Q1 Car Challenge

While the calendar may say November, the PoP household is already planning for 2014.  It’s shaping up to be a banner year for travel; we’re looking at a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in April, another blogger conference in the fall, and possibly even Burning Man for Mr. PoP in the late summer.

Of course, nothing in life is free, so we’re also thinking how to lower our expenses to pay for all this awsomeness. Mrs. PoP is lining up credit card with great airline miles, and we’re also figuring out how to switch to Ting for our phones, but we’re also looking at some more interesting changes as well. How does everybody feel about moving from two cars down to one?

Introducing… The Q1 Car Challenge!

So we’re not too sure if we are ready to sell Mr. PoP’s Jeep just yet, but its looking like a real possibility for a few reasons.

1. We don’t use it for hauling building materials around like we used to. Once upon a time, when the stock market was in the doldrums and foreclosures grew on palm trees, we spent a fair amount of our time hauling lumber, drywall, shingles, siding and more from the nearest home improvement warehouse to whatever sorry excuse for a dwelling that we were currently resurrecting. Now? Not so much. In fact, we recently saw a car identical to Mrs. PoP’s with a pretty sweet trailer set up that would haul more than we currently need…

2. Mrs. PoP is really enjoying biking to work! This is pretty awesome because it combines a healthy activity that makes her happy and saves money-this is pretty much as good as it gets for ROI. She is getting better at dealing with the occasional rain drops (fenders on the bike, correct gear), and after biking to work regularly for about 6 months she has a lot of miles under her belt.

3. Cars are expensive! This weekend we priced out tires for the jeep-$700, and this was for the mid-market ones! Consumables like tires, oil, and gasoline will continue to increase in price (Mrs PoP – and don’t forget the 6 months of insurance on it we’ll be paying for next month at around $300).  Plus at ~125K miles the jeep needs some suspension work as well. If we’re going to get rid of it, early next year is probably a good time. I’m thinking that its worth at least $5K* as well, maybe I’d rather have that money in the market rather than sitting in my driveway depreciating…

So how are we going to do this?

Q1 2014 will be a test to see if we can get away with just driving Mrs. PoP’s car (which is a really nice ride, by the way!); if everything goes well, we will be reasonably sure that we will be fine with just one mode of transportation.


Mrs PoP – I want it noted for the record that the Q1 Car Challenge was 100% instigated by Mr PoP.  I am in no way asking him or forcing him to give up his jeep, which in the past he’s been VERY attached to.  That said, I think we’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how easy one car is.  Looking back over the last week there was only one time that we had both cars in use at the same time, and we could have easily arranged the schedule so that wasn’t the case.  However, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t see Mr PoP’s long-game in this.  “Sure, let’s go down to one car… but how about we make that one car an NSX?”  =)


* Note on the car value from Mrs PoP.  KBB (which we use for the car values on our balance sheets), puts this thing at about $7.5K in fair condition, or $8.1K in good condition.  Whether or not KBB or Mr PoP have a better intuition for what the jeep would actually command on the open market…. well, we may not have to wait too long to see who’s closer.  


Do you share a car with your partner?  Or go carless yourself?  Any tips on making the sharing seamless?

66 comments to Q1 Car Challenge

  • I think “the challenge” is a great idea, hope you can pull it off! If we lived closer to my office I would be very tempted to try it too.
    FI Pilgrim recently posted..Is Patience Still A Virtue?My Profile

    • We’re about 9 miles from my office, which I can get to easily via nice safe back roads. But we’re over 25 miles from Mr PoP’s office, and that’s mostly all highway driving. So a bike commute for Mr PoP would be pretty tough. =)
      Mrs PoP recently posted..Q1 Car ChallengeMy Profile

  • Good for you guys! This is something I’d love to do eventually but isn’t incredibly realistic right now. If we could eventually either move closer to where I work or at least somewhere with public transit it might be more of a reality, but for now we both need a car.
    Matt Becker recently posted..What Does Financial Freedom Mean to Me?My Profile

  • I think this is great! If we didn’t have kids I know that we could get rid of our car #2. You might as well try it….if it doesn’t work out then you could always buy another used car =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Breaking Bad: What Would You Do?My Profile

  • Awesome challenge. I think a lot of times people get a little enamored with a frugal idea and go overboard too quickly. Taking a whole quarter to evaluate it sounds like the right choice.

    There are just so many efficiency gains if you’re able to drop one car completely without any issues. I don’t know if you’ve hears of the term “radical efficiency”, but this is what it’s all about.
    Cash Rebel recently posted..Do extroverts or introverts make more money?My Profile

    • We originally talked about doing it for just a month or two, but then Mr PoP thought that a whole quarter would give us a good idea about how sustainable it would be long term.

