Becoming A One Car Family

Let me start by telling you a story.

For many years we were a two car family and we were good about paying off the cars fast, so we never really had car payments for long.  In 2010, we unfortunately had to get rid of one of our cars, which left us the need to purchase another one.  We hadn’t planned for this, which meant taking out a car loan and having a car payment.  It was a painful moment especially after going 10 years without one car payment.  Then our other car, the car that had been through everything with us from the beginning and everywhere with all our moves decided she had enough and couldn’t keep up with us anymore.  We already had one car payment, we weren’t going to take on another one, we mutually refused!  This is what brought on us becoming a one car family.  Fast forward–currently we are into our second year of officially being a one car family.  Is it always easy?  No.  Is it doable?  Absolutely!

There is one main reason I believe has allowed us to be successful with this:  We have a huge, compelling and strong enough “why” for making this work.  It is simple, we both (husband and I) don’t like car payments—we don’t think it should be a norm and we want to pay our next car cash.  We also know this is only temporary situation that will help us reach our goal.

The Benefits Of Being A One Car Family

These are some benefits we have experienced firsthand:

  • We have become better planners–being a one car family definitely forces you to do this.
  • There is a big need to communicate, so this has bettered our relationship and brought us closer especially in terms of both being on board with our financial goals—plus there are definitely more discussions on money.
  • We save on insurance.
  • We save on gas.
  • We save in general, having only one car makes it harder to get to places (this is a good thing– you aren’t tempted as much to eat out, etc.).  Just having to plan out everything helps us save money.
  • We get more exercise (or should I say the person that doesn’t have the car gets more exercise)!

Does it have its challenges?  Absolutely!!

The Challenges Of Being A One Car Family

The following are the challenges we have encountered:

  • Since planning is a must, last minute occurrences may not work out if a car is necessary.
  • We are very independent, so sometimes having to ask for favors is not something we like to do.
  • In all honesty it can be a pain!

Being a one car family is not for everyone, so please consider it carefully.  For those who can do it great!  For those who cannot don’t stress about it, there are definitely other ways you can save money!

148 thoughts on “Becoming A One Car Family

  1. Sandy Fowler

    I enjoyed the post Jennifer. It brought back some memories. Not that long ago we spent a bit over a year being a one car family as well. Our reasons were different but I found many of the same benefits you mentioned. It also took some of the urgency out of our lives and helped us recapture some of the joy of a slower pace of living.
    We also honed our minimalist packing skills. As a family of 4 with a Mini Cooper as our only car we learned to go out of town with the bare necessities:)

    1. Jennifer H.Jennifer H. Post author

      Thank you Sandy! Agree, it is not always easy, but you keep your goals in mind and you find a why. Wow, what a story on your Mini Cooper, love it, thanks for sharing!

  2. Krista Nowak


    We too are a ONE CAR FAM! Rocking the 10 year old Jeep Grand Cherokee with 183K+ miles on it, but we have been car payment free for almost 3 years! We have been steadily saving up over this time to pay as much cash as possible on the next “new to us” vehicle. We did have to pony up for a new bike when the frame on his 15 year old bike broke, but a new bike was certainly cheaper than a major car repair or, heck, a new car.

    I agree that being a OCF can have its challenges, but it also has its rewards. We became an OCF shortly before my husband deployed in 2010. We sold my car (paid off at the time) to pay off the Jeep and really attack some goals. 3 years later, we have a fully funded emergency fund, are debt free except for a mortgage and teensy weensy bit left on a student loan, and fully fund retirement accounts.

    Perhaps the BEST benefit (for us) of the OCF lifestyle is the huge improvement I have seen in my husband, both in demeanor and physique. When he returned home (30 days early) from deployment, a bum knee came with him. Surgery (though non-invasive) and months of rehab later, his knee is stronger than it has ever been AND the 13 mile ride to and from post daily allows him to decompress.

    Sure, he gets some funny looks from coworkers sometimes (biking in a snowstorm comes to mind), but where else would the inspiration for his fantasy football team come from (CRAZYCYCLER)?

    The best things in life are free(ish). :)

    1. Jennifer H.Jennifer H. Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Krista!! That is amazing. Maybe we need to get an OCF group going haha. The car we got rid of before becoming a OCF was a 1995 Isuzu Trooper with about 200k miles on it….it was an emotional moment for me…it was the first car we bought together when we got married, plus it had been with us on all our moves, cross country, overseas….

      This is temporary, Dave Ramsey says it best “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Best wishes and please do keep in touch, I can be found on FB, etc.

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