Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about not having a car payment? What was the last car repair you had to make, and how much did it cost you? How much does your family spend on gasoline, car insurance and car payments each month? If you are thinking about selling your car to become a one-car family, the savings can be a huge benefit. And, if you need the extra incentive, cutting down your car usage can help the environment. The following are a few points to consider when becoming a one-car family:
Making the Decision
If you live in an area without reliable public transportation or out in the middle of nowhere, your family might not be able to live with one car very easily. But, if you can make some lifestyle changes and commit to saving money and the environment, you should do it. When making this decision, see if you have options like telecommuting or freelancing from home instead of commuting for a job. Also, look into alternative forms of transportation such as reliable public transportation, biking, mopeds or carpooling. If any of these is an option, then you can probably be a one-car family.
Starting the Transition
Once you make the decision to go to one car, it’s time to transition. While it may be tempting to just sell or donate your car immediately, it might be better to make a plan and have a few trial runs.
First, find other means of transportation for your most traveled routes (to work, school, the grocery store, etc.). Check out your public transportation options, get a bicycle for short trips around town and check the distance to see if anything is within reasonable walking distance. Then, park your car for at least two weeks away from home, and practice living with one car. If you find that you can live without it, you are ready to sell your car for good.
Using Your Smartphone Apps
Get more mileage out of your smartphone than a second car. Look into taxi apps like Uber or Hailo for those times you know you can’t walk or ride your bike. Or, if you’d rather share a ride than hail a taxi, look at iCarpool and Carma to see who’s going where you need to go at the same time. Additionally, you can use your smartphone to see some of the added benefits. For example, download the MapMyWalk app to see how many miles you walked and how many calories you burned.
Add up the expenses that you’re getting rid of with that second car, suggests Alex at Modest Money. Don't just think about gas; there's also insurance, maintenance and repairs. If you consciously put this money into savings, you can see the effect of your efforts and use that money toward other bills or something more fun like a family vacation.
You also can track how many miles you walk, bike or use public transportation. This can show how much you helped the environment by not using gasoline or putting exhaust fumes into the air. If you want to go one step further, you can even use some of your saved money to plant a tree or do something else for the environment.
Flexibility, compromise and creativity are key to living with one car. Once you start looking at alternatives, you’ll see that you can get anywhere you need to go and that it’s easy to be a one-car family.