should say I didn’t). It took an hour and a transfer to get to town on a public bus so going out with a colicy baby didn’t really become an option. It was very lonely and a lot of issolation. I’m sure it is much cheeper but unless someone has an alternative way to get out (reasonable time on public transportation, friends &/or family) I think the cost to ‘us’ is acceptable. Though I’m sure it will work for many other families I just suggest being careful when you considerate it if already at the place in your life where you have two cars because there are a lot of factors too consider.

    • Samantha says:

      You hit the nail on the head for me. We have been a one car family for the entirety of our relationship (9 years) and I only recently got a car of my own.

      We saved a lot of money, I’m sure, over the years which I’m grateful for. But all the social isolation, creepy bus stalkers (literally, in my case), feeling like I’m not truly independent and unfortunately not really being able to maintain strong friendships…..I have to wonder if the $150 a month savings is worth it. In my circumstance, I’d say no and I would much rather cut out other things in my budget than ever experience any of that again.

      But I think it’s truly fantastic that so many people are making the one car premise work for their family. It can make such a difference in your budget when things are tight and you are doing your part to help the environment as well.

  • Jenni says:

    Yes, we are a one-car family, and proud of it! We used to be a two-car family, but then we moved so that my husband could attend law school, and we had sold one of our unreliable cars before we moved. We were planning on buying a used van when we arrived, because we thought we couldn’t fit three carseats in the back of our 92 Accord, but when we started to add up the costs of trying a better-fitting carseat vs. a bigger car, it was clear that we should just try to get a different carseat. We do the same thing you did – mostly I stay at home during the week and run errands on the weekend, but if the weather is nice I will try to take my husband to school and go out with our boys.

    I think it is easier to do if you are homeschooling or if your kids are young, or if you like being at home like I do, but I have some friends who would go crazy if they were at home all the time, and I can understand that too. I do like how it simplifies our life, though, and eases the stress of finances in terms of gas, insurance, etc.

  • Kristin says:

    We’ve been a one car family for over a year–and we love it! It takes a LOT of communication to make it work. And we are blessed that my husband works close and has a flexible job. And there are days I’m stuck at home with 2 kids and I wish I had a car so I could just GET OUT! But the savings are definitely worth it. Communicate communicate communicate!

  • Carla says:

    We were a one car family for several years. It worked well for us. Sure, there were times when I really wished that we had a second one, but for the most part it was easy enough to make it work.

    We live in a tiny town with nothing within walking distance, except a small playground. My husband’s commute is 20 miles each way. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, public transportation doesn’t exist in this area either (the nearest taxi place that I know of is about 30 miles away).

    We made it with just one car for close to 4 years, though. When we first went to just one car, our son was 17 or 18 months old. When we went back to 2 cars he was five, and the only reason we did it then was because the school is so far from our house (17 miles), and he was getting ready to start kindergarten. I wanted to drive him back and forth to school so I would get more time with him. Last year his bus route would have taken him over an hour each way to and from school. That just didn’t leave enough time for family time.

    Anyway, making it work with just one car was actually easier than I thought it would be. Generally we ran most of our errands together as a family on whatever days my husband had off (he has worked some pretty crazy shifts during his time in the military). If he was working really long shifts, Elliott and I would just run errands while he was asleep, if that was feasible, or if not, we would take him to work and run errands while he was working. As Elliott got older, we started taking my husband to work about 3 times a month and doing play dates and zoo trips, etc while he was at work sometimes. We also did play dates at our house, in our neighborhood park, or occasionally had a friend pick us up for play dates.

    We knew our neighbors and were (are) friends with most of them. They all knew that we only had the one car, and would have been happy to take us somewhere in an emergency. In a true emergency, there was always the option of using an ambulance as well.

    I honestly think that being a one car family was good for us. If we live within walking distance of our son’s school in the future, we might very well go back to being just a one car family.

  • lyss says:

    We have been a one-car family since we married (7 1/2 years), except for a few months of last year when my hubby bought a work truck. Our car broke down about 2 months later. So we now only have his truck. I’m so used to being carless, that I rarely used the car when it was sitting in the driveway!

    I’ve gotten used to shopping on Saturdays. I rarely have money to buy much other than groceries anyways, so I see no point in running around town window shopping. And with 2 small children, I’m glad I don’t feel like I need to drag them everywhere. I know some people love shopping with kids, but, um, not me. lol I’d rather stay home. And that’s an added plus of only having one vehicle…hubby can stay with the kids when I need to go shopping! : )

    I will say that we currently live next door to my inlaws, so if we need to go anywhere as a family(our truck only has 3 seats, and there’s 4 of us!) we can borrow one of their cars. Hopefully my hubby can find a work vehicle with more seating soon, but for now we make it work.

