October 3, 2023

Transportation makes up a significant quota of each household’s monthly expenses, alongside food and housing. It’s no wonder that many families are moving towards maintaining only one car for the family to ease off the financial burden. Suppose one or both parents work from home. In that case, it becomes a simpler and much easier transition into becoming a one-car family as there’s minimal need for frequent movement and car use. Here’s a shared experience of how well this has worked for one family.

However, even if you both work outside of the home, it is still possible to manage one automobile effectively without feeling inconvenienced. Consider the financial impact having one family car will have on your joint income. For the most part, if one person needs to do a few things off route or carry out chores within short distances from home, perhaps ride-sharing, the subway or trolly services, or even cycling are all options worth considering.

So, what are the best practices you can engage in to ensure a smooth transition into becoming a one-car family? Read on for a few tips and the benefits of having only one vehicle, as well as a few tips on how you can schedule family activities when operating a single automobile.

Scheduling and Coordination

Working on a schedule among all family members can help seamlessly coordinate the operation of one automobile for the entire family. It keeps everyone updated with when the car is available. If people are heading in the same direction, one can drop off the other and pick them up afterward. It’s all about respectful and timely communication, as well as early proper planning.

Establish Car Rules

Traveling with small children can be an exercise all on its own, especially if there are no rules and everyone does as they wish. Establish car rules that the kids will follow to maintain peace and harmony and prevent them from creating havoc. One of the most effective ways of keeping peace in a car full of young ones is playing sing-along games. It keeps everyone alert, engaged, and having fun. It also helps to keep the kids off screens during the journey.

Be Flexible & Prepared

Flexibility will be one of your greatest assets if you are to achieve becoming a one-car family harmoniously. Of course, there will be times when both you and your partner need to use the car simultaneously. Be prepared for a possible conflict of interests from time to time and allow yourselves to be flexible and willing to consider alternative options when the need arises.

Have A Contingency Plan

In the few circumstances that you and your partner will both need to use the car simultaneously, consider carpooling with friends, neighbors, or relatives who live close to you and may be heading in the same direction as you. If it’s a frequent arrangement, you can agree on a fixed amount to contribute towards gas expenses. In the long run, without the insurance, loan repayments, and maintenance costs of having your own car, it will still be a cheaper option by far.


You may need to make adjustments as a family and perhaps move closer to your workplace to minimize the need for another vehicle. This possibility varies from family to family and might be easier if only one partner works away from home. If this is the case, one spouse can drop the other off, then return home so the family can have access to the car for the rest of the day, until they are ready to be picked up again.

Use Online Delivery Services

As much as possible, make use of online delivery services for take-out, groceries, prescription meds, and any other errands that others can run for you. This can be a cheaper option than driving off each time you need to pick up one thing or another. Using delivery services will not only potentially save you money, but it will also give you more time to focus on more productive activities and free up the family vehicle.

Rent a Car When You Need To

While using your family vehicle on a vacation may be a great option, you may want to consider other options, especially if traveling a significant distance. Renting a car may be more economical when you think about the miles you’ll be adding to your family vehicle. Plus, the wear and tear and maintenance costs that come with it. Taking too many long distance vacations can shorten the life of your vehicle and put you in a difficult situation a lot sooner than if you rented a car for those particularly difficult (and long!) road trips.

Propose to Live a Debt-Free Lifestyle

If the decision to become a one-car family isn’t looking lucrative, how about proposing to live a debt-free lifestyle? If you sit down and factor this, the biggest question is can you retain two cars without having any debt? Chances are, the answer is probably no. Even if it is yes, the next point to ponder would be, do you own your home? If not, why not begin your pursuit of living debt-free by becoming a one-car family and cut down on costs significantly?

Teach Your Older Kids How to Get Around on Their Own

Driving your kids everywhere they need to go can make them mobility dependent, decreasing their ability to be physically fit, healthy, and know basic directions. According to San Diego State University’s Assistant Professor of Urban Design and City Planning, Bruce Appleyard, it might affect parts of their mental health due to a reduced capacity to autonomously explore and learn about their surroundings. A concept that he breaks down in detail in the NCBW Forum.

Benefits of Becoming a One-Car Family

  • More Opportunities to Bond

Being a one-car family creates more bonding opportunities as you’ll automatically spend more time together, thus strengthening relationships. Family outings will become more intentional, and you’ll have a lot less pressure to deal with. There will be fewer oil top-ups and gas fill-ups, and routine maintenance checks, affording you more time to do things you love and spend more time with your loved ones.

