Monday, November 9, 2009

Wheels and Meals

So this is one of our two cars.  It is a 2004 Toyota Sienna LE in good running order and we are trying to sell it.  The Burbanian swing-set is, of course not for sale.  We have another, smaller car and now with the changes we have made to our lifestyle it seems to be the time to test out the possibility of becoming a one-car family.  This is not a change to be undertaken lightly, of course.  In fact, were the financial rewards (and financial necessity) not so obvious, perhaps we would wait a little longer.  However, we need the savings on maintenance, insurance, and car payments.  In spite of the severe anxiety brought about by our ignorance of how to sell this thing, it has to go.

Our auto usage has, in fact, been substantially reduced this fall.  As I mentioned earlier, my wife now works from home and I--thanks to the life of the suburban parson--live only a block away from the church where I work.  The school bus takes care of my oldest child.  The middle one goes to school within walking distance of the parsonage.  Finally, while the youngest needs to be driven to daycare now, we ultimately would like to get him there by bike and his hours mesh nicely with the drivers' hours anyway.  The only driving that is not accounted for is the always-intense suburban sports/after school schedule.  However, we are prepared to have them miss the occasional event for car repairs.  Even the hospital is nearby for emergencies (I hear they pick you up anyway)!

One thing we have gotten used to--and rather enjoy--with the new eco-austerity plan is the amount of time we now spend as a family.  Less driving has meant fewer distractions.  Also affecting this has been our near-renunciation of eating out!  Most nights I am in the kitchen cooking, my wife is baking (we have stopped buying most grocery baked goods like bread, cookies and muffins) and the kids are trying not to do their homework.  Now ain't that cozy?

Still, this will be a challenge.  The biggest hurdle has been the question of "long trips" up to Maine and of the very occasional times when we need to transport more than five people and a dog at once.  I do not have a long-term answer to this yet so we shall see.  In the short-term we don't plan on going anywhere anyway and the 'burbs, while clearly designed for the car, are becoming adaptable to other modes of transport.  I walk almost everywhere which is considered something of a cultural anomally (I am considered a bit of a "character" and am referred to as "Walking Dad" in some circles) but is also quite easy thanks to the ample (and almost unused) sidewalks.  Many members of my church commute by bike and a few may some day be attracted to those electric scooters we saw this summer. So my hope is that this change will be different more than difficult...

So...anybody want to buy a car?

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