I Gave My Car Away!

by Tess

I've been ranting lately about how much I love reading Zen Habits, Rowdy Kittens, and Be More With Less. I've always been a semi-simple person and the lifestyles of these bloggers appeal to me. 

Don't get me wrong, I'll never have a tiny house like Tammy, I'll always own more clothing than Leo, and I'll never be as pure a minimalist as Courtney. Never! Some of what works for them doesn't work for me or my primary relationship. 

But some things do!

For the last four years, I've used my car less and less. I  decided about a year ago that when my 12 year old VW, Beetle, dies I won't purchase another car. Ever. 

Since moving to the city I don't need one.

When I need transportation, I can use hub's car. I can ride the trolley, the Light Rail or get a bike. 

However, the car keeps running smoothly. There isn't a thing wrong with it. I don't see it dying anytime soon, especially since I rarely drive it.

Two weeks ago, Daughter No.1 called from Michigan and talked about the difficulties they were having finding a used car for my granddaughter, Mackenzie. Most of the sellers they contacted, falsely advertised that their cars were in excellent condition. 

The following day, I told hubs that I wanted to give Mackenzie my car. We only had to figure out how to get it back to Michigan. They would pay the cost. Within twenty four hours, we were in contact with a car transporter that was very reasonable.

Last Thursday, when the truck came to load the car, I was very emotional. I thought about all of the fun that I had with my friends and family traveling in "Happyy." I felt grateful. I also felt blessed that I had the opportunity to help Mackenzie with transportation to her new job. 

I no longer have the expense of the car or insurance.  I no longer need gasoline, periodic tune-ups,  new tires or a car wash. There is one less car on the road. Simplifying is good. Bon Voyage!

How do you feel about simplifying your life? Please share!

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance November 13, 2011 at 7:32 pm

So funny that I read this today…as we have just ADDED a car to our driveway (literally – just hours ago!). And it was just like it is for your daughter and granddaughter – our son now has a job. It worked fine during the summer – when it was light (and warm!) outside – and I would bike a lot. Now, though…it’s dark and cold (hmmm…Michigan and Wisconsin are the same that way, aren’t they!!). And…it’s been more challenging working out schedules so that everyone can get where they need to be.

So – we decided on an older car…and I’ll use it (I’m excited about it – because it’s a manual transmission…which is going to be fun to drive…and interesting to teach to my kids!!).

Anyway – very awesome what you are doing for your granddaughter! And what a great way to take one more car off the road!

My parents also recently went from two cars down to one – because they just weren’t using their big gas guzzling pickup truck. And it’s working out wonderfully for them (and they are off to FL for the winter…so walking/biking will be something I know they’ll do there, too).
Lance´s last post…Would You Like Fries With That?


Tess November 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I just saw your photos from Hawaii on FB today. I love hearing about your family because it reminds me so much of mine. You have so much fun with your kids. Thanks for sharing another story with me. xox


David Stevens November 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Hi Tess,
I remember you talking about your car a few posts back. Well you are walking your talk, congrats. There are usually alternatives, you’ve discovered them, good luck.
be4 good to yourself


Tess November 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for holding me accountable. This is something I’ve planned on doing and the time is right. I have progress to make in other areas believe me!


Hilary November 14, 2011 at 2:23 am

Hi Tess .. I too loved my Beetle .. but delighted you’ve given yours to MacKenzie – she’s one deserving kid … and we really don’t need all the trappings of life .. I’m down-sizing slowly .. and though I don’t live in a City .. things are local .. I doubt I’ll give the car up .. as I used to use it for travelling our little lanes to get places a great deal before my Mama became ill and I’m fairly certain I’ll travel and work online later on too .. Enjoy the freedom and with a few more pennies in your pocket .. cheers HIlary


Roshelle Brockman November 14, 2011 at 5:46 am

I am emotional just looking at the pic of the car on that truck….THANK YOU! Once again, ‘our cup runneth over’!


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:14 am

Your welcome! Red rover, red rover let happy come over;)


Tim Webster November 14, 2011 at 6:15 am

Good for you! In an endless battle to combat the acquisition of ‘stuff’, you’ve made a big step!

I wish Atlanta were more navigable by public transport or by bike. Unfortunately neither are even close to being possible. =(
Tim Webster´s last post…Are You Wasting Your Potential?


Tess November 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Don’t you have the MARTA? Maybe you can check into that. Or simplify in a different area.


