Seniors: Consider These 3 Things Before Becoming a One-Car Household
Some couples choose to downsize their belongings in retirement to help make the most of their fixed income. This may include going from two or more vehicles down to one.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the cost to own and operate a vehicle can can surpass $8,000 a year, on average, for every 15,000 miles traveled. Once you retire, paying that much for two cars may fall outside of your budget. If you’re thinking about becoming a one-car household, here are some things to consider.
Type of Vehicle
When deciding whether to become a one-car family, how do you figure out which vehicle to keep? That can depend on a number of factors, including:
Family Trips: If your family is nearby or you plan to spend time driving grandchildren to school or activities, you may want to keep the vehicle with the most space. The American Grandparents Association (AGA) says a minivan or crossover might be the ideal choice because they offer space for toys and diaper bags, and they can accommodate car seats. The AGA also recommends factoring in safety, as picking the vehicle with the higher crash-test rating may help protect your precious cargo.
Weather: According to the Federal Highway Administration, each year about 42 percent of accidents are due to adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, sleet or extreme wind. Picking a car that works well in your climate is important for your safety and comfort. According to AutoTrader, vehicles with features such as all-wheel drive, heated seats, a remote starter and winter tires can be helpful for those who deal with cold weather and snow, ice or rain. Consider sticking with a vehicle that can handle whatever weather conditions come your way.
Expenses: Obviously, you may want to keep the vehicle that features the fewest extra expenses. If one car is paid off, it might be better to stick with that one and eliminate your monthly car payment. Before making a final decision, compare fuel, maintenance, insurance expenses, depreciation and state and local fees, which all contribute to cost of ownership, according to Kelley Blue Book.
Other Transportation Options
If you live in an area with a public transit system, you may be able to utilize buses, shuttles or subways when your spouse needs your shared vehicle. In addition to public transportation, you can try to align your schedules so that you can ride with your spouse, or in some cases, you may consider a ride-sharing service. While well-known companies like Uber and Lyft can be an option, there are also a number of local or regional ride-for-hire and ride-sharing service providers that cater to seniors.
Regardless of how retirees get around, the important thing is to have a transportation plan, says Next Avenue.
If you’re thinking about downsizing to one vehicle in retirement, consider some of these factors before making your decision. Having only one car may help you save money in retirement, but you’ll want to make sure you determine what will work best for your household.
Originally published January 2015.