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.
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
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
More on Car Ownership
- How to Calculate the Total Cost of a New Car 
- 11 Ways to Save on Car Insurance 
- We Sold My Car! What Worked and What Didn’t 
- I’m Buying a Car… Help! 
- 16 Ways to Save on Gas 
- Why Do Gas Prices Rise and Fall? 
- Gas: Why You Should Use Gallons per Year (not Miles per Gallon) 
- Is AAA Worth It? 
- Tax Savings: How to Deduct Mileage on Your Personal Car