Galen Pearl November 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

What a lovely gesture. I enjoyed your story, and also the responses in the comments. We all have strong feelings about our cars, or having no car! For me, I have an 8 passenger SUV, which I got when I had too many kids to fit in the car I had before. The SUV has hauled all the kids around (plus the dog), sports teams, stuff moving into dorms…and back home, and more. Now I don’t need a car this big, but I will keep it till it dies (it’s 8 years old now), and then go to something small and more energy efficient. Great post. Your granddaughter will be thrilled!
Galen Pearl´s last post…The 11th Step


Tess November 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I found myself dragging my feet when there was no reason to keep it. We all do things in our own time. For me it was time. And it was perfect for Mackenzie.


Wendy Irene November 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm

My husband and I went for a long time with one car when we lived in the city (Vancouver, BC). You get used to it and going without becomes completely normal. That is wonderful you sent your car to your granddaughter. I am sure she will cherish it!


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:16 am

Vancouver is so beautiful! It’s a little weird right now. Hubs has to remind me I don’t have a car at times! Waiting for normal!


Bryan Thompson November 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

First of all, no WAY are you old enough to have a granddaughter driving a car. But even if I accepted that (and I must), it’s a cool feeling to start simplifying. And you’ve made a bold move here. It’s a step to less material hold. It may not entirely feel that way, but it’s a sensible move. You’re handling it great and you’re listening to the voice inside that counts. Way to go, Tess! It’s good to be back in the blogosphere. I got so busy for a while but I’ve missed the community!
Bryan Thompson´s last post…The Powerful Truth I’ve Forgotten About Gratitude


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:18 am

Welcome back. It’s one step. It feels good. That’s what matters. I’m checking out your post on gratitude. It’s powerful indeed.


Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker November 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Like you, the older I get, the fewer things I want – less is more.

If it were up to me, I swear, a 300 sq foot apartment is all I need.

Enjoy the simplicity,



Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:20 am

I understand “if it were up to me.” I work within my relationship to do what I can. I let the rest go.


Cathy Taughinbaugh | Treatment Talk November 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Hi Tess,

What a nice grandma you are. Your granddaughter, I’m sure will remember your generosity as she travels to work. We’ve thought about getting rid of one of our cars, but my husband has a used sports car that he loves. He doesn’t drive it that much,
so for now we’re good, but at some point in we will let go of one of our cars. Good for you for using public transportation whenever possible.
Cathy Taughinbaugh | Treatment Talk´s last post…Finding the Balance: Alcohol/Drug Curiosity vs. Family Relationships


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:21 am

Yes I’m a nice person in general;) I’d lay my life down for my granddaughter! I do think it was more for me than her. She gave me the reason to do it now.


Suzie Cheel November 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Hi Tess,
I can understand you emotions- what a wonderful color that VW is and i can just see you zipping about in it too:)
We now have just one car and yes we do save and can always get a cab occasionally- we don’t have the luxury of trolley or light rail, a bus to the shops is an 10 minute walk away. My goal is to get a bike- for fitness and because it always reminds me of my happy childhood
Suzie Cheel´s last post…Intuitive Heart Day 14: Opening Into The Light


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:22 am

I didn’t get a bike yet. I really want roller blades for the bike path. I want both. How’s that for simpicity;)


Betsy at Zen Mama November 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Hi Tess,
Great job! For your granddaughter and for you! Ever since gas has gone up so much I have been driving less and less. When my older sons were here for the summer, I let them drive the car. I either biked or got a ride. It wasn’t that hard at all. And the thought of no insurance payments and gas bills is enough to make me follow suit. One of our problems is that we live just a little too far away from everything. But our ultimate plan is to be like you, back in the city, where the train, walking and bus are quite convenient.
Betsy at Zen Mama´s last post…How To Make Your Day Last Forever


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:24 am

There was a short time when we were first married we only had one car. I also remember only going to the store or running errands on the weekend. We lived in the country then. It makes a big difference when you still have kids at home.


Sandra / Always Well Within November 14, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Hi Tess!

Totally love the license plate!!!!!! What a bold move. Congratulations on your next step toward greater simplicity and your fabulous exercise in generosity.

I want to simplify more but it’s mostly the small stuff that needs to go. I look forward to it!
Sandra / Always Well Within´s last post…Why Do We Suffer?


Tess November 15, 2011 at 2:25 am

I was focused on simplicity and forgot about the generosity. Silly me. Thanks for reminding me I’m a generous person. You are as well or you wouldn’t recognize it.


