Each year our home works on eliminating something from our home for environmental or personal reasons. In past years it has been paper towels, napkins, etc. and last year...our microwave.
So, this year we decided to give up a car. Wait. What?
Yes, it is true...we gave up a car. In mid-December, Drew was in a major car accident that resulted in the total loss of our all-electric KIA Soul EV.
Devastation. Yes. This was the first time we had ever bought a new car and even that...it was leased.
Heart-broken. Yes, but we were grateful for Drew's and the other car's occupants complete safety during the accident and for the fact we had good car insurance. In an instance we were quickly reminded that a car is just an object, a thing you have, but life is so important.
Moreover, this accident gave us a swift kick of reality. In a mere few hours, our lives had drastically changed. As we discussed buying another car, the financial implications of doing that right away didn't make sense. We needed time to think, save, and re-group. Knowing that we were successful for four years of sharing a car from 2005-2009 made us wonder if we could do it again. Drew was already taking the bus to work about 3 days a week and leaving his car at the Lake Stevens Park and Ride (about 7 minutes away) and I had recently changed my work to very minimal part-time. Could we really share a car again now with two busy kids?
Wasn't giving up paper towels a bit easier than a car? What were we thinking? A car...but, we live in the country?
After much debate, we decided to give it a go with a plan to re-evaluate every 6 months to determine if it was working and if the actual need for another car had changed. In the meantime, we opened another bank account with the insurance money and set-up an automatic payment to occur monthly for $250, the cost we were paying monthly for the car payment and insurance. If we weren't going to have the car, at least we could continue saving for a new one since we were accustomed to the $250 being in our monthly budget.
On paper it all looked great...a wise decision, but what does it actually look like? I know we've had lots of criticism and curiosity of paring down to one car, but The Britten's aren't ones to shy away from a challenge or a "forced opportunity". So...2018 came in roaring with only one car to our name.
Who does that? I guess us.
Surprisingly, we are actually nearly two months into the loss of our KIA Soul EV. Family members have been going to activities, groceries bought, and work attended, etc. all with the coordinated efforts of a one-car family. Sounds good, but there has been struggles to overcome.
Contemplating getting rid of a car? One of the biggest obstacle in sharing a vehicle I believe is communication and selfishness. If you can't get past these two things...it probably isn't going to be successful for you and your family.
Coming up with a plan on a daily and weekly basis is the key to ensuring everyone's traveling needs are met. I typically review the weekly calendar on Sunday and make a mental note of the days that I need the car (training on Tuesday, Drew's work meeting on Wednesday, etc.) Typically I have two days out of the week that I don't have access to the car until later in the evening. Yes, I simply go about my day without a car in the driveway or the urge to drive away to some glamorous errand. (Frankly it has been a bit freeing sometimes.) However, sometimes things pop up in the week that causes us to re-adjust our plans.
Today is a great example of this transportation complexity. Normally, Drew has the car on Thursdays to help after school with Keegan's Math Club since there isn't a direct bus from his work to the school. However, Fiona had an after school dance she wanted to attend. Instead of Drew having the car today, I have the car and will pick up Drew from the Snohomish Station (Fred Meyer/Kohl's) and drop him off at Cascade View Elementary for Math Club around 3:30 pm. Then, I will pick up Fiona from the dance at 3:45 pm at Centennial Middle School and swing back into town to get Keegan and Drew from Math Club at 4:30 pm. Calculated car success!
I know many of you are probably thinking...NO WAY. But, honestly, today is a rarity and instead of annoyance I am looking forward to the "captured" car time with each of my family members. To make this work it takes coordinated communication. But, it can be done!
When you share a car, you have to realize it isn't necessary about YOUR convenience. Honestly, when the alarm rings at 5:04 am...I question whether I really need the car that day. It is a sacrifice on my part on the days that I bring Drew back and forth to the bus stop. But, I enjoy the quiet few minutes we spend discussing the day or commenting on the radio show. I have to be conscious of the time during the day. Often, I stop my work on the farm early to ensure I can clean up and get to the Lake Stevens bus stop by 4 pm. Drew is counting on me...sharing a car is not about my needs, but doing what is best for the family.
By sharing the car, I have become organized by combining trips, disciplined in my activities for the day and more appreciative of this limited resource. Each day is different. It takes work, but we are making it work for now.
The Britten Roost.