  • Kim in Cali says:

    I wanted to add that even if you have 2 cars you can still “save $100 or more a year” by combining errands, or doing what we do and having the person who is driving the car furthest that day take the vehicle with the best gas mileage. We live in SoCal and our gas is currently $4.65 a gallon! . This is a great thought-provoking post as many are on your site Crystal. Thank you for all you do 🙂

  • lori says:

    We are a one car family, and have been for years. We live in NYC, where public transit is good, reliable, accessible, and widely used.

    Were it not for the fact that my hubs brought his car with him when he moved from CO, we wouldn’t have one at all. Having a car in the city can be more trouble than its worth because you have to contend with alternate side of the street parking regulations, pay exhoribitant tolls, high rates of insurance, and mechanics costs. Not to mention time and effort given to shifting the car around, or money for renting an off road parking spot.

    I’m a NYC native. Most of my friends still aren’t licensed. I didn’t bother getting licensed till I was 21, and only drive ocassionally at best. When and if his car dies, I doubt we’ll replace it.

  • Keren says:

    We are a one car family (3 kids, 5 and under) and have been for the majority of our marriage. However, my husband usually works from home, so the challenges are different for us than for other families. In this area, they are certainly fewer since I almost always could have access to the vehicle if needed.

    For the time my husband worked at an office, we also had one vehicle, and it was great for curbing the “let’s go do too much” temptation. 🙂 On occasion, we would take him to work so we could have the car for the day.

    There are times I wish we had two cars, but those are oh so very few and far between. 🙂

    We have a minivan with fold-down seats, so that works great for the few times we’ve needed it for hauling.

  • I don’t like driving at all. I think I could definitely deal with one car per family!

  • Katie L says:

    We went to one car three years ago. Husband started grad school and we live on campus, so he walks to school. He works three days per week off-campus and so do I. We have to plan grocery shopping/errands/doctor’s appointments very carefully (basically Wednesday afternoons/evenings!) We can sometimes carpool to work or I can carpool/borrow a car when our schedules conflict. It’s tricky, but not having access to the car all the time has helped me to be much more structured, to take the kids on many fewer “outings” (read: “shoppings”) and to spend more time playing outside. The $ we made from selling our 2nd car, plus the savings on maintenance, gas, & insurance, has all gone towards graduating from grad school debt-free. We’ve also realized how important a short commute is to both of us, and can consider that as we move to wherever he works after school.

  • karen b says:

    unfortantly when you live in the country like we do its not possible. somedays I wish we could go back to that:)

  • anne says:

    I’m really enjoying this series!

  • Allison says:

    I’ve been sharing a car for the past 3.5 years. It has worked well for us, because my husband rides the bus during the week while I take the car to work. On weekends, if we have to go different places, one drops the other one off. We live close to downtown and the university, so this is doable. I think we’ll eventually get a second car, but at the moment having just one does save us money. Another one-car savings that I didn’t see mentioned in the article (though I may have overlooked it): car insurance!

  • Kimberly says:

    I am currently a no-car family. My husband and I are separated and I cannot afford my own vehicle. Luckily my house is within walking distance of my church, my job, my children’s school, a few stores, the movie theater, the post office, my dentist, my parent’s home and my doctor. I do have to catch a ride with someone to get groceries but I could take the bus if I wanted to. I’ve not been out of the county I live in since early December. It has taken some adjusting to be so close to home but mostly I’m okay with it now since it’s been almost a year. Although it’s been a pain for my teeanger’s sports commitments it’s doable. And it’s been an excellent way to get in shape!

  • Ellen says:

    we love being a one-car family. It encourages more teamwork between my husband and I, it encourages us to use public transportation or walk/bike more, and it’s far less wasteful, both from a financial AND environmental standpoint. We know we might not be able to do it forever, but it’s been six years and three kids later, and we are still rocking it with one vehicle! It’s been a great choice for us!

  • Valarie says:

    Did you mean interviewed? 🙂 sorry I don’t like to point out an error but since your posts are ALWAYS so meticulous & error free just wanted to let you know. 🙂 We are considering downsizing our home & this article gives me much to consider! Thanks Crystal!

