Thursday, February 26, 2009

Surviving With Only One Car

With the current economic climate such as it is, many people are reconsidering necessities versus luxuries. When it comes to having only one car, I'm a little torn. I think it really depends on location and lifestyle.

However, I can tell you first hand that it is entirely possible to survive with only one car.

A few years ago, we did just that. For a few months before Olivia was born until she was 9 months old, we had one car. We managed just fine, even with three children, 2 in car seats, 1 in a booster seat. Fortunately, they all fit perfectly in our back seat.

I will admit it wasn't always easy and there were definitely times when I longed for a second car. But we made it work with a little creativity and lots of forethought.

Here are a few of the tips we learned during that time.

  1. Plan ahead and keep the lines of communication open. Throughout that year, Eric was working almost every day and night. He was rarely home and he needed the car to get from one place to the next. He made sure to always keep me apprised of his schedule as far in advance as possible. That meant I made sure I planned doctor's appointments or outings for days when I knew he could either be at home, or I could drop him off at work and pick him up later. Then, I made sure I let him know of our plans right away. And I made sure I reminded him of them so that we wouldn't get our schedules crossed.
  2. Look for and utilize alternatives whenever possible. We do not have public transportation of any kind in our area. But there were still alternative methods we were able to take advantage of. For example, there were a few times when Eric was able to carpool with someone or borrow a vehicle from a neighbor when absolutely necessary.
  3. Organization is key. This was so important for us. When we were organized and on top of things, there was rarely a day when I ran out of diapers or milk in the middle of the day. We always kept an eye on our supply of household things and whenever something started to get even a little low, we made sure to pick up more. There were still many a night when Eric would have to pick up something on his way home, but overall, we were usually well-stocked.
  4. Keep the car seats at home. Even though the chances of actually needing a car seat when you don't have the car at home are very slim, you never know when an emergency could arise. We learned this one the hard way when I had to call 911 for Alex when he choked on a piece of crafting glitter. There was not a car seat in the ambulance and they could not transport him without one. Fortunately, our neighbors had an extra car seat for their grandchildren that we were able to borrow.
  5. Don't be afraid to walk. Fortunately, there is a convenience store less then a mile from our house. The few times when I wasn't organized (see #3) and ran out of milk in the middle of day, I packed up all of the kids and we walked to the store.
  6. Be willing to sacrifice. There were times when I needed the car for homeschool field trips or similar things. We always found a way to make it work, even if it meant everyone getting up early, driving Eric 30 miles to work, and picking him back up when needed. Often that meant I would then have to find something to do with the kids for an hour or two while Eric worked at his next building before we could all head home. It did feel like a sacrifice at the time, but when it meant not missing an exciting learning opportunity, it was more than worth the hassle.
  7. Staying home is not so bad. Just accept that and find ways to enjoy it.
Stop by Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday and Cents To Get Debt-Free for Finding Freedom Friday.


Jennifer 10:07 PM  

This is a great idea for people who can deal with only having one car. Me, I can not! :) We have been down to one car and to me it is terrible. Right now I have a minivan (which I really don't have to have, but it helps out a lot to transport items when I go out shopping for eBay) and when we are doing to one vehicle the gas for him to go back and forth in the van kills us.

However, for many people I am sure this is a great option. This is what my friend and her hubby do. They have enough money set aside to where they could just go to the dealership and pay cash for a new car, but they have decided to save money by sharing their car. It works great for them.

Wendi 11:08 PM  

My husband and I have discussed this very topic - we currently have two cars but his has pretty high mileage and he commutes 100 miles each day to work. We do have a "car savings" account that we have been building up - but we have discussed the possibility of needing to replace his before we're ready. So I really appreciate this helpful list.

Hannah 11:26 PM  

Yep, we only have one car, and we make it work for our family. My husband has a flexible schedule, so that helps. And we're about 4 miles from his office, so he can ride his bike when it's nice out.

It also helps that I am generally content to be at home most days, so it's not like I even need to use our car most of the time. Definitely a money saver for us!

Jen,  1:11 AM  

We had only one car for nine years, beginning when our son was a baby. It was hard but very much worth it for us. We chose to drop our second car so that we could afford to live on one income when he was born.

For us it was not so bad though. Dh is five miles from work so he rode his bike a lot during those years even though he had to be there at 5AM. Being so close made it much easier if I needed the car too.

Honestly, we actually missed picking dad up from work after we bought our second car. LOL

Now, with three drivers in the family we have three cars but we waited until we were mortgage free to buy our second & debt free to buy our third, for our son.

Sonshine 9:34 AM  

These tips are great and they work!

For 12 years out of the 13 1/2 years of marriage, we survived with one car. It was rough some days and weeks with hubby's work schedule and growing my family. But we were able to make it!

Now after 1 1/2 years of having a second car, we are back to one car.(not by choice...hubby had a wreck!) However, we know that we can make it with just one car because we have done it before! :)

Michelle M. 8:29 AM  

Great tips. We are moving soon and are planning to eventually get rid of my husband's car. He never uses it because he works from home. Typically when we go out, it is either the whole family or just myself or just my husband, and on a date night, a babysitter is there with her car (I guess that is a good time to leave the car seats). It is definitely going to save us a lot of money each month, which is the biggest factor now that we are going to be owing two house (yikes!).

HappyHermit 8:39 PM  

I so understand the car seat thing. I once had to leave a evacuate my home quickly. My Husband was not home and I did not have a car seat. Luckily a police officer helped me , she had one in her trunk.

valencio 8:05 AM  

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