For the first several years of our marriage, my husband and I only had one car. Those days were kind of frustrating, since the lack of reliable and extensive public transportation in our town meant I often had to drive my husband to and from school. But we did save money. After we upgraded to two cars, we upgraded our costs in terms of gas, insurance, and maintenance/repair.
Sometimes, I find myself daydreaming about getting rid of one of our cars, or even getting rid of both. Before that could happen, however, we’d need to live in a completely different area.
Here are two important questions to consider before getting rid of your car:
What Are Your Transportation Options?
While you might be able to save money by getting rid of your car, you need to determine whether or not you can replace the car with other transportation options.
Walking or biking to work is an easy way to boost your physical fitness and health, on top of saving money.
If walking and biking aren’t options, however, you need to look at public transit. Do you have reliable transportation that brings you close to work? In my current location, the public transportation just isn’t that great. It takes a long time, and the schedule isn’t very convenient. It’s not like a large city that allows you to access a train every 15 minutes or so.
Another great option is carpooling: you might be able to ride with someone else and split the costs of gas. This can still save you money, since you’re not responsible for maintenance or insurance costs. You can also use services like Lyft, which send someone to pick you up, but these services can end up costing quite a bit if you’re not careful.
What’s Your Family Situation?
Many people in urban settings can go car-less because their public transit is inexpensive and ubiquitous. This isn’t the case in my semi-rural suburban setting. You also might need a car for road trips and/or situations in which you need to haul more items.
My family could probably drop to one car if we lived elsewhere; my husband could commute using public transit, and my son and I could manage with public transit as well. However, my son and I like to camp, and my husband often stocks up on canned goods and other non-perishables for food storage. We’d still require a car for these aspects of our lifestyle — but by not using the car very often, we’d save a lot on gas and maintenance.
Remember that your vehicle is a significant (and not always necessary) expense. It’s worth taking the time to analyze how you use your car — and if you could do it better.
How many vehicles do you have in your family? Have you ever thought about getting rid of your car?