The decision to become a one-car family can be one of the most financially liberating choices for any family to make. With the average cost of a new mid-size SUV hovering around the $25,000 mark, the expense of owning and operating multiple vehicles can be astronomical. Of course, the decision to downsize to one car is one that requires careful consideration before you make your move.
What is the Dynamic?
The first question you need to consider is this: what will it take to make your family work with only a single car? Many small and medium-sized cities offer plenty of transportation alternatives to automotive travel. So, the good news is that having multiple vehicles is not a lifestyle necessity. But you must really take stock of the practicalities of using alternate forms of transportation, too.
One of the most important aspects of making the transition is effective communication by all family members. Last-minute changes of plan can throw the entire day off-course. That means you need to keep an active calendar of events, so the whole family always knows what is going on with transportation.
At the end of the day, you need to have everyone on board to make the one-car plan work for your family. If family members are resistant or holding out, it could set your efforts back before you even know it by making everyone miserable with the new arrangement.
Benefits of Being a One-Car Family
There are many benefits to being a one-car family that go well beyond the financial benefits. In addition to eliminating monthly payments, parking, insurance, maintenance, registration, and more, keep in mind to include things like:
- Encouraging better communication for the entire family since everyone is on the same page about who needs to be where.
- Enjoying more time going places together rather than always going your own separate ways.
- Forcing greater flexibility. In fact, this may be one of the most important lessons for the entire family to come of downsizing to a single car.
- Helping your family pay down debt faster. Paying off debt is one of the most common reasons families make the decision to downsize. And losing a car note plus other car-related expenses can make a huge budgetary difference.
- Freeing up valuable garage space for storage, projects, etc.
- Bettering the planet by reducing your family's carbon footprint.
The big question most families have when weighing this decision is how to make it work. That requires careful planning and taking the time to measure how "on board" your family is for the idea. Make sure they understand the potential costs and benefits.
Other Means for Transportation
Becoming a single-vehicle family does not mean that other members of the family are left out in the cold when it comes to transportation. It just means you have to plan for specific events a little more carefully than if you were to have two vehicles.
Fortunately, there are many alternative forms of transportation available in communities of all sizes, such as:
- Mass public transit (buses, trains, subways, etc.)
- Uber, Lyft and similar services
- Bicycles and bike-share programs
- Car rentals
- School buses for school children
There is also the potential to telecommute. If one or both parents in the family can work from home, making a move to a single-vehicle would be more comfortable.
The goal is to simplify your finances and your lifestyle by downsizing your debt and your car situation. Make sure you have it planned to the point that it does not cause additional, unnecessary stress to accomplish.
Making the switch to become a one-car family does not have to be a painful decision, nor does it need to feel like a monumental sacrifice. As a matter of fact, it can be quite freeing by doing the following:
- Encouraging better communication for all family members.
- Forcing you to rely on each other.
- Creating a greener family lifestyle for everyone.
- Getting you to seek out alternative transportation when schedules are too hectic.
- Freeing up finances so you can focus on things that are more important for the entire family.
With benefits like these, the sacrifice actually seems quite small.