Q1 Car Challenge Wrap Up


Mr PoP’s ultimate goal with the 1 car plan…

So here we 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 idea.

We have 2 cars, but were rarely using them both at the same time. To see if it would be possible to transition to being a one car household, we sought to only ever use one car duing the first three months of 2014 (Q1). (That is, one car at a time. We didn’t want the Jeep to go bad from lack of use, so Mr PoP drove it around for errands on the weekends every week or two.)

How Did It Go?

Pretty well on the whole. It wasn’t so effortless that we didn’t notice that we were doing the challenge, but we learned as we went along and made it through without any arguments or major inconveniences to each other. But there were some key themes that we learned along the way that made being a one-car household work for us.

1. Having Backup Transportation Besides Your Feet.

For Mr PoP, there’s nothing worse than being stuck somewhere without wheels, and he’s a bit too tall to borrow my bike. So it was an absolute necessity that we bought him a bike – and a bike that he likes! – to give him a way to hop to the grocery store or hardware store or something if I’m out with the car.

2. Planning In Advance Is A Necessity.

More than just knowing where and when we each had to be somewhere, we also had to plan in advance how we were going to get there. Car, bike, carpool with someone else… Sounds like a minor thing, and it was kindof, but it was a new step that we hadn’t really ever had to do before. But once forced to, it wasn’t hard. Heck, I even biked to drop all of our tax information off with our tax guy (at his office 10+ miles from our house). I had to plan when to do it to make it efficient and so I wouldn’t show up gross and sweaty, but it worked!

3. But Communicating Plans Is Even More Important.

Mr PoP and I aren’t the kind of dual income married couple that sit down and have a lavishly prepared meal together every night. (Do these people really exist?) So in the past, we might not always mention if we had plans after work – whether to work out or meet up with a friend for coffee or drinks. We’d catch up later. But now… we tell each other these things in advance as much as possible. And when it means a quick switch of the car, we put calendar invites on each other’s calendars so we know that we can’t put anything else in that time slot. Weird, and slightly corporate, but it works for us.

4. Find More Convenient Alternatives.

Some of the habits that we had acquired throughout our marriage weren’t really all that convenient or very conducive to becoming a one-car household, so we found alternatives. Instead of taking the car for 4+ hours every Saturday morning for yoga, I found a new yoga studio I like better that I can bike to! Instead of needing to drive to work (instead of biking) every month or two so I could pick up dry cleaning at the cleaner’s near my office, we’re sending the dry cleaning out through a service that picks up from Mr PoP’s office. We’re even looking into changing some of our doctors so as many as possible are right near our house. (They come highly recommended, so I don’t think we’ll be sacrificing patient care.)

5. Mostly, It Requires Being A Little Flexible.

Being willing to change, willing to communicate, and willing to adjust the order of agenda items, especially on the weekends.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We’ll be getting the Jeep ready for sale, which requires some major clean-up both inside and out, but hope to sell it in either April or May.


Have you ever been a one-car household? What are some things that you did that made it work?

43 comments to Q1 Car Challenge Wrap Up

  • We are in a similar situation since we have two cars but rarely drive both at the same time. We thought about going down to one car at one point, but decided not to because of the kids. My daughter starts kindergarten this year and we’re not sure how our driving will change, or if it will or not.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..How to Pay Your Mortgage With a Credit CardMy Profile

  • My wife and I would like the simplicity of being a one car home. We decided a few months ago, when we were still pregnant, that it wasn’t practical to make the switch until after our son was born (and we’d found our routine). He was born last week, so hopefully this summer we can make it happen.
    Income Surfer recently posted..Why I Think Coke and Pepsico Have Bright Futures!My Profile

    • Oh congrats on your new arrival! The summer is the hardest time to start biking down here, so if it works then it’ll work all year round. Good luck! =)

  • We are a one car family, and it works out well for us. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that it has all we have known as a couple. Also, my fiance works from home, so I generally have free reign of the car on weekdays. If he needs the car for something he can drop me at work (10 minutes away) because the public transportation is horrible here, and well… we have that crazy white stuff here. Plus I don’t bike well on a highway.

