Should Your Family Get a Second Car?

Family life is hectic and busy, there’s always something going on. From dashing to and from work to the school run, errands, taxing your kids around and more chances are you’re back and forth like crazy getting everything done. If you’re struggling with just the one vehicle or want to make life easier it might have crossed your mind to purchase a second. Whether it’s for your partner or your teenager who has recently passed their test, it can be a good way to keep the household running smoothly- here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

Are There Alternatives?

Instead of running out and buying an extra car, think carefully about what alternatives there are. If you or your partner only really use the car to get to work, could you arrange carpooling at the office or look into public transport? Perhaps whoever starts work later could drop the other at work, or maybe one of you could think about walking or biking. Not only will this be good for your physical health but it’s good for the environment too. One option could be to share the car where one drives to work for a week and the other bikes or walks and then you swap. This would be ideal if you both live a similar distance from your work and can make it more bearable than committing yourself to no car whatsoever. Another alternative would be for one of you to get a motorbike or moped, these are generally cheaper to buy and cheaper to run. And if you’re only using it to get yourself around (as opposed to the whole family) it would be ideal. In some situations, two cars would be the best choice but it’s worth considering if there are any other alternatives first.

Can You Afford it?

If you’ve decided that you need two cars in the household, your next move is to work out whether you can afford it. Your first step would be to choose the cars themselves. If you already have a relatively expensive car, you could sell this and use the money to buy two cheaper ones. You could save up, or you could look into finance deals. You will need to consider how expensive they will both be to run, tax and repair when things go wrong. One of the main expenses is car insurance, it’s well worth shopping around to find the best deals here. You may be able to get a policy that works out cheaper to cover both vehicles, or you could get insurance with car accident coverage included which is one less thing you’d have to buy. Go through your family’s budget and work out if you can afford to run two vehicles, and if not where you’re able to make cutbacks. If you’re currently paying a lot for things like train and bus tickets, having a car might save you money in some cases. So it’s worth going through everything with a fine tooth comb and making absolutely sure you can afford an extra vehicle.

Which Vehicles Will You Go For?

If one partner will mainly be driving to work and doing occasional family duties, a very small car will be more economical. If the other partner will be doing a lot of driving with kids, grocery shopping and will be out with kids bikes and prams and other large items they might need a larger car. Something like an SUV would work well if you could find one within budget. They will be more expensive to run but could be worth the added cost if you’ve gone out of your way to buy two cars to make life easier.

Where Will You Park?

Unless you have a double garage or driveway you will need to work out the logistics of where you will keep them. The person who leaves second in the morning will need to make sure they don’t block the first car in, and if your street requires a parking permit you will need to apply for two. In some cases, the second permit for the household might be more expensive. These are things you would need to consider and look into if you have two cars.

For some households, two cars are essential and getting by on one would make things very difficult. However, for many, there are other alternatives that would make more sense and be cheaper financially too. If you do want to get a second vehicle, weigh up the pros and cons and know what all of your other options are first.