One Car Family and Mr. FI Rides the Bus

[nimbus_typography_two color=”fffff” size=”40px” weight=”normal”]O[/nimbus_typography_two]n a cool, rainy October evening, we said goodbye to something that had been in our lives for three years–our leased car. We turned in the keys, took some pictures of the car (so the dealership couldn’t come back at us for extra charges!), and off we went as a one car family.

The car had some sentimental value, especially to Mrs. FI. We finalized the lease just a month after we got married. It was part of our beginning as newlyweds–and it was a great car. It had heated seats for the winter (a great thing to have in Montana), an automatic car starter, Bluetooth, and very good gas mileage. But it was a money sucker. $250 a month in payments, $85 in insurance, whatever a tank of gas cost monthly, not to mention yearly registration fees over $290. So roughly $4,650 a year. In the end, even though we desperately tried to sell it, we couldn’t make it happen and we had to pay the $400 turn-in fee. A bitter-sweet ending to be sure.

Fast forward a month

We’re doing well as a one car family. We’ve had a couple mishaps where one person needed the car but the other had it. Planning ahead is crucial. But decreasing your overall dependence on that one car is also important. So I started riding the bus to work. The route starts at our park 1/2 a block away and takes me to within a couple blocks of my workplace. It takes only 15-20 minutes and it’s always toasty warm. I don’t even have to worry about traffic–it’s actually pretty great. Sure, my life is in the hands of another human being daily and people tend to forget that covering their mouths when they cough is a polite and necessary thing to do. But otherwise, no complaints. And when the weather warms up again, I’ll be back on my bike.

For many people, this would seem like a large sacrifice. But for us, it hasn’t been a big deal. We don’t have kids, Mrs. FI is able to work from home two days a week and I like riding the bus/biking to work/walking to the grocery store. It was illogical to keep two cars, honestly.

Do you know what else we like about this, and the whole point of it? Saving money. That $4,650 can go straight into investments now. If we let that money grow at 5% (accounting for inflation) for 10 years, that’s $60,000 we will have for retirement. Plus, not actually having to pay for a new (used) car saves us even more.

This arrangement suits us

While it probably isn’t for everyone, don’t be afraid to consider it. Give it a trial run while you still have multiple cars. If you find that you can get away with using only one car, why not make the leap? Think of the savings, the physical health bonus of actually walking or biking places, and *gasp* the environmental benefits! It’s pretty neat when you think about being a one car family like that.

About the Author

Mr. FI


Mad Money Monster

How did I miss this post?! We have been contemplating the one-car idea for months. The plan would be to sell the car we already own, pay off and keep the less expensive vehicle (which would free up $200/mo), and possibly get a beater truck (utility purposes) with what’s leftover. Our only hesitation is having the means to make it to our Mini Monster in the event of an emergency. I know, this is probably not a very good reason, but I’m overly cautious, especially when it comes to my Mini Monster 🙂 Secret: We listed the car on Craigslist just yesterday to see if anyone bites!!

Mr. FI


Yes, I could see the trepidation when having a little one around. But if you make the plunge, I hope it works out! It’s been great for us 🙂

our next life

Props, you guys! We’re jealous of people who can be a one-car (or zero-car!) household. Unfortunately it’s not in the cards for us right now, mostly because one car spends a lot of time each week parked at the airport nearly an hour away from where we live, and we can’t have Mr. ONL feeling stranded while I’m away for work. And our small town doesn’t have a lot in the way of public transportation, so we’re just stuck. But, once we quit our jobs, ditching a car is one of our top orders of business! So we’ll be late to the one-car household party, but we’ll get there eventually! 🙂

Mr. FI

Is the cost of keeping one car at the airport lower than taking a cab/Uber? Or do you not have those options either?

our next life

Not even close to an option. 🙂 On the plus side, we get reimbursed for mileage, and given that both cars are paid for, fuel-efficient and low-maintenance brands (Honda and Subaru), I think we might actually come out ahead.

Fervent Finance

I’m definitely in the minority of being a zero-car home. I sold my car when I moved to Manhattan last year and used the proceeds to pay down some student loans. Now my commute is free (I walk about 12 minutes to work). Well actually I’m replacing the bottoms of my shoes more 🙂 It does become a little bit of a hassle if I want to venture out side of the city and its train system, but I have great family and friends that pick me up at train stations and lend me a car when I need it. I think it’s awesome you guys are making it work!

Mr. FI

I imagine Manhattan would make having a car more of a hassle really. Have to figure out parking, all that traffic, etc. I’d just as soon ditch all cars if I lived in a city that large. Unfortunately, one car is still fairly necessary in our state–it’s just so spread out and the bus only goes so many places at this point.

Definitely jealous of your zero-car life 🙂


We lasted a full 8.9 years of marriage before getting a second car. Now we are the unmentionables of the FIRE community for having two cars… but with three kids and two different schools, it freed up a lot of time, which is also something we factored into the calculations. But Mr. T still bike commutes 2-3 days a week, so we’re not THAT bad… right? 🙂 Congrats on making the sacrifice for the goal!

Mr. FI

Hi Maggie,

I wouldn’t say you’re an unmentionable in the FIRE community. I think there are a fair amount of two car owners out there. It makes sense for some, but not others. We’re just glad we’re in a position to go with one car. Things could always change!

Mindful Riot

We also just downsized to one car in October! Honestly it’s been shockingly easy. I knew that we could probably get by with just one car, but I didn’t realize how superfluous the second car was until we downsized. This is looking like one of the best decisions we ever made.

Mr. FI

Hi Mindful Riot!

That’s awesome to hear. I think we’re on the same page when it comes to downsizing to one car. Thanks for dropping in!


It’s true that it would make sense financially for us as well. But there are certainly trade-offs. Great work taking the plunge to one car. I’m sure it’s a lot harder to go back to one once you have two!

Claudia @ Two Cup House

I concur. We are a three-car family. *gasp* When the leases on our electric cars are up, we are going to give the one-car family plan a go. I work in an office all day, so I really don’t need a car!

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