By: Revanche

We’re a 2-car family (again)!

June 13, 2016

We have a new (to us) car! Disclaimer, it's not the red convertibleHallelujah!


I can’t express how relieved I am.

Though I’m not always talking the talk, I’m walking the PF blogger walk. We balance our spending and saving, minimize bills, spend consciously, auto-save, invest with only very little reckless abandon, abandon cable, don’t eat out every night. The one thing we’ve not done is cut the “luxury” of having a second car.

For several months, we were a 1-car family and normally I would have reveled in the experiment: lower mileage, less gas “wasted”, no insurance for that car. But it turns out that also imposes levels of restriction that don’t fit our reality. Once, I wondered if it’d be worth the savings to cut our second car. This experimental period highlighted that answer very clearly for us.

The puzzle: We had one vehicle that also held JuggerLB’s car seat. We had a loaner that I couldn’t drive without exacerbating my pain so basically PiC had a loaner.

Inconvenience was also wastefulness

PiC could go to work alone in the loaner and leave us the car, or he could take the car and JuggerBaby, and leave me with a loaner I couldn’t drive. Since daycare is on the way to work for him, and my day goes in the opposite direction, we’d have to double our commute if I wanted the car during the week. It was highly inefficient and I found myself canceling appointments “until we have a car again”. It just wasn’t worth the waste of time and gas.

The grocery store and a few other places are within walking distance for your average healthy person. I’ve tried and deeply regretted making the hike to pick up “just a few things”. Nothing quite like being caught out in the rain, carrying fifteen pounds of groceries because who makes a huge trek for just a couple things? in a rapidly disintegrating tote bag, and with legs and back threatening to give out right now.

Disproportionate burdens

On days JuggerLB was going to daycare, I couldn’t squeeze in errands outside my work routine that would have helped ease the weekend pressure. No grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, picking up prescriptions, or a gallon of milk. These were all things that PiC had to do on his way home, or we’d have to contort our schedules to accommodate. We couldn’t afford the lost hour or more that carpooling would have added to everyone’s day.

With one and a half cars, don’t check my math, we had to do everything together, or when we were all in the same place. Weekends were a bit easier to manage the “do everything together” strategy, limited to 3 hour stretches, but neither of us felt comfortable leaving the other one home along with JuggerLB and no car in case of emergency. You might remember the Day of the Horrible Raisin? It wouldn’t have been half so exhausting if I had the car.

That usually translates to me staying home and PiC running all the errands in the loaner. Better for my energy, but tough for PiC’s time, and not ultimately sustainable.

The pain of paying is much lower than not paying

This is a strange thought but paying for the use of a second car is far preferable to the disruption of doing without. I’ll admit to being tempted to cave and just buying a new car off the lot, for about ten minutes, but we stayed strong and we didn’t take that shortcut.

Running the numbers

We received a $6000 check from our insurance, $1000 cash from the buyer of the salvaged car, $1200 from the Other Driver’s insurance covering our deductible and replacement car seat. PiC also sold $400 of car gear from the Doggle-chariot.

We paid for the new car seat, 2 car inspections, the cost of the car itself, the sales tax to the DMV, transportation to go get the car, and a substantial overhaul with a trusted mechanic friend. All told, cost ran just over $10,000.  The insurance bill just arrived and the new premium is less than the premium for the destroyed Doggle-chariot so it’s good to see that regular expense will be lower too, and by the way writing this up reminded me to go pay it so blogging is still good for my finances!

Useful Tip: Our insurance advised us to keep our Doggle-chariot policy during this hunt for the replacement. The value would be refunded at the end, but doing so would allow us to keep our multi-vehicle discount on the remaining car instead of bumping that premium unnecessarily. If ever you’re in this situation, check to see if that applies to you too.

We did have to buy a few accessories to protect this car from dog and child – they just keep on shedding and growing (well, the child does) which means seat protectors were in order. They were reasonably priced and I used my Amazon GC earnings from Swagbucks to pay for it.

After deducting the cash and checks, we spent almost $2,000 out of pocket for the new-to-us car. That’s real cash, no doubt about it, but under the circumstances, it darn well beats financing a new daily driver at $20,000 plus interest.

Last, there’s no monetary price we can put on the cost of PiC’s time and the goodwill of expert friends who helped us during the search. We burned quite a lot of social capital and I hate doing that, that’s probably the biggest reason I wanted this settled.

