Over the last few months, I have seen great personal finance posts about cars – the purchasing of cars, the selling of cars, the life without cars. Very popular are those posts about one-car families.
I am always envious of the families who are saving money on gas, taxes and car insurance by only having one car. That’s the life! I sigh wistfully as I commute an hour in thick traffic 20 miles from my house twice a week, while my husband makes his 45 minute commute in the other direction. I dream of the day that I am a stay at home mom, freelance writing and teaching online college courses, while single-handedly saving both the environment from pollution, and my budget from the cost of another car.
Today, I was able to picture exactly what being a single car family would mean.
It was a chilly Satuday morning. Alexandra pulled the covers up to her chin, delighted that she was able to sleep in a little before her job interview. Her husband had left for work a few minutes ago, and she was just drifting off to sleep when she heard it.
*creeeeak* (door opening sound) “Uh, honey? I have to take your car to work. Mine is dead.”
Okay, dramatics aside; I was pretty bummed. N obviously had to leave for work, and I had 4 hours before my interview. Luckily, my parents forgot to take me off their AAA membership. Score! I called up, and within half an hour the wonderful Anthony was under the hood of N’s car, telling me exactly what my problem was.
Half the battery was completely dead. Never fear, Anthony had a battery in the truck! He just needed to check that it was the right size… oh, wait. You mean that year for the Equinox has a different type of battery than all the other years, and AAA doesn’t carry it at all? Okay.
At this point, I had a few choices.
- We could call a tow truck, and have the Equinox brought somewhere for a battery. Not really worth the hassle, so we opted not to do this one.
- We could call someone to come out and replace the battery. Since it wouldn’t be AAA, it wouldn’t be covered. Probably more expensive than getting a battery myself, so we didn’t do this option either.
- Anthony could jump the Equinox, and I could drive it to the nearest auto parts store. He explained that the car may stall, since half its battery was dead, and if that happened I would lose all power steering and be dead in the road. The look of horror on my face must have been bad, because he offered to drive behind me to make sure I got there. What a guy! This is the option I chose.
I made it over the highway and to the auto parts store without incident, where a very nice lady (who bashed my friend Anthony for not installing the battery himself) put the new battery in. I also almost hit three men and caused a traffic jam trying to park, because my own car is much smaller than this beast. But I digress.
$166.96 later, I have a new battery. Had Anthony’s battery actually worked in this model, I would have paid around $125.00. It’s not a huge difference in price, but it was a bit disappointing (especially since I still haven’t been able to secure replacement income from the bank).
Here’s why I’m glad we have two cars:
N was able to get to work and open the restaurant in time. Because he was already running a little late when he got outside, he would have been very late if he had to call a cab/wait for a rental/hitch a ride with a friend.
We would have had to inconvenience multiple people, since I also had somewhere to go today. I could not have called my interview to reschedule because of car problems; the application specifically asked if I had reliable transportation. That wouldn’t have been good.
Knowing there was a backup car made the day a lot less stressful; N was able to get to work, and I knew early enough that I didn’t have a car to get to the interview. I would have been able to call someone even if the battery didn’t get fixed, and we wouldn’t have exhausted our resources asking for rides back and forth all over the world.
Ideally, I would love to not need two cars. I really would. But today, I was grateful for that extra option!