  • Katherine says:

    I can’t see this working for us as I’m a stay-at-home mom with 2 small children and my husband travels for his job so I’d have no car at all every week. Nothing is within walking distance. But that’s ok. We’re fine being 2 cars. What I wanted to say is that a few years ago when gas prices were sky-high and the economy was tanking, my sister quit driving her car and bought a scooter. She rode the scooter a year, saved tons of money then sold it for the same price she paid for it a year later. That really helped her through a rough patch.

    • Meredith says:

      I am in the same situation as you. I am a stay-at-home mom too and where it works for so many women and families in our situation, when the husband travels, it’s hard. I can’t walk to anything either. I just do the best I can by only driving when I need to.

      Another thing that makes me keep my car is this…it may sound silly but here goes: I don’t want to lose my freedom. It’s my gift to myself. I gave up my job, career, dressing up, wearing makeup, eating out, cutting every bill imaginable, to be able to stay at home with my daughter. I want to be able to go out alone if I want to while she is at school. I want to be able to take her to the park when dad isn’t home. I would also hate for my husband to come in exhausted from work and either jet out without him or say he has to go do something. So keeping my old clunker is worth it for our sanity. However, I think it is fantastic it works for so many people. If I lived where I could walk to a store, or a park, or well anything for that matter, we would definitely do it!!!

      Also, I love the pic of the teeny tiny car you posted. A real “family sized” car…he he.

      • Katherine says:

        Oh my goodness. You do sound like me. I love being at home with my kids but I also traded a high-paying job with the clothes, haircuts, etc. to go with it to stay home. Wouldn’t go back for the world at this moment. But like you the car gives me freedom. We go to the library for storytime once a week and to the zoo during good weather (my parents gave us a membership). And once a week I have a babysitter so I can do all my errands at once. Then when Daddy returns home on the weekend, we can play. Now if we lived in a community where the library, grocery, drugstore and park were within walking distance, it would be different and I could see us maybe having only 1 car. But for now, 2 works for us. (p.s. not sure about the teeny car reference – maybe that was another poster?)

      • Angie says:

        You sound like me too. While it’s a relief to know if we needed to, going to one car would be do-able, for me the stress of finding transportation or carting my husband to work on the days we should have a second car would outweigh the stress of the extra monetary cost.

        I can see how it might work for us if I home-schooled, my husband had a shorter commute (he drive 45 mins. one way) or we lived in a better neighborhood where more things were within walking distance and I didn’t mind putting my kid on the school bus. I could put her on the school bus but I choose not to.

        I remember my parents were a one car family back in the early 80s before I started going to school, and that’s what we were used to. This topic does make me think long and hard about what is truly necessary and what is just a want.

        Maybe two cars is a want not a need for us, but it makes my life better.

  • Sarah T. says:

    Like others, after our 2nd car bit the dust, we chose to make do without for a while. It died on the way through Ohio on our cross-country move. We sold it for parts and kept going. Our new home is just over a mile from my hubby’s work, so he has been biking (all winter too!). I don’t feel the inconvenience nearly as much as he does, but he has learned to enjoy the ride. It’s good quiet time for him after getting the kids ready and before the busyness of the day ensues. I just wish it were more convenient to go car-less! But the nature of the suburb beast makes that an impossibility for us. Plus, with 4 kids, it’s wise to spend money on some things- no matter how much it costs. A minivan is one of those things for us!

  • Ledith says:

    AMEN. We became a one car family and it was of benefit not only financially but physically (We walked more) and as an example to our kids of not needing instant gratification. Looking back I am horrified at how much we spent by poor planning (not wanting to wait to go shopping or pool shopping trips) and not asking for accomodations (my job gladly let me start an hour later so we would drop each other off at work. Like so many other things, we have convinced ourselves that it is a necessity to have a second car, not a luxury.

  • Kathy L. says:

    We became a one-car family in 1995 when my husband became disabled. We lived 8 miles from town. If DH had an episode, I would leave work to either take him back to the hospital (where I worked) or just take care of him at home. Once we moved back to Southern California in 1998, DH was able to take the bus using his electric wheelchair, so that gave him (and me) a lot of freedom. Our boys (now 19 and 23) are experienced bus-takers and can get around on their own or they wait until I get off from my full-time job. The downside of everyone depending on Mom driving all those years is that neither of my sons drive! My 23-year-old finally has the desire, though I am thinking of the extra cost of having to insure him, since he goes to college full-time and (due to a learning disability) would have a difficult time also holding down a job. Sometimes I wonder how much money I’ve saved all these years by being a one-car family.

  • Danielle Hull says:

    We live within walking/biking distance of my husband’s job and his truck is 20 years old and needs some attention. So we were basically a one car family with that one “car” being an Excursion, which is quite the gas hog, but we needed a larger vehicle to carry all of our kids! When my mom got a new-to-her car, my parents lent us her old “junker” car, and it has been the biggest blessing! We use it for errands and for doctor’s appointments that only one or two kids are going to. We paid for the 6 months of insurance and saved that amount of gas (compared to the Excursion) in the first month we drove it!!! We will now be budgeting to purchase a gas efficient car for us when the loaner gives out!

  • Shelly says:

    We are a two car family but our second car is only used about 2-3 times a month. We have the second car for emergencies or when we have doctor appointments. We save quite a bit by me just staying home during the day while my husband works. I have learned to be content at home so having the second car for the security of knowing I can go if I need to is great. If our family’s health was better we would definitely downsize to one car.

  • We were a one-car family for a while and I hated it! I felt way too confined and smothered without the ability to get out of the house once in a while. I’m definitely willing to give up a lot of other things to afford insurance on our second vehicle.

    • Kathy says:

      I agree with you Heather! I teach at the university here, so I work at home during the summers. There are days when I don’t go anywhere, but I like just knowing I can if I wanted to. And it doesn’t tempt me to go out and spend money..if I don’t have it, I can’t spend it! 🙂 I just like being able to visit my stay at home mom friends or my retired parents during the day if I wanted to. Plus get my grocery shopping done early 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    We have been a one car family for almost three years now. We have 2 daughters (3 & 5) and both work outside of our home. Our family thought we were nuts when we gave up our 2nd vehicle. But, truly it only requires a little more thought in our day & we have always been a couple/family that does everything together. My husband and I only work a couple of blocks apart so he drops me off at work and then goes to his job. He arrives an hour early, but doesn’t feel the pressure to work late. When I get off work I walk to his office and usually get some quiet time or run a quick errand.

  • Heather says:

    We have had one car for a few years now since my husband has a company vehicle. We have a van that we have had for 8 years and it’s at just over 100k miles, but it runs well. I will say that although I do take our daughter to her school every day, I need to do a better job of not continuing to shop at various stores in town just because I have a great coupon for some item(s). I should do a better job of just going home, but being up, dressed, out and about makes me think that “it’s just a quick trip!) 🙂 Although I can stick to a list, but I can get sidetracked. LOL!

  • Brooke says:

    We’re an “on again, off again” one car family lol! Some years its necessary, sometimes its not for us. We currently own 2 vehicles, but one needs some work done. We’re just taking our time fixing it, because there’s not really any reason why we absolutely NEED 2 cars at the moment!

  • Audrey says:

    We have been a one-car household for all but 6 months of our almost 7-year marriage. We have 3 children, ages 5, 3, & 1, and it gets overwhelming not being able to leave, but it has grown on me and now I love it! I have to be strategic about errands, but I get so much more done at home when I’m not tempted to leave and escape the mess! Plus all my kids are in car seats and can’t buckle themselves, so just loading everyone in the car takes 10 minutes. I prefer staying home. 😉

  • Lana says:

    I had a car like the one in the picture only in white when I was in high school! The football players would sometimes pick it up and turn it sideways in the parking spot so that I could not leave when school was out unless the car parked next to me had gone. I have fond memories of my sweet little car!

  • Lacey says:

    Never, no way, not for me. My husband uses his truck for wor so I would always be at the mercy of his job which involves weird hours if there is a flood as well as some nights and weekends. Sometimes he works out of town also or takes the kids out of town and I stay home because we have 3 dogs. My car gives me a sense of freedom. I think I wild resent not having one long term.

  • Heather says:

    My husband and I share one car and have since we were married two years ago. We started with one used car because that is all we could afford, but have recently purchased a new car which we have almost paid off after only 6 months. We work right next door to each other. Sometimes it is difficult when we have appointments during the work day at the same time, but one of us can generally find a ride. We have saved so much money by only paying one insurance and gas bill! I don’t think we will buy another car until we have children and then it will be a “nessasary” for us.

  • Ruth says:

    Currently, we are a one car family and it is working right now. I just want to say that one thing you have to do is keep up with all the maintenance of that one car. Oil changes, filter changes, tune ups etc, so that car keeps being reliable for that one car family. If you don’t than you may be a no car family.

