We currently have one vehicle and so long as we have student loans hanging over our heads (thanks, business school!) I intend to keep it that way.We haven’t always been a one-car family. When we were in college I was the proud owner of a 1998 maroon red Chevy Lumina. It was old, battered with years of dings and dents, and it had many problems. In fact, it had so many problems that it eventually reached a point where it was no longer worth investing anything into it and the junk yard didn’t even want it. We were young parents, going to college and living on one meager income. I remember the day we got rid of it; it was a very sad day for me. I knew then that we would be a one-car family for a long time as student loans would soon come due. That was 5 years ago.
We have lived in three states with one car, and each location had it’s challenges to work out. When we were in Utah, Paul worked at the University, and we lived about a mile away. I had the car most of the time and would just drop him off and pick him each day. I never really felt the hurt of not having two cars when we were in Utah.
However, when we moved to Texas for Paul’s first big job out of college, our situation changed quite a bit. He had to have the car for about half of the week for work meetings. Each week brought a different schedule and so we would sit down and merge our planners to figure out which days I would drop him off and pick him up.
When we moved to Central California we lived in such close proximity to the job-site and to the school that I became the family chauffeur. We all woke up early every morning and dropped Paul off at work, then I would drop my oldest off at school. In the afternoon I’d do the reverse and bring everyone home. Being chauffeur is really exhausting, by the way.
And then we moved to the Bay Area and the most drastic change of all occurred: I became a full-time pedestrian. The nature of Paul’s work doesn’t allow for me to ever have the car during the week. Ever. Initially, it was really difficult, but after a full year of pedestrian-ism, I am still alive. I didn’t die from walking 4+ miles a day (it’s the little victories)! When we chose our current housing location we knew that this would be the situation and so we chose a place that is within a mile of Target, the elementary school, and the local library. What else do you need? I have a great stroller, a pair of Nikes, and my fitbit. If I want to go somewhere, I go.
There are times when I’ve wished that I had a car. Like during the summer when I could be taking my kids to the beach, but instead have to settle for the community pool. Or when local mom groups are meeting at a park that is not within walking distance. Or when acquaintances are truly shocked at your one-car status and assume that you’re destitute, impoverished, and in need of pity (trust me, we’re fine). But I’m of the mindset that you can either complain about it, or embrace it for what it is. I’m paying off debt with that money that could be going towards another car loan and additional insurance, we’ve significantly reduced our carbon footprint, and I’m meeting my daily step goals. Win, win, win. I’ve learned so much as a pedestrian, but that’s a post for another day.
Have you ever had to make a sacrifice to meet a financial goal? I’d love to know how others have dealt with similar situations! Tell me in the comments!