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Could You Get By Without One of Your Cars?

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 06/27/2012 @ 12:10 pm In Frugal Living,Personal Finance | 18 Comments

One of the expenses common to many American households [3] 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 [4]. 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 [5]. (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 [6])


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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/get-by-with-one-car.html

[3] American households: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/middle-class-income-middle-class-family.html

[4] fuel costs: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/gas-prices-high.html

[5] Walk Score: http://www.walkscore.com/

[6] o5com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/o5com/5081595200/

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