We weren’t planning on this expense now – we had hatched plans of upgrading to a bigger car in a few years, but tabled the discussion in favor of saving more money and growing our nest egg. Naturally a month after that agreement is when that idiot driver hit us. Seems my old friend Murphy hasn’t strayed far!

:: How did your last car cost? Will you be on the car hunt any time soon? Do you enjoy the hunt for a new or new to you vehicle? What’s your strategy? 

19 Responses to “We’re a 2-car family (again)!”

  1. I’ve always had my own car since I was 16. It was a point of pride. I’m not a city person, so I needed it to get anywhere anyways (one can only do so much alone in the woods).

    But, since we moved to CO two years ago, we’ve been living with just one vehicle as I had to sell my car to fund the move (this was in my pre-financially-literate days). We live in the city now and I can use public transportation to get to most places, but it’s still inconvenient and I know at some point I’ll need my own car again – either as we move more into the country, or I get a job that isn’t on the bus line.

    So, for now, we’re just saving $100/month into a car fund that I’m going to keep building up until it’s absolutely necessary to buy a car.
    Lindsay @ The Notorious D.E.B.T. recently posted…How I Use Ready For Zero To Manage My DebtMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I hope you’re able to save enough well before you need that second car! I miss really convenient pub transit, it’s just not a safe option from here.

  2. We have friends that make it work with one car. I’m (slightly) embarrassed to say that we have three cars. Before you think we’re entirely crazy (partially crazy for sure) two of the cars have almost no resale value. One is perfect for skiing & hauling large items, so we’ve kept it just in case we decide to do the Tahoe thing again, or we opt to move back to Washington. It’s also the car I use to transport my bike & stuff once/week as I plan for my bike commuting. . .it’s complicated.

    Anyway, we could not make do with one car without major lifestyle changes. We currently work different hours to minimize the time the kids need to be with a nanny, and we often are both picking up different kids in different places. Our last “new” car was purchased 4 years ago. It’s an Audi SUV, and it’s great. No idea on purchase price (would have to ask the husband), but it was a very good deal. Enjoy your new car!

    • Revanche says:

      If you have use for them and there’s no point in selling them, it makes sense! I think if you’re paying insurance but don’t have any use for them, that’s a waste but not in this case.

      One car is simply too complicated for us, too!

  3. Jon is a car person, which I knew when I married him, and I can’t imagine we’ll ever go to 2 cars (much less one.) Fortunately, he can also do most of the maintenance to keep them running, because otherwise we would spend a lot more. He mentions wanting something newer (his Mountaineer that is his daily driver is 14) but, barring an accident, we have no real needs.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Essential Summer Expenses We Can’t Do WithoutMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Home maintenance is such a relief! I miss the days when I could spend a long morning with friends tinkering with our cars and changing the oil and spark plugs and other minor things.

  4. We’ll probably be getting a new car for me in the next 3 years. It depends on how many times I have to take my car (which is currently sitting in a garage waiting for us to return) to the shop next year, since that was getting to be a bit of a hassle last year. I probably should have sold it before we went to Paradise, but we kept thinking, “this will be the last trip and then it will be fine” but of course it never was. And then we ran out of time to sell it with the move.

    We’ll buy new and probably put down cash (though our credit union usually has really sweet financing deals, so we might finance some of it just because the rates are so low, probably not though because I’m lazy).

    Living with just one car in Paradise for the year has worked out really well. It helps that DC1 can walk to school and we’re in walking distance to DC2’s daycare and there’s buses and light rail and a grocery store and a ton of restaurants etc. all within a 15 min walk. We can’t do that where we normally live with a kid in daycare.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted…Love is love is love is love is loveMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Wait, you might NOT finance because you’re lazy? Meaning you’d maybe just buy it outright? Just checking that I’m reading that right!

      • Right. To take advantage of our credit union’s low auto financing rates (which, incidentally, are lower than our mortgage rate) I’d have to make sure to put the money someplace that gives a higher interest rate. So we’d have to go to the CU, get the loan all set up, deal with the loan stuff at the dealership etc. and then make sure I don’t just keep the lump sum in savings which means I’d have to figure out where to put it.

        If we still had mortgage room it would make sense to put it in the mortgage and keep a car loan, but a car costs more than what’s left in our mortgage.