Megan Bord November 15, 2011 at 5:19 am

Tess, what an awesome thing to do! I understand why you felt a sense of loss – any time I’ve given something up or away, that feeling strikes me, too. It’s my fear reaction kicking in, trying to court me down the path of negative “what if’s.” But the sense of joy that follows…To me, that’s the heart talking, telling us, “Well done, sensei!”

Eighteen months ago, I gave up my blog to simplify my life (and I still praise that choice). A year before that, I gave up my high-paying, stress-producing “didn’t really love it” corporate job. It seems any time I’ve given up something like that to simplify my life, the Universe has rushed in to commend me.

My life continues to get better each day. I feel like I’m on vacation 24/7, navigating each moment as it comes. Best of all, I feel really good about the choices I’ve made and where they’ve led me. Nothing can replace that “really good” feeling. It’s life affirming!

So congratulations and thanks, again, for serving as a source of inspiration. You rock!


Tess November 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

Hi Megan
I especially thought of my mom and the car. She passed away a year ago Dec. and she never drove. So I drove her 1000 places! We always had fun and she would always want to treat me lunch or ice cream afterwards. I have a photo of her in it when it was new. I can tell you exactly what we did that day. And my grandchildren always loved the car blah blah…LOL

I forgot about your corporate job! The car arrives in Detroit today! I’m sure she’s ecstatic!


Tess November 15, 2011 at 6:33 am

Hi Megan
I especially thought of my mom and the car. She passed away a year ago Dec. and she never drove. So I drove her 1000 places! We always had fun and she would always want to treat me lunch or ice cream afterwards. I have a photo of her in it when it was new. I can tell you exactly what we did that day. And my grandchildren always loved the car blah blah…LOL

I forgot about your corporate job! The car arrives in Detroit today! I’m sure she’s ecstatic! Megan you’re my inspiration!


Evelyn Lim November 15, 2011 at 6:19 am

I was lured to read your article because of the title to your post LOL!

Incidentally, I was thinking about selling my car yesterday. Oil prices have gotten up and I don’t use my car all that often. If I have to, I can use my hubby’s car. Sure, I like having my own set of wheels but there are cost savings from selling my car away. Like you, I resonate with the idea of living simply.

I guess I need to think over my decision carefully. I still have to ferry my kids around for after-school activities. And if my hubby is using his, I will have to take public transport, which can be a hassle during peak hours.

I think it’s awesome that you are giving your car away. What a lovely present for your granddaughter! I’m sure she’d be very happy!!
Evelyn Lim´s last post…3 Limiting Beliefs That Create Self-Doubt


Tess November 15, 2011 at 6:35 am

Hi Evelyn,
I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had small children. Well maybe if I wasn’t a working mom. Gas was a lot cheaper then as well;) There are other ways you can simplify of course, when you’re ready you’ll know it!


Bob Lowry November 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

If only my wife and I lived in an area with decent public transportation! We couldn’t make it with no car in the part of Phoenix where we live. But someday, we’d love to live in a more urban part of the city, close to light rail and busy bus routes. Our cars spend 90% of their very expensive lives parked in the garage. What a waste.
Bob Lowry´s last post…Here it Comes: Winter Time


Tess November 15, 2011 at 9:00 am

HI Bob,
I never thought of it as expense sitting in the garage. Almost funny. What about giving up one car? We moved from the country a year ago and wanted to make sure we were in the center of everything. We’re only 10 minutes from the airport, zoo and the botanical gardens. We love it.


Jen November 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

I LOVE this, and your BOLD action in letting go of not only the car, but the emotions behind owning the car.

We live in a very bike friendly town, and when my children are older, I have the same wild dream. But for now…hauling instruments, kids, friends, and living 8miles out of town I will have to table the Get rid of Car and turn it over to Get Rid of excess junk I don’t need….which is what we have been working on as a family the last year.
Bravo to you, your daughter, and your granddaughter. Surely seems like a win-win!
Jen ?
Jen´s last post…Simple Gifts


Tess November 15, 2011 at 9:01 am

Hi Jen,
I love bike friendly towns! I thought of a scooter but I don’t feel protected with all the texting and driving that goes on these days!


