One Car Family: The Pros and Cons to Owning only one Vehicle

We live in a two income world, and therefore, a two vehicle world as well. My husband and I have been a one car family for our whole marriage – 16 years – until this week. Today I want to share with you why we only had one vehicle, how it benefited us, and why we’ve chosen to finally own two vehicles.

one car family

Vehicles are expensive, y’all.

When my husband and I were first married, we didn’t own a vehicle. We were 20 and 22 at the time, and we walked or took the city bus everywhere.

About 4 months into our marriage we bought our very first clunker of a car. We were so excited! I was probably even more excited than my husband because more often then not as I was growing up my family did not own a car either.

And yet, I finally had my very own car!

A few years later we had our first baby and I quickly discovered that a car was very difficult to transport kids in. It’s not the kids that take a lot of room, it’s all their equipment! Some of those trunks won’t even fit the strollers.

So we upgraded. First to a wagon, then eventually to a minivan.

It never was a discussion to own two vehicles at one time though. I stayed home with our kids and we knew it just wasn’t in the budget while we lived on one income.

We learned how to manage with just one vehicle. If I needed to take the kids to an appointment or other commitment, I’d load the kids up in the van early in the morning and drive my husband to work, then I’d take the vehicle for the day and pick my husband up when he was done work.

This was a little inconvenient because we lived 30 minutes from my husband’s job, but we just did what we had to do.

Even with the multiple trips to town, it was still less money than the cost of insurance and the initial expense of another vehicle. And let’s not forget about maintenance costs. With two vehicles you will have double the expenses.

While sometimes annoying, this is what has worked for us for years. However, over the past couple years we have noticed it becoming more of a struggle.

When we moved almost two years ago now, it meant my husband’s work was now 40 minutes away. That meant longer to drive there and back if I needed the vehicle, and on the days I drove my husband to work so I could have the vehicle I felt I spent most of the day driving the kids and I around.

On top of that, our kids were getting older and that meant they had more commitments themselves. I was struggling to get them to their places on time if I needed the vehicle around the same time my husband finished work. Many calls to him on his way home from work became calls that had me saying, “hurry home! We’re going to be late!”

Our financial circumstances had finally changed – I am working from home now – so we realized we could afford a second vehicle.

We actually had been talking about it for the past year, but we were holding out for a truck. My husband is a carpenter, we have a homestead – it made sense for our lifestyle.

But man, those things are expensive. Especially on gas.

We decided the wise thing to do was to put off the dreams of a truck and buy an affordable used car for our second vehicle. But in full disclosure, becoming a one car family has it’s advantages and disadvantages.


It’s so easy to want to keep up with the Joneses. The pressure can cause us to be living above our means. For us personally, it just wasn’t a good decision to own two vehicles until now.

If you are struggling with your finances, cutting back to one vehicle can make a world of difference. Now, I know this isn’t possible for everyone. If you have two people in the home who work and need to get to their jobs and there are no other cheaper options, your hands are tied.

But, even if that is you, you can consider downsizing your vehicle if you have a bigger one that is not the greatest on gas and causes you to pay more for insurance.

If you have a huge car payment, it may be time to look at something that would decrease that monthly payment, or even get rid of it all together!

Even if going down to one vehicle is just for a time, like a year or two to pay down debt, it can help you get ahead in your finances.

I love this Car Cost Calculator over at NerdWallet that can help you calculate your total monthly expenses for your  vehicle.  It’s a great tool to use if you want to see exactly how much your car is actually costing you.


Aside from the fact that you’ll obviously save money on owning one less vehicle, there is another benefit too.

One of the things I loved about owning just one vehicle is that it helped our family stay close. We weren’t always going separate ways because we had to drive together to most places. Many times that meant one of us was waiting for the other, but there is something to be said of learning to be patient for the other person while they are doing their thing, whether it be work or an activity they love.

We have spent the last 16 years driving everywhere together. And even though it has been frustrating to only own one vehicle at times, I am thankful for the positives it brought to our family.


Of course, as I mentioned above, there are disadvantages to owning one vehicle. You sometimes can’t make it to places you want to go because your spouse has the vehicle. Kids generally can’t go to different extra-curriculars at the same time.

And, if you need the vehicle while your spouse is at work you will have to drive them to their job. Usually that isn’t too big of a deal if you are five minutes away from their employment, but if, like me you are 30-40 minutes away it can be a pretty big inconvenience. Let’s not forget to mention how stressful it can be to bundle up babies and toddlers before the sun is up to drop your spouse at work on time.

Another disadvantage is when you have car troubles and only own one vehicle it can be tricky to juggle getting your car into the shop and having a way to get around, to work or to your home while your vehicle is being fixed. However, times that our vehicle was in the shop for a few days we have been known to rent a car. While there is that added expense, it’s still cheaper than owning a second vehicle.


Clearly I’m not really selling it there. But – I do think that the sacrifice is worth it if your finances need it. While it was stressful at times, I don’t regret not owning two vehicles for as long as we did.

I also don’t regret buying a second vehicle now that we are ready!

I know it isn’t easy to downsize, or to be a one car family in a two car world, but think about the way you could pay down debt, save for an emergency or even a trip, or just go to sleep at night without the stress of not being able to pay your bills.

Sometimes we have to live in a way that is uncomfortable to us so that we can get ahead in the long run. There are times where you need short term pain for long term gain. In our case that “short” term pain felt long – 16 years! But in the grand scheme of things, it really is a short time compared to the rest of our lives.

One Car Family - The Pros and Cons of Owning only one Vehicle
Article Name
One Car Family - The Pros and Cons of Owning only one Vehicle
Owning just one car instead of two for your family isn't common these days but it can help you with your financial health.
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Simple Life of a Frugal Wife

3 thoughts on “One Car Family: The Pros and Cons to Owning only one Vehicle”

  1. The thought of becoming a 1 car family Definetly frightens me.

    Being driven to work and getting picked from school depresses me 💯

    Having my husband driving me and being forced to wait, wait and waiting totally rubs me the wrong way!

  2. we have one car since i don’t work. we don’t have any kids, just furbabies. he wanted to get me a car (we are financially well-off) but i told him it wouldn’t be worth it since i don’t go anywhere (groceries delivered). I haven’t driven in the past two years and love it. i don’t have to worry about vet appt’s bc my husband owns his own business and can come and go as he pleases. other then those appt’s, i haven’t been out of the house in 5 yrs. i get lonely and bored, but i made my bed lol wouldn’t change it.

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