Are You Ready to be a One-Car Family?

Think you’re ready to become a one-car family? While the lifestyle change could save you money, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. Like any big change, weighing the pros and cons can help your family make the right choice.

3 Unexpected Benefits (and Things to Consider)

1. Helps You Practice Communication

Families that rely on one car really have to make sure that the new setup can work effectively for everyone. Coordinating schedules for after-school sports practices and weekend events will get a lot trickier with one car. You’ll also have to develop new strategies for getting to and from work. Does it make sense time-wise to drive an extra hour a day to and from your spouse’s work — twice a day?

Managing these activities can be a challenge if your family has to juggle multiple calendars and personal engagements. People will likely have to take turns making compromises in order to get everything accomplished. In that sense, becoming a one-car family can be a great way to practice healthy communication skills.

2. More Opportunities for Exercise

You might be a good candidate for the one-car setup if your work is within walking or biking distance from your home. The pedestrian commute is a big — and healthy! — lifestyle change that can seriously upgrade your life and fitness.

Of course, commuting by bike or walking may not be feasible on a daily basis. Running late? Pouring rain? Be ready to call an Uber or coworker. There might also be some new expenses upfront, like for a better bike helmet or reflective gear. Without the appropriate equipment, you might just be putting your health at risk — instead of becoming more fit.

3. Increases Your Family-Time

One-car families might find that they start to plan their outings based around each other’s plans instead of acting spontaneously. Instead of hitting the gym separately, maybe now it makes more sense to go together or hike that nearby trail instead.

Coordinating these types of intentional errands forces families to plan ahead. Having more quality time together (even if just for a short car-ride) can then boost your chances to connect and hear about everyone’s day — outside of talks around the dinner table.

Run the Numbers

Before you decide to go down to one car, it’s important to run the numbers. You might save money by reducing gas expenses and other maintenance fees. Yet, relying on a single car means more mileage and more repairs. While you could make some money in the short-term by selling a vehicle, what other expenses will take its place?

Check your budget for your typical transportation fees. Parking costs, vehicle registration and insurance policies can add up quickly, but so can other expenses. Remember to consider the cost of public transportation or other rideshare programs you anticipate using. Whether you plan to take the bus, ride-share or bike, you’ll still need to calculate your transportation expenses accordingly.

Being a one-car family isn’t for everyone, so find the right fit for your family. Tally up the costs to make sure that the single setup still makes financial sense, and check that the whole family is on board.

A good next step is trying it out! Keep both cars for now, and be disciplined about only using one for two weeks. You may know it’s unrealistic after two days, or it may be easier than you think. If you want help discussing your options, consider reaching out to your local Farm Bureau agent for help understanding the insurance impacts of your decision. We’re always here to help!