  • I’ve always read that Jeeps hold their value well, so hopefully you can get a good buck for it. I know that they sell very quickly here in Colorado.

    We also have 2 cars and our situation could be more ridiculous. I work from home and the wife doesn’t currently work. So, we barely need one car. They are both paid off and insurance is cheap, but those aren’t good excuses. After we are done with home construction, perhaps we’ll get rid of our Honda Element…
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..Sunday Make Ahead Recipe: Aunt Beulah’s GranolaMy Profile

  • We have two cars. But we drive a lot, and often our schedules do not involve us in the same place unless it’s Saturday. I,also, go out of town frequently to see my mom. We need two cars. It’s a luxury, but I’m willing to pay it for the independence.
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted..House Amendment AcceptedMy Profile

  • Debbie M

    We could get by with one car and I tried it for a while when my last car died, but I decided to replace the car after all. One reason is that sometimes my partner and I want to be in different places at the same time. Another reason is that I really like being able to lend my car out to people whose cars are in the shop. (Admittedly, since my sister moved out of state, I’ve only been lending it to my partner.) The final reason is that my car gets way better mileage (and thus is cheaper to run, uses up fewer non-renewable resources, and pollutes less), so I prefer using it for longer drives. I live in a pretty big city, and some of the cool parts of it (like the new Trader Joe’s) are kind of far away.

    Even my cheap car costs probably $200/month for gas, insurance, taxes, repairs, and depreciation/saving up for my next car, so it’s serious money. But I really love my transportational independence.

    I do have some advice for you, though. I went without a car (or partner) for four years and it’s sooo much cheaper than having a car that you can afford to rent a car or even take a taxi occasionally and still be way, way ahead. (I would rent a car to visit my parents who live 200 miles away or for other vacations and then might also slip in a big grocery shop. I also called a taxi on the way home from buying a TV and VCR.) Back then I learned that there were two kinds of car rental places: the kind in airports that cater to car owners who are travelling and have not brought their cars with them and the kind in town that cater to car owners whose cars are in the shop. The latter are better at dealing with people who don’t have cars at all than the former. Nowadays there are also places like CarsToGo that cater to people without cars, but I think they have monthly fees whether you use them or not. It didn’t look great to me last time I checked it out, though back then we had only one such company and it was pretty new and didn’t have many cars yet.

    One advantage you have is that you can both be on the insurance for the remaining car, so you won’t have to suffer any repercussions for going without insurance (which is not illegal if you’re not driving, but which leads to very high prices if you later want to get insurance again).

    Love your trailer idea!

    • Luckily our awesome grocery stores are pretty close to my normal biking routes, so I don’t feel deprived if I’m missing the car. In fact, when Mr PoP was out of town for about a week back in October he took my car (since it’s the relative gas sipper of the two), and I had my bike and the jeep. Turned out, I used just the bike all week!

      I think if we make this long-term, we’ll probably want to set up a line-item on the budget that allows us a few guilt free car rentals without having it come out of “travel” money. We have a couple of chain rental places pretty close to home and work, so I think we’ll be able to manage just fine. And we’ll definitely both stay insured on whatever car we keep – thanks for the reminder on what a headache dealing with coverage lapses can be.

  • I’m sad that Mrs. put the “end game” in writing. Foiled again, Mr. PoP!
    Average Joe recently posted..Board Games For The Holidays – Stacking Benjamins Episode 30My Profile

    • haha, you should have seen him this weekend when we finally got the garage cleaned up some more and the car back in it. “Look how much more spacious it is now that it’s organized! You know what car could easily fit in here now…”
      The king of subtlety, he is not. =)

    • While Mrs. PoP has been using the blog to make our cat internet-famous, I’ve been slowly building up a group of people who support my decision to buy an NSX =)
      Mr. Pop recently posted..Q1 Car ChallengeMy Profile

  • Heidi S

    I live in the city and have considered going car-less! For me it actually did not work out to be cheaper to loose the car, since I regularly drive long distances for horseback riding. Otherwise, a zip car (carshare) membership would have been cheaper for occasional local driving since it includes insurance and such, and would give me access to larger or smaller cars depending on if I was trying to haul large items from te hardware store or just out for a drive. Also, I know plenty of car rental companies are comig up with more car-share like ideas too (I think Enterprise is one?) that can be cheaper than doing ZipCar depending on your needs.

    • We don’t have a zipcar or equivalent in our area (at least not that I know of), but we do have plenty of car rental places. So I think we’ll be a-ok as long as we plan a little in advance.

