The Myth of the Two Car Family

Myth of the Two Car Family ~

A few months ago, My 2002 Avalanche suffered a fatal mechanical failure; the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the truck so it’s not getting fixed. We are putting our last child through college, and simply can’t justify going out and buying another one. Initially hubby and I were discussing how we could accomplish just that. However in the interim, we discovered an amazing thing: We don’t need two cars. Really! With a little bit of planning and cooperation, we are both able to go where we need to go, when we need to go there, with one car.

The Costs of Car Ownership

Now I know this flies in the face of today’s conventions. Not only do many folks own two cars, it may well be that every person of driving age in the household has their own car.  However, in 1928, Herbert Hoover ran his presidential campaign on the slogan “a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway.” A car. One car. My, how times have changed. But it made me wonder what the financial impact of car ownership really is, and how much we can save if we continue on with single car ownership.

Well, here’s a run down of the numbers:

In 2014, which is the latest data available from Consumer Reports, an astounding 84% of new car purchases were financed.

USA today reported in 2015 that the average car payment was $482, at an interest rate of  4.56% financed for Auto repairs add to the cost of car ownershipfive years.  That’s $5784 annually, for five years.

AAA reported the annual cost of owning a car in 2015 was $8698, down $178 from the previous year because of
lower gas prices. These costs include the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges associated with driving a typical sedan 15,000 miles annually. It does not include car payments, and it’s relevant to note that older cars will cost more, due to more frequently needed repairs.

Based on the numbers, if we don’t purchase a second vehicle, we will save $14,482 a year, or $49,274 over the time of an average car loan.  That is a lot of cash.

Managing with Just One Car

So how are we doing it? Hubby gets up earlier than he used to and takes me to work. A bonus from this is we now sit down and have a cup of coffee together every morning, and a chance to visit and talk about the upcoming day.  At the end of the day, he is usually able to pick me up. If he’s running late, I simply hang out in the lobby at work and read or check emails. Again, the bonus here is a little down time where I have nothing that needs doing. We generally runs errand together on Saturday, which is awesome. I hate grocery shopping and errand running, and having some company makes it less onerous.

Reasons to Own Multiple Vehicles

I do realize that for some families, this would not be do-able. For example, my son has a job which requires him to drive out of state quite frequently for extended stays. Clearly, his wife needs a car to get to work, etc. Families with

Does your teen driver need a car?

active kids would probably find one car to be pretty challenging. Although if those activities are kept to a reasonable level, it may be do-able. I think the greatest potential for savings for families with kids still in the home is how to manage when they are of driving age. A realistic evaluation of the family transportation needs to be done.  While it’s great to have a teen driver to taxi their younger siblings around, it may be more financially frugal to share one or two cars between all drivers in the household.

I think what is all comes down to is separating real needs from perceived “needs.” As I continue my quest to live a right-sized, happy life, I am constantly amazed at how having less and less is actually offering us more and more. More time together.  More income to do some things we enjoy. More peace of mind. Just…..more.