John Sherry November 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

Hey, I got rid of a house and a home Tess! Okay, I sold it but I didn’t buy a new one! As you know I chose instead to share with others until a new home or life or way of living presents itself. So far I’m at the seaside and lovin’ it!! The thing is we have all these things because everyone else does and we never do enough self-enquiry to see if we really need, use, or want what we have. We have to be realistic as much as simplify. Yesterday’s expensive purchases are today’s book ends gathering dust along with the receipt. What you proved Tess is that you can still be happy even when ‘Happyy’ is off somewhere else. Safe journeys Herbie!!
John Sherry´s last post…We All Have Something To Offer


winsomebella November 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

Getting ready to do something similar here—it is kinda scary but liberating, isn’t it?
winsomebella´s last post…Prompt Me


Tess November 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

Growth is always liberating. It’s easy to fall into a rut but not so easy to get out. Let me know if you need any help;)


Patricia of Patricias Wisdom November 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I gave my car to daughter #2 the new school media specialist/librarian in August. We still carry the insurance though. She thinks she is going to live without a car in the new year. She does live in the city, but just trying to do laundry alone without a washer or dryer and she may need a vehicle…

Tomorrow is the second day we have had a conflict of scheduling for our remaining office car. My partner usually bikes everywhere…but 60 miles down the freeway in this rain is not possible right now. I have a medical appointment, but I can walk in the rain in about 45 minutes.

We raised 3 kids and worked with only one car. For awhile we had a van for camping and bike hauling and carpool. But usually just a small efficient car, and we rented for specialty trips and needs.
We have lived 35 years with flexible voluntary simplicity – our lives are rich…
nice sharing of some good words…lucky granddaughter and what a license plate


Deb November 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Hi Tess,

I’m from Detroit, where cars (used to be) changed yearly like out-dated handbags. Over the years, I’ve given in to my hub’s passion for British motor cars as his one true weakness. But I scoot around suburbia in a Subaru…so simple. More and more, I look for opportunities to go by bike to the library, post office, shops and campus. There’s so much more to see, hear and smell when you’re not in a car. Thanks for sharing your chance to “recycle and reuse” by keeping your Beetle in the family.

Cheers, Deb


Steve Rice November 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

That’s awesome, Tess. I may be moving to the NYC area in the coming months and definitely plan to let go of my car if that happens. I think it’s such a good feeling when we realize we don’t “need” all the stuff we have become accustomed to. It frees us somehow…and in your case, you were able to fill the needs of someone else in a wonderful giving way. How wonderful for your granddaughter not to have a car payment or threat of extra debt over her head during this uncertain economic situation.

Great post!
Steve Rice´s last post…How to Let Go of Anger


Sydney Wood November 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Good for you! I rarely use my car. I run, walk, bike, cross country ski to work (5.5 km one way). Great way to wake up before and after work. I run the most because it gives me the best workout.


Jt Clough | Big Island Dog November 19, 2011 at 1:24 am

Yet another thing we share. When we moved to Hawaii I sold my 4 Runner. I loved my 4 Runner, but my husband also has a 4 Runner. We had them when we met!

As for the list, Rowdy Kittens, Leo and Courtney… we are the same on that too! :) Love them, aspire to them and to most people I am much like them, but not quite to that degree. Though I will say only having one of everything and A LOT less of it, makes me super happy. Who knows. Maybe someday I’ll end up with only 33 pieces of clothing! I do only have 7 pairs of shoes. Before I left San Diego I had 150. Not kidding! Ridiculous. So I’m getting there. Aspiring to it.

One car is part of it. I like it. Enjoy the one less insurance bill.

Aloha Wags!
Jt Clough | Big Island Dog´s last post…The Grateful Dog Project


Noel November 19, 2011 at 7:36 am

Hi Tess, I understand how emotional it can be to let go of your car. I love my car a lot too and I doubt I can ever make such decision. Having to say that, you’re really brave, bravo! I haven’t make any drastic change to simplify my life yet but I learned to simplify my mind recently – worry less, regret less. It feels really good.
Noel´s last post…Challenge Quotes & Obstacles Quotes


Annie November 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

Congrats on this huge step! We have a van but are seriously considering eliminating it. It is the only vehicle we own, so we are looking at scooters and other options to go to the grocery and other places in our small town.

So proud of you!
Annie´s last post…A Thank You And A frugal Tip


Marci | Liberating Choices November 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm

We only had one car for over 10 years, since my husband has a patrol car to use to get to/from work. It’s sometimes inconvenient but it works for us.

For me, the biggest way I simplify is to not have my kids in activities every night of the week. In fact, once a week is plenty for me. They have great imaginations and seem to be thriving and learning even without all the “extras.” There is a constant pull to do more for our kids, and a looming worry that they will be behind. Well, my kids are doing just fine reading free books from the library and making their own plays/books out of what they learn. I’m not saying this is better, it just works for me and our family.
Marci | Liberating Choices´s last post…Gratitude Found in Unlikely Places


Loretta - Enjoy Leading December 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm

This is great to read.
We live on Waiheke