  • Reduced Expenses

It’s easy to cut down on monthly expenses when you are a one-car family. Whatever resources would otherwise have been directed towards gas, insurance, and routine maintenance, remains untouched. This allows you the financial capability of achieving some other project that would have probably taken more years to accomplish, for instance, buying a second home or a holiday home—or perhaps, taking that much-needed vacation.

Depending on your residential address, you may want to consider using an e-bike, cycling or using public transport like the subway, trolly, or ride-sharing apps. For distances that are not too far apart, walking is another excellent and healthy alternative. Plus, you’ll have done your exercise for the day, saving you time to do other stuff.

While not having two cars may be a slight inconvenience, it is well worth the savings you will make on eliminated insurance and license plates costs, and costly repairs.

  • Increased Cautiousness & Consciousness

When there’s only one car for the entire family, everyone driving it tends to be more cautious. Having it down and nonfunctional would bring the entire household to a standstill. This means that driving habits are at their best, and there’s even more consciousness in planning trips when you’re all using one car. Bread runs become grocery shopping to avoid short, frequent trips and focus more on planned one-stop-shopping trips.

  • Increased Physical Activity Leading to Better Health

You’d be surprised to realize how close you live to churches, amenities, clubs, restaurants, grocery stores, recreational facilities, banks, sports centers, libraries, and movie theaters. When a family has two cars, it’s almost unheard of to walk anywhere, sometimes even to the neighbor who lives just two or three blocks away.

But when you only have one vehicle, you become more conscious about inconveniencing others in your family. You unconsciously start finding alternative, simple ways to get to places. You will walk more or even cycle, activities you would otherwise never even have pictured yourself doing. Ultimately, this will lead to an increase in your physical activity, leading to better health overall.

  • Reduced Loan Repayments

A double-income family may not feel the pinch of accumulated interest rates on loan repayments as much as a single-income family would. However, if you have big plans as a family, even with two incomes, selling off one car and becoming a one-car family will significantly help you achieve your plans in a shorter time span. Your monthly loan repayments will get halved, and so will the total interest amount payable.

  • Garage Space

Having two cars in your household means you require double garage space. Suppose you convert into a one car family. In that case, this ultimately frees up garage space, giving you more room for storage or other recreational activities. Your imagination is your limitation.

  • Friendly to the Environment

Once you get into the habit of cycling frequently, not only are you keeping fit, but you’re also playing your part in environment-friendly activities by reducing your carbon footprint and traffic congestion. An average car emits about 4.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, and every gallon of gas burned creates almost 9,000 grames of carbon dioxide. Bicycling and walking help ensure you are doing your part when it comes to taking care of the planet.

  • Pay Off Your Debts Faster

The joy that comes with being debt-free is clear. Driving a car that’s entirely yours with no pending payments is liberating, and it gets better if you divert those resources to pay off your other debts faster. This is made possible by selling off one car and retaining one vehicle as the family car.

Ways to Schedule Family Activities with Only One Car

Scheduling family activities when you have only one car can be smooth if you take up the following practices.

  • Plan ahead: This will help avoid conflict among family members. You may no longer be able to take impromptu car trips as that decision will affect everyone else. However, with a little bit of planning, it’ll be a walk in the park.
  • Keep a calendar of activities that everyone can access: Keeping everyone in the know of when the car is needed and the direction it will be heading will help the entire household plan accordingly with minimal conflict.
  • Be intentional in your out-of-home activities: Instead of going out for a few groceries every other day, why not plan ahead and go grocery shopping and buy enough supplies to last the week?
  • Compromise and be flexible: This can go a long way in maintaining harmony in your home. If you’re not attending a scheduled class and are just going to meet with friends, let your partner have the car for the work function. You can then seek alternatives or postpone your meet-up.
  • Work on a schedule: Getting your entire household used to a particular schedule puts everything into perspective. It makes planning easier and is way more convenient in the long run.

In Summary

It is worth remembering that a vehicle only depreciates in value as the years go by. Having that extra car parked in your garage, barely touched and only there for the peace of mind that you have an “emergency vehicle” could cost you dearly in the long run.

Perhaps this article has made you start toying around with the idea of selling off one family car as you become a one-car family. If so, you can get a quick estimation of what your vehicle would be worth on Kelley Blue Book. That way, you at least have a guideline as to what lump sum you could get once you are sure you want to dispose of it, alongside saving up on all the additional costs that come with having an extra vehicle.

Plus, with all these good practices in place, the right attitude, and flexibility, you’ll find yourself and your family experiencing an improved level of peace of mind and great savings!