6 Surprising Benefits of the One Car Household

Posted by Amanda on June 7, 2016

A few summers ago, an unexpected shift to a one car household brought not only monetary savings, but other surprising benefits as well. Here’s how it happened.

In June our truck broke down. Something happened in the engine (I am by no means a mechanic), and we were quoted $3500 to fix it. We purchased this used/beater car one and a half years ago for $3500 cash. Needless to say, it’s not worth it to us to put a new engine into what is perhaps a dying car.

one car household

Becoming a One Car Household

After our last car died just one month after purchasing our new home we weren’t prepared to purchase a vehicle. We did not want to incur any more debt and so that is why we made a rushed decision to purchase this truck (it was within our small cash reserve price range). Now we are in a different position. We’ve paid off all of our non-mortgage debt ($25,000), and vowed to pay for everything in cash in the future. My husband and I have the money set aside to purchase another car…but honestly, we just don’t want to. It may happen in the next several months, but we are not rushing into anything.

As such, we have become (if not temporarily) a one car household since our truck broke down. Aside from the monetary benefits to this which I can immediately calculate—insurance on only one car instead of two, registration and other stickers on only one car and not two, one oil change every 3,000 miles, less car accidents and also not having to purchase a second used vehicle—I have been surprised at the other benefits a one car household has brought us.

6 Benefits of a Single Car Household

  1. More Time Together. When we each had our separate cars we went our separate ways in the morning to work, came home from work, and immediately began to make dinner, sort mail, decompress, turn on the television, or whatever else we wanted to do. Now we have this special time carved out to spend together with limited distractions. It’s nice to be able to ask about each other’s days when we have nothing else to do but sit and listen to one another.
  2. Time Accountability at Work. I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of those people who likes to leave work about fifteen minutes early. Sometimes I work later, but many days I find myself itching to leave. It is not something that I am proud of, but now it is not something that I can do at all. My timeliness or tardiness is now tied into my husband’s, and it works very well for accountability. I don’t want him to ever be late or to have to stay late at work, and vice versa. So we are becoming stellar employees!
  3. Brown Bag Lunches. I am usually good about packing a brown bag lunch but would find myself at a sandwich shop about once a week. My husband either didn’t eat lunch or went out to eat 2-3 times per week. Now that one of us is without a car during the day we have made it a top priority to pack each other’s lunches and breakfasts, which saves money and means we eat healthier during the day.
  4. Less Shopping. This is one of the blessings of owning one vehicle. I work a compressed work schedule, so Monday through Thursday Paul drops me off at work and picks me up again. On Fridays, he takes the car all day while I am home. Then on Saturdays and Sundays we coordinate. I guess I lost count of how many errands I used to run when I had a personal vehicle waiting in the driveway. Now I prioritize my errands and condense them into one shopping trip a week or every other week—it is so liberating! I have freed up much more time to work around our home, write, and blog. Not to mention we have been spending less money.
  5. Feeling Antsy Now Leads to Exercise. Since I cannot just hop into a vehicle when I am home all the time now, if I get antsy I go for a bike ride, a walk, a run, or a swim at our local pool just two blocks away.
  6. Getting to Know Our Community. I must admit, I never even thought of this one as a result of having just one vehicle. However, I find myself getting to know our neighborhood and community much better than when I had my own vehicle. I am spending more time at the pool or walking and waving to the other runners. There is a library and a YMCA within biking distance (less than a mile away), and even a local convenience a few blocks down the road. I would have not considered using these in the past but now I gladly take advantage of what our neighborhood has to offer.

Are you a one car household? What other benefits have you discovered?

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Comments to 6 Surprising Benefits of the One Car Household

  1. Better use of gasoline due to shared trips in the car…it’s like carpooling with your spouse everywhere.

    The realization that even without a car, I am not “stranded”. I can (and do) get by just fine on a bicycle.

    One less thing to own which has the tendency to own you.


  2. My husband and I are a one-car family by choice. He is able to walk to work most days, barring extreme weather, and on those days I drop him off on my way to work. It’s a different route but doesn’t actually take me any longer.

    Our biggest savings by having one car is (in order): parking space at our apartment building, insurance, and gas. We don’t mind changing the seat settings every time we switch drivers. 🙂

    Little Miss Moneybags

    • Yeah–our seat is getting quite the work out from moving back and forth. I am 5’3″, and my husband is 6’1″!


      • My husband and I have drastic height differences, too (5’1″ for me and 6’2″ for him). We’re a one-car family by choice. He can take the bus in to work when it’s running. If it’s not, he drops me off at work and takes the car in. I live close enough to work that, in a pinch, I can hoof it (not close enough that I want to do it every day). We save a ton on gas and we spend a lot more time together than when we had two cars. We do our errands together, which also helps eliminate impulse purchase (my impulse isn’t his and vice versa) and saves us money.


  3. I don’t like to drive. When we moved 12 years ago, my husband and I decided to make it with one car. People are amazed when I tell them I don’t have a car, and often assume that we are strapped for cash. (Luckily we are not.) So, without saying anything, I have much less pressure to keep up with the Jones.

    MA Thorn

  4. When one of our cars was totaled by a hit and run driver, we decided to use the insurance payout to pay bills. Like the other poster, I don’t like to drive so our 2nd car became our primary car. Anytime you can simplify your life and expenses it’s a good thing.


  5. We have had only 1 car for 2.5 years. My husband takes the bus to work every day. I’m a stay at home mom with 3 little kids. I couldn’t give up the car b/c I need it in case I need to take the kids to the doctors or pick them up from school if sick.

    He pays $100 a month for the bus pass and we save tons. Downtown parking is over $200 a month, plus all that gas and insurance. Sure it would save him time but only 15 to 20 minutes, he likes not stressing about traffic.


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