The Second Car Dilemma

My husband and I share one vehicle.  If there’s ever a day that I want to use the car or need it for an appointment, I have to wake up before dawn and ride with him to base/work, then drive back home and repeat the journey when he is through with work.  We’re about 13 miles from base, so that’s at least 52 miles a day, not including the other places I end up going.

Transportation to/from base on a day that I don’t need the car costs about $4.50 per day based on current gas prices.  Double that on days when I need the car.  If we had a second car we could shave off an extra 26 miles a day ($4.50) and I could expand my job search since I wouldn’t be confined to certain hours to work within hubby’s schedule.

Basically, I really want a second car!


1.  We probably can’t shouldn’t afford it and should just continue making one car work until we can save up money to buy a decent used vehicle.  This would likely take over a year and by that time, hubby will be on a long deployment and a second car wouldn’t be needed.

2.  We could probably go out and buy a scooter right now but I’m not thrilled about this option.  I’d be the only one that would ride it and I couldn’t ride if it was raining, too cold or windy.   Am I even tall enough to ride a scooter?

3.  Ride the bus.  I don’t really consider this as an option for either of us.  It’s $1.50 one way, $3 round trip but since we’re so far away from base, it would likely double as there is no one direct bus that goes to/from here to base.  Also, the bus stop nearest us doesn’t leave early enough in the morning for hubby to get to work on time and even if I ended up getting a job near a bus route, hubby doesn’t want me riding the bus for safety concerns.

4.  A Navy family is PCSing (moving) and wanting to find someone to take over their leased car before they go.  It’s a 2012 Toyota Yaris they got last November.  The monthly payments are about $333 and $10,460 remains to be paid.  The crappy part is that they have a 12,000 mile limit per year on the lease and are currently at 11,700 until November.

Image Source Mitula Cars

Hubby’s advancement pay keeps increasing every month and will fully kick in come December.  That would pretty much cover the entire payment and with my hopes of landing one of the two library jobs I have interviews for (*knock on wood!), we should be able to afford the additional car/insurance payments.  I am going to call our insurance company tomorrow to see how much it would cost to add an additional leased vehicle with comprehensive coverage.  I don’t think it would double but it would definitely increase.

So readers, what would you do with those options if you were in my shoes?


35 thoughts on “The Second Car Dilemma

  1. I feel stern but…you do not need a second car. Before I re-married I had NO car–rode buses which was troublesome and time consuming but thousands of people do this every day for years. Then my husband and I shared one through years of financially being strapped as grad. students (with two teenagers) and then for years afterwards as we gradually hauled ourselves completely free of all debts. Cars are not an entitlement they are a luxury–we Americans are sometimes too spoilt to see straight I think. All you can afford to do is pay down your debts and nothing else–keep in a straight line towards this and you will never regret it.

    • I don’t think of a car as an entitlement as it’s more of a necessity than a luxury when you live in areas that don’t have great public transportation. The fact that I don’t have the freedom to go as I please leaves me jobless. My husband’s job takes precedence over mine so I’m limited to finding work to fit his schedule. I’m going to look into the bus routes here and hope that my husband will become more interested in car pooling since he just has to go to one place for work, whereas I could be driving multiple places to multiple jobs/side hustles and doctors appointments.

  2. I don’t think you need a second vehicle either. It’s not just gas/mileage to consider, but the costs of maintenance and insuring two vehicles. If you absolutely had to get a second, I’d save up $1k-$3k and pay cash for something, even if it’s a beater. I wouldn’t take over the lease, stay away from that! We were a one car family for years while both working and eventually caved in and bought a 2nd vehicle. I really wish we could go back to one car, it was easier and less expensive in the long run, even if it was a little inconvenient at times.

      • I don’t see that as that bad. You paid $1,500, the car cost $3k over 6 years … that’s about $750 a year or $62.50 a month including the initial purchase price! If you bought a car with payments of $300 a month you’d still have to pay for oil changes ($20-$50 each) every 3-4 months, tires/breaks depending on your driving style and mileage, in six years I’d say at least once each would need to be replaced at about $700-$1000 depending on tire size and pricing in you area. Going low on all the cost and $300 car payment for 4 of the 6 years you would’ve spent over $15,000! Plus you would have to have full coverage for the 4 years you were paying on it. I wish I’d gotten a beater/used car when I purchased my current car. I’ve spent 5 years paying $290/m for the payment, $120-140/m for auto insurance, oil changes every three months (I drive 52 miles round just from home to work) I’ve had to put once set of tires about about $400 and 2 sets of breaks at about $1,000 total…. over $19,000 not including the insurance cost (I don’t know what liability only cost where I live I’ve never had that option while living here) I would’ve loved to have spent $4,500 in that same time! That would mean I’d have over $14k to save, invest, pay off other debts etc!!!! I will never buy a brand new car again and will do everything in my power not to finance any car!!!

