What is the value of each individual owning a vehicle? I began to toss this question around more and more this year. When my vehicle is predominantly sitting parked in the parking lot, then its necessity and alternate use for it’s worth comes to be questioned. Yet, I also considered what owning my own car represented- wealth, status, convenience, and even entitlement. We do not live in an area with public transportation or biking paths, and so I wondered if it would even be feasible for us to downsize to sharing only one vehicle.
There was a time in which families did share one vehicle- the family car. All driving members of the family had to make arrangements necessary to accommodate the needs or wants for its use. What allowed one car to be sufficient then but not now? Perhaps it has to do with expectation. As vehicle ownership increased in time so did the expectation for such. The seeming norm now is for each driving member of a family to have his or her own vehicle. In fact, it is not unusual for sixteen or seventeen year olds to be provided a vehicle of his or her own (but not necessarily true ownership). There are certainly many, many other factors at play for the greater possession of vehicles now in comparison to previous times. Expectation is simply one.
After much discussion my husband and I made the decision to sell one of our two cars. We weighed the pros and cons to making this rather big decision, and the following were the factors that were considered:
- · Avoid costly maintenance/repairs.
- · Financial stability
- · Decreased insurance payments, taxes/registration/tags
- · Option to replace two older vehicles for one more reliable one
- · Eliminates a "yours" and "mine" mentality within our marriage
- · Humility
- · Inconvenience
- · Lack of transportation in the event of an emergency
- · Immediacy of purchase if a two-income situation were to be needed
- · Judgment for choosing to live differently
Ultimately, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. We’re still discussing whether we want to trade in the remaining car for a newer vehicle. After finally achieving no car payments and one less debt, I’m reluctant to rush back into another one. Even then, we’ll continue to be a one car family. It takes a little more planning and intentionally if just one of us needs the car. Sharing a car also takes compromise. All of these qualities are good characteristics to develop personally and in a marriage. Sharing a car is simply another means of doing so.
Everyone’s situation and needs for transportation are unique, and I will certainly not assume that what has been appropriate for me and my husband is the same for others. If you are considering downsizing to one car, however, then I hope to encourage you with my experience.
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