Making Do With One Car: The Benefits

A person close to me once advised, “Never sell your second car. If you do, ‘they’ (your spouse) will go with you everywhere.”

This half-joking tip was something I thought of often as my wife and I were approaching retirement; for the first year or so, I held onto that second car.

Then it occurred to me that this advice might not be as good as it had seemed. We made the decision to do what we had been admonished not to do. We sold the second car, even though I was somewhat attached to it. That action has had surprisingly positive results.

Gas prices are historically high. Having two or more gas burners might not be a smart situation to be in right now. “But,” you may say, “getting rid of a car doesn’t mean you will use less gas. You’ll just put all the mileage on your remaining vehicle.” To which I would have to respond, “Yup, you’re probably right.” Still, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and cut expenses when everything costs more than a year ago.

In our case, selling the other car was one way to afford the gas we had to buy. In fact, the savings we made in doing so were immediate and larger than I’d ever considered.  The car we sold had been paid off for a few years. In some ways that made it feel ‘free’ to me. It was not. No, we may not have reduced our gas usage a lot, but we now have only HALF of the oil changes, brake repairs, and new summer and winter tires to buy, seasonally mount and rotate. You know the drill.

We also only insure one car now, and only pay for one registration, yearly inspection, and even car washes. All these things are what all cars need, and don’t even include unexpected repairs. In our case, the savings added up to over $1,000 annually — that buys a lot of gas.

In addition, the savings extended to areas other than money. We now spend HALF the time we did getting all those things handled, and all those services done.

Admittedly, our situation might not be yours. We’ve retired and no longer head off in different directions each morning. Still, I think many driveways contain one or more unneeded cars. If you sell the one you may find that your attachment to it was a one-way relationship. My ‘free’ car doesn’t miss me, and I don’t miss what it used to cost me.

Note: we sold that second car to my daughter and her family at far below the book price. This saved them money and we used what we were paid as an additional down payment when we traded in our remaining car last summer. Now our new car has a smaller payment than the old one did. Wins all around!

-G.E. Shuman

Photo: Sami Aksu (

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George E. Shuman is a longstanding Vermont novelist, newspaper and magazine columnist, and former high school English language arts teacher. His human-interest columns have appeared twice monthly in Central Vermont’s largest paper for nearly thirty years and in The Sturbridge Times, a Massachusetts-based magazine, for eight. George’s novels, “The Smoke and Mirrors Effect,” “A Corner Café,” and his most recent, “Cemetery Bridge” are available in Kindle and paperback versions at George resides in Barre with his beloved wife. The couple are the parents of five, grandparents of twelve, and great grandparents of two… so far.

4 comments on “Making Do With One Car: The Benefits

  1. Wonderful! My grandparents also have on vehicle now, it’s easier for them. And spending time together isn’t that bad! haha

  2. Stevan Shuman

    I’m retired but still have two vehicles. One is a pickup truck that I use daily, so I guess I’ll keep it. I do agree with your logic, though. As we get older, it may take both of us in one car just to find where we’re going. Enjoyed the article very much.

    • Paula Bailey

      Great article. I love the idea that you had about getting rid of a second car, more so, I love the topics that you choose to write about.

  3. Jerry Shuman

    Very interesting and thought provoking. Just starting to think of what could be done with the extra dough. Help others, help our family, charitable organizations, maybe even travel and visit relatives.

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