Hey everyone! I want to introduce my new staff writer, Jordann. She will be helping me out and posting every Friday most likely. I love her writing so I'm glad she decided to join me on my blog. You can visit her at My Alternate Life. I'll let her take it away now.
Growing up in a rural area, I was used to needing a car to get anywhere. With no public transit whatsoever, and the nearest city 30 kilometres away, most families had two to three vehicles (read further on the most gas guzzling cities!). One for mom, one for Dad, and an old beater for the teenaged kids to fight over. Heck, the average Dad usually had his own personal car as a hobby that he only drove on Sundays in the summer.
Cars, in my neck of the woods, weren't an option, they were a necessity.
This was, I thought, how most people lived. That is, until I moved to a city center for University. You mean to tell me that people don't have cars here? This was a revelation to me. To be able to not just get around comfortably, but often more easily without a car, was a novel concept to me. I lived four years in University without ever owning a car, and even though I had access to one, I didn't use it. Transit was the way to go, or good old fashioned walking.
Then, one fateful day the summer after I'd graduated University, I totalled my then-boyfriend-now-fiance's trusty neon. We were moving back into rural country shortly, and the demise of his vehicle meant that a car payment was soon to grace our finances. We had no choice, we were moving to a rural area, we needed a car.
Let me tell you, after 21 years of not having to deal with a car payment, insurance payments, gas and maintenance costs, having a car has been nothing but an unwelcome expense. Sure, where we live right now, we need a car, but that doesn't mean I like owning one. I guess it's because I've never owned a car, but I'm the complete opposite of desensitized to that payment. The idea of having not one but two cars to spend money on? No thank you.
A Necessity, Or Just Convenient?
Where I'm currently living, I live eight kilometres away from work. My fiance's job requires him to travel between 30 and 50 kilometres per day to different job sites. In our surrounding area there's nothing but residential housing and farms. No public transportation to be had for miles around.
Yet we only have one car. Sure, it can be annoying at times, but not nearly as annoying as the cost of an extra car payment, insurance, gas and maintenance. We have to be more coordinated, my fiance car pools with a nearby fellow employee, or when he needs the vehicle he drops me at work early, or picks me up late.
We can't go separate places at the same time without coordinating first, and we get very good at planning our errands to coincide with the other's obligations (he gets groceries while I'm at my photography class, etc).
Having a single car is completely doable, and we don't even live anywhere with access to transit!
Downsizing to a One Car Family to Cut Expenses
On the average month, not including maintenance fees (since those pop up sporadically), I spend around $440 per month of our 2007 VW golf. If we were to add a second car to our household tomorrow, we'd probably look for the same type of vehicle: used but in good condition, compact and good on gas.
So, theoretically, if we were to be a two car household, our automotive expenses would cost us around $880 per month exclusive of maintenance fees.
That's a ton of money! An extra car would run us around $5280 per year! That's a very good chunk of income. I can't help but think that extra $440 could be put to better use, like saving up for a house down payment, putting towards retirement, or paying off the remaining $25,000 in debt I'm trying to get rid of.
No, for now I think I'll deal with the minor inconvenience of being a single car household in a rural area, and put that money towards paying off debt instead. Things might change once I have kids, or maybe when I allow some lifestyle inflation creep, but for now I'm happy with my relative lack of mobility.
Are you a two car household? Do you think you could downsize to a single car?
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