In 12 Reasons Why Your Next Gig Should Be Work-at-Home, one of the 12 reasons I listed was that you don’t need a car when you work from home. Most of the others were intangible benefits, like having greater control of your time and creating a better work/life balance. And though eliminating the need for a car was #12, it was the most beneficial from a standpoint of improving your cash flow.
This isn’t a new theme on this website. I also covered How Much Can You Save by NOT Owning a Car?, to spell out the impact owning a car has on your finances.
But it really is true, you don’t need a car when you work from home. And it’s not just a theory I promote, but the reality of my current lifestyle. My wife and I are living quite happily with just one vehicle. My wife works outside the home, but the single car arrangement is working for us, primarily because I work at home as a freelance blog writer. Working from home, I have no need for my own car.
Most days, my wife takes our car to work. If I need it for some reason, I’ll either drive her to work, or plan my trips around her work schedule.
It’s working for us, and I think it can work for anyone with the ability to work from home. I’ll confess upfront that there are some drawbacks. But on balance, those are heavily outweighed by the advantages.
The Cost to Own a Car has Skyrocketed in Recent Years
When most people analyze why they seem to struggle with budgeting, they mostly focus on groceries, entertainment, restaurant meals, healthcare costs, utilities, and cell phone and cable services.
They do their best to avoid taking on what is for most the single biggest expense they have, which is housing. And in most cases, the same is true of car expenses. But on closer analysis, it may well be that car expense is even more costly than housing in many households.
According to AAA the average cost to own a car for 2019 is $9,282 per year, or $773.50 per month. No matter how you may try to justify it, it’s a lot of money.
And just as important, most households have two or more cars. If we double the totals above to reflect two cars, we’re looking at $18,564 per year, or $1,547 per month. And that’s only if you have something that qualifies as an average car. Many people drive luxury imports, fully loaded pickup trucks, or premium SUVs. The costs are even higher.
The concept of one vehicle for every adult in each household is well entrenched in our culture. Statistically, there are about 272.5 million motor vehicles in the US and slightly more than 255 million adults. That actually puts the ratio at slightly more than one car for every adult (it’s 1.068 cars for every adult, to be exact).
It’s likely that commuting to and from work is the primary reason people need cars, particularly one for each adult member of the household.
It would help every household budget substantially to get by with a single vehicle. And when at least one adult in the household can work from home, that can become a reality.
You Don’t Drive or Don’t Own a Car
Though it’s fairly rare these days, there are some people who don’t drive. It’s likely most such people live in urban areas, and rely primarily on public transportation.
But a daily reliance on public transportation, particularly for commuting to and from work, can be almost as expensive as owning a car. It’s also not always convenient. For most, it requires walking a long distance or getting a ride to the nearest train or bus station. And if you have to walk, foul weather is a real problem.
But there are also people who don’t drive because they’ve lost their driver’s licenses. This can happen if you accumulate too many point for traffic violations, or are involved in a drunk driving situation.
In either case, if you have the ability to work from home, not being able to drive wouldn’t be a serious issue. As well, your reliance on public transportation would fall dramatically.
You’ll Eliminate the Time Spent Commuting
Back in the days when I commuted to work, this was one of my biggest irritations. I usually made a point to work closer to home, to minimize the drive. But living in large metropolitan areas, like the New York and Atlanta areas, distance wasn’t always the problem.
In most cases, it was traffic. If you can make a 20-mile commute in 20 minutes or so, time isn’t as big a factor. But if it takes you 40 minutes to drive 10 miles, it’s an entirely different story.
At that point, it’s not just the amount of time you spend in your car, but also the stress. I don’t know anyone who enjoys driving in heavy traffic. Not only is it aggravating, but it greatly increases the likelihood of getting involved in some sort of fender bender type accident. You can even think of those as being a variable cost of owning a car, and one far more likely to happen in the typical heavy traffic urban commuting situations.
But with the high cost of housing, there are many people spending inordinate amounts of time commuting to and from work, due to the need to live 30, 40, or 50 or more miles from where they work. A 40-mile, 40-minute commute may be a lot less stressful than spending the same amount of time on a 10 mile commute, but it’s still a ridiculous amount of time sitting behind the wheel of a car. And you have to do it all over again at the end of the workday.
That kind of commute extends your workday
It can add nearly two hours to the standard nine spent on the job, turning it effectively into an 11-hour day. That translates into less personal and leisure time, less time with loved ones, and even less time working on ventures to earn additional income, if you’re motivated to do it.
Creating a work from home situation can eliminate the commute that extends both the time and stress involved in a typical workday.
There Are More Options for the Carless than there has been in Years
The development of ride sharing services in recent years works nicely for anyone who’s looking to either cut down to one car per couple, as my wife and I have done, or even eliminate owning a car altogether.
Most metropolitan areas are fairly well served by ride sharing services, like Uber and Lyft. By signing up for one or both apps, it can function as an alternative means of transportation when you don’t have access to a car. And if you only need it infrequently, and prefer door-to-door service, it can work better than public transportation.
No, it’s not a perfect solution. Ride sharing services do cost money, and there are extensive rural areas where it’s unavailable. But if you live in a metropolitan area, as most people do, it’s usually available.
If you don’t have access to a ridesharing service, you may be able work out your own. If you have one or more friends or family members who have a car and are willing, you may be able to pay them to act as a ridesharing service for you. It could be a more comfortable arrangement for you, allowing you to operate without owning a car. But it can also be an opportunity for your personal driver(s) to earn some badly needed extra money.
You’d be surprised what kind of arrangements you can work out just by asking around. Though you may feel like you’re imposing by asking people you know to act as your “wheels”, it may be just the opportunity they’ve been looking for to pick up some extra cash.
Right now you may be thinking Yeah, that’s just great, but I don’t work from home. And I get that, because I spent at least half my work life commuting. I used to dream of being able to work from home, until the time that I started actively pursuing making it happen. And I’m here to tell you that you can do it to. Maybe not this month, or this year, but you can make it happen eventually if you make it a future priority.
If you’d like to work from home, but you haven’t been able come up with ways to make it happen, please read How to Create Work-at-Home Gigs to Free You From Your Cubicle Forever. It can be done, because I’ve done it twice in my life, and am actively doing it now.
The truth is, there are many opportunities to find either a work-at-home job, or to create a work from home business. It’s mostly a matter of making it a goal, then implementing strategies to move you in that direction. Sooner or later you’ll get there. And once you do, you’ll wonder what kept you from doing it before. I know I did!
Are you working from home now, or do you have a plan to make it happen in the future?