Monday, October 22, 2012

The Family Car

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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.



  1. Great post! We came to the same conclusion a little over two years ago. It has been completely worth it! Its a hard switch at first but becomes infinitely more easy as time passes. And it saves so much money and time!

    1. Thanks, Monica! I agree completely! It has been some adjustment, but overall I do no miss the maintenance/repair expenses or car loan payments! :)

    2. Oh yes it is a good idea...we have been down to one family car for about six months now! In fact my recent post has to do with a highway miracle we experienced together that never would have been possible had we owned seperate vehicles!

  2. Just wanted to let you know how much of an encouragement your blog has been to me. My husband and I have been married for almost a year now and have recently decided for me to do the homemaking thing after having to leave my job for medical reasons. It is nice to have some encouragement in this! We've been doing the one car thing for a while and it's been working great for us. When I need to use the car for the day I'm also able to eat lunch often at his work. Also your post on how to file finances was such a blessing to us! Keep it up! :)

    1. Crystal, I'm incredibly late in responding to your comment, but it has not left my mind for a moment. Thank you so much for such kind words. I'm truly inspired and encouraged by what you had to share. Some days (especially days when there are less than encouraging comments left), I wonder if sharing my little world is interesting or useful enough for others to read. I really appreciate you taking a moment to write such an uplifting comment! :)

  3. We have been a one car family for five years. My husband was going a lot during the first four years since he was deployed. So that met I still had a car full time. Now he has the car during the day for work and I have to wait for him to come home. It has become a pain trying to schedule appointment and even run errands for me. By the time he is home I just want to relax. We also put a lot of miles in the car driving from MI from VAa few times a year. We will most likely be buying a second car with our tax refund. We will only buy a second car if it is cash/no payments.

    Hope the one car plan works out for your family.

    1. Hi, Stephanie! Sharing a car can definitely be inconvenient for us at times. If I need the car for errands that he doesn't necessarily need to be with me, then I take him to work, pick him up from work for lunch, and then he'll take it back with him for the remainder of the work day. Other times, I'll just wait until he comes home for the day and we'll go back out together. Fortunately, our home is quite close to his work. We probably would've made the one car move even if it wasn't, but we'd definitely have additional arrangements to make in sharing it. Currently, we compromise and make it work. We'll eventually go back to having two cars, but we don't want to do that just yet if that means burdening car loans. There will be similar post coming up soon on alternative (vs. the all-loan plan) means of purchasing a vehicle. Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience in being a one car family! :)


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