Monday, February 13, 2012

thrift tip week and a thrift tip: one car for the family

Welcome to thrift tip week! All week long, I'll be sharing my favorite thrift tips as well as tips from other money saving bloggers. Be sure to check back each day!

Want to know how to save a ton of money and get the craziest looks from your friends??

thrift tip: Own and share just one car.

What?! People do that?? Ridiculous. Impossible... but it's not!

For over 2 years, Ben and I shared this car:
preg and vegas 014

Ok. So it wasn't my ideal vehicle. But, it was payed off and gave us very little hassle as far as maintenance was concerned. And because we shared one vehicle, we saved a bunch of money! When you don't have a second car, you don't have all the extra expenses that come with that vehicle, like:

*car insurance
*smog check/state inspection
*car payment

Our estimated savings for the 2 years we only had one car was about $2000 per year and that doesn't include a car payment (because we always pay cash for vehicles) or any extra expenses we could have incurred do to engine problems, flat tires, or other maintenance issues. If you were to take into consideration that you would be eliminating a second car payment, your savings could be somewhere around $7000 a year or more!!

But back to this being a crazy, ridiculous idea (because I know alot of you are thinking that), it doesn't have to be if you do it right!

Here are a few tips to make one car work for your family:

1. Find and learn how to use public transportation. This would mean taking the bus, train, shuttle, light rail, etc. Most cities have some kind of public transportation system (but I realize some do not). Most places offer a discount for students and seniors, and many have discounted rates if you buy monthly passes.

headband 009

2. Carpool with neighbors and friends. If you are going to the park, or need to head to the grocery store, why not schedule your trip for the same time as friends or family? Make the trip together and save on gas. Plus isn't shopping always better with company?

3. Walk. I feel like this is a lost concept for our generation. And I realize that for many of us, there isn't anything within walking distance. But for some, there is. Instead of loading up the car, load up the stroller. Turn it into an adventure or exercise! Make the decision to shop nearby, rather than further away.


4. Take your husband to work: plan errand days each week. This was my saving grace (next to riding the light rail). I would pick one day a week to schedule all of my appointments and plan a grocery shopping or Target trip. It was usually the same day of the week each week. This way everyone knows which day you get the car (and consequently, which day you all need to get up extra early to take daddy to work).

5. Make friends with neighbors. This works in different ways. Being friends with neighbors means you don't have to drive your kids to play dates. It means you don't have to leave the neighborhood to meet a friend for coffee (although you obviously can still do that!). It means you can have Bible study in your neighborhood. It means you probably have a grocery shopping buddy (see tip #2). Have people come over to your house instead of going to theirs (this can be with friends anywhere, not just in your neighborhood).

6. Ride your bike. Another thing we don't do alot of. This is similar to walking, except that you can go a bit further. You can also ride your bike to a bus stop (if it's too far to walk) and mount your bike on the front of the bus.


7. Find and take advantage of activities close to home. Find out about the parks near you. Do any of them hold special events throughout the year? Find play groups, Bible studies or stoller strides in your neighborhood. Check out the nearest church to see if they have a library for the kids. Go for walks around the neighborhood instead of going to the gym.

8. Schedule your time better! Time management is key in having just one vehicle. Both parties should know who gets the car when. There is no need to stress about it and this won't happen if everyone is in "the know". Plan appointments, shopping trips, play dates, etc, around the day(s) you will have the car. Know what time your husband will be off work and be there to pick him up! Plan what time you'll need to start and finish meals (dinner preparation sometimes gets divided up if you need to leave the house at 4 to pick up your husband).

Believe me, after writing this, I'm thinking: if we could go back to one car right now we would in a heartbeat!! (Due to the nature of Ben's job, he is required to have a work truck, which is our second vehicle)

So, does it still sound ridiculous and crazy to have just one vehicle?? It can be done. Believe me! My grandma, who had 3 kids, never even had her driver's license. And she made it work. I think it just comes down to having a different mind set and really considering the savings!

Did I miss anything?? Leave your tips for making one car work in the comments.


  1. Though living in the mountains means no car sharing I couldn't agree with you more that it is absolutely possible. Even when we needed two cars I walked everywhere I possibly could to leave the car at home. I also agree about not financing cars. It's so silly, it's just a method of transportation. If people are judging you by how cool your car is, they aren't the people you need in your life anyway!

  2. LOVE this, and we've done this before!!! Thanks for sharing all these amazing ideas!

  3. Thanks for sharing dearie! :) I want to get a bike....or maybe a hot pair of rollerblades!

  4. Love the getting to know your neighbors tip! So helpful and beneficial to all!

  5. Really enjoyed this post! My husband and I are about to get rid of one of our cars that we rarely use. It should be interesting at first since he works full time and I still work part time, but I think we can do it. Definitely encouraged by this post and excited that other people out there do the same! Thanks!
    Alesha <3