It appears that much of the world is ready to move on from the great pandemic of 2020, even though more people have died of COVID already this year than in all of last year. That’s a big lesson to take away from all this, that commerce largely continued in spite of everything.
This is why it’s a particularly good time to think about how many vehicles you have, why you have them, how they affect your life, and how much they cost.
How many people out there still have a two-vehicle household, even if both those cars mostly sat idle all of last year?
How many people are still paying to insure two vehicles (or more), even when one or more members of the household may be working from home for the rest of their career?
How many people are still paying on dormant vehicles even after they’ve started having a lot more things delivered?
My husband and I got rid of our car over four years ago, and it’s been a big lifestyle upgrade for us. We were congratulating ourselves for having made that decision, since both of us have been working from home for over a year now. If we had still had a car, all it would have done for us was eat money.
Have you thought about that much? That unless you are a ride share driver, your vehicle probably sits around uselessly 90% of the time?
It seems that a lot of people feel panicky when they think about getting rid of a vehicle. The idea makes them feel trapped and poor.
I get it, but it still seems weird to me. Driving is incredibly stressful. It’s also expensive.
I first decided to get rid of my own car when I crunched the numbers and suddenly realized that my car cost a quarter of my net income.
Granted, I didn’t make very much money. From my perspective that made it even more important to cut that thing loose. Car, I cannot afford you.
I sold my vehicle, quit having to make car payments or cover insurance, and within a couple months I realized how financially freeing it was. Suddenly my credit cards were paid off. I bought a new couch and went on a proper vacation for the first time.
Then I married someone who still had a vehicle. In a way it was cheating. I had access to his truck if I wanted to do something complicated like go to Costco. I kept most aspects of my personal car-free lifestyle, like riding the bus to work.
A few years went by, and my husband got a job with a very gnarly freeway commute, and he kept getting delayed by construction or accidents, and sometimes we couldn’t have dinner until almost 9 pm, and we both got tired of it. We decided to move and just make sure we lived within walking distance of his work.
This was the “reconsidering” phase of our marriage.
We moved to a walkable neighborhood, and we loved it! Suddenly, instead of these nights of nightmare traffic, there were quiet evening strolls past various rose gardens and fruit trees. It was like waking up in a movie with a happy ending.
When it was time to relocate again, we took it a step further. If we were going to stay in a walkable neighborhood in our new city, it meant living in a smaller space. We got rid of the majority of our stuff and went for it.
Would we go back to the way we lived when we first got married, when we had constant access to a personal automobile and plenty of consumer items?
No. Even though it meant having two bathrooms.
There are some considerations coming up for us. It’s possible that we might have to start going to work in person, probably not full-time, but maybe more often than zero.
What are we going to do?
We talked about buying a car again. We can afford it - we’re debt-free with plenty of savings, partly because a car is no longer eating $700 a month of our income. It would make certain parts of life more convenient, of course. If it was all “lose” and no “win” then nobody would have one.
The reason we decided not to, even though we both work in the same place, is that it would add significant complications to our lives five days a week.
Every morning, we would commute in together - unless my husband is on travel, which is often and also wildly unpredictable. Either he would constantly feel like he was wasting his life going in late and staying late, or I would be exhausted from trying to start work with him at 7 am. Either way we would both be chafing at each other. Not only is he an extreme lark, he’s also deeply punctual, while I am dopey in the morning and incapable of being hurried.
So a car would ruin our mornings and probably cause us to start the day annoyed with each other.
Then there would be the daily complication of whether we were leaving together or not. Did one of us have a late meeting? Did he need to go straight to the airport? Was one or the other of us invited out to dinner with coworkers? Was he trying to hit the gym?
We realized that would be our situation. If we bought a car, we would have to check in with each other literally twice a day to figure out if we were riding together or not. Very messy.
Some people may be recognizing themselves in this. Others might be shaking their heads, thinking, yes, this is exactly why we have two cars. I will never give up my car because I can’t stand to be in that situation.
If that is the case, I would suggest a quick, cursory check-in. Are ya debt-free? Do ya have plenty of savings? No? Okay then how much do your cars cost again??
We won’t buy a car again. It’s stressful and we’re over it.
What will probably happen is that if I get called in, learning that I am expected to work on-site, I will either ride the bus and wear my MicroClimate helmet, or I might buy an electric bike. (Nowhere really safe to park it in our current apartment, though). My hubby might buy a motorcycle, not so much for the commute as for the fact that he just really loves motorcycles.
It’s also possible that we might just find ourselves a place a couple miles closer to work. Who knows?
Nobody has to do anything. Reading this post certainly will not force your hand. It can’t hurt, though, to occasionally ask yourself a few strategic questions about your lifestyle and whether it really is working for you as well as you think it is. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you made a few changes, saved a bunch of money, and also had a more satisfying and interesting commute?
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies