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« Are Accrued Vacation Days a Form of an Emergency Fund? | Main | Economic Lessons from "Farmville" »

January 11, 2012

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I own Mercedes '98 C230 and '91 560SEL autombiles, both with very low mileage and in pristine condition and my 78 year old wife recently gave up her license because of vision problems. I decided to keep both cars primarily so that if one has to go in the shop for a day or two we will still have transportation. There's also a strong sentimental attachment to the older vehicle that I have owned since '96 and even though I don't put many miles on it these days I would hate to part with such an old, very reliable, and very beautiful friend. I bought it on the same day that I received my first SS check to celebrate receiving the new income source. I have a very long, accident free driving record so my State Farm insurance is not a significant expense because of all the discounts.

I love it. We're a one-car family (although it's not really a fair comparison because I work in NYC and the public transportation is second-to-none). But if you can do it and have payments on the second car, keep paying yourself and you can put your retirement is ... wait for it ... overdrive.

I am doubtful that this would save much and it sounds like unless one is inactive or you nearly always go to the same places that this would be a pain.

If nothing else one could keep a 10 year old car worth 1 or 2 thousand and just use that when the other person is driving somewhere else. Insurance on an old rarely driven car would be a couple hundred a year. Depreciation would be almost zero.

If you think you need 2 new cars worth 25K each then sure. But you don't. And in that case having a cheap second car is almost free. It certainly isn't going to make any meaningful impact on your savings.

I am not retired but we are one car couple. I realized that 95% of my driving consisted of commuting and 4% consisted of errands that we either did together, or were within a 2 mile radius.

I sold the car, started taking the bus to work (Free due to employer subsidy) and then I either walk the 0-2 miles or we do errands together for the other car-necessary items. I occasionally borrow the car on my own but this is maybe 1 time per month, less sometimes. Public transport is not great here, but it's good enough to get around, and I am a patient person.

My husband and I sold our second car when I started working from home. Some days, I'll drive him to work so that I have use of the car during the day. Sure, it can be a pain, but I think it's worth it to save so much money and put the proceeds of the sale into savings.

We're a one-car family -- we live near my work and my husband works part-time. He drops me off at work in the morning and picks me up at the end of the day after he's run his errands. I also take public transportation occasionally. It's less expensive than owning two cars and I didn't drive much when we had separate cars anyway.

My father has said that he needs 1 and 1/4 car. Since you can't do that they have two. However seeing that my dad is driving less they have taled about going down to one car. Not to save moeny but just because they don't need it. I also think it is to save money.

Personally I would have a 100% completely reliable car and a 10 year old beater car with over 100k miles with bare minimum PLPD insurance. This is for the 1/2 the time I would need a car in retirement.

Like Apex, I'm skeptical about whether getting rid of a paid-off older car that you drive around town will really put your retirement into "overdrive". Unless you're accident-prone, or severely broke, the operating cost of the car is likely no more than $1000/year. Hard to see how that would make a critical difference in a retirement fund.

Plus, sharing 1 car with a spouse in retirement? Ugh. It would be a total dealbreaker for me. Even old couples need some time apart. Me, I'd rather have a much smaller house and never take vacations.

Apex
My 21 year old 560SEL with 86,000 miles on it and in close to showroom condition costs $436/year to insure with full coverage. Registration is another $120/year so I feel that it's no big deal to keep it considering our income and the convenience and pleasure of having it around.

My goal is to be retirement-ready in my 40's, but keep working until I could. I think I'll trade in my old car for a new one just before retirement, to lessen maintenance costs in the long run. Lucky I started investing in binary option trading decades ago.

-Al

My husband and I live in San Francisco, where public transportation is often a great adventure, but it gets us where we're going with lots of stories to boot. We ride with lots of older people who either never had cars or gave them up. San Francisco is a very walkable city too and compact, at 7 by 7 miles. I enjoy being ecological. We gave up BOTH our cars, use Zip cars when we need to,which isn't often, and have never been happier.

We live in a rural area, so having an old truck (or something similar) to haul off trash is almost a necessity. I can imagine a day when we'd have one "nicer" car - and just my old truck for hauling stuff. As it is, we have my wife's van, my car, and the old truck. (The old truck costs very, very little to insure and the taxes are barely more than actual cost of a tag... so, it's not much a financial burden.)

I have strong feelings about this. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not like to drive. No, I was never in a serious accident. I do have a driver's license; and in the past have owned a car. My husband and I moved to a medium sized town in Ohio in 1999. (Major career change for him-went from banker to phd student to college professor.) At the time I was 50. We decided to try and make it on one car.

The savings have been substantial. When the price goes up, we don't feel it nearly as much. I am able to work at home (online book seller) and because of that I was able to assist family in Georgia when my in-laws were dying. That was a year commitment. If I had a full time job-the costs associated with that situation would have been mind boggling. I have also been able to respond to other family problems that if I had a full-time job (think car-note/expenses) I could not. My family is very large and spread out all over the US. I do a great deal of walking; and despite a family history do not have diabetes. And people think you are poor-if you don't have a car. I have also had people think I am a major conservation type. I get lots of ride offers; and I do always offer to pay towards gas. It really helps not keeping up with Joneses.

Plus, I know lots of people who struggle with not being able to drive anymore. I did that early. I know teen drivers are a problem; but I also know many elderly who are a problem in a different way. I say-go for it-the sooner the better.

You have to live where there's solid access to public transportation to make a one-car family work. If you live in the suburbs and in rural areas, it ain't gonna work.

My parents are retired and they've talked about going to one car, but my dad just turned in his lease and got another one. When I asked why, he basically said he 'wasn't ready yet'. This made sense. He's loved having his own cars forever and I think he doesn't want to give that up. It's worth the cost to him and I get that.

Ever since we moved next door to my wife's family over 3 years ago, we've been a one-car family. She works for the family business which is run out of the house. I commute, so 95% of our car's use is by me. She can generally borrow a car from family when she needs to, which is not every day.

I'd estimate that the cost of owning her car was probably upwards of $2,500 per year because it was basically a lemon. Plus we were able to sell it for nearly $10k so that was a nice boost to our savings as newly-weds.

Fantastic and thought-provoking idea. I know why I continue to make FMF my daily reading!

With 2 teenagers around (off and on), we are right now at 4 cars for 4 drivers! So, going down to 1 during early retirement would be a pleasure.

Insurance, Upkeep, Maintenance, Break-downs of different parts, are all liabilities of TIME and money.

Thank you much.

Kenny

My father did this. He bought a golf cart instead (lives in a golf retirement community). He has one car now. My car was totaled last year. I took the money and banked it. I'm a bit of a bike collector, so I decided to ride my bike and bus to work. We fill up our remaining 2003 truck once a month, and I buy a bus pass twice a month. I have found I don't need a vehicle, although I would love to have one. We are saving quite a bit in gas, insurance and maintenance.

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