How to Determine If You Still Need Multiple Vehicles Plus Money-Saving Advice
Perhaps one of the most dramatic impacts of the COVID-19 shutdown is the rise in remote work. So many families now have at least one work-from-home member. Some households have navigated both providers’ transition to at-home work.
Even in cases where employees find themselves returning to in-person work, they typically have greater flexibility to work from home. With this significant shift in work dynamics partnered with the scarcity in the car market, many families are reconsidering how many vehicles they need.
Let’s say you need that extra car once a year. Did you know you can save on car insurance for a car you rarely drive? Read on for points to consider when counting your vehicles and how to save with what you have.
Determine Your Transportation Needs
Maybe this is the first time you’ve entertained the idea of giving up a vehicle. It may be obvious, but the first step to take is to list your vehicle needs. From there, figure out how possible downsizing could be. Here’s an idea of how to start:
- List your regular activities
- Look at each day individually compared with the month
- List alternate transportation options
- Match up vehicle needs to options
- Highlight any gaps
After listing your regular activities, where you need to be, and when you need to be there, you can brainstorm ideas. Then, negotiate alternatives to your current cars: carpooling, public transportation, and walking/biking.
Rearrange whatever activities are flexible and rank transportation resources in order of ease and availability.
Once you figure out your minimum needs, you can start a conversation on how many vehicles are non-negotiable. Then, try out your plan for a month before you go ahead and sell off a car.
Consider Worst-Case Scenarios
You do not want to be hasty in cutting out a vehicle. Hash out the what-ifs with your family. What happens when your current vehicle needs maintenance or significant repairs? Do you have savings to pay for a rental in those circumstances?
Is it safe for family members to be home without a vehicle in your situation? Can you work out a drop-off and pickup schedule so the people at home have a car to use?
Some mechanics offer a loaner vehicle for their clients. A household member who needs to work in person might carpool with a coworker or use public transportation. Family members stuck at home may have family or community support that could provide a car on occasion or in case of emergency.
These are just a few of the types of problems and solutions you and your family need to be open to discussing. Answering these questions should give you a clear indication of where to go next.
Compare Car Costs and Opportunities to Save
If the first portion of this process has scared you away from dropping a vehicle, perhaps this part will appeal. A family can save around $2,000 per year on just insurance and fees (depending on your state requirements). That doesn’t include savings on basic maintenance, extensive repairs, or even gas.
You won’t automatically save money on gas if you drop a vehicle. If you don’t reconfigure your travel, you might be doubling your gas usage in some cases. A person who would have previously driven to work and driven home now must be dropped off and picked up.
But if you cut out unnecessary trips or maximize trips used to drop people off by combining them with your grocery run or other necessary trips, you can save on gas. There are also simple ways to save money by using apps and credit card points.
You can save on car insurance even if you choose to keep an extra vehicle. If you can manage to put the majority of your family’s miles on one vehicle, your other vehicle can qualify for significant insurance discounts.
If you have more vehicles in your home than licensed drivers, you can also calculate a discounted rate. Make sure to compare insurance quotes, and don’t be afraid to change insurance providers.
Research Ways to Make Money With Your Car
Due to the current rental market, many people are looking into car-sharing or personal vehicle rental. Your seldom-used car could be an income opportunity.
Loaning your car out for profit will put you in an interesting insurance position. Most car owners use online companies to coordinate rentals because those companies provide insurance and other protections and protocols.
There are other options for making money with your extra car, especially when retired. But, once again, families should negotiate these options as a team. If some household members are not on board, money-making strategies will become a burden instead of an asset.
Work Together to Share Fewer Vehicles
If you are sharing a vehicle, make sure to share driving responsibilities. When you have multiple cars, splitting drive time is automatic. However, when you downsize to one car, driving could fall on one person, which can cause stress and contention.
Appreciate the extra time together in carpooling, but allow for space or alone time if needed. Downsizing can be a complicated adjustment. If you chose to downsize vehicles, you weighed the positive outcomes and thought it was worth it, but it’s not a simple switch.
Some people may use a solitary commute to decompress from the day. If you choose to carpool, that person may need to find a new opportunity to unwind. You may find that carpooling at the end of the day provides quality time for conversations or find other surprising benefits.
Make it a team effort and be willing to change course if things are not working out. If your family members are not on board, sharing fewer vehicles will not succeed. This decision cannot be one-sided. But if everyone sees the value in the challenges, this lifestyle can be a great fit.
Post a list of positive outcomes from downsizing vehicles and remind each other of the greater good you agreed upon. It can get discouraging; don’t be naive that things will just smoothly transition. Habits are difficult to alter.
Reducing your family’s number of vehicles is a commitment. It is not an easy transition and will bring up deeper discussions and evaluations. Every household member must be on board with the decision and appreciate the value to the family. Fortunately, there are many perks to staying on your parents’ insurance.
If it is not the right time or situation for your family to give up a vehicle, consider smaller steps to reduce dependence on multiple cars. If you can shift most of your driving to one vehicle, you can save on insurance on the rarely driven car. If you have more cars than licensed drivers, compare insurance options that allow you the best discount.
About the author: Maria Hanson writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceCompanies.com. She is passionate about empowering drivers to find their best insurance options.