Becoming A One Car Family

I know that I’ve always been lucky when it came to a set of wheels. My parents bought me my first car at 18. When my husband and I got married we had a brand new car and when we needed another vehicle in a pinch, my were able to parents lend us one.

When we got pregnant it seemed like having two cars was not only a smart thing to do, but a necessity. Especially when we decided I would stay home with our daughter rather than continue working. My older car became the adventure car and my husband’s new car was the one we used for long trips and weekend outings.

My adventure car was paid off, big enough to hold me, my kiddo, and the multitude of ‘things’ that I felt we needed for our daily drives. This included toys, blankets, spare towels, spare swimsuits & swim diapers, empty snack bowls, etc. My car took us to midday events, play dates, grocery trips, and afforded us the freedom to get up and go whenever wanted.

Then my car decided to die.

Thankfully it died in our driveway and not while I was out and about with my little one. I was thankful for that, but our crazy freedom was now gone. Even though we could afford to get a new car we decided to become a one car family. Why would we do this to ourselves?

Why force this new lifestyle when most families in the ‘burbs have more than one vehicle to help them get around?

We were able to get the car running again. Instead of keeping it we decided to sell. We got a nice sum back and could have used the funds to get a newer car, but we took a step back. If we used these funds to refinance my husband’s car we could greatly lower the monthly payment. Then we could pay off his 2018 vehicle by the end of 2019. Or we could use the money to pay down our private student loans faster. If our calculations were right we could probably have the loans gone five years sooner than our current projections. Or we could use the money we got back from selling the car to start a savings account for both our girls (we’re expecting our second due in May).

Here were three great options that we wouldn’t have been able to consider if we had just done the ‘usual’ thing and bought another car.

Another benefit that we’ve found is that we’re spending less at stores. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me.’ Why is this? Well, now that I can’t run out to Target on every whim, I know I’m the stereotypical Target mom, I’m able to ask myself if I really need that one ingredient/object or if I can make do with something else.

This fact also leads me to my next positive point, planning and scheduling. Now that I have to make sure I have everything I need for snacks, meals, and daily activities I’ve been much better at grocery planning and purchasing. I’m also able to set a weekly activity calendar for myself and my little one. I’m able to buy any items we might need like more finger paint or yarn in advance. We’re doing more things together and able to give dad fun surprises when we gets home or when we go to pick him up.

Speaking of dad, my husband and I have noticed that now we’re spending a little more time together. Granted it’s while we’re sitting in traffic or gulping down breakfast so we can rush out the door, but it’s time we didn’t have before. We can talk more about our day without the interruption of our little one wanting all of dad’s attention because she’s playing in her car seat or taking a nap as we drive home.

Now that I’ve convinced you to get rid of your second car let me bring you back to Earth with some of the bad. Since I’m a stay at home mom I used to be able to get up a little later with my daughter and start our days around 8ish. Now that we need to be in sync with dad on days we need the car we’re up at 6 am. This can be rough if my little one didn’t sleep well (aka I didn’t sleep well).

Speaking of my little one, she isn’t a huge fan of being in the car for long periods of time. Her limit is usually 40 minutes and thanks to our lovely Austin traffic it can take 40 minutes just to drop off her dad. I then have to endure her yelling and screaming until we arrive at our next destination. I also have to make sure that our first stop of the day after dropping off her dad gives her a chance to stretch her legs and blow off steam before we move on to the next thing.

This new lifestyle is still relatively new for us, but we’ve all enjoyed the extra time we get to spend together and the savings.

Even if we decide in a year or two to go back to a two car family this experience has helped remind us that it isn’t the things in life that are important. What is important is the time spent together working towards common goals and lots of laughter during car ride karaoke.

Are you a one car or no car family? Let’s chat more about what you like/don’t like!

Jaki was a mom working in the HR field turned to stay at home mom for two years, turned back to working mom, back to stay at home mom. (Whew!) She now spends her days trying to be the best mother to her daughters, Madi (4/2017) and Gwen (5/2019), while squeezing in relationship time with her husband, Zane. Their 3 rescued pups complete the crazy family. Together they live right on the border of Austin & Pflugerville. She loves Harry Potter, sci-fi, hiking, reading, being a vegan foodie, traveling, learning more about the HR field, figuring out how to homeschool the Montessori way, and writing about her adventures. Check out her blog at https://medium.com/nerdy-together

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