Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Truth About the One Car Family

My husband and I have always shared a car, and while the idea of a second car is aired often, it is always shot down, most often by me - the walker - because of the expenses and true car cost. Nevertheless, although our family is proud of our frugal living, it is still tempting to get that second car. This is why I decided to look at the pros and cons of owning a second car as well as the true cost of owning a car. No matter the actual car cost, I also wanted to share the truth about the one car family, as it is not just rosy and great carbon prints.

According to the AAA Your Driving Cost report, the average cost to operate a mid-size car such as a Ford Fusion or a Honda Accord is 47.6 cents a mile, or $9,519 a year based on driving 15,000 miles a year. A small car costs 43.3 cents a mile, or $6,496 a year, while a four-wheel drive SUV is the most expensive, at nearly 74 cents per mile, or $11,000 a year.

According to our own calculations the car cost for our family is $5600 in car maintenance, fuel, insurance etc. This annual car cost each year to own our 1999 Honda Odyssey is based on a 25,000 annual mileage.

The amount vary from household to household, but the one fact that cannot be disputed is that owning a car is expensive, and not even frugal living can eliminate transportation expenses. Car maintenance, car insurance, registration, and of course gasoline...it all ads up, and it ads up fast. You can find the cost to own a newer car at Edmunds.com, you can also read more about what a car really cost at ConsumerReports.com.

My husband uses our 1999 Honda Odyssey for work, and since he became self-employed a few years ago, I have driven it on very few occasions. It is also our family car, and with the backseat being able to lay down flat, it seems to be a very easy transition from the work car to the family car.

However, frugal living as a one car family requires a lot of patience, compromise and flexibility, and unless everyone in the family is able to adapt, living in a one car family can be difficult.