A few years ago when Byron decided to go to seminary and leave full time active duty Army service for a season, we made a lot of decisions about what our life would look like during this period of time.
For example — we were adamant that we would pay cash for a house. We did spending freezes to boost our savings. We cut back on certain indulgences in our lifestyle. And we transitioned to a one-car family.
I wanted to tell you a little bit today about how much it has benefited us to do so!
Benefits of having just one vehicle
More cash in the bank.
We didn’t have loans on either of our cars, but if we did I’m sure we would have sold it even faster! What we did have was an almost brand-new paid-for car that we were able to sell for around $19,000. That cushion has saved us many times in the past few years!
The cost of the car itself is not the only expense that comes along with car ownership, even though it’s what most people think about. We pay less for insurance, maintenance, registrations and renewals, gas, etc. We have a friend with an extra car that lets us use it occasionally (a few times a year), and paying $20-30 for that (or even renting one for a week) is far less expensive than buying a second car!
Our time in Europe influenced this I’m sure, but we walk and bike a lot more now. We often do so even when our van is perfectly available, just because it has become a habit! We bought our home in a specific location so that it would be accessible to many of our frequented places. It’s close enough for Byron to walk or bike to school, for all of us to walk or bike to church, as well as our doctor’s/dentist offices, various friends’ houses, playgrounds, restaurants, the bank, the video store, and more!
More family time.
I love that our family has increased time together, and that the kids will grow up with the memories of us being active together. We just have so much more fun on a 20 minute walk or a 10 minute bike ride than we do on a 2 minute car ride.
There are tons of times when I would “run out real quick” to pick up that thing I want or some food or something. But having only one vehicle makes it a lot harder to do that. So it saves even more money on impulse purchases.
More intentional driving.
The times when we do drive, I am more intentional about making my errands efficiently. I get all the things done in one area of town at the same time, instead of making multiple trips.
Downfalls to having only one vehicle
I can only think of a few downfalls to having one car:
We have to plan ahead a little more when each of us has the van. We do this by keeping one family calendar (that I carry with me almost 100% of the time). I try not to plan kids’ activities when I know Byron needs the van for school or work. If there’s something that overlaps, we make plans to carpool with a friend.
Asking for help.
This has never been one of my strong suits. I hate asking for help. It makes me feel weak. But it’s definitely one of the things that God has been developing in me over the past few years. And I read this amazing book called Better Together that talked about how refusing help from a friend is robbing them of the opportunity to bless someone. Wow, that was convicting. Now, when I need it, I will ask a friend to give me a ride or help in another way when I really need it. I suppose that maybe this isn’t even a downfall, because it has strengthened our relationships and friendships as well!
Overall, having just one car has been a great decision for us in this season of life. I’m sure that someday we will have two again, but for now I’m enjoying the simplicity and savings of our one vehicle!