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Could you become a one car family?

Financial Wellbeing Coach

2023-07-16 04:30

Estimated reading time
10 min

In this article

  • How to tell if you’re a one car family
  • Is it time to buy a second car?
  • Got two already?

Houston, it seems we’re going to need a bigger parking lot!

Did you know that there’s approximately 20.1 million registered motor vehicles in Australia – for 25 million people? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the national fleet increased by 1.7% in 2021 with New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland making up 76% of the share.

That’s a lot of cars. And in a country so vast and wide, it’s not exactly surprising.

But there comes a time in every family’s life where they begin to ask: are we a one car family?

When you’ve got kids to drop at school, or a long work commute, or heavy groceries to carry - do you really have an option? Or can one of you go completely car-free?

How to tell if you’re a one car family

For couples with lots of travel in their schedule, it can be hard to know whether buying a second car will be worth the expense. Sure, having another vehicle can be convenient. You get the benefit of fewer scheduling clashes, more independence, protection from the weather and the ability to accommodate more people and luggage - all of which can be worth the cost. (Also, how good is new car smell?)

But car ownership doesn’t come cheap. Registration and insurance fees are pretty expensive, parking, tolls and fuel can really add up, and maintenance and services can be surprisingly pricey.

Zooming out, traffic and pollution rates are on the rise, and many people are feeling the pinch. So, how many cars does your household really need? Whatever you decide, remember teamwork makes the dreamwork – so work together to define your financial goals (including owning a car!).

Is it time to buy a second car?

There are pros and cons to being a single-car family. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before driving away in your new ride:

1. Is your schedule set in stone?

If you’re considering a second car to balance your family’s schedules, double-check whether a few calendar adjustments could help free up some time with your existing vehicle instead. Maybe you could work from home a few extra days a week, or walk instead of drive, or ask a friend for a lift once in a while. This way, you might not need to buy a second car!

2. Could a rideshare account be cheaper? 

Using a car is unavoidable sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to drive. For many Australians, using a rideshare or taxi service as and when you need it ends up cheaper than owning and operating the car yourself. You might even find it’s a great way to reduce family expenses!

3. Would you consider a car-share instead?

With an abundance of cars per household in Australia, many affordable car-sharing platforms have arisen to help people make a little extra money from the cars they aren’t using every day. If you’re only going to need a car for a few days or weekends a month, consider hiring a car in your local neighbourhood instead of forking out for your own. This can be a great way to cut expenses on your family budget without compromising on efficiency.

4. Is it for travel, or trend?

Buying a new car can be exciting, but are you buying it for fashion or for function? Before you make that final decision to buy, you need to look beyond your emotional connection to the vehicle. It can be a confronting question to ask, but if you’re cash-strapped and you don’t really need a second car for your daily travels, consider other low-cost alternatives. It comes down to want vs need.

5. Can you choose second-hand?

If buying a second car is your only option, consider buying a demo model or second-hand. That way, you’re saving some money, and your carbon footprint is a little lower. Also consider things like how you'll use the car, how many people you need to transport, what your budget is and your average fuel costs for the year.  Remember - there’s an art to buying second-hand, as you don’t want something that’s falling apart. But with enough research and digging, you could find yourself a real gem and save a lot of money.

You can use the handy image below to work out if one car or two, is for you.


Got two already?

Maybe it’s time to sell. If you’ve realised that being a one vehicle family is enough, use the money from your second car to either pay off some debt, top up your savings or splurge on other items you’ve been keeping on the backburner for too long – like renovating your home or travelling overseas!


Could you become a one car family?
Financial Wellbeing Coach

Budget for the wheels you need

Whether you’re streamlining your spending or planning to buy a new car, a bulletproof budget will bring all your grand plans to life.

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The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations. You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.