  • We have been a one-car family for a little over 3 years. Shortly after we moved from Florida to Virginia, my husband’s truck had some issues and we didn’t have the cash to fix it right away, so we took it off the road and then realized we got along just fine with only one vehicle.

    I stay home full-time and my husband is self-employed and works just half a mile from our home. I don’t know why we didn’t think of going down to one vehicle before we were forced into it. It’s completely practical in our situation. 🙂

  • Ann says:

    We were a one car family for most of last year. My BIL lost his job, and along with it, their second car (it was a company car). They needed a car more that we did, we we let him borrow ours until he had a new job and they could get a second vehicle.

    We have three busy kids, but we made it work. It helped that we lived in a central location, and we could bike or walk to school, work, the library, the bank, and some restaurants. It also helped that my husband works (mostly) from home. The biggest challenges were when he traveled for work, and the kids and I had several days in a row with no car. Luckily we also have lots of friends in the neighborhood that could help me with getting everyone where they needed to be. And sometimes? W just had to miss good things, or make hard decisions about who got to do what.

    We’re back to two cars, partially because we’re living in a much bigger city and don’t have the same kind of support system for carpooling. But when we move back, I would definitely consider it again.

  • Amie says:

    Thanks for the post. I am an avid follower of your blog and it has taught me so much. We just became a one car family about two weeks ago. I have been struggling with the transition so earlier today was googling various articles for helpful tips!! Little did I know it was on your blog already! Thanks for the encouragement. I know it’s the right choice for our family but need to get through this adjustment period.

  • Rachel says:

    We are a two car family and I believe it is neccessary, even though my dh has a company truck(Which is for work use only)! We have a 5, 3, 2, & 4mo. I drove a 5pass car until baby#4 arrived but now I drive a suburban to fit us all(plus a stroller!) in when going to doctor, eye doctor, & dentist appointments. Also room for extra passengers like when my mom & dad come out to visit or any of my 14 siblings. Or when I’m going to an appointment & take a passenger or 2 along so they can watch my children in the vehicle instead of me hauling all of them into appointments they don’t need to attend! My dh’s truck is paid off and only has liability insurance so it isn’t costing us much. He uses it to go to the dump on weekends and when he buys wood or hauls bigger things, which wouldn’t work in my vehicle.(no smelly trash in my rig. Lol) That being said I still only fill up once a month, every once in awhile twice so gas isn’t a huge expense for us. I pretty much always stay home unless I have an appointment. We live next to our church so we walk there twice a week, unless it’s bitter cold and windy! I like having a vehicle that I know will always be in my yard in case I need it!

  • Tina Kaye says:

    We were a one car family several years ago when my brother lived with us briefly, which meant that three adults and two kids were all toted wherever they needed to go by the designated taxi driver (me). There are stores that are within 2 miles distance from our home, but there’s a raised roadway with no shoulder in one direction and a bypass the other direction, making neither route safe on foot or bike with children, and those two routes are the only way to go anywhere from our home. Now, we have a 16 year old, a 12 year old, a 2 year old, and two adults sharing two cars, which is doable, but still takes effort and thought to schedule who needs to drive which vehicle and where the car seat has to be. (It’s still better than taking out a loan and paying more for our oldest to be the primary driver on a car, though.)

  • Hailey says:

    We are in the process of becoming a one car family right now! My husband is trying to sell his truck which we still owe $15k on. When it does sell we will be saving close to $600 a month when you take into consideration payments, gas, insurence, parking and maintenance. He already rides the bus or his bike to work most days, so it won’t be that difficult of a transition. We are going to use all the extra money to hopefully get our student loans paid off within the next 5 years. When it comes time to needing a second car again, we will pay cash and NOT finance it!

  • Anna says:

    Here’s our story….we were a 2 driver family with 4 cars back in 2006. Only 1 of those cars worked, and after we chose for me to stay home w/ our then 3 kids under 4, we decided to go to being a 1 car family. We slowly got the other 3 cars into “working enough” order to get a little cash out of them and my husband started commuting to work by bicycle, 24/7/365(mind you, this was a feat we were worried about because we live in Iowa and the winters can be horrible). His commute is 3 miles each way with bike trail almost all of it, we are very fortunate for that!! We went and traded our final vehicle, a crappy van that left us without any vehicle for an entire summer(also, thankful for it being in the summer), and took the plunge and went and traded our non-functioning van for a brand new car in August of 2009. (Note to all, we have since done Financial Peace University, and know that buying brand new isn’t the best thing to do, but we have had a wonderful little car for our family of 5 that is almost paid off, should be by June 1st this year). We have been a one car family since that August, and we took the plunge into being a 2 car family 1 1/2 weeks ago….terrifying for me anyways!!!! It was much needed as my husband has taken a promotion at work and works more and the kids are now 6 1/2, 8 and almost 10, in various activities and I have gone back to work substitute teaching as of 6 weeks ago. I LOVED the over 4 years that we were able to live with only 1 car, and not to mention the cut in amount of gas paid out monthly, reduced insurance rates and lesser car tag fees each year!! So thankful now, though, that my husband can help out with activities when he is home and that we aren’t running around like crazy people/relying on family to help, get everyone where they need to be!!!

    • Sarah T. says:

      You must be in DM or CF! Love the bike trails!!! My hubby bikes to work too in IA and we’ve been doing just fine with one vehicle. It’s really quite a blessing!

  • cathy says:

    We have been a 1 car family for 11 years, right from the start of our marriage.

    It was a financial decision, but the biggest impact has been on our relationship.

    In the early days there was anger and resentment (at least on my part!) about giving up what I saw as my “freedom” to do as I wanted when I wanted. I resented communicating my needs and wants and was angry that I had to negotiate with my spouse.

    Hmmm…isn’t that what you do in a marriage?

    As time went on I came to realize that having one car was a great aspect of our marriage–it really forced us to communicate and think of the others person.

    11 years later and we still share, though much more happily and easily than we did in the beginning 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I think you mean rode your bike not road your bike.

  • Heidi says:

    Gosh, I am surprised that there are so many one car families! I thought we were the lone rangers! We kind of became a one car family by accident, no pre-planning. My husbands car died and we fully intended to buy another car, but decided to take our time. Well, we took so much time that we realized one car was working for us. And to be honest, with the price of gas now at an all time high, and looking like it is going even higher, I am thankful that we do not have the extra added expense of a second car. I take my husband to work once a week and run errands on that day. I may call him and ask him to pick up the dry cleaning or run an errand on his way home from work, once in awhile. It is working out beautifully.

  • Melissa says:

    We aren’t ready to make this leap yet, but my husband and I are planning on making this happen in the future. Currently we both work outside the home 23 miles away from our house. Now that we both work in the same general area we are car pooling most days but we won’t be ready to make the leap to one car until we move to a place much closer to work and public transit.

  • This is something I would love to do. We kind of already do as my husband’s car is the beater that just gets him to work and back.

  • I love this post! We have been a one car family since we were first married-our first winter, my hubby got into an accident and totaled my vehicle. We couldn’t afford to buy another one so we made do! People are always surprised when I tell them, but it’s really doable. Every so often we discuss getting a smaller vehicle and we always come back to the same thing-how much money we save outweighs the convenience factor.

  • Alaine says:

    We have been a one car family for 5 years now! We’re lucky to live in a place that has public transportation available – it’s how I get into the city to work everyday – and while we’re not in a huge town, it’s a very walkable suburb. We share the car on the weekends and week nights when we need to go places or run errands. I take public transportation down to my parent’s house often and have someone pick me up at the train station there. At this point, for us to get a second car, we’d have to pay 1) the cost of the new car, or car payments (our current car is paid in full) 2) insurance on that vehicle (another $85/mo where we live!) 3) the cost of an additional parking space – our apartment only has one 4) gas and maintenance. The cost savings is huge and definitely worth it for us.

    Additionally, I’ve changed our public transportation options as well… instead of taking the commuter train a block from my house ($170/mo), I walk the mile and a half or take the bus to the subway, which only costs $70/mo. I save $1200/year just for doing that, and when it’s warm enough, I get in a little workout before and after work as well! And it only requires me to leave the house an extra 15 minutes early.

  • Magda says:

    We became a one-car family somewhat by accident. I had heard of the idea and was interested in it as a means to cut expenses as part of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2 for our family, but thought we could never actually make it work. We decided instead to sell one of our cars and purchase a cheaper, older car, using the difference to work toward our debt payoff.

    Lo and behold the cheaper car ended up with a multitude of problems (since we foolishly did not take our time in choosing one, thinking we could never do…not even for a few weeks…with only one vehicle). This was almost 6 months ago and we have been forced into a successful one-car family situation ever since. Although the purchase of the “clunker” resulted in less money than we had hoped to put toward our debt, it did prove to us that we could easily survive with one vehicle.