  • We currently have 3 cars but we have one listed for sale (it’s a classic truck – so not exactly a daily driver). We still have two that we probably do not need since we both work at home. Still haven’t decided what we will do.
    Michelle recently posted..Gulf Shores Recap and Weekly UpdateMy Profile

  • Sweet on Mr. PoP wanting to go to BM! I’ve been a couple of years and it’s amazing the group of people that go – I hope he makes it happen! Good luck with the challenge as well – we actually have three, one that’s used occasionally whenever my car decides to act out since it’s on the older side. We’ll probably downsize to two eventually, though going down to 1 might be a bit more challenging (unless the trolley system really does expand in SD).
    anna recently posted..You Know What’s Awesome…My Profile

    • He’s wanted to go to Burning Man for a while. 2014 is going to be a bit of a “bucket” year for his travel itches between the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and Burning Man, if everything goes as planned.

  • That’s awesome you are biking to work rain or shine! I know living in a flat area does make it a bit easier resistance wise but it’s no easy feat in inclement whether.

    We live in NYC and do own a car (parking’s not too bad where we live) but it’s an oldie so insurance is low and we generally only drive on the weekends since we take public transit to work. I could actually bike to work if we owned one but we don’t have space to keep one in the apartment (and it would be gone in a day if we locked it outside!)

    I say go for the challenge if it can be done! Plus, if you’re getting good at biking, you can even look for a second-hand kid carrier that is towed behind the bike so you can even go grocery shopping with a bicycle. :)
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted..Would you pledge a dollar for a “Friends” movie?My Profile

    • The weather has been less of an issue than I was afraid of when I first started doing this. The summer is our rainy season, but I survived that pretty darned well! =)

  • Good luck for the car challenge! When I was in my college days I remember one of my professors used a bike to go to school daily. And he even encouraged some of my classmates to do that too especially those who lived nearby.
    Clarisse @MakeMoney Your Way recently posted..How does Currency Trading WorkMy Profile

  • What a great challenge! Since I’m only a one car family already, I can’t give my piece of shit up. I do toy with the idea of a scooter though, but I’m afraid I might get smooshed in LA traffic. Any ideas?
    Budget and the Beach recently posted..Feeling the Power to Change Old Financial WaysMy Profile

    • If you’re really considering a scooter, you should chat with Done By Forty. He scooter’s around Phoenix in one, and though their traffic isn’t quite to LA standards, it can be hellish at times.

  • You just need to coordinate errands and it shouldn’t be too much trouble. We mostly use one car to go shopping once a week and the other car once a month or so for long distance trips. We could do with one but the long distance one really has a high gas mileage so it is expensive to run weekly. I would still use your second car once in a while to make sure the motor runs fine, the battery keeps charged, etc. Sometimes with humidity if you don’t use things they break.
    Pauline @RFIndependence recently posted..How I lived on $400 a month in collegeMy Profile

    • I think you’re absolutely right – it’s mostly going to be a matter of saying when we want the car on the weekends for errands.

      Hmm, I had assumed we wouldn’t run the jeep at all during the experiment, but maybe we need to force ourselves to take it around the neighborhood once every couple of weeks to turn the tires and keep the battery from dying?

      • Just make sure that, when you take the jeep out, no is using the second car and it’s an errand you could have used the other car for. That way, the jeep gets used, but you’re still holding true to the principles of your challenge.
        Leah recently posted..ArabellaMy Profile

  • We are a one car household and yeah, it takes a little more organisation/coordination, but it works!

    We ar actually at the other end of the spectrum … contemplating becoming a two car household. It’s inevitable at some point living in Auckland, but might happen sooner than I thought.
    eemusings recently posted..Safe travels? Yeah, nahMy Profile

    • I have a friend who grew up in Auckland, and she claims they used horses a lot for transport! (I guess she was out on a farm on the outskirts of town…)

  • We were fine with one car before kids. Now either one of us might be needed to pick up the kids depending on our schedules and it isn’t always predictable.
    Nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Partial-retirement/self-employment experiment overMy Profile

  • Good luck with your challenge. I agree that cars can be so expensive. I am thankful that I finally paid my car loan off for good.
    Blair@LifeDollarsandSense recently posted..Done with Car Payments Forever!!My Profile

    • Thanks, Blair! Car payments definitely stink, but even after they’re over the cars are still depreciating assets that keep costing us money (insurance, repairs, etc…)

  • Your travel plans sound great. Good luck with the one car challenge, it sounds very doable. If I end up moving I am really going to try to find a place within walking distance of work. Biking is out, but I like to walk.

  • No way we could make it with one car. I won’t even pretend that is a possibility, but I bet you guys could. If you do decide to expand your family at some point, you’ll probably need another vehicle, but you could buy a cheap used care if it came to that.

