Welcome to another entry in my Frugal Grit series where I become a human guinea pig and share my discoveries ranging from pain points to innovative workarounds. In today’s post, I wanted to beta test the idea of being a one car family. My grandparents pulled this tactic off, and with today’s technology/innovations, can I do the same?
Cars are a great luxury why would I want to put my family through the inconvenience of only having one vehicle? Well, I am a fiscal nerd. I am always looking for ways to optimize my families finances and retire earlier than planned. After much research, there are other benefits that came along with this too. So, my piggy bank was the primary inspiration for this endeavor. But I also have hereditary mucky cholesterol levels and the extra cardiovascular benefits from walking/riding a bike could help me live longer too! In addition, I imagine that some of my readers may be in debt. Perhaps they could benefit from my research and jump start their debt free plan.
- Environment: A reduction in driving means less pollution in the air, thus a cleaner ecosystem and respiratory system. Carbon monoxide is a huge contributor to many types of cancers. I do not claim to be a scientist, but there are also many theories saying that carbon emissions in the air are a major contributor to climate change.
- Health & sex appeal: As mentioned earlier, higher levels of cardiovascular workouts not only help my heart but increased cardio help me think quicker, and look better due to lower body fat.
- Bank Account: Not driving a vehicle would save my family $600 a year in car insurance, $100 per month in gas, $45 a year in license plate fees and I am estimating $300 in oil repairs and basic maintenance. (I am not counting things that I can’t measure such as batteries, brake pads, suspension struts etc.) Annual Savings: $2,145
- Increased savings: At the time of starting this program, my used car is worth $15,000. Assuming that is what my car sold for, I would deposit that money straight in the retirement account. (This is a company car, I will not spend more than 5k on a vehicle).
- Bonus – Contentment: Not always having a vehicle around meant I had to make due with what I had at home for entertainment. This forced me to utilize what I had around the house when my wife had the car. I found that I read more while I was waiting for her to come home. I got to see more nature since I had to ride the bike at times to get around. I also became really thankful for days that weren’t raining. I now feel the urge to get outside more on a sunny day instead of sitting on my butt.
You will inadvertently leave your partner stranded at home sometimes. To alleviate this, you can always add times you need the car to a shared calendar.
Your social events will be limited unless someone picks you up. For me, that is not a big deal, but my wife is a social butterfly and I am normally out doing home repairs on the weekends thus she is stuck at home.
If your car has high mileage, you may be adding the additional risk in your life due to the nature of repairs since there is one vehicle. I can manage my current job from home or call an Uber, but that wasn’t always the case for me in the past. Depending on your situation you may not simply be able to miss work.
Make sure you have a bike trailer of some sort for groceries and cargo.
Down the road savings
Remember how I said above that I could sell my car and deposit the $15,000 profit in a retirement account along with the $2,145 a year savings by not owning a vehicle? Using an investment calculator, and matching the market average of 10% ROI, I am able to turn this money into $649,846 over a 30 year period! Since I live on less than 30k per year in net expenses, that amount of money is just shy of the amount I need to retire using the 4% rule. In my situation, simply by ditching a single vehicle funds most of my retirement!
Side note, it’s very common to replace a vehicle every 7 years in my family. So, I could theoretically dump thousands of dollars in this retirement fund every 7 years instead of buying a new car thus increasing my rate of return!
Have fun with the math
Now that I have the math above, be creative with the numbers. Perhaps I just decide to go 10 years without a car while I am young and can ride a bike everywhere. Investing the money over a ten-year span could give me more cash to pay down debt or pay cash for a home while I am renting. Using the same investment algorithm I would end up with, $76,510
Talk to your partner before just assuming they would be on board. Beta test idea this before selling your second vehicle. Check the local Uber rates in your area as a test run. Check with family members to see if they would be willing to make some extra income driving you around should there be a need. They will be your emergency ride should there be a need. HomeDepo has a great per hour rental fee for trucks should you need one to move furniture so you can keep the economy car. As of now, I am a one car household. I will keep everyone in the loop should things change.
What adversities are stopping you from driving less?
I don’t hate driving. I hate wasting money. Tell me how the lessons in this post have helped you. Ultimately, the moral of this post is about driving less. regardless of how many cars you own. If you have a drive-less story, please share your experiences with me. I would love to update this post with lessons learned.