        We should have at least 30K left to put somewhere after moving back home from Paradise and getting through the unpaid summer. So… new car, kitchen renovation, I dunno.
        nicoleandmaggie recently posted…Love is love is love is love is loveMy Profile

        • Leigh says:

          Also when you have a loan, you have to make sure that you get the title fully in your name when the loan is paid off. My credit union didn’t do that when I paid my loan off and it was a hassle to go to the place downtown between 8:30-4:30 with a specific amount of cash (they only took cash) and then they would mail me a new title. So I’ve resolved to never do a loan again. Plus, getting the loan was soooooo much stress and hassle. Just. Not. Worth. It. Plus dealing with monthly payments? No thank you!
          Leigh recently posted…Unbudgeting in 2016: reflections halfway throughMy Profile

          • Oh man, I hadn’t even been thinking about monthly payments or closing out the loan. Last time we actually had a loan *book* and had to send paper loan things from the book to the bank along with a check each month, no reminders. I wonder if they’ve figured out how to auto-debit (no pun) for loans yet. The credit union is a bit stuck in the 20th century in many ways.

            So yeah, maybe we’ll pay cash.
            nicoleandmaggie recently posted…How do you watch videos?My Profile

  5. Our house can manage on one-car, thankfully, but that’s only because I rely on Tim to run most errands. It helps that he’s home all day, so I can have him run out at a moment’s notice. Well, an hour’s notice usually.

    But it seems not having a car was making things much worse for you. They say you can’t put a price on good health. For us spoonies, it’s that *really* can’t put a price on avoiding worse health! So good for you for putting your needs ahead of the bank balance. And for finding a car that only slightly dinged the balance.

    We managed to get our 2012 Honda Civic with 24,000 miles on it for $14,000 out the door. Then again, it also has chipping on the paint in many places. Then again, I don’t care. And Tim’s learned to live with the fact that we’re not getting it painted any time soon. (I pointed out that the $2,000ish or more a paint job would cost would really be a blow to saving for his dream car. Damn I’m good.)

    I’m just hoping it lives as long as people say Hondas do. We’ve had terrible car luck, losing two to accidents.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…Financial update: JuneMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      I wish your Honda many happy and healthy years. The idea of being a one-car household is just more attractive than the reality for us, especially with a kid and a car seat.

  6. Mackenzie says:

    A few years ago, we did the one-car thing and you are absolutely right, it makes things harder not easier. Especially when you have children, so I totally understand where you are coming from 🙂
    Mackenzie recently posted…Monday Meanderings: School’s Out EditionMy Profile

  7. Ahem. Okay…so when are you driving it over to Arizona? 😉 Seriously, we have a PF bloggers’ group here who would love to entertain you. And Abigail is here…and sometime Donna!!

    Arghh, yes, I DO remember the Affair of the Raisin. What a frolic that was…. Ugh.

    I can’t imagine trying to make do with just one car if one parent uses the car to commute to work…or even if the way for one commuting parent to get home is for the other one to meet her or him at the office or a train station. The slightest disruption instantly blows up into a major, even nightmarish hassle. Don’t know that I’d be thrilled about having to own and park two cars in the City…but even given the challenges of San Francisco car ownership, your decision to buy sounds like a smart one.

    Hereabouts: gonna have to buy a new car fairly soon. Just ponied up $400 for an alternator to keep the 16-year-old Dog Chariot on the road. I just REALLY don’t want to pay what a comparable new car will cost. But don’t trust used cars. So am delaying and delaying and wondering if a horse could live in the backyard….
    Funny about Money recently posted…Hotter than the Hubs of Hades…My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      One of these days, we’ll make it out there! But it won’t be in the summer, that’s for darn sure! 🙂 I’m hearing of temperatures that are positively inhumane.

      My fingers are crossed for your Dog Chariot!

  8. Who did you sell your old car to? I’m apparently really bad at selling cars because I’ve only ever gotten 100-350 for the two cars we’ve had previously. Also, what kind of car did you end up getting? We’re still on the edge of getting the ball rolling, mostly because I keep thinking of other expenses that will need to be addressed and we’re doing fine without a car so far! We have really nice neighbors that will drive me to the grocery store when needed so I don’t have to walk in the heat with Blue.
    Kristen Knorr recently posted…CamilleMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      It was an auto shop mechanic who could actually afford to make the repairs that were needed.

      The sale prices are really going to vary widely depending on the car, the age and condition of the car, and your area. The COL where we are is much higher and so prices are accordingly higher.

      That’s really nice of your neighbors!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This website and its content are copyright of A Gai Shan Life  | © A Gai Shan Life 2018. All rights reserved.

Site design by 801red