We Finally Got Rid of our Second Car and Became a One-Car Family.

I was watching TV the other night when Tatiana asked if her Suzuki Aereo had a tilt wheel, front-wheel drive, and alloy rims. From that point forward, I knew she had finally decided to take the first steps toward selling our second vehicle.

The selling process

The Suzuki’s sale was long overdue. We relocated to our new apartment about a year and a half ago. With a short commute to work, which we carpool, the Suzuki was mostly parked.

We kept the car because we were too lazy to sell it and for conveniences that weren’t really necessary. Whereas selling it would allow us to invest the money and save money on auto maintenance, insurance, and depreciation.

Tatiana posted the ad on Craigslist after writing an excellent description of the vehicle and researching its resale value on other sites and Kelley Blue Book. She started getting responses within minutes of the post going live, and the first potential buyer arrived within an hour.

Although the first prospect did not work out, we had another potential buyer by the afternoon. This second prospect was a young man who had recently moved to the United States from Puerto Rico and needed a basic car to get to and from work.

He arrived with a large stack of $20 bills tied together with a rubber band, test drove the Suzuki, liked it, agreed on a price, and the deal was sealed. It was sold within 24 hours of being listed on Craiglist!

Since the buyer didn’t yet have a registered license plate, he asked us to drop the car off at his house. As fellow immigrants, we understand how difficult things can be when you first arrive, so we kindly agreed to deliver the Suzuki to his home.

Driving it for one last time became the ideal opportunity for Tatiana to properly say goodbye to her baby of ten years. 

That time when we sold this baby and became a one-car family.

Buying your first car used

Tatiana’s first car in college was this Suzuki Aereo. Instead of financing a brand new car after graduation, as many recent college graduates do, she kept the used Suzuki she paid cash for. This means that in the years that followed, she invested more of her money rather than paying finance charges and additional principal. This is a key move for her to achieve financial independence as soon as possible.

When you spend less than you earn, you are gearing up for the day when you will no longer need a weekly paycheck.

Having one car for a couple who work outside the home can be challenging, but it is often possible. It is even feasible for a larger family. My family of seven got by just fine with one car when we first moved to the United States. When you don’t have much, you make do with what you have.

Carpooling to work is a big help

Tatiana and I have the unique advantage of working for the same company. We made it a point to relocate closer to work in order to avoid our previous arduous commute.

If one of us needs the car for any reason other than work, the other could take the company shuttle to work from a nearby train station, which is only two blocks away. If we need to go our separate ways on the weekend, one of us can take the train to downtown Philadelphia, which is only two blocks away!

If you want to save money on your vehicle, you can consider moving closer to work, carpooling with coworkers, or moving closer to public transportation. Of course, you have the option of changing jobs if your living location is more important.

How having one car is working out for us

It’s been a few weeks since we sold the Suzuki, and we’re doing just fine with one car. That’s one less vehicle to clean up after a snowstorm next winter!

We also avoided the registration and insurance renewals that were due this month and invested the sale proceeds in a Roth IRA. So the savings have already begun and are working for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Caching, caching, caching!

While it took us a little longer than necessary to become a one-car family, it’s better to start saving now than never.

Most people’s biggest expenses are related to housing, food, and transportation.  According to an article in The Atlantic, the average car owner in the United States pays $12,544 per year for a car that only works 14 hours per week. If you drive an SUV, add another $1,908.14. As a result, if you can find ways to reduce and maintain these costs, you will have won half of the FI battle.

But I’m not ready

If becoming a one-vehicle household is not an option for you right now, you can consider the following money-saving alternatives:

  • Purchasing more fuel-efficient or electric vehicles.
  • Choosing older vehicles. Buying or leasing new cars works well for some people: those who want it for superficial reasons, those who don’t have enough money to pay cash, and those who are concerned about a used car breaking down. As you are aware, the first step on the path to FI is to save money in an emergency fund. If you have one for your car expenses, you can afford to repair a broken part while saving money on insurance and overall car costs.
  • Self-insuring specific aspects of your vehicle and/or increasing your deductible

So, start working on your Craigslist ad, or better yet, if you can go without a car, all the better!

How do you save money on transportation?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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Mr Crazy Kicks
7 years ago

Nice job! We did consider going down to a single car, but do not have as convenient of a public transportation option. Our cars are cheap enough, and do not require much maintenance. But one day it would be nice to eliminate the hassle and costs of 2 cars.

7 years ago
Reply to  Mr Crazy Kicks

Thanks Mr. Crazy Kicks. It is definitely harder to accomplish without convenient public transportation around. In our case, working in the same place and also having the option to take a shuttle to work, two blocks away from home, makes it a tough argument to keep two cars parked on the driveway.
Even though the cost were low for us as well since the car was old, the small savings start to add up. It felt really nice to pay insurance and registration for one car this year. Thanks for stopping by!

8 years ago

Zipcar can also be a great back-up alternative for a second ride when necessary.

8 years ago
Reply to  Karen

Yes, I heard they’re a great option. We’ll keep it in mind. Thanks for the suggestion.

8 years ago

We’ve been a one car home for 9 months now and love it! I’m glad you guys did it. In our calculations it was costing us about $4K excluding gas costs to run a second year. When we get frustrated about planning how to share the car, we remind ourselves how much we are saving by not having it. It makes an $8 uber here and there much more palatable 🙂

We saved the sale proceeds for a down payment down the road, and are putting away those annual savings in a Roth!

8 years ago
Reply to  LM

Those are huge savings that add up over time. Even if you need to rent a car for a few days out of the year you still come out ahead. Keep the savings coming!

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