  • hope64 says:

    We were a 1 car family for two years when I first came home from work when I gave birth to our first son. We now have two cars and are saving up to replace our 1999 Crown Vic. It only has 70,000 original miles on it and is currently running great. But, it will be six years before our replacement account is fully funded. Now my husband takes the bus to work. So, most of the time both cars sit in the garage. But, we have a teenage son who will be driving soon. My question? Have any of you had just one vehicle with THREE drivers, one being a teenager? Just curious how it worked for you?

  • Anna says:

    We have always been a one-car family. I know loneliness can be a big issue. At most, my husband is only gone 9 or 10 hours a day. I have to just remind myself that there is still lots of time left after he gets home. I just busy myself until he gets home (or take time to relax and read). Then do errands only once or twice a week (usually the same days we are at Church or Awana).

  • Christina says:

    For us it doesn’t work. We were one-car as long as it was feasible. Now we NEED two. We don’t have a 2nd one and it is seriously the worst thing because my husband’s job is door-to-door. We have four kids, most of whom need carseats, so a small car doesn’t work to get us where we need to go together. We have a van for that. However, the fuel eaten up by my husband’s job (and, yes, he walks whenever possible instead of driving tiny distances) makes it really not beneficial. We are currently looking for a small car for him to go to-and-fro. I’m glad you noted in your article that being one-car won’t work for everyone because it certainly doesn’t for us! I hate when people assume you can make it work when they haven’t been in your specific situation! 🙂 (The only reason we are down to one vehicle currently is that our other van was totaled in an accident.)

  • Colleen says:

    We were a no-car family (when we lived in Chicago) that became a one-car family (when we lived in CT)! We still have the car we bought in 2005. However, with two small boys and no parks, sidewalks, or destinations anywhere in sight, and no public transportation, sometimes I do feel a little tied down. My hubby drives the car to work so scheduling doctor’s appointments and other things becomes a little circus-y – hubby home for lunch, he eats in the car while we drop him off at work, go to appointment, go home, do nap time, put boys back in car, pick up hubby, drive home. Exhausting! 🙂 BUT I do enjoy not having car payments, not having to maintain TWO vehicles, and the slower pace of life most of the time. I am looking forward to having my own vehicle some day though, when we can afford it. Or moving somewhere pedestrian-friendly!!!

  • Michelle says:

    We’ve only had one car in our four years of marriage–and we wouldn’t have it any other way! I used to drive my husband to work and then drive to my own job, but once baby came along, he started taking the bus–and it’s actually a shorter commute timewise! This way I have the car, but since our neighborhood is so walkable (I can walk to the grocery store, Hobby Lobby, a park, the mall, and Target, so it’s dangerously walkable budget-wise ;)) I really only use the car during the week to get to Bible study.

    If after graduate school we find ourselves in a big city, we plan to ditch the car entirely for a while, and that just sounds blissfully free to me!

  • Rachael says:

    We have been a one car family since we got married, save about 6 months 2 years ago. We knew it was time to buy a new car. I was pregnant and we knew that we couldn’t fit my husband and a car seat in the car (he’s 6’2 and barely fit in the car in the first place!). So, we bought a new car. It was great being a two car family and those 6 months we needed it. I had some extra responsibilities at school and needed to be able to drive extra than what would have allowed with only one car. Well, 6 months after buying the new car, the old car died…. either the transmission went out or the clutch did. We realized we could sell the car and be done with it, rather than start dealing with fixes (neither of us is handy in that way, at all). So, back to having only one car! Now, on one or two days a week, Little Man and I take Daddy to work, do our errands and such, and pick him up at the end of the day. There are no public transportation options for us, and this is working. I suspect if I get pregnant again, we might want to expand to a slightly bigger car, but we will see.

  • Melody says:

    I didn’t read all 100+ comments, so maybe someone else said this- but for our family one car is not feasible. But what does work for us is we have one “nice” car that we use for the family and my husband drives a very old (junky) car that gets great gas mileage and costs almost nothing to insure. It’s great to have the flexibility that comes with a second car, but we’re not paying much for it!

  • Vicki R says:

    We have been a one car family for 5 years. We have been have lived with 5 miles of my husbands job, which has helped. Most days my girls and I run him to work and then do our usual things. Days that he has to work late are rough, my kids go to bed at 7pm. So sometimes they fall asleep in the car. If he has an early morning than he goes and we do a car swap at lunch. Sometimes things get hairy but we have managed and saved money. Most people can’t wrap their heads around it, but I wouldn’t change all the great conversations, singing, counting and plain old madness for anything. The day of one car will come to an end in the near future and so for now I will cherish all the time I spend driving around.

    • Sarah D says:

      This is funny because my husband and I were budgeting last night and were reminded that being a one car family is what is making our budget work right now! We have shared since we were married, 3.5 years ago. He is a student and I stay home with our 2 kids. Things that help us- buying a home by our university’s bus route! Him biking if he needs to. And my flexible schedule so I can leave him to work on rainy days, or stay home when he needs the car for certain events.

  • Elise says:

    We were a one car family for a few years, too. Same reason – one car died and we simply couldn’t afford to replace it. One of the things I learned during that time is that friends really do want to help. Many, many people offered me rides and everyone was willing to help out. I was involved in PTA and people would offer to pick me up for a meeting and friends who practically go by my house on their way never minded if I asked for a ride. We also learned patience – sometimes my kids had to wait at school (they were in middle school and high school) after an activity until Dad could pick them up. Sometimes my husband had to stay at work late if I needed the car and had to drop him up and pick him up. And we learned that by working together we could make it work.

  • The Frugal Batavian says:

    This is actually a great idea, and an idea my BF and I will be doing within the next two months. Since I have a target date to work from home starting May 1st, we are trading in both of our vehicles and getting one car. He also owns a diesel truck, so if by chance I need the car during the week, I can just ask him to leave the car home. For me, this will save me $430/mo not including the cost of gas. If I had to guess, with has costs it’s saving me an extra $160 a month for a total of $590/mo!

  • April Lauman says:

    We are a one-car family. After we got married (2 1/2 years ago!), we had a huge combined debt load. Our first step was taking Financial Peace University. Best decision EVER. But, sticking with the goal of being debt free meant making some major financial choices in our life. One of those choices was selling one of our cars (a 1990 Chevy Suburban), and down-trading the other car (from a 2006 Toyota Camry to a 1999 Nissan Maxima). Not only do we save on gas, insurance, and repairs, but having only one car means we are very purposeful about driving. Our situation is a bit unique because while neither one of us works from home, we live on-site at my husband’s place of employment, and I pick up seasonal work there as well, when I can. Of course, with him being able to walk to work every day, I can get a job in town and use the car more easily. (By the way, we live 20 miles from the nearest good-sized town.) I really would encourage anyone to think about this as a feasible option for saving money. As Americans, we feel we NEED to each own a car, but that’s just not true. A little bit of flexibility and creativity in your schedule can make almost anything possible, including being a one-car family!

  • Laura says:

    We went down to one car around the time when our youngest was born. My husband works from home several days a week, and even with that I’m trying to have only one of those be for appointments and errands.

    Not only are we a one-car family, but we are opting not to get a van even though we have three kids. It’s tight, but it gives us the financial freedom to purchase a house — a much better investment right now. I love driving my family of 5 around and still getting 35-40 mpg!

    One of my favorite things about our one-car arrangement is that it means I almost NEVER have to leave the house with three kids and no help — because if the car is available, that means my husband is also home to watch one or two of the kids while I run out. If I don’t have him available to watch the kids, I simply can’t go out. It also reinforces that we don’t need to be planning a ton of activities. We aren’t really busy people to begin with, but the one-car thing kind of guarantees we can stay that way. 🙂

  • Kim says:

    Yes! I used to think it would be miserable, but it has been nearly two years and I am perfectly happy staying with one car right now. I honestly would be hesitant, even if someone handed us a second car…it is occasionally an annoyance, but it is so nice to only be paying to register, insure and maintain one car. Not to mention I would be spending a lot more has if I had a car available to me during the week.

    It is not for every season, but for this season I am so glad we made the jump.

  • Bronwyn says:

    We were always a one car family until we recently moved to a new city for my hasband’s work and it has seen become impossible for me to take him to work, our son to daycare and get myself to work on time. (Distance is now too far for a bike & public transport is not reliable here.)
    I loved only having one car though! It meant that I’d walk most places with my son and utilise public transport everywhere. I never thought to tally up the saving but I think ours would be close to $2,000 a year. I’ll certainly miss all that money.

  • Shari says:

    We have been a one car family for the past five years. It is hard but we have really grown so much in this season of our life. We are lucky that my husband is able to bus to work two days a week and during those days I am sure to make the most of the day out of the house with my children. Even on those days where I am home with my little ones and no car, we take out the stroller and go for walks or invite friends over to our house.

    Not having that second car has really made me take a strong look at what is necessary and what is convenient.

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