July 23, 2024

Once You’re Down to One Car…

Debt and Demand…Stay there.  At least if you’re a one income family.

If you’ve been keeping up with the story so far, we had two sports cars, then we traded in one for a more practical car (kinda: it had four doors, but no power doors/windows/locks, etc.) and got burned because we gave it away for too little money.

Well, after this, we thought we were doing well.  I had backed down my 401K contributions to help with the car payments, we only had that loan, and the car was running well.

At this point in our young married life, I was driving the quick five minutes home from work for lunch every day with my beautiful bride.  At this time we were expecting our first child, and Virtuous Blonde was getting more sleep than normal.

On my way back, I have a left hand turn onto a busy road.  I usually got a good gauge on how fast oncoming traffic was moving, and could make it into the center lane without any trouble.  This day I had a problem.  The car I was watching had pulled out of a bank up the road, turned into the passing lane, and used her blinker to get into the driving lane.  As I watched, she left it on, so I thought she was turning into the road I was currently waiting on– and I thought she was slowing up.

I pulled out and the rest (as they say) is history.  She hit the back wheel of my car which spun me around.  Her air bag went off, my car was totaled.  Yes, that’s the actual picture of my 1992 SC2 (which I really liked).  I walked away with a cut to the forehead and some seat belt burns on my neck.

I sent an e-mail to my dad, and my wife couldn’t believe it.  She rushed to the scene, and then it was off to the hospital.

Neither one of us was injured, but I made a mistake I wouldn’t do again today.  The insurance on the vehicle came back.  I had a $1,000 deductible, and I got somewhere around $3,000 for the car.  I used that money to pay for some expenses that we had, so that was a blessing.  But soon, I felt I needed another car.

For us, it was unnecessary.  Most of the driving I did to work– so usually one car was parked somewhere.  Also, I had the benefit of having my father driving by my house (which I now use for car pooling).

The point?  If I looked at how much I spent on insurance for two cars and then purchasing the two cars with another auto loan, I would now say I made a stupid mistake.  Yes, I have a good situation with my dad, but looking at it practically, I would do it differently:

  • If I were to replace the car, I would get something I could afford with the insurance money.
  • If I could, and if it were at all possible, I would go with only one car to save on insurance and the debt that I put myself in.

It’s more important to be able to pay for what you have than it is to go into debt for what may make your life more convenient right now, but sets you behind in the long run.

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16 thoughts on “Once You’re Down to One Car…

  1. Also, one car is better for the environment. 🙂

    As Gill doesn’t drive, it is not really an issue in our house. But the few occasions that Gill could do with a car, we find it is cheaper to use taxis in any case.

  2. I should perhaps add, though, that it helps to live in a town where everything is about five minutes walk from everything else 🙂

  3. That is one of the things that I noticed when I was over in Britain in the 80s– how that it was geared for more walking and things within walking distance. That was a nice lifestyle. Your petrol was higher priced too.

  4. In our household we actually consider “no power” everything to be a plus: less to go wrong (although I realize it is a huge convenience with little ones). But I won’t do without AC.

    We got by happily with one car for years. The only trouble we had was when the car was in the shop and we had to take the bus to pick it up or drop it off (we don’t have any family here). But now we are your typical west coast family with older teens: 3 cars and shopping for a fourth. Red, white, and blue Jeep Cherokees; 1988, 89, and 90. And we carry liability only and do almost all of our own repairs. That is, my hero does.

  5. For the first 15 or so years of our marriage, we drove very old cars…usually 15-20 years old. My husband did a lot of work on them to keep them going. We didn’t go into debt for them and we have some cars just given to us which was a HUGE help.

    Now, for the last five years we have had two new cars. No, we don’t like the payment on them or the insurance, but for me it has been a great help. I spent so many years getting stranded or not being able to make appointments with children because of car problems. We have almost always lived away from big cities, so we really needed a vehicle. We have just one car payment and two other 20 year old cars that my husband and daughter drive for work.

    I do agree with what you said, MIN. You made some good points. God was with you during that accident! To have a car that totaled and only have scratches! What a blessing. 🙂

  6. Rebekah, I’m sure that I’ll need more cars down the road, but I’m content for now– and I can save up for that time.

    Deborah, there are definitely are reasons that necessitate two. Now it’s time to get rid of that loan!

  7. MIN, my husband would totally agree with you about the car loan! I know it bothers him much more than it does me…but he doesn’t mind changing a tire, having the headliner hanging on your head, zooming through town sounding like a Harley. (I tell him I can hear him leave work, which is about 2 miles away.) 😆 Maybe I need a little work in the ‘pride’ area? :unsure:

    In the summer my husband usually rides his bike to work to save on gas and car usage. I think it was Stephen and Min that both said that Britain is much more into the riding of bikes and walking than what we are here in the United States. I know when my husband was stationed at a Base in England back in the early 1980’s he bought a bike and he rode everywhere on it. Sometimes 30 miles a day! He said it was great!

  8. No doubt there were thousands of bike riding Christian American servicemen in the UK in the 1980s, but his name isn’t Jeff Connor is it?

  9. Oh that poor Saturn! It’s the same year as mine, same hub caps…different model! Glad you made it out, but that’s a Saturn for you, right? Tough frames and all that… 😉

    We have way too many vehicles. And on top of working vehicles, dh has several “skeletons” that need hauled to the dump. He is so mechanically inclined that he sees something he can’t pass up for parts, and well, I get to stare at it for years. The nice thing is, since I believe in trying to look on the bright side, there’s usually at least one vehicle on our place that runs at any given time!

    This was a very good post. I can’t imagine getting by on one car, but I sure envy you your dollars saved at tags/taxes/registration time. Not to mention gas!

  10. No, Stephen, his first name is George. He had that bike for a lot of years. It was a Peuogot…if that is the correct spelling.

  11. Now that would have been a very neat coincidence…too bad!

    Have to share that Ann-in-grace and I were chatting while MIn was on paternity leave… :whistle: –and I directed her to my church website just for fun…she browsed it and found that our church had a missionary at her hometown of birth in Poland!

    These little connections between us are like a foreshadowing of Heaven! Can’t wait to meet you all there someday!

  12. Peugeot is the correct spelling. I had a friend with one. He loved it.

    I started out with a Viscount, but by the time I eventually got rid of it, there was not much left of the original Viscount. Once I had changed frame, wheels and most of the replaceable parts, I think I was down to the original handlebars and brake mechanisms!

    (Actually, “started out” is not quite right, as I clearly had some hand me down bikes as a child. The Viscount was the first one that I had that was actually mine!)

  13. Thanks for the spelling correction, MIN!

    It is really fascinating to me that we are ‘conversing’ from so many different countries! It is such a small world in so many ways. 🙂

  14. Good post Min. So many people in America don’t even think its a possibility to only have one vehicle. Meg and I have had our one Toyota Echo since the day we got married ;-). I bought the car my junior year in college with some money I had been saving up for several years. At the time I wasn’t even really thinking about avoiding a car payment, I was just trying to be frugal.

    Looking back I am very thankful I didn’t try to take a loan instead. With as little money as I made right after college (and right after getting married), there is no way we could have afforded even the smallest of car payments off of the income I was making. This probably would have meant we would have acquired a whole bunch of debt, or Meg would not have been able to stay at home during her pregnancy and later with Peter when he was born. In either case the outcome would have been less than good. I thank God that He was looking to the future in this case even when I was not yet ;-).

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