People usually look at me like I’ve lost my mind when I tell them that our family only has one car. After the blank stare, there’s always a question: Do you and your husband both have a license? Yes, we’re both fully licensed and insured. Are you one of those environmentalist people? No, we’re not. In fact, our last car was a 1993 Suburban that got approximately 12 miles per gallon.
So how did we wind up being a family of 5 with just one car? It certainly wasn’t planned. We actually started out with 3 cars, for 2 licensed drivers. I had a 1996 Nissan truck that I brought into our marriage and a 2002 Nissan Sentra that we bought as our first ‘family’ car. We quickly outgrew that, and purchased the Suburban.
Obviously the Nissan truck isn’t big enough for us, and the motor makes all kinds of funny noises, so it’s sitting untagged and uninsured in my mom’s back yard. The Sentra broke down a couple of years ago, and after sinking $900 into it without fixing the problem, we decided to sell it before spending even more money on it. Then the transmission went out on the Suburban. It wasn’t worth paying upwards of $1200 to fix a car that’s 17 years old. So that leaves us driving one of my mom’s cars. It’s a 1986 Pontiac Grand Am that’s been in several wrecks, doesn’t have air conditioning and we’re crammed in there like sardines.
How do you survive being a family of 5 with one car? It’s not easy. And it doesn’t help matters that I live in a rural area that doesn’t believe in public transportation, and walking to the nearest store would involve a 2 mile trip on a 4-lane highway. Luckily, I work from home. So my husband takes the car to work during the week, and my two older children ride the bus to and from school. If there is something that has to be done during the day, such as a doctor’s appointment, I generally recruit my mom or mother-in-law to be our chauffer if they are available. If not, then we wake up at 5 am, drive my husband 30 minutes to work, come home, eat breakfast, wait for the bus or drop the older kids off at school and do whatever needs to be done before turning around and doing it reverse order to pick up my husband by 5. Other trips, such as to the grocery store, happen on the weekends or in the evenings after my husband is home from work.
We’re slowly but surely saving up to buy a new (used) car that is reliable and will comfortably fit our family. It’s been a long road, but after some previous not so wise decisions involving our credit, we’re resolved to pay cash for all purchases. And not being in debt is definitely worth the time we’re spending as a one car family.
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Read other ONE CAR CLUB Stories:
Maricris of Zensible Mama
Angela of Pagan Mom Blog