Frugal Living, Personal Finance 
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Could You Get By Without One of Your Cars?

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WalkingOne of the expenses common to many American households is the car. In fact, many households have more than one car. We have two cars, and we’d be hard-pressed to live without both of them, mainly because of the activities that we do, and where we live.

Getting rid of a car would save quite a bit, however. Think of the expenses that come with cars: Payments and interest (if you borrow in order to buy), insurance, maintenance, repairs, and fuel costs. All of these fuel costs add up. Chances are that you could save hundreds of dollars each month — particularly if you have borrowed to purchase your car — by getting rid of a car. But is it something your family can actually do?

What Do You Need Your Cars For?

First of all, you need to determine what you use your cars for. What do you need a car for? List the reasons that you need a car. The biggest reason that people use cars is to get to work. How many breadwinners do you have? Do they all need to get to work? What other reasons do you use the car? Here are some of the ways that we use our cars in my household:

  • My husband commutes an hour to work (I work from home)
  • I take my son to school, and to extra curricular activities
  • We drive the car to the local stores, especially the grocery store
  • The car is used for recreation, including camping, trips to the library, and more

Make a list of the places you go with your car, and how you use your cars. Once you know this information, it’s possible to assess whether or not you really need more than one car (or any car at all).

What Resources are Nearby?

First, determine what resources are nearby. Can you walk or bike to what you need? My son’s school is a mile away, and there is no bus service for him. I’m not comfortable with him walking it by himself, but if he could ride his scooter with a group of friends, it might make sense to for him to get himself to and from school.

It’s possible to coordinate schedules, I suppose, so that we all go grocery shopping together when my husband is home with the car. We live quite a ways from just about everything, and the public transportation in our town isn’t very good, so we need to drive to go to the store, library, post office, and just about everywhere else. Moving in closer to town might be a good solution, but since we don’t know what the future holds right now for my husband’s job, we want to wait to move. But our next move could be made with reference to Walk Score. (My current Walk Score is a 3, classifying my location as car-dependent.)

For now, with my husband’s irregular schedule and 60-minute commute, and my requirement to use the car to get places when I am home, we aren’t quite ready to get rid of one of our cars. We were a one-car family for many years, until my husband finished school and my son got old enough to become involved in more activities. Our next move will likely be to an area with more amenities close by, since we would like to be less dependent on cars.

What about you? Could you get rid of one of your cars? What would you need to do in order to get rid of one of your cars?

(Photo: o5com)

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18 Responses to “Could You Get By Without One of Your Cars?”

  1. David S says:

    What about biking? Though we live in a “car-dependent” area it is amazing how easy it is to bike to places. So many of the small errands (including getting to work) can be done by bike and the fuel needed for biking is what you eat anyway. I will mention that we are a two car (well van and car) family but one of the cars pretty much stays in the garage all the time (which means a lower insurance rate due to the low millage). The main thing that prevents us from selling it is that it is useful for the occasional solo trips or trips where we have to go two different directions.

  2. Mylinda says:

    I would have to move to town to be able to live without a car. I only have one and could live without it if I didn’t live so far away from my job.

  3. PawPrint says:

    In 31 years of marriage, my DH and I have had two cars for 1/3 of that time. I remember one day taking my daughter the 1.5 miles to daycare in the stroller in the rain (we lived in western OR at the time). Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a truck to haul stuff around in, but it’s definitely not worth the expense. We do have to plan a bit more than others with two cars, but living within biking/walking distance of work helps.

  4. Fabclimber says:

    Started biking to work when my company moved closer to home. Although I try and bike 100 days or about 1/2 of my workdays to the office, I can’t do it in the freezing weather due to safety concerns so I still have a car. I could possibly cancel my car insurance when I’m biking to save money, but that also seems impractical. Oh well, saving gas anyway and I get some exercise while I commute.

  5. Martha says:

    My family went from two cars to one car when I was 16. It was a rough transition during the summer when me and my sister had jobs, my mom spent each day dropping off and picking us up. We had one week where she went early and one week when I went early… It all worked out so much that until I was a freshman in college my parents only had one car!

  6. Guy In San Antonio says:

    There is also the option of renting a car for a few days each week. Renting could end up being less expensive than owning if you only need one on certain days. You don’t have to pay for insurance, your credit card and existing auto insurance will cover it. No maintenance, etc.

  7. Steve says:

    We went down to one car for 2 years. It was a bit rough as my job was 15 miles away and not accessible through public transportation, but with me car pooling and my wife not working, it was do-able. We live in a very walkable town (walk score 65), which helped. We broke down a month ago and bought a second car though. With our oldest daughter starting school that is 5 miles away, we didn’t think we could continue. The added expenses are really noticeable.

  8. Charles says:

    We were a two car family, then medical and financial necessity dictated giving one of those cars to our daughter. We make the payments and insurance her husband pays for maintenance and gas.

  9. Alison says:

    My husband and I planned to go down to one car, but found we saved hundreds of dollars on insurance with the multi-car discount. Now we have one nice car that we drive almost daily and an old truck that we only use when doing yard work or major house projects. This was a great move for us. We save money on insurance and don’t have to rent a truck to move large items.

    It’s worth noting that my husband is a mechanic, so maintenance is considerably cheaper than for the average consumer. We also bike/scooter to work frequently and save on gas.

  10. Debbie says:

    You forgot to mention the cost of licensing a car. The renewal tags can be costly as is the smog testing.

  11. Paul Knudsen says:

    Yes, in fact we may get rid of both. We can walk to stores and if we need to go further, the down has a great transit service.

  12. Kamil says:

    Over the past two months I’ve sold off two of my cars-. One of them I had loaned to my nephew for the past two yrs at his cost. Another an SUV is 9 yrs old. Currently I’m maintaining a low capacity car sharing it with my daughter who just started work. In the evenings my girlfriend picks me up in her car! She works and I’m a retiree. I’ve saved some money!

  13. Ellen says:

    For me no problem I can do it because the first we haven’t any car anymore (sold).
    I just be happy because we live in small city on the foot of the mountain where’s the weather cooler than in the city,without car just walking where the super market, shop everything very close and if don’t like to walk just by people transportation hehehehehe.

  14. Diane says:

    No worries. I lived without any car for a while. It was cheaper, and while it took a bit longer to get around, it was fairly easy and stress-free.

    A car is faster and more convenient, but I could go back to no car if I had to do so. And I say that as someone with an irregular (2-4 days/week) 3-hour RT car commute. I could still do it (I do that commute via bus as often as I can – it takes 4 hours instead of 3).

  15. Kelly says:

    Unfortunately I live in a place with very minimal public transportation, no biking lanes, minimal sidewalks, and a lot of spread. If I moved to place with more walking access (and staying in my same town), then my housing costs would jump dramatically. In weighing the two, it’s cheaper for my family to have 2 cars and stay where we are.

  16. Shirley says:

    Yes, we could get by easily enough with just one car. Although walking or bicycling is out of the question for me, I am seldom out without my husband anyway. My SUV and his pickup are both paid for and the multi-car insurance discount make it unreasonable for us to give up his ‘beloved’ truck. ;-)

  17. Richard Brown says:

    I just like to ride bikes. i get a 300cc bike with 75mph. It’s suitable to go around my community.


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