Owning a car is as much a part of the American Dream as owning a home—and can be nearly as expensive if you look at the total cost of ownership. In a 2015 study, AAA calculates that the cost of owning an average car that’s driven 15,000 miles a year is $8,698 annually, or about $725 a month, once you consider the car payment, car loan financing costs, taxes, insurance, fees, gas, maintenance, and depreciation. In this scenario, the average car loan payment is $482 a month, which means the additional out-of-pocket expenses raise the final cost by about 50-percent.

Unfortunately, many people forget to account for all the extra costs of car ownership when buying a car, which can get them into trouble down the road. You can minimize your risk of taking on a larger car loan than you can actually afford by using tools like NADA or Kelley Blue Book’s Five Year Cost of Ownership Calculator before you buy your next car. You can also reduce your total car expenses even further by choosing to become a one-car household rather than maintaining two or more vehicles.

If you are thinking about making this move, we suggest that you begin by taking a realistic look at your family’s lifestyle, charting all of your household’s driving activity for at least two weeks, and taking stock of other transportation resources in your area. Remember to think about:

household can often make one car work by carpooling or using a ride-sharing service


Work Schedules

Do you and your spouse both work out of the home? How many days per week? Could you ask your boss to let you work from home part of the time? How long is your daily commute? Can you carpool? If one or both partners have short commutes, flexible work schedules, or the option to work from home a couple days a week, the household can often make one car work by carpooling or using a ride-sharing service.

Having active, school-aged children makes it difficult to downsize to one car, especially in more suburban areas. If you have very young children


Kid Schedules

Having active, school-aged children makes it difficult to downsize to one car, especially in more suburban areas. If you have very young children, though, you may find that it makes sense to forego a second car for a couple of years, until the kids start school. Or, if your kids are older and have cars of their own, you may find that it makes sense to get rid of your second car now that they are more mobile.

Before you become a one-car family, look into the public transportation options in your area


Other Transportation

Before you become a one-car family, look into the public transportation options in your area. If there are none, don’t forget about ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft, which are popular among mid-sized cities like Greenville, Columbia, and Florence, SC. The average Uber ride costs under $15, and even if you spend $150, you’re still saving over $600 a month, based on the average cost of car ownership.

Taking the Plunge

For a long time, multi-car families have been the norm in America, and most people are resistant at first to the idea of giving up that second car in the driveway. Sure, you love the complete and total independence and mobility that owning a car affords you. But how much do you love it? What could you do with an extra $5,000 to $10,000 a year?

One-car households are already on the rise and expected to tip to over 50% of the population in the near future. If you’ve carefully thought through your family’s needs and believe that becoming a one-car household is right for you, read through our guide for getting what your car is worth before selling—and then come see one of our financial experts to talk about what you’re going to do with your newfound savings.