Making one car work for you.

My husband I have shared one car for six years now and counting – the majority of which we were both working. From less car payments, gas and insurance we have saved upwards of $30,000 over the course of six years. When house-hunting we only needed a one-car garage. This, indirectly, saved us money too.

How do we manage to do this? I’ll show you.

First, it takes a little planning. You do need to know one another’s schedules. This means asking the other person if an appointment or interview is ok. You cannot just pick up and go and be gone for hours on end, stranding the other person. This can be a big adjustment for some. Plan to do as much at once as possible in each outing. Combine errand trips together. Ask the other person you are sharing a car with if there’s something they need in that part of town. This, in the end, will help save you time and your sanity.

Second, choose services that are within walking distance from your home or work. It’s better if it’s from your home, as these days we all switch jobs pretty frequently. Make a list of the services you need. These may include:

  • Pharmacy
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Grocery or Convenience Store
  • Salon
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Eye Doctor
  • Childcare
  • Park and/or Gym
  • Public Transit
  • Fast Food or Take Out Restaurant

This is obviously easier in an urban environment, but can be done in the suburbs to an extent. Absolutely ALL of these are within walking distance from my home. If you can’t get them all at least hit the ones you need the most frequently. Bonus points if you support small businesses versus national chains.

When it comes to work transportation it can get a bit tricky. This is why many households have two or more vehicles. When looking for a job weigh its location a.k.a. your commute against other factors like time, compensation etc. In my household, jobs in town are more appealing than those elsewhere. I also look at what areas I can reach by public transit. In addition, you may want to concentrate your job search in the region your partner works. For a period of about a year, my husband and I worked  a mile from one another. His work was on the way to mine so it was a simple drop off and pick up routine.

Employers, I have found, to be surprisingly receptive. I may have had to change my hours by a few minutes here and there to fit a bus schedule. Some even reimbursed me for transit. I would discuss with them ahead of time that they could not spring an emergency errand, meeting or trip on me off-site. This usually took a little adjusting on their part, but was never a problem. In the end, employers applauded my efforts and were impressed with how easy I made it seem.

But the thing is – it really is easy if you put a little forethought into it. If you want to do it, you can. Take small steps and you too can reduce your time in the car, save yourself money, and live better.