When Brad was hired to work in California in September of 2011, we had two paid-off vehicles. Brad drove his 2002 Toyota Tacoma, and I drove my 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser. As we made plans to move across the country, I again began to contemplate the wisdom of keeping my car. It needed repairs regularly, it broke down inconveniently, and we had just put new tires on it. Driving both vehicles to California would mean more miles, inspections, insurance, and registration in California. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to list my car on Craigslist, and put the money toward our debts.
Life without a second car has been interesting. As with many of our frugal choices, we’ve gotten some funny looks. It seems like most American families have 2 jobs, 2 vehicles, and 2 kids. We’re a little unusual with 1 job, 1 vehicle, and 3 kids. It’s not always easy to coordinate our schedules when my husband and I both need or want the truck, but we’ve learned to cooperate. When Brad goes into Sacramento for training every week, I choose activities that I can do around the house. When I want to go shopping, I check with Brad to make sure he doesn’t need the truck for work. A friend on our street occasionally picks the kids and me up for a morning Bible Study, or lends me her extra vehicle if Brad goes away for a weekend. Sometimes we have to say no to activities because we haven’t planned alternative transportation. Only having one car can be a convenient excuse when we don’t really want to participate in a particular activity! It also simplifies our lives and keeps us from overcommitment.
In addition, we have chosen not to purchase another vehicle with the birth of our third child. While many families of five would choose to upsize to a minivan, we fit 3 car-seats across the backseat of our pick-up truck. When Brad wants to take some high school friends out to McDonald’s, he removes the car-seats and the kids and I stay at home. The only time our vehicle’s size has become a real issue is when our families come to visit from the East Coast. In order to drive them from place to place, we must get creative by renting, borrowing, picking up, or leaving someone behind.
We don’t plan to stay a one vehicle family forever, but who knows? Maybe we’ll eventually upsize to a vehicle with more seats and sell the truck, thus staying a one vehicle family even longer. But for now, being a one vehicle family has saved us a lot of money in maintenance, inspections, insurance, and registration.
Have you ever tried being a one car family?