1 Car Family

No monthly update on finances today but instead a post on how we got rid of one car this March making us a one car family.

First of all, I must say that I don’t like cars, I hate them in fact. They are useful, that’s true. If you are trying to get from A to B, then a car is one of the best methods of doing so. But car ownership is a waste of money and car-coveting is to me anyway, a fruitless occupation.

I’ve never been impressed with Porches, Ferraris and I’ve never had a hard on for a Lambo Diablo. Just as well, since I couldn’t afford one back when I was young and impressionable and now that I can afford pretty much any car I might want, I don’t want one. That’s a lesson from The Escape Artist or Thoreau’s Walden if you have read it.

Cars are great for getting A to B except when you are joining everyone else on the roads in a traffic jam and not so great if you breathe air or live near a road. And they aren’t great if your city’s infrastructure is designed around car ownership meaning that you have nothing within walking distance of your house – hence the sprouting up of food deserts

Cars were once seen to liberate us but now, more often they trap us in a cycle of dependency. And then there’s the cost of ownership which includes (but is not limited to) petrol, road tax, insurance, breakdown cover, MOT, servicing, depreciation/financing costs, care/cleaning, parking.

Our family have spent thousands of pounds over the years on cars. I didn’t have a car until I moved from where I was living in a city with good transport links to work (bike/bus/walk) to midway between where my (now) wife worked and where I worked. A daily 130 mile commute split between us. 2 cars were needed to get us to/from work. And we kept that up for 9 years.

And then Covid came along

Unlike most, I think that Covid was overall a good thing. I got to swap a 4:40 wake-up and mega commute for a 30 second commute at more or less a time of my (children’s) choosing. Our annual mileage has dropped off a cliff and car costs too.

We’d go days without driving the car. We walk/cycle the kids to nursery and back. We would use it to go for a walk/hike at the weekend or to do the big shop but with both of us working from home, we don’t need 2 cars.

But we kept the second car out of inertia in more than one way that one. But its MOT was due in March and the battery has been flat since October and the bonnet wouldn’t open due to rust. Last year’s MOT cost us more than the car was worth and we decided that it wasn’t worth it. So, we scrapped it and got £100 for the scrap value.

What we got paid for 9 years of service

We’ve not needed both cars and if we really did need another mode of transport there are options:

  1. Walk
  2. Cycle
  3. Bus/Train
  4. Car hire
  5. Grand Theft Auto

I’ve often believed that our obsession with car usage stems not from its ease of use but from our own laziness. These days car drivers are content to sit polluting our streets because it’s impossible to sit in a parked car and stare at your phone without leaving the engine idling.

Transitioning to the Future of Transport

Now that we are a one car family, could we ever move to a zero car family? That’s an interesting idea. What do we really need a car for? I’ll come up with ideas on that later. Potentially it’s a good way to save a lot of money and have less to worry about (car users, don’t you worry about parking/scratches/making your monthly payment/filling up/passing the MOT – I know I did).

Could we get rid of the other car? I am not so sure. For one thing, the kids have car seats and swapping them in/out of cars is a pain. But then again, we have car club cars nearby (literally on our street) that we could use. But then again, where would I keep my dog eared 2012 Holiday road atlas for Great Britain and Ireland, a couple of rotten apple cores and my spare collection of surplus shopping bags?

I’m on record saying that I’m not going to buy an electric car but who knows, our current car won’t live forever and I’m beginning to come round to the benefits. Electric is the future, but for the time being, we are a one Petrol car family and I’m ok with that.

Thanks, GFF.

1 Comment

  1. “the cost of ownership which includes … care/cleaning …”

    I don’t think the cleaning costs us anything much except a bit of time in the pigeon-poo season.

    I sold my first motorbike and tried doing without personal transport for two years. Shanks’s pony filled in. I started a third year but now found myself dependent on public transport. Intolerably slow. Bought another motorbike.

    Apart from a couple of early bangers our cars have lasted for ages, which keeps depreciation down, as does not buying new.

    Otherwise I agree with you – cars are not for romancing about. Probably one should just buy the Kia or Hyundai best suited to one’s purposes.

    Like

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