Two car family

A comment on my HDi post has instigated this one, so thank you dear friend for giving my head food for fodder!

Up until yesterday, Hubby and I have always had a vehicle each except for a few months when he was working night security and had the use of a company van. The person finishing their shift would collect him and he would drive them home, then he would collect the next shiftee and they would drive him home. It worked pretty well until a change of policy, so we ended up buying a ‘cheap’ runabout.

Several years before we moved to Lincolnshire, we did a comparison exercise on the pros and cons of Car Ownership versus Public Transport.
It didn’t help that we worked in opposite directions, started and finished at different times but neither coincided, and had a fair walk to and from the nearest bus stop at each end.
Hubby worked 5 miles away and I worked two, and neither were on a direct bus route.

Hubby first:
His job required the use of a tool kit and electronic gear that was cumbersome and heavy. It was also too expensive and specific to the job to leave on site.

tool kit pat tester
To catch a bus would entail a five to ten minute walk to the bus stop, where buses ran every half an hour. He would have to change en route, getting to another bus stop to catch the next one that also ran every thirty minutes.
The bus fare was £2 on one, and £1.75 on the other each way, so £7.50 a day. He couldn’t get a monthly saver ticket due to time restrictions as they could only be used between 9.30 and 4. He started at 8 and finished at 5.
When he got off at the other end, he still had a short walk up a very steep hill.
No-one he worked with lived anywhere near us.

Now me:
Have pen, will travel, so no tools to carry other than my trusty handbag and packed lunch.
rucksack hamper

(Sorry, couldn’t resist, you know what they say about a woman’s handbag and food).

I had a choice of buses, each requiring a change somewhere along the way, but again the time frame for a saver ticket was the same with the added restriction of one definite route only. Surprisingly, the fare was on a par with Hubby’s, so £7.50 a day, and I had a short walk to and from the bus stop.
My hours were 8 to 4 one week , 9 to 5 the next, but due to the nature of my job (financial analyst) I could be working until 7 or 8 at night to meet a specific deadline.
Regardless of my hours, with my start times I would still have to do battle with the kids who weren’t eligible for bus passes living less than 5 miles away from their school, so I’d be lucky to find a seat, if the bus wasn’t already full, in which case, they didn’t stop anyway.
I could walk to work in about 50 minutes which was OK in the summer on a dry day, but a bit dodgy in the dark, plus I had serious weight issues then and walking long distances wore and puffed me out.
Again, no-one I worked with lived close.

So, there you have it, £15 a day on joint bus fare, that’s £75 a week, or £3600 a year (based on us having 4 weeks holiday), just to get to and from our places of work, a distance of 14 miles a day, 70 miles a week, 3360 miles a year.
This equates to £1.07p a mile.
Doesn’t sound a lot, does it.

Until you compare it to this:
We drove 2 small and economical cars.
Even allowing for two lots of insurance, road tax, MOT and maintenance, the legal necessary cost was only around £510 a year.
Mileage on both vehicles was about 55 to the gallon, so to travel 3360 miles would use just over 61 gallons of fuel, or around 278 litres. Fuel was less than a pound a litre then so that equated to £275 or thereabouts.
So to do our 3360 miles would cost us £785 or 22p a mile.

OK, I admit that both of our work offices provided free parking, so there were no car park fees to find. 🙂

Now add the convenience of more than one journey, like health appointments, shopping, socialising etc.
For us, it therefore made more economic sense to run both vehicles when we were both working,
dog in car
female driverrather than this trying to catch a



About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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6 Responses to Two car family

  1. Great example … though there’s an associated cost that doesn’t fall within these calculations but which are harder to quantify: contributions to air quality problems, use of a non-renewable resource, etc. I’m certainly not criticizing you; there are two of us and each of us has a car. We don’t really need 2 cars; we’re retired and don’t drive that much, and during the summer months I try to run most of my nearby errands via bike. So we should probably get rid of one. 🙂

    • Ah, we’d thought about that too when we bought our last cars, as both had low emissions and so we qualified for cheaper road tax. We tried to do our bit, and these days even more so as we can actually WALK into town with the dog rather than have to drive somewhere to walk her!
      Must admit when I did the figures, I was quite surprised. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I’m SO glad you did this post, as I’ve been putting off doing a cost analysis on keeping the car I currently have vs purchasing a new one and since I am most definitely NOT a financial analyst, have been daunted by the task at what goes into coming up with fair and balanced figures. Anything else I should be considering apart from taking notes of the car portion of your calculations? Or might you suggest a good website where they could walk me through the method? I’ve always admired how you look at your life with such a keen eye on the numbers.

    • First thing I’d ask is how old is your current car?
      Is it running well? What’s your annual mileage? Is it expensive on fuel, maintenance (spares, servicing etc), insurance and taxes? You’re bound to be different in the US to us here in the UK.
      Next thing would be what do you need your car for?
      Knowing the size required will also enter into the calculations. So if you carry a load of stuff, you’d need something bigger than a Smart car!
      We purchased a Hyundai I10, which is only a little smaller than the 206. It’s petrol rather than diesel, but has a good size boot (trunk), comfortably seats 4 though it can seat 5, responds well and we get 50 plus miles to the gallon. It has one of the cheaper road taxes (£20 pa), is around £170 a year to insure for both of us to drive on a fully comprehensive policy, and in the UK on new vehicles, you don’t need an MOT for the first 3 years. I haggled for a three year service plan, so don’t have to worry about that either until 2017.
      We’ve only used websites for valuations of our existing vehicles, so I don’t know if there is one for a particular method. I’d suggest making a list of everything relevant to running your current car, and then doing a comparison of various models as a good starting point.
      When it came to choosing a new one to buy, we looked around, test drove loads, and in some instances asked other people how pleased they were with the car they were driving that had caught our eye (ie. Citroen Picasso). One thing we have found out is that the figures the dealers tell you ain’t necessarily so (Fiat 500 had rave dealer reviews, but go by the customer reviews on their website for the vehicle, and it was a different story). If you see a car you like, check it out on the internet, find a dealer, and test drive it. It’s really the only way to find one that suits you as every driver is different. When you do, push for a good trade in deal and any other perks like mats, a full tank of fuel and any special offers that might be going. Remember, the salesmen have targets to meet and want your money! If you don’t ask, you might miss out and the worst they can say is ‘no’.
      Good luck! I loved my 206, best car I’ve had on a par with my little yugo 55a. Hubby had a yugo 45 and he loved that too. Sadly, they don’t make ’em anymore!

      • Count on you to be as precise as a pin with your answer! I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to respond back in such detail.
        I’ve copied and pasted your guideline and will get to work on my own little cost analysis. We’ll see what pops up on the bottom line. I love the idea of squeezing out every bit of value for one’s hard-earned cash, and being cognizant of fossil fuel consumption and impact on the environment.
        I’m looking forward to digging in to this project, and again, I send my massive thanks!

      • You are most welcome (sorry it was a bit long winded!)
        Hubby and I both found the customer reviews helpful when we had narrowed down our choice.
        Good luck!

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