A small percentage of Americans own more than one vehicle. Every family owns at least two cars—one for work and one for taking the kids to school. When the pandemic happened, there was all the more reason for people to consider buying a second car. Since they felt uncomfortable in public transportation, that opened the possibility for them to own another car in case the first one breaks down or one other family member needs to go out.
But owning a car is more than about need. A lot of people need two cars in the family but can only afford one. Buying a second car depends on the location, employment status, and finances.
Owning Two Cars Is an Expensive Luxury
Not everyone can afford a second car. Unfortunately, many families also need this second car because the parents are working in different places. It’s generally okay to just own one car when only one person in the family needs it. But what happens when both the husband and wife are working, and the kids also need to go to school? Who goes to the grocery to pick up some stuff when the husband hasn’t come home with the car yet?
Isn’t it unfair for the other partner to take the public bus, cab, and train and put themselves at risk at this time? It’s fine if both are going in the same directions to work, but what happens if they are working in separate locations? If you think you absolutely need two cars, then follow these tips:
Consider Secondhand Cars
If you are tight on budget, you can consider getting two secondhand cars. Most families get by with used cars as long as these are vetted by a trusted car mechanic. Used cars are cheaper, of course, and you still get the full pizzaz. Many car lots offer a “buy here, pay here” scheme. They don’t normally require you to present proof of income and ability to pay, although the interest rates are higher.
You can also choose to buy one brand-new car and one used car. The idea is to use your brand-new car for long distances. Your kids should also have the monopoly of using the brand-new car since it is safer to bring it than one that’s been used by others already. If you are going on a road trip, you can trust your brand-new car to handle it without problems.
There’s another option for people with a much bigger budget. You can get a car “for show” and a car “for dough.” The show car is the one you bring to reunions, gatherings, events, etc. It can be a brand-new SUV or a sports car if you can afford it. The dough car is the one you take to and from work every day. It can be a mini-van, so it takes your kids to and from school, too. The dough car is a practical car; sometimes, you don’t even care if it has some bumps and dings.
Getting a secondhand car is a less expensive option than applying for another auto mortgage. Used cars have all the features that you need without the hefty price tag. If you are for practicality, you can even get a well-maintained old model that will still last for a long time. These cars usually come 40% off their original price tags.
Downsizing Should Still Be an Option
If you do not have the budget for a second car, don’t try to squeeze it into your finances. Remember the rule about owning cars: it should only be 10% of your annual salary. If you earn $150,000 a year, you should only get a car that will cost you $15,000 a year or $1,250 a month.
Then there is also the cost of maintenance. Normally, you need to spend at least $440 per car per month on fuel and maintenance. So, if you add another car to your household, that’ll be $880 per month. Are you sure your current household budget can afford that? If that’s not something that suits your current finances, then stick to your one-car policy or downsize from two cars to one.
You need to consider a lot of things when getting a second car. This is not something that you should do on a whim. Aside from the money that requires, there’s also a lot of effort needed to maintain two cars. Do you still have time to bring them to the car mechanic for routine maintenance? Does your office building actually have a parking space, or is it better to just take the public commute to work? Before you dive into the huge undertaking of buying a second car, consider all these factors first.