    It does take a little bit of forethought in terms of knowing each others schedule, but for the most part it is worth it. Not having a car payment (our car is eight years old) and only regular maintenance/insurance on one car is amazing for the budget as well. Those things are money pits!

    • One of us working from home or a 10 minute commute would definitely make it a lot easier! Though I don’t have to deal with that crazy white stuff or highways, luckily. =)

  • Being one car has worked fine with us. We do have to plan in advance some, but we’ve only had one day where schedules changed and we forgot to mention something. For example, tonight, I have dorm duty while he has choir. I could walk, but I get done at 11.30 pm or later, and it’s still cold/icy at night. He drove for choir last week so that one of our friends would pick him up this week instead.

    It helps that most of our socializing is done together and our town is small enough for biking. Overall, we love not having to worry about more than one car. No car payment, minimal insurance, and minimal gas. It’s awesome.

    For Mr. Pop, my only question would be if having a sports car as the one car is practical. Is he willing to haul DIY stuff or things for the rental home in that? Or would you rent a truck when needed for those purposes? Renting a truck a few times a year would still be cheaper than having a 2nd car.
    Leah recently posted..NASAMy Profile

    • The NSX is realistically a few years off at least (though I’m sure Mr PoP considers it a big win that I now talk about it as a “when” instead of an “if”), but in the meantime we’ll be practicing our one car lifestyle with a Miata – which is pretty similar in terms of trunk space to the NSX. (Mr PoP says they were both designed to hold 2 sets of golf clubs, which says a lot about the target demographic for the cars.)

      For larger items – I think we’d probably either rent a truck or get delivery – if your order is larger at our local lowes and home depot, they deliver it for you for free – a nice perk when you’re redoing a big area! In truth, since we redid the duplex (finished almost 3 years ago) there hasn’t been a whole lot that we needed cargo space for. Alternatively, we know there’s at least one guy in our area that has a trailer that he can hitch up to the back of his miata when he needs to haul lumber home from Home Depot. We’ve seen him load it up and drive off and it’s pretty impressive.

      But in defense of Mr PoP’s NSX obsession, Edmunds actually had a nice test of the cargo space of an NSX on their blog a couple years ago… They even managed to lug strollers and bikes around in it, no problem!

      • Can confirm: this is a big win =)
        Mr PoP recently posted..Q1 Car Challenge Wrap UpMy Profile

        • The thing I keep hearing about the NSX is that prices are on the verge of going up, up, up. Car and Driver states the same thing in the most recent issue.

          Many once affordable sports cars like Porsches and old Ferraris are now out of reach, but an NSX is still relatively cheap. Combine that with reliability and parts that won’t break the bank and you have a winner.

          I wanted to wait a couple years as well, but all of this NSX talk is making me think that I should take the plunge sooner than later. I even called the insurance company and it was like $275/year for a 7500 mile plan. No big deal there.

          WARNING: The NSX will be discussed at the Berkshire meeting.
          Mr. 1500 recently posted..Performance Update 15/50: March CrapnessMy Profile

  • I used to be a zero car household so we would have groceries delivered and cycle to work then rent a car for long weekends.
    Briefly as a one car household I always considered the car “his” so never used it on my own, we would run errands together and I would take the bus if I needed to go somewhere alone. Now we have two car only because we are in the middle of nowhere and it gets more complicated.
    Pauline recently posted..Real estate: Simple home improvement tips that don’t cost a lotMy Profile

  • That’s awesome! I obviously have to be a one car household but I knew I get really lazy about walking, riding my bike, or taking public transportation. Considering it’s earth week in April, I should try to make a better effort to do that. Hope you get a decent amount for your jeep!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..Earthquakes & March RecapMy Profile

  • Yes, until we had kids we were a no-car household or a one-car household. And for a year with kids we were a one-car household, but we were on leave that year and had completely flexible schedules.

    What made it work: public transportation, living in walking distance to work, and having flexible schedules.

