The Staggering Benefits of Owning One Car – Not Two

Eventually, when the time comes to take the next step towards financial independence, I will stop working at my current job.

But for now at least, my job is great. There really isn’t anything to dislike about it at all. Well that is except for …

The only issue with my job is the commute. I am sure I am not alone on this one and you probably don’t want to hear my rants about it.

But I am going to do it anyways.

If I were to quit my job, I would obviously lose out on my current income – which we are not ready to do. But we would also save a bunch of money.

Right now, our family has 2 vehicles. My car that I have owned for over 16 years and has been paid off for many years. Our other vehicle is for the family.

It would take a little careful planning, but if I were to stop working, we would become a one vehicle family.

And the money we would save going from 2 vehicles to 1 is staggering. So, I have decided to give some estimates on what are the financial and tangible benefits of becoming a one car family below.

The first step is to calculate the estimated miles I drive for my job.

Tracking My Mileage

I decided to use a new app I came across recently to track my mileage for a week. The app is called MileIQ – which I installed on my iPhone.

The setup is very simple and overall that app does a good job of tracking each of my drives. Here is a link in case you are interested in trying it out – MileIQ.

Currently, I am just using the free limited plan that gives you 40 free drives per month. Since I am only using this for “personal” drives, I really don’t need much more than that.

Disclaimer – Keep in mind there is an affiliate link above, in which I may be compensated if you purchase any products and/or services using it.

I tracked my mileage for one week of work. My typical work week allows me to telecommute one day per week at home. This obviously saves gas, miles on my car, etc.

So here are my miles to and from work this past week –

  • Monday – 60.9 miles (round trip)
  • Tuesday – 62.2 miles (round trip)
  • Wednesday – 58.2 miles (round trip)
  • Friday – 60.9 miles (round trip)

Total Logged for the week – 242.2 miles

A couple things to point out about the mileage tracking. I drove the same route each day and didn’t stop off anywhere … except one day to get gas.

It looks like the app may not be 100% accurate … but it is close enough for this exercise. Obviously reading the odometer would have been the best way to grab this information but I like testing out new technology.

Also, I have added together the 2 drives for each day into the totals that you see above. The MileIQ app will recognize when you stop driving and start back up.

Miles I Drive Each Year for Work

Starting with a 52 week year, I will automatically subtract 2 weeks for work related holidays. We get about 2 weeks off a year for holiday time, which brings our number down to 50 weeks.

Next, I will deduct any vacation time – which is usually about 3 weeks on an average year. So we are down to 47 weeks on average that I would drive into work.

On most weeks, I would drive a similar schedule that I listed above – 4 days at about 60 miles per day. I rounded down from the 242.2 to 240 miles (or 60 a day) to make it easier to follow.

Total Miles per Year (est.) = 11,280 miles

So I would estimate that I drive approximately 11,280 miles per year related to my job.

Vehicle Related Expenses

If I were to ever leave my current job and work entirely from home, I would sell my car. While our family does plenty of driving … we could get by with not having my car and just one vehicle.

Below I have listed all of the expenses that we would be saving on if this were to ever happen.

Note – I had to make a few estimates on things and also looked back at our vehicle expenses over the last 2 years.

So here is a list of what we would save –

#1 Gas – $640

The last time I checked, my vehicle gets a little over 35 miles per gallon. That is one of the reasons why I still drive it … plus it has been paid off for over 5 years!

So assuming I drive 11,280 miles per year and am still getting 35 mpg … I would estimate using about 320 gallons of gas (actual number is 322.3).

I like to figure on the low end, so I will say that I pay on average $2.00 a gallon for gas now. It is actually higher, but again I am figuring low.

Gas Expense = $640 per year

On the low end, I estimate spending at least $640 in gas each year driving to my work (320 gallons * $2 per gallon).

#2 Parking – $425

Yes, unfortunately I have to pay to park my car at work – which annoys the heck out of me. I have opted for the absolute cheapest available parking – using lots that are furthest away from my office.

The only other option is to park a few miles out and take a shuttle in. This would still cost some money (a lot less) but the amount of extra time spent is NOT worth it.

Parking Expense = $425 per year

#3 Maintenance – $900

The good thing about my car is that it still gets good gas mileage. The bad news is that it is now 16 years old and is in constant need of service.

It seems like every couple of months I am dropping money into servicing the vehicle. I looked back at the last couple of years and estimate on the low end that I spend almost $1,000 each year servicing my vehicle.

This includes any type of servicing done on the vehicle.

Maintenance Expense – $900 per year

Again, I figured on the low end in the estimates above.

#4 Insurance – $400

We have a multi-car insure policy, so estimating this savings is a little difficult. My car is much, much cheaper to insurance than our family vehicle.

Based on a couple quick calculations, I think we could save between $300 and $500 per year.

Insurance Expense = $400 per year

Again … that is a very rough estimate on insurance savings.

Total Yearly Savings – $2,365

As you can tell from above, I made several assumptions and estimates on the total possible savings. But I am confident this number is on the low end of possible savings.

Total Expense = $2,365 per year

After all of the figuring above, I would estimate that we could save a minimum of $2,365 per year by dropping my car. This would of course mean that I would quit my job and work full time at home.

At first glance it doesn’t seem like as much as I would have thought. But thinking about it a little further – that is over 2 months worth of mortgage payments ($1,078 is our monthly mortgage)!

Intangible Savings

We can take our savings even further though – past the $2,300+ in actual dollars back in our pockets.

You see, my daily commute takes me 1 hour on the way to work and 1 hour on the way home from work. Even though it is a 30 mile trip each way … the roads I take, traffic, and walking time to the office takes me 60 minutes one way.

The thought of having 2 hours per day or 8 hours per week back in my life is priceless.

You see, financial independence is not really about the money. It is about having time back in your life to do the things you enjoy. 2 hours a day seems like it could be worth it.

I could even put a number on those 8 hours a week if I really wanted to. Let’s assume I would be saving 376 hours a year in driving (47 weeks * 8 hours per week).

If I decided to get a $10 per hour gig doing something at home for those lost hours, I could generate an additional income of $3,760.

Add that to the expenses saved and we are up to $6,125! That is over 5 and a half mortgage payments of savings!

I could keep going and say I think I can get $25 an hour instead of $10. Well that is extra income of $9,400. Add that to our previous savings and that pays almost 11 mortgage payments for the year.

Conclusion

It will still be several years until we make the decision for me to stop working my full time job. There is too much income to be made, savings to build up, and investments to make before that can happen.

One of the benefits of quitting my job and going to work at home is being able to downsize to a single car.

The benefits of going to 1 car are both financial and intangible. Getting rid of my car would save over $2,365 annually – and that is a low figure.

In addition, quitting my job and not driving 8 hours per week would save me over 376 hours a year. These saved hours could possibly be used to generate income from home which would bring in thousands and thousands of dollars.

This was a fun exercise for me to weigh the pros and cons of telecommuting to work.

Do you have a commute like I do or possibly longer? Have you ever calculated the trade off of not driving to work and possibly getting rid of a vehicle as a result?

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