Jun 18 2008

One car works for us


Trent at the Simple Dollar wrote a post about going from a two-car to a one-car household. After considering his family’s needs, he decided it would be best if they stuck with two cars for now.

Shane and I are a one-car household, and it’s working really well.

Our car gets pretty good gas mileage and only has 19,500 miles on it. The backseat is a little cramped, but I tend not to sit there :). It’ll be just the right size for toting a kid or two back there. Plus, the trunk is surprisingly roomy. Plenty of space for baby gear.

We used to have a second car: A ’91 Mazda Miata. I couldn’t successfully drive it, since I never did get the hang of the manual transmission. I never felt safe in that tiny car. In February, Shane drove it to the Park and Ride down the street, hit some ice, and slid into a cement wall. He was fine, but the car was pretty dinged up.

It needs a bit of work, and we aren’t sure if reparing it is worth it. 

The car is registered and insured in his parent’s name, so we’re leaving it up to them to figure out what to do with it. It might get sent on a flatbed truck back to Bloomington. Dunno.

So, we’ve been using one car for the past four months.

Shane takes the bus to work every morning. There’s a bus stop less than a quarter of a mile from our front door, but he’d have to walk up an insanely long, steep hill and be out the door a bit earlier to reach it. There’s also a stop at the bottom of the hill (easier to get to without getting out of breath), but he’d have to head out the door earlier.

If I don’t need the car during the day, he’ll drive it to the Park and Ride lot that’s about a mile or so away. If I do want the car, I drop him off at the bus stop and pick him up in the evening.

I can just walk to it and pick it up if I ever needed to, but that hasn’t happened yet.

About a quarter mile from our apartment is a Giant Eagle grocery, two dollar stores, my doctor’s office (not OB, just regular doc), the post office, my dentist, and a bunch of fast-food chains. Pretty convenient.

Our “Walk Score” is 63, and I’m not surprised.

If something happens to our car that would require it to be in the shop for a few days, we’d tap our emergency fund and rent one. Or, we’d tough it out.

We haven’t decided what we’ll do this winter when the baby comes. It would be an incredible pain to bundle up the baby twice per day to take an otherwise 2-minute car ride to drop him off and pick him up. And, I don’t know that I’d want to be without our car, in case we really did need to make a trip somewhere.

Perhaps we’ll get Shane’s Miata fixed up so it can take him to the Park n Ride. Or maybe I can convince him to get out the door a little earlier and catch the bus at the bottom of the hill instead.

When I mentioned I was thinking about doing the cloth-diapering thing (and I still am! Even though some of you have said I’m nuts. Be nice to me.), some of you suggested moving to a different apartment with a washer/dryer in the unit.

Not only would that be more expensive per month (higher rent, higher electric bill), but we’d have to pay $770 to break our lease. There’s a chance we’d be off the bus line, making a second car more necessary (and with that comes gas, maintenance, and insurance). Moving to another apartment in this city is out of the question right now.

Even though it can be really convenient for a family to have two cars, it isn’t always necessary. I’m really glad we can make our one car work for us. Cuz $366 for six months of car insurance ain’t bad!

Posted under Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “One car works for us”

  1. I don’t see us every being a single car household. The good news is that our expensive car (the minivan) will be paid off in 10 months, with my car following about 12 months after that. My husband and I work completely different hours and the only way I see us going to one car is if I become a SAHM, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

    Jaynee’s last blog post..Some Rights Reserved

  2. My husband and I, throughout our 5 years together, have always had only one car. Mainly, because while we were in college, we didn’t need but one car. Right now, he is the only one working, and we only need the one car. I was thinking that when I get a job, I would be able to car pool with him, avoiding having to get a second car, but that isn’t going to be feasible. Since we don’t know what it’s like to have two cars, we don’t see it as such an inconvenience. Eventually we’ll need another car, but right now, we’re content with our one car routine.

    Sarah F.’s last blog post..Debt update

  3. Check out One Step Ahead or Land’s End- they have car seat fleeces that zip up around and over or simply fit over the car seat. If your baby is layered in a onsie and sleeper and you put an extra blanket around and a hat with one of those, he/she ought to be fine making the cold trip- probably warmer than the parents! We used one in Kyiv, Ukraine which is located at a simliar latitude as D.C. and had no problems.

  4. Oh, that poor little Miata. :( I drive my ’97 Miata nearly everyday and LOVE her to death, I’d be heartbroken if anything ever were to happen to her… Funny enough, I have plenty of “I don’t feel safe” moments in my itty bitty car, but that’s typically driver related and not car related. I actually get an insurance discount because of the crash rating… I also love driving my manual too, though I’ve met few other girls who enjoy it, let alone cars as a whole, as much as I do. :) (Mine’s by choice, though now chosen necessity since both of my vehicles are manuals.)