    What made it work the brief period of time we had one car and no children and no good public transportation: having jobs relatively close to each other and schedules similar enough that we could go into work and come back home at the same time. Unfortunately having to have either one of us able to pick up a sick child at a moment’s notice meant we had to get a second car, and now the children’s school/daycare are on complete opposite sides of town so we each have to do separate pick-up. One of my colleagues bikes his preschooler home, but my commute from the preschool to home, although shorter, involves a stretch of highway that can’t be avoided whereas he made sure he could do back roads when they bought their house.

    If we wanted to go to one car now, I think we’d have to move either so we were living on the bus line or so that we were in walking distance (or safer biking distance) to either school or daycare. Or one of us would have to significantly cut back work hours, or we’d have to pay someone to pick up one of our kids. They do keep extending the bike lanes on my commute, so maybe one of these days that nasty stretch will be safer for biking. I would, of course, have to get a bike. Also I sweat a lot and pass out easily. :(
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..April Mortgage update: And more musings on where to put extra moneyMy Profile

    • I’m impressed that one of your colleagues does the preschool drop-off on a bike. Hopefully your town will continue to get more bike friendly as time goes by.

  • The only way I could do that is if we moved to somewhere that had stuff within walking distance, like my favorite place in the world, Coronado, CA. It would cost so much, though, we better just keep our cars and stay put.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Ideas About Self EmploymentMy Profile

  • This is helpful! We’re in the same situation. We have the luxury of flexibility, and we also live really close to public transportation. Maybe we’ll try the same challenge–thanks for sharing!
    Kristin Wong recently posted..Ways to save money on 5 types of insuranceMy Profile

  • We’re one of those families that sits down to eat dinner together almost every night (about 90% of the time – the rest is when I’m traveling for work). It’s something we prioritized, so we made it happen. I can’t say we have a fancy dinner every night, but it is healthy and home-cooked :)

    We’ve considered going down to one car, and we’ve done it in short stints when one car’s been in the shop. But, like others above, one of us needs to be able to get to daycare within 1 hour of them calling us, and that’s usually me – and I’d be the one with the bike (shorter, non-highway commute), so it’d be kinda hard. Also, unless you’re going to the local metro stop during rush hours, there’s no public transportation within 5 miles of us, making it very difficult to go with only one car :( Maybe in the future!
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..Spring CleaningMy Profile

    • “We’re one of those families that sits down to eat dinner together almost every night”

      Wow! I’m definitely impressed. =) I feel like the only way we’d get there is if one of us worked from home.

  • Ivy

    It won’t work for us, or rather it would be an unreasonable sacrifice of flexibility. We’ve been a 2-car household ever since I started working, even though at one point pre-kids one of the cars was a $100 purchase from the junk yard:-)
    – I would need to bike to work (since my husband needs the car each day to get the kids to their schools and back) – increasing my commute from 20 min by car to probably 1-1.5 hours (I’ve no idea how winter would look like). At the long hours I work (not a 9 to 5 job), this is a very expensive waste of my time.
    – we live in New Jersey, no public transportation unless you are going to NY, which we do 5-10 times a year max. The only place we could theoretically bike to (reasonable distance and no need to take the kids) is a nearby supermarket. But why would we bike frequently to it to stock on expensive groceries when we can drive to Costco once a week. Our grocery bill dropped by more than the monthly spend on gas when we joined Costco.
    – we are already very low mileage drivers, less than 5000 miles per car per year, gas costs us $150 a month, and unlikely to drop more, and insurance is $550 per car (with a multi-car discount). So savings from getting rid from one car will save us $600 per year maximum

    So, not working for us, but I admire your achievement nevertheless

    • “less than 5000 miles per car per year, gas costs us $150 a month”

      With those kind of numbers you’re definitely not breaking the bank keeping two cars for the sake of convenience.

  • I applaud you for doing this. Aside from any savings you may have, it speaks to leading a simpler lifestyle which can be very refreshing. My family got along with one car for the longest time, as my dad either walked or road his bike to work. I cannot see that being an option for our family right now as we don’t live in town and my wife works in the opposite direction of our kid’s school.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..Spring Break: Glorious Rite of Passage or Undisciplined Waste of Money?My Profile

    • I don’t know if it’s really simple, since it definitely takes coordination at times, but it’ll surely make the driveway a lot less crowded! =)

  • We sold our old Jeep a while back, making the transition to a one car (but two scooter) household. The scooters really help when we need a second means of getting around, or to take the car to the shop…but a bike would work just as well (and more cheaply!). I think one car is plenty, at least for us, so I think you guys are making a great decision! Best of luck getting a good price on the Jeep!
    Done by Forty recently posted..Sex Sells…Health InsuranceMy Profile

  • Regarding #3, we set up a shared Google email account for the sole purpose of keeping each other up-to-date on logistics. Since we can both get gmail on our phones, it has been extremely handy in remembering who has to be where, or pick up whom, and why.