      • @Crazynoiia, $3000 was just the major repairs over the years and doesn’t include all of them, just the ones I remember. I know there was several other incidents that required towing that I don’t recall the costs for. I didn’t factor in the cost of new tires, oil changes every 3 months, frequent replacing of the windshield wipers, towing expenses, gas, or any other maintenance costs. It’s well over $3000. And newer cars only require oil changes every 6 months/5000 miles (whichever comes first).

  3. I don’t think you need a second car….at least right now. Yes, it’s inconvenient when you do need the car and could save you money on the days you actually have to use the car but what about the days you don’t need it? You’re not saving any money those days since you don’t have to go anywhere, and in fact, just having the car could cause you to go somewhere on spur of the moment that you wouldn’t otherwise go if you didn’t have the car.

    You have been working so hard to bring your debt down. Adding more debt to that could be frustrating. For now, start saving up for a car and when you have the money you can pay cash for a car and if you need one before you’ve finished saving then you can either get a cheaper car that will be covered under what you have saved or have a nice down payment for one.

    • On the days I don’t do anything I should be working or side hustling or even going to the gym/fitness classes or hanging out with friends. But I don’t (I don’t even have friends in this area) because I don’t like having to spend so much extra time making double trips to base.

  4. This may sound harsh, but if you buy a second car, I will stop following your blog. I read blogs like this to give me motivation to make the tough decisions day after day that are helping my husband and I get out of our (combined $300k) student loan debt by March of next year. Mr. Money Mustache is my favorite because he reminds me in every post that debt is an emergency, and it always comes first. Right now the motivation I need is to not buy the fancy new iPhone, even though I too could justify it a million ways (current phone is broken, use it for work, etc. etc.) Some of the options you are talking about are the equivalent of buying an iPhone every single day for years to come!! Put that extra $333/month toward debt, period. My advice would be to continue to carpool with your husband and/or take the bus to interviews, and once you have a job offer in hand, make the cost-benefit decision about whether you need to buy a (cheap! used!) car to get to that specific job. And how about moving closer to base, or to a nearby area where you could walk to recreation/gym/jobs?

    • We just moved to this apartment complex after having many issues with the areas around base (crime, safety, roaches, etc). It was very stressful on me and now we’re in an apartment that feels safe. After living in A LOT of (cheap, crappy) apartments over the past 10 years, this is by far the best one yet.

      I’m leaning more towards using the bus too and have pretty much decided against leasing a car. Since my husband is so concerned about my safety having to walk several miles to the bus stops, I’m hoping it will push him to consider car pooling to base, at least in the mornings.

      • Also, one thing to consider is that my husband’s income doesn’t pay for any of my debts incurred prior to marriage. Since the whole $333 (even though we’ve now sided against leasing) would come out of his paycheck, it would have no effect on what goes towards my debt payments.

  5. Those are some pretty high payments. And if you guys are prepared for adding more expenses to your monthly budget for at least a few years, you’d be better off buying a used Yaris (don’t tell yr neighbors!). Although we are a one car household (public transit is GREAT here), if you decide you really do need another car, I’d highly recommend it. I’m still driving the Yaris hatchback I bought new in 2007. The only things I’ve had to pay for are (knock on wood): insurance (obviously, and about $60 in the city for full coverage through Liberty Mutual) oil changes, two “tune-ups,” a new set of tires, one additional tire (I got a flat), and a brake cleaning. It’s really is one of the lowest cost-to-own vehicles. Save $$$ by coordinating it so that the person with the longest or hardest-on-the-car drive gets it for the day–the gas mileage you’ll get out of it is spectacular.

    • Thanks for the input. We’ll definitely consider getting a used Yaris in the future. We rented one when we went to California last year to visit the hubby’s family, it was very nice. We’re definitely not going to lease the yaris and I’m going to look into riding the bus. I might have to walk a few miles every trip, but I guess it’ll be good exercise…though I may die from heat exhaustion if I have to do it in the hot/humid summer months.

  6. I think you’d like for someone to tell you to get a car that you’d have to make payments on but you won’t find that support here. Your husband is getting deployed and then you’ll have the car. You want to have a car sit idle while he’s gone? I know how it is to depend on public transportation and it sucks and I HATE it. I don’t have a spouse or boyfriend so it’s no car ever. Public transportation is fine but it runs late and I just stood outside for 45 minutes waiting for a bus in VA to go back to DC. A trip to Target to switch out eyeglass lenses took 3.75 hours when it would have taken an hour by car total. However, I am sticking to my plan to save up cash (maybe $5000 to $6000). If nothing else it is motivation to save. There’s a line between a beater and a lease at $300 something a month. A lease. Maybe since you’re in a military area, ZipCar, Cars to Go, Occasional Car, or Enterprise’s new service is an option for when you really need a car and a ride/public transportation won’t work. You can overcome this! And finally, if your husband won’t “let you” take public transportation, then he needs to. I don’t love it either for safety reasons but it’s almost always my own paranoia. Good luck!