    I don’t think my husband and I will ever be a one car household; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we never have kids and have up to five cars at one time… Heh, guess it’s what I get for falling in love with a man who gave me the auto bug. (Thus the drive to get a Ferrari. Or two. Maybe three…)

    At least fix up the Miata and get her on the road again. The little girl deserves to enjoy her age and have some fun. :) (Headlights up and top down, of course!)

  5. We have two kids and are a one car family. It’s inconvenient sometimes, but not inconvenient enough to make me want to pay the extra costs in insurance. My husband works about 5 minutes away and I drive him there and pick him up on the days when I need a car. The other days, he drives to work (his work is flexible enough that if we suddenly needed to go to the Dr. he could bring me the car). If you can find a pediatrician within walking distance of your home, I say, try it. The only real reason that you would need a car is for doctor visits. We save money in gas because I try to only use the car 2 days a week. If I had access every day, I would use it more, but the hassle keeps me home, so we save gas money and my baby gets all his naps. We have play dates at our house at least once a week, so we’re still social and I take trips to the park and library on the days I am out. Another idea you all could consider for the temperate part of the year, depending on the size of the hill, is having your husband bike to the Park and Ride. My husband often does this in the Spring, Summer and Fall and it frees up the car.

  6. We are a one car family too!! We both work (teachers) and carpool together to work. It works for us and our budget. I also get a great sense of satisfaction from knowing we are impacting pollution on a minimal level.

    We do have to get up a lot earlier. My husband is a substitute teacher, so he goes to a different school almost every school day. I was fortunate to have my own classroom this year. He would drop me off and then head off to the school of the day! We were apprehensive about it at first, but the situation actually forced me to get to my classroom super early and stay on top of my planning and work. I rarely had any work to take home because I got so much done in the morning!

    Having one car was a blessing in disguise for us!

    Rachel’s last blog post..I got a job!!!

  7. We have been a two car family for about a year and a half now. We had been married for 7 years with two kids and a third on the way, when decided we needed a mini-van to fit all the carseats and baby gear. Thus, a second vehicle.

    I am a SAHM, so I would just get the kids up to take hubby into work if I needed the car, which was usually just a couple times a week (during summer, we’d just load them straight from their beds in their jammies. In winter, we’d bundle them up – just warm up the car ahead of time). Or hubby rode his bike if we were close enough.

    It was a pain to just have one car, but we didn’t want to have to make two car-payments, in addition to extra car insurance, gas, etc., so we just endured. Although I did like to have the car at home for those last-minute shopping trips or doctor appts. or if something should happen and you need to go somewhere right away. It always made me feel at ease knowing I could leave if I needed to.

    Once your kids grow a bit and are in school and have various activities, it becomes increasingly difficult to juggle everyones schedules with only one car. But, it can obviously be done. It’s just not easy and requires a bit more forethought and planning.

    I think it would be smart to stick with one car, if possible. With just one little baby, and you being a SAHM, it won’t be super hard, maybe just a bit inconvenient at times. Of course, two cars are nice and make things so much easier, logistics-wise.

  8. The walk score at our house is… 3. Nothing’s walkable around here. I would LOVE to get rid of a car, but, instead, we’re going to end up with 3 vehicles by summer’s end.

    One key, for us: our cars will always be paid-for. No car loans for us, ever- even if it means buying (very) used cars.

    Much of my justification for having 2 cars is Trent’s- even if someone is staying home, I’ll want them to be able to get somewhere in an emergency.

    Joanna’s last blog post..Firefox 3 Download Day!

  9. We only had one car the whole time we were in school together and it worked just fine. Now we work in opposite directions and it wasn’t feasible to just have one car. I would stick with the one as long as possible, you can make it work and you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t tempt yourself with it! :)

  10. I think it’s great to be able to go to a one car household. A lot of my coworkers are going to one car households, and are trying to convince me to get rid of my car. Thing is, I’m single – so I’m already a one car household! And while I don’t drive it much, I drive enough that it’s not worth giving it up.

    You’re lucky to live in an area where it’s even possible to give up a car. My parents, for example, couldn’t be a one car household – they live in a town where there’s no public transportation. Sure, my dad has talked about riding his bike to work everyday, but they live on a road where it’s not safe for cyclists. Plus, what happens in the winter when the roads are covered in ice?

    Good luck with the decision on cloth diapering. I think it’s a great idea, if you can make it work for you.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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