  • That’s awesome that both of you have decided to sell the Jeep! That’s clever to find more studios or businesses closer to your work or home, rather than trying to figure out some crazy schedule to make things work. I used to have my “go to” gym or places to go, but lately have figured out time is worth more so proximity wins!
    anna recently posted..Honeymoon Part 1 of 3: Santiago, ChileMy Profile

  • Good luck with selling the Jeep! We were a one-car household for years when it was just the two of us, but we lived in big cities then (DC, St. Louis).

    Now we have two toddlers and one car. Our situation is unique: We live at the boarding school where my husband teaches, there is an on-campus daycare, and I work from home. We only need the car for groceries or going to the gym when it’s raining!

    We had our first mini-conflict last week: Mr FP was out of town with the car, I wanted to go to the gym, and it was raining a little. We all survived the walk in the rain. Little Brother in the stroller (we don’t have a cover) got a little unpleasantly wet on the way home, but he was a trooper about it.
    Frugal Paragon recently posted..More Proof That Free Never IsMy Profile

    • On-campus day care? Color me jealous! My husband and I both teach at a boarding school, and we’ve loved not having to drive to work. We are having our first this summer, and I am sad to think that the car will be a daily thing for us for the foreseeable future due to daycare. I think one car will still work fine, since we both work in the same place and thus can both easily access the car if needed.
      Leah recently posted..NASAMy Profile

  • This is an awesome challenge! Good for you guys for being able to pull it off! I really don’t think we could with the types of jobs we have, but I like to dream that one day it will be possible….less insurance, less car payments, and doing my part for the environment. Do you guys have CarMax down there? When I was selling an old car and lived in the south, they gave me FAR more than anyone else offered. Might be a good place to check out for the Jeep?
    femmefrugality recently posted..Women in AccountingMy Profile

  • We were a one car household and are now a no car household! Having one car was super easy for us, and thus far, not having one is easy as well. The public transportation rocks around here and I basically just walk everywhere anyways.

    Good luck selling the Jeep!
    Erin @ My Alternate Life recently posted..Switching up My Credit Card RoutineMy Profile

  • IT would be pretty impossible for my husband and I to be a one car household, since my husband works 24-hour shifts. I would have to drop him off and pick him up from work if I needed the car, and that would make me late to work. BUT I used to ride my bike to work. Maybe I will make that more of a habit now especially now that the weather is getting better.

    • “now that the weather is getting better”

      Have to ask… what is bad weather in LA like? It can’t be worse than what we’ve got in FL, can it? =)

  • A backup method of transportation is definitely important. Too bad a bike wouldn’t work for my significant other and myself though since my commute to work is 21 miles each way…and I embarrassingly never learned to ride one! 😛

  • “Mr PoP and I aren’t the kind of dual income married couple that sit down and have a lavishly prepared meal together every night. (Do these people really exist?)” I don’t know, but if they do I want to live at their house 😉 We only have one car and it works just fine for us. We barely drive (except weekends) and on weekends we’re usually going to the same places together. If we lived in the suburbs where there’s less public transportation we’d probably have a harder time with one car.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Food Storage: Why I’m Paying MoreMy Profile

    • I have friends in Hoboken that are 1 car, and it works okay for them. Not sure how it would be if they lived further out or towards CT, though.

  • The more I read about your car challenge, the more I crave parking my car to save some cash. I have been thinking about all of the potential hiccups (ie I often have to travel within a 2 hour radius for work and would have no way to get to those places without a car; but the fiance needs a car to get to work since he has tools with him), but I guess I could just ditch it for a little while and see how it works out. That wouldn’t hurt, I guess!