By contributing writer Andrea Vandiver
We’re a one car family.
There. I said it.
I don’t know why that has such a negative connotation to it, but it does. Anytime I tell someone, I get a barrage of questions and sad looks. But let me clear something up once and for all.
And, we have options. We don’t only have one car because we can’t afford another one. We only have one car because we have some pretty incredible financial goals and it works for our family.
A year ago we sold our second car because my husband’s job provided a company vehicle, and we became a one car family. We didn’t use the second car enough to justify keeping it. But shortly after doing so, an opportunity came up that we couldn’t refuse. Which meant switching career paths and losing the company vehicle. When we sat down to discuss what to do about our new predicament, we decided to see how long we could suffer through this unimaginable circumstance.
Honestly though, it hasn’t been that bad. It’s actually kind of fun! And we’ve learned some things along the way.
1. We save money. This is obviously the biggest perk. You would be surprised at how much money you spend on car maintenance. Gas, insurance, tires and washes all add up. That’s not to mention a car payment. We follow Dave Ramsey’s philosophies and are committed to living a debt free lifestyle. That means paying cash for cars.
2. We take better care of our car. We realize how vital our car is to our life. If it breaks down, there’s not an easy backup. So we take really good care of it. The oil is changed on schedule. The tires are rotated and watched carefully. An odd noise is checked out immediately. We even keep it cleaner.
3. We spend more time together. Some of our best family time is spent in the car. It may be a little inconvenient to travel everywhere together, but it’s a great opportunity to spend quality time while life is busy. In a season of extra jobs and late nights, drives to church or the grocery store provide quick chances to reconnect.
4.We are picky about where we go. With only one car, it’s just not feasible to go places on a whim. We live in a suburb of a major city and plan our trips to “town” carefully. I try my best to make each trip really count by listing out every errand that needs to be done and knocking it out in one day. I even schedule doctor appointments and volunteer shifts accordingly.
Here’s why it works:
I’m a stay at home mom. And honestly, I don’t have that many places to go. We have a park in our neighborhood and a good-sized backyard. I grocery shop on “town days.” I stock up on fun activities to keep us entertained. I’m also lucky to have found some work from home opportunities.
My husband works nearby. This one is a major factor. Generally speaking, I drop him off at work when I need to run errands. He brings his lunch and I pick him up at the end of the day. Occasionally something last minute pops up and I need the car unexpectedly. In this case, he comes home for lunch and I take him back.
We do have a plan though. As of now, we are on Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2, paying off all debt but the house. You can read all about Dave’s steps in his book, The Total Money Makeover.
Once we’ve hit that milestone, we will turn and place every extra penny into a new-to-us car fund. Or we may have to briefly pause our debt snowball. But trust me, this experience will forever motivate us to stay out of debt.
Making sacrifices to accomplish goals won’t always be popular. Or cool. Or easy. But the bigger picture, that prize you have your eye on, it’s worth that.
The timeline of your goal is measured by how deeply you’re willing to sacrifice.
This won’t work for everyone -being a one car family. And it won’t work for us much longer. But this is a season. And if you’re in this season too, know that while it’s an adjustment, you can do it. And be happy.
Andrea Vandiver is a work-at-home mom and freelance writer in Oklahoma. She spends her days imitating animals and blowing bubbles. Her favorite things are those that taste, smell, feel, sound and look wonderful: the stuff that romance is made of.