On 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.