Ever wondered if your family could make it with just one car? Here are the pros and cons of being a one car family plus my best tips to make it work!
[This article was originally published in 2019]
I remember a few years back hearing another mom talk about being a one car family. At the time I couldn’t imagine not having my own car to go places while Pablo was at work – I was so grateful we had two cars.
Fast forward a few years and now we’ve been a one car family for almost a year now. Though I’m looking forward to eventually owning a second car again, I’ve gotten used to this new normal and have discovered some good things about being a one car family.
Today I wanted to share some of the pros and cons of being a one car family plus some tips for how to make it work!
Pros and Cons of Being a One Car Family
There are a lot of financial benefits to only owning one car!
1. Only one car payment
Of course, as lover of frugal living I do NOT recommend car payments in the first place – it’s far better to driver a an old, uncool car that you paid cash for. But, one car payment is definitely better than two!
Now of course this only applies if you actually have a car payment. Depending on which source you read, somewhere around 35% of Americans have at least one car payment.
2. Less money spent on registration fees/taxes/service/repairs
Car ownership can get expensive! Registration, inspection, and taxes all seem to roll around much more often than once a year (or is it just me?)
And of course then there’s everything thing else that comes with maintaining a car and fixing it when it has issues (why do cars always seem to have mechanical issues at the most inconvenient time?)
3. Less opportunities to unnecessarily spend money
You know those memes about running to Target for toilet paper and coming home with 10 other things? That’s what I’m talking about here.
Let’s be honest: less opportunities to shop = money saved, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
4. More money to put towards savings
All that money that you’re saving by being a one car family? That money can go straight towards paying off debt, or better yet, straight into savings!
If you’re a one car family now but know you don’t want to be forever, work hard on saving every month so that when you are ready for that second car you can pay cash for it.
Okay, I’ll admit it, there are a few cons to being a one car family as well.
1. Scheduling appointments and such can be a bit complicated
This wasn’t too hard for us when Pablo worked close to home as I could just drop him off and keep the car for the day. However, for a time he had a pretty lengthy commute every day and that made things a little tricky.
This isn’t an insurmountable problem, but definitely something to think through.
2. You’re in a bit of a pickle if your one car breaks down
Having the car in the shop is definitely more complicated when you only have one car. Here are a few options to think through:
- Do you have family in the area who could possibly help with transportation while your car is in the shop?
- Is there affordable public transportation that you could use briefly if necessary?
- Some mechanics have a car that you can use while yours is being repaired. It never hurts to ask.
- If you are downsizing from two cars to one, maybe you can afford for your one car to be a little newer and therefore less likely to break down.
3. No car to use if there’s an emergency while your spouse is at work
Again, this is not an insurmountable problem, but when you’re a one car family it’s definitely important to think through what you’ll do and who you’ll call if there’s an emergency.
Now, I’ll be totally honest here, I don’t LOVE only having one car. There have definitely been times where I want to pull my hair out because I feel stuck in the house with the kids all day, every day. But as I’ve grown more accustomed to being a one car family I’ve figured out some things that make life a bit easier.
Tips For Making Life Easier When You’re a One Car Family
1. Make a daily schedule
When you know you’re going to be home all day with the kids, make a schedule. It doesn’t have to be anything rigid, but having some basic routines and a flexible schedule for how you’re going to spend your day helps things go smoothly and not drag so much.
2. Take advantage of your neighborhood and/or city amenities
Do you have a neighborhood pool? A playground or park close by? Sidewalks or safe streets to walk on? Take advantage of these things that you can do with your kids without a car.
Where we are currently living we can walk to our little city library which is amazing. Even if you don’t have a library within walking distance you may have a Free Little Library somewhere in your neighborhood – the kids were thrilled when we discovered one in ours!
3. Have friends over
Play-dates are so nice for changing things up and giving you and your kiddos some much-appreciated company! I am notoriously bad at actually planning things like this, but I’m always so glad when I do.
4. Ask for a ride
Really want to get out of the house and go somewhere in a car with the kids? Plan ahead and ask a friend to give you a ride! (Just make sure you have the kids’ car seats!)
5. Use weekends wisely
When you know you won’t be getting out at all during the week, use the weekend to visit the library, grab craft supplies and what not, and most importantly make sure to stock up on snacks, haha.
6. Plan times to get away alone if you’re the spouse who’s generally at home
It is SO refreshing whenever I am able to get away alone for an hour or two (and I know this is true for all stay at home moms!) I am often able to go out for a couple hours on Sunday afternoons to blog, and sometimes I will go do the grocery shopping alone when Pablo gets home from work.
It’s OK to prioritize a little alone time like this. In fact it’s more than OK – I think it’s very important.
So, to sum things up, I think there are both pros and cons to being a one car family but if you’re looking to really cut back and save money I think it’s definitely doable.
Are you a one car family? How do you make it work? I’d love to hear your tips so please share in the comments!