Have you ever considered what life would be like for your family if you only had one car to share? Could you get everyone to work, school, errands, and extra activities with one vehicle? Many people choose to be a one-car family to save money on insurance, to avoid two car payments, to avoid two cars needing various repairs and upkeep, or because they are saving up for a future vehicle. The savings you’ll have from selling one vehicle or avoiding taking on a car payment can be massive every year. Here is what you need to know about running on one vehicle for your household, what type of savings you could see, and what you could do with the money saved.
What Type of Savings Will I Experience?
You’ll be saving money on the cost of taxes, car repairs, car payments, gas, and upkeep. These costs can add up quickly when you have two vehicles. Simply deciding to only have one car, start using public transportation, carpooling, staying home, or riding a bike can mean hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars staying in your pocket each year.
Even if you own both cars and they are paid off, you could be spending up to $300 a month on gas, $120 a month on insurance, and $600 a year on maintenance for two cars. Having a car paid off could still cost around $500 a month to run and operate. If you have a car payment on top of that, you are approaching $1000 a month for a second vehicle. Consider what you could do with that extra $1000 a month, subtracting the cost of using the primary car more or purchasing public transportation passes.
How Do You Make It Work?
There are various items to consider when depending on only one vehicle. First of all, having one car means that if a car problem hits you then it will affect the whole family. There is no spare vehicle to get around for the day, or the week, which means issues in getting everyone to work, school, and other activities.
One vehicle means sharing and carpooling. You and your spouse will have to ride to work together every day unless you use public transportation. You’ll have to drop the kids off to school together and pick them up, unless you have arranged other carpooling. If you both want to use the car that night, you’ll have to share or one person may miss out on their evening plans.
If one spouse stays home during the week while the other works, you’ll find the spouse that runs errands may have to save them for the weekends. Another option would be to drive your spouse to work so that you can have the car for the day, and then pick them up at the end of the day.
This works well if you are walking distance to a grocery store and other family-friendly activities. It allows you the chance to get out of the house if there is a situation in which you can’t take the car for the day. If you do stay home, you may be forced to have other people come visit you since you don’t have access to a car.
Is It Right For Me?
You’ll need to consider the pros and cons for your family. Would it be worth it to have one car? Are your jobs close to each other in which you can carpool to work? If one parent stays home, are they safe and can they function throughout the week without a vehicle?
Living out in the country or being a parent to small children might make it less safe to be vehicle-less at home. Consider what you’d do in an emergency. If the parent that stays home has errands to run, kids events to drive to, or other tasks, they may need that second car.
Finally, weigh the costs and benefits between the extra time and effort required to be a one car family compared to the extra expense of having the second vehicle. It may make more sense to spend the extra money on a second vehicle while others may see that having one vehicle lifts the burden of having two cars to fund.
What Could I Do With The Saved Money?
In a year alone, you might save yourself $10,000 and all because you were willing to make the sacrifice. That could be used for a savings account, to pay off debt, to take a trip, to go towards your child’s college fund or to purchase something else your family needs.
A great option for those that are saving money by downsizing to a one-car family is to work on family debt and savings. A great way to start is to get your family an emergency fund saved and then begin to pay off any outstanding debt. Now that you don’t have this car payment, you can use the money that was put into the car each month towards paying off debt sooner. Start paying more money than the minimum payment towards one debt at a time until they are all paid off.
If you are struggling to pay the minimum monthly payments of your debts now, consider credit card consolidation companies. These are set up to combine all of your loans into one, simple loan that usually comes with a lower monthly payment and interest rate. You could take all of the money saved on vehicle number two and apply it to the debt consolidation loan. Once that loan is paid, you could consider taking the extra money you would have paid on the loan with and start saving for a second vehicle. This way, you are out of debt and you won’t have a new car payment since you’ll be able to pay cash with all of the money you’ve saved up. Downsizing to one car is a great way to give your family a breather by saving extra money.
While it may sound difficult or impossible to be a one-car family, everyone should consider what kind of savings they could have by doing it temporarily and the great things that could be done with that extra cash.