  • We are one car! It’s worked out fine for us, but that’s because both of us having walking commutes (ah, the boarding school life). I do drive to do dorm duty each week, because I do duty on a different campus and don’t want to walk home alone at midnight.

    Every rare once in awhile, we want the car for separate things. Carpooling or making choices has worked well for us so far. We barely used our second car last year when I was commuting to work, so we figured this wouldn’t be an issue.

    We didn’t sell our car, but we did gift it to my BIL, so we get the warm, fuzzy feelings of knowing we really helped him out.
    Leah recently posted..ArabellaMy Profile

    • Well, good to hear another blogging couple running with just one vehicle. At 5K, the Jeep is worth too much for a gift, but maybe turning it into small, unmarked bills will give me warm fuzzies…
      Mr. Pop recently posted..Q1 Car ChallengeMy Profile

      • We would have sold if the BIL didn’t desperately need a car. The timing worked out well for both of us, as we didn’t have a lot of time for car selling this summer.
        Leah recently posted..Science QuizMy Profile

  • Liz

    Cars are really nice for commuting when it’s snowing! I guess it all depends on where you live. When we lived in Chicago we had one car and iWeb hardly used it. Parking was super expensive. Now that we live in the suburbs we depend on thr cars a lot more..
    Liz recently posted..Giving Homemade GiftsMy Profile

    • We kind of live in the suburbs I guess, but its really more like the sprawl that is behind a beach community-so no snow, grocery is easily walkable, and some decent entertainment venues are bikable as well…
      Mr. Pop recently posted..Q1 Car ChallengeMy Profile

  • We’re moving to a home 2.5 miles from my work, so I’m planning on embarking on the bike-to-work challenge. I do have a question for you though: How do you keep your hair dry in the rain??? I can’t figure out how to show up at work looking professional if my hair is soaking wet!

    I also want to test out what it’s like to not have a second car by not using mine for a few weeks. My husband works from home, so I think it might work out okay without two cars. My main concern is that he takes weekends away for snowboarding and work quite often, and I don’t know how I’ll feel about hauling groceries home without a car. The other concern is getting to the gym. After we move, we’ll probably look for a gym closer to our house, but I don’t think there are any in that area that have pools (which is a priority for me), other than the YMCA, which is more expensive than our current gym, and crawling with screaming children! We’ll see whether or not I’m ready to make the sacrifice! I’m not so sure!
    Becky @ RunFunDone recently posted..How to Get that Butt Moving!My Profile

    • I actually prefer to keep my hair wet for the ride to work. Most mornings I shower before and braid my hair in one big braid for the ride. This prevents the weird helmet hair bumps that can otherwise sometimes happen on really humid days. Then I pull it out and brush it through when I get to work. Since I get to work about 30-60 minutes before the rest of my office, my hair is always dry by the time most people start to get in.

  • We have just one car for right now and I think we’ll stay a one car family for two more years. :)
    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted..Saving for and Planning a Mini VacationMy Profile

  • I can’t imagine being a one car household. Not only because we work on opposite ends of the city, but I just can’t imagine how we’d work it out when we each wanted/needed to be someplace different at the same time.
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Buying An Engagement Ring Online – My Blue Nile ExperienceMy Profile

    • A year ago I might have said the same thing, but the biking has really become a big part of my lifestyle and Mr PoP is all for it… especially if it gets him one step closer to having a real sports car. =D

  • We share a car but we are considering going carless. It would wipe out a nice chunk of our debt if we sold (we still owe quite a bit on our vehicle) and I hate driving, but it is really convenient to have.

    Good luck with your experiment!
    Erin @ My Alternate Life recently posted..A Saving State of MindMy Profile

  • I come from a family of 4 who each has their own car and I’ve grown to HATE it! Such a waste of money and gas. I also think it has made us drift apart a little since we depend on each other less than when we only had one car. The BF and I have decided that if/when we get married, we will be a one car couple! Good luck on the challenge!
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted..Look With Your Eyes, Not With Your MouthMy Profile

  • CincyCat

    We were a one-car household even after the kids were born, until the oldest started elementary school. It certainly helped that Mr. CincyCat and I worked in the same office building for many years. I don’t know if we could have managed this if we had worked in different places.

    The straw that broke the commuter’s back was having our one-way trip stretch from 45 minutes to over 1.5 hours just by adding in that one additional drop-off. Plus, there were other after-school activities, etc. that just made it impossible to continue with only one car.

  • […] are, on the last day of Q1, and technically the last day of our Q1 Car Challenge. In case you missed our announcement of the challenge, here was the basic […]