To some it makes sense, and to others it’s absolute absurdity. Being a single car family does have its ups and downs; but for us, the personal finance “ups” outweighed the frustrating “downs”.
The question you have to ask yourself is, can you handle the single-car adjustment in order to reap the single-car benefits?
Why We Had Two Brand New Cars
People buy or lease cars for many different reasons, obviously. Ours was simple. My wife and I had driven our “college” cars until they literally fell apart and fizzled out. Because of the trouble we experienced during last few months with each of our cars, we had this fear in the back of our minds of being stranded on some road-to-nowhere with a broken down vehicle to blame.
Knowing the backstory, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to understand that, when our cars finally crapped out (7 months apart), we looked at new cars and never even sniffed the used car lot. It might not have been the smartest financial decision we’ve made, but it made sense to us during our current state of mind.
So there we were, a relatively young couple with a relatively young salary with 2 new cars in the driveway; buying one brand new car and leasing another. I got the pickup, she got the SUV (I’m still upset at myself for not remembering how much I wanted a Jeep in high school, but my dad successfully argued that sort of transportation out of my head, apparently).
Mindset and Personality
With most things involving personal finance strategy, becoming a single-car family has less to do with being able to afford a second vehicle, and more to do with your personality and your mindset. First of which is, are you and your spouse united about your financial decisions?
The answer to this question could supply enough material for a separate article, but it still rings true for your car situation. For a single car to work among two people, the two must be united in their decision. If not, the complaining will inevitably start and someone will break down and sign the paperwork for the second money-pit.
You must also address your own personality and the way in which you view cars. Are they status symbols or are they simply transportation?
Although I could drive the tires off a sports car, I know I would have little use for it outside of feeling like a big dog. When my wife and I had the idea about downsizing to a single car, we sort of had the attitude that we were excited for the challenge. We both enjoy taking stock of the various compartments of our lives and asking ourselves if we need to/can change anything; do we have more than we need?
How We Did It
Unfortunately, we didn’t have our personal finance revelation until the SUV had 1 year of payments left. We went ahead and paid it off, and we returned the leased pickup early (for a fee of $47, still trying to figure out how that worked out so well).
We live in North Texas, so there’s not too much public transportation to speak of. The main reason the loan car experiment has worked is that I worked close to home, and then began to work solely from home. I take my wife to work, drop off the kids, and head back home for my own job.
I guess some might say that we’re cheating. I do have a motorcycle, a bargain basement Yamaha that we paid cash for 3 years before any of the single-car talk occurred. But since I can’t strap our 3 year old on the back of it (yet), I don’t really count it.
Sure, there have been scheduling conflicts where we have to to a little more thinking about how we’ll manage a long meeting or a conference, but all in all, it hasn’t been anything two semi-smart adults couldn’t figure out.
In the end, I would recommend having only one car if you can figure out how to make it work. At least give it a try, you’ll never know how your life can change if you don’t make the attempt.
Photo By thienzieyung