Back in the day, we had WAY more cars than we needed. In 2016, when we had three cars (two electric smart cars and one Volvo), we spent $8,128 and that didn’t even include the electricity required to charge the electric cars.
Since we shed our two smart cars in January, we’ve been sharing the 2007 Volvo, which has cost us $2,471 so far in 2017.
Lots of folks asked us how we make it work, but when they find out how we work, it’s much less of a surprise. A primary use for a vehicle seems to be commuting.
As a self-employed person, I work at home 99% of the time. Garrett works in sales, so he’s often in the car. Not all the time, but at least half the week. We don’t have the commutes that we once had, so our Volvo sits in the driveway more often than you’d expect.
We used to drive everywhere when we had a list of errands to tackle. After moving to a walkable town, we’ve replaced driving with walking as much as possible. Quick trips to the grocery store, post office, and bank are easy because all are located within a mile of the house.
With fewer miles on the car and more walking, we’re spending less money on gas than we anticipated. And because Garrett’s employer pays for mileage, gas and insurance are covered with this reimbursement.
What about when we both need the car?
How about repairs?
There was one day, just one, that the one-car situation wasn’t working for us. The car needed to go to the shop on a day that Garrett was driving around for work.
Enterprise, for the win!
We rented a car for one day while the car was in the shop. Renting a car was about $45 for the day, including the gas to refill the tank.
With a new initiative launching soon, the car might present some future challenges…
Just last month, I had a meeting in another city when Garrett needed to travel in the opposite direction. The cost of the rental increased to $50! Perhaps because it was May and rental car demand increased? I don’t know, but that was a lot of money to have a car for just two hours. Fortunately, there is a co-working space just down the street from the meeting.
Living with one car is a time to get creative and think differently than we had conditioned ourselves.
How about coffee shops? co-working spaces? Yes! Temporary relocation, for the win.
In that situation we needed to be in two different places at once, I secured a space at a co-working space where the drop-in rate was just $24, less than half the cost to rent a car. Plus, I met some fascinating people AND I found a co-working space that might be useful to us in the future.
When it comes to sharing the car in the future, I thought about creating a Google Calendar, like one of those shared resource calendars in Outlook…something to help us facilitate scheduling. It’s the logistics that can be a bit of challenge, but these moments are few and far between.
There are two zipcars nearby, one car at $7.50 an hour and another at $8.50 an hour. If you have any experience with zipcars, please share! I’m thinking about creating an account as a backup.
Garrett used to say that you should always have a car payment so that you never get used to having that money. Obviously, this was YEARS before our personal finance journey, but even then, I thought he was NUTS. I’m sure many of you are screaming, “Buy outright. Reallocate that money to another category, like savings or investing!”
Given how expensive cars are, I’ll do anything to avoid ever getting an extra car. We wasted so much money on cars over the years, especially when you factor in the True Cost to Own a vehicle. In 2016, we had three cars: one Volvo, two smart cars. And all the maintenance and expenses associated with them, which ran us $8,083 (not including the electric for charging car batteries). Cars are really effing expensive and not always necessary.
There is, of course, our bicycles. Our mountain bikes have been underutilized for years. Sometimes I bike to complete errands, but most of the time I walk. Because I don’t like fussing with tire pressure and bike locks, our bikes are mostly for recreation.
Now, if the location I need to be at is within 10 miles and I don’t have the car, I can easily make this on the bike. I might be hurting the next day, but I’ll live.
Having no car works in urban areas. Could having one car work for everyone else? Could we have made this one-car life work back in the day when we had office jobs or lived in a rural locale? Maybe, but there are too many variables to consider every scenario. Sometimes trying to save money increases the headache factor, so it may not be worth it even when you consider the true cost of ownership.