3 months ago we made the decision to become a 1 car family. In August, we took my husband’s car in for a checkup since it was making a weird sound. The car needed about $3,000 in repairs and we felt it wasn’t worth the cost of repairing it. We sold the car to our mechanic, and have been using 1 car for all our needs ever since with the exception of 2 weeks. The reprieve from 1 car came when my parents went to visit my grandmother. They left their 2nd car with us, which was useful since it rained almost every day those 2 weeks.
I haven’t been walking as much as I thought I would, though. While our house is close enough to walk to many places I’m finding it difficult to find the time. I’ve entered a busy period of work, so juggling home, family, and work has been more urgent than trying to make more effort to walk.
Learn more: What Cars Earn Best Resale Value?
How I get from here to there
- home from school mid-day on days when I have no car (no bus service available)
- walking the dog
- work (husband): Monday-Friday
- resource center that my homeschooler attends Wednesday and Friday
- grocery store: we prefer to shop at a grocery store that is about 3 miles away, and monthly or when I’m in the area I will make stops at Trader Joe’s and Costco.
- work (me): on Sunday mornings
- pick up for 5 year old from Kindergarten on the days I have the car, or rainy days
- other errands
- family outings
One car lessons: what I learned from ditching our wheels
In many ways having one car has made me be more focused on our home, and being in it, rather than constantly going out to do errands or meet with friends. Much of our monthly budget goes towards our housing costs, so it seems sensible to be home. here are some things I do with my time at home:
- Play with the kids or pets: This is the best use of time in our house since a little attention goes a long way to everyone playing nicely and quietly while we get things done.
- Clean the house: Most of us don’t dust the baseboards and the walls each week. Take some time to do a good deep clean for a room in your house. It’s amazing how much better it makes you feel.
- Fix it/paint it/redo it: Find an area in your home that needs sprucing up, or that has a problem, and tackle it. Maybe you can find a use for that old can of gray paint, or finally fix that broken lock on your bathroom door.
- Start a side business from home: Start a side job to earn extra money using skills you already have. Like a writer who starts a blog, or a computer programmer who starts a consulting business.
- Brush up on a skill/learn a new one: Whether it’s learning to develop iPhone apps, or learning to knit; there is no shortage of things you can learn. Some great places to look: iTunes, Amazon, or borrow a book from the library.
- Declutter: Organizing is a great way to find some extra cash in the form of stuff you don’t need, and find duplicates of everyday items like glue, tape, and even coins that are hiding around your home.
Consolidate shopping & errands
How do we get it all done with only one car?
- Plan ahead: Plan your meals, plan what you need to purchase within the next month. It’s great for budgeting, and for making sure you don’t forget something. If you have a spouse who shares in shopping and errands make a googledoc that you can share to avoid duplicates, and to ensure that when your spouse goes to the pharmacy he will pick up your prescription refill.
- Map out your errands: Take the time to figure out where you need to go, and what stops you will make when. For fuel economy purposes, go to the furthest errand first. If the grocery store is far away, take a cooler or get cooler bags.
- Make a list and stick to it: Keep a running list, and stick to it when you go out. If you think of something else when you are out write it down. If you are like most people, chances are likely you already have at least one at home.
I prefer to my grocery shopping on days when I only have my youngest child with me, or I will go in the evening. In our area Wegman’s is open 24 hours, and Trader Joe’s is open until 9pm every night.
With 4 kids, 3 pets, and a busy schedule it’s not always easy. Add the logistics of one car living and that sound you just heard was my brain exploding. It is possible to stay sane though, some tips for staying sane:
- Get outside as often as possible: Connecting with nature is a balm for your soul. Sounds cheesy, I know but it’s, but it’s also true.
- Create a haven: Choose somewhere that is quiet and neat. You need somewhere you can retreat to when the rest of your home is messy, disorganized, or chaotic.
- Find at least 10 minutes a day you can be completely alone/with people: If you live with others it is key to get at least a few minutes of alone time each day, even if it’s just in the shower. If you live alone, find a way to be around other people for at least a few minutes each day.
- Get out of the house when you can: Take advantage of things you have to do outside of the house, and plan to spend time with friends, on family outings, or date nights with your spouse.
Personally, I tend to get stir crazy after being home for days in a row, so I try to take time at least once a week to go outside of the house for a bit alone. Usually it involves working from a coffee shop, going out with friends, or the aforementioned late night grocery store run.
Could you do it?
It hasn’t been easy, but it has been entirely possible. We have not run into a situation yet where having 1 car has caused a major problem. Could you make one car living work? Do you aspire to one or no car living?
For ideas on making one car living work for you, and lots of great commentary head over to Wisebread where I wrote, “Can You Survive with One Car in Suburbia?”
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