    • The car share things can get pretty expensive too. I’m definitely going to look more into public transportation, whether hubby likes it or not. I’ll have the car during his deployment, so however nice it would be to have a second car now, we’ll make it work with one.

  7. Hey Kasey, I think you the numbers will tell you the truth of it. If you get a couple of quotes on car payments/insurance/gas/maintenance (oil changes, whatever) and then break it down to a per day cost. Then factor in what you feel you can make from a part-time gig/side hustles/whatever and then break that down into a per day cost – you might have your answer friend. I think you’ll know what needs to happen. Good luck with your decision, friend.

  8. I personally wouldn’t get the second car. We have been a one car family for over a year now and it hasn’t been so bad — even when we weren’t close to public transportation. It sucks some days, but I think you should tough it out. Just my $0.02 :).

  9. it’s me again…hang strong, Kasey. You can do without that second car. If/when you get a job , and I am rooting for you, you can still drop your husband off. If one of you has to wait until the other has finished the day’s work–or if one of you has to get going really early and wait until their job starts, then do this–grab a cup of coffee if there is a cafe nearby and wait (30-40 cups of coffee = still MUCH cheaper than buying and running a second car) For 3 years I did this because my job (library) didn’t start until 9:30 a.m. and then I had to wait at the end of the day also. It was just the way it was; crappy, but it never occurred to us that we should get a second car.

    • Hubby made it clear that his job takes precedence over any one I’d ever have and he would not be willing to wait extra hours on his ship if I had a job that required me to work into the evening. I don’t drink coffee but maybe I’ll start waking up 3am to get ready for the day and have breakfast before hubby has to go to work between 4:30-5:30am. Then I’d have to sit around base for a couple hours, maybe go to the gym until business hours. Meh, I’d rather not wake up so early, guess I’ll just continue dropping him off and coming back home before I start my day.

  10. Though $4.50 x (whatever it ends up being), it’s a lot less than any of the options of acquiring a new car… as others have said and I’ll not repeat for sake of space, the cost of the car isn’t the only of your worries… there’s insurance, which is high for lease or non-paid for vehicles, maintenance, and of course, gas. When me and my older brother were going to college, we only had 1 car. College was 40 miles away. We commuted every day. Even before that, my dad worked over 60-70mi away, and he too commuted. It was the only car. Sure, we could’ve gotten a new car and cut the travel mileage in half… but we just didn’t have the funds for a new car compared to just the additional cost of gas.

    Also, a less expensive alternative to getting a new car full time is renting. It is still cheaper than financing a car, but if you think you’ll need the car a lot for a day, a weekend or even a week, this could be something to look into. Depending where you live, this may be cheaper than taxis too.

    • Renting a car isn’t exactly cheap, starts at $35+ a day. Leasing the mentioned Yaris would be like renting a car each month for $11ish a day. But since hubby is going on deployment next year, I won’t need a second a car for the months he’ll be gone. We’ll have to make one car work for now. I found out there’s a park and ride within a few miles of our apartment that leaves early enough in the morning for him to get to work on time. It’d be nice just to drop him off/pick him up there instead of going all the way to base. Hopefully he’ll be willing to try out public transportation otherwise I will, whether he wants me to or not!

  11. Having followed your journey so far, I wouldn’t even remotely consider getting a second car. I think your focus needs to be on finding a job and doing what you’re doing now for transportation. Yeah it sounds like a pain, but I’ve witnessed more pain from you on your tight budget and not being able to find work…a car would only double your stress.

    • I honestly don’t see it from that perspective. Having a car would make finding work so much easier. I don’t have a job right now and I’m not making money side hustling because I have limited transportation and have to work within my husband’s schedule when we share the car. I’m going to try using the bus until he goes on deployment, but it still limits me to finding work within walking distance of bus routes.

  12. I know this is a touch decision for you! In college I was without a car, and lived about 3 miles from campus. I walked and rode my bike every day for school and work. I saved so much money and dropped about two clothes sizes 🙂 I also lived in the mountains and had to deal with snow, so I completely understand your reluctance to walk in the harsh temperatures. However, it is definitely worth the sacrifice in the end. Good luck with whatever decision you make!

  13. Pingback: 9 Month Progress Update | Debt Perception

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