I’m still sifting through the survey responses (and I’m really flattered by the kind responses – you guys are absolutely wonderful and just as I suspected, it feels like I’m writing to a bunch of friends.), but lots of folks wanted to hear more about money and budgeting and just how we can live on less income AND several of you asked about family logistics – so I thought I’d share about something is key to our spending less money and is possibly our largest logistical challenge: owning just one car. For the past 8 years, we’ve shared a car. The same car, in fact, so it’s paid off and will probably need to be replaced soon.
We don’t live in a major metropolitan area – so public transportation isn’t abundant and I only know one other person here who shares a car with her husband. In a culture where most of our family and friends were raised in suburbia, it can seem like we’re not quite “grown ups” – still renting an apartment and sharing a car. It’s just not common in this area to make these choices and be near 30 years old with almost 2 kids. Feeling weird or unusual isn’t always easy, even when we believe it’s the right choice for our family.
A few things we’ve done to make being a one-car family possible:
- Live close enough for one of us to walk or bike to our job. – Live somewhere that’s walkable so whoever’s at home has stuff to do and doesn’t feel stranded without a car. (This is more true now than our pre-Gabe years when we were both gone to full-time jobs most days). – Communicate a lot about our plans and schedules and juggling all three of our calendars. So, they’re kind of big things – choosing where to live based on the kind of lifestyle we want to have and choices we’ve made. It can be limiting – even though those super fancy new condos in suburbia are appealing, we just can’t live there with only one car. Owning just one car makes our lives more simple and more complicated.
How our life is a little simpler as a result of being a one car family:
- We do less. Less scheduled activities, less chaos, less time spent in the car. – We choose to live somewhere that allows us to walk more places. Walking = a slower pace of living. – In general, we’ve narrowed our choices down. As I learned when I limited my wardrobe options, less choice is more freeing for me. We just can’t do as much of anything if we can’t be anywhere anytime we want to. We have to make decisions like Gabe can’t go to a preschool more than a mile away because it has to be an easy walk if we don’t have access to our car.
How our life is more complicated as a result of being a one car family:
- If I really need the car and Mike is going to be at work for the whole day, I have to drop him off at work and pick him up. Since this year, his job is 20 minutes away instead of 2 miles away (like it will be next year and like it was the past 3 years before this), it adds a whole lot of driving to my day. I don’t enjoy it. (Though I do enjoy the opportunity to get myself some Starbucks on days where I have the car after dropping him off.) – I have to think about my access to the car when scheduling appointments or making plans. I can’t just operate separate from Mike and his schedule (this is where Google calendar saves the day a LOT). Everything requires more forethought and planning. – It can be a downright pain and inconvenient and annoying. It can create resentment. It’s hard. Even thought it’s not always easy, it undoubtedly saves us money and, for us, the benefits outweigh the inconveniences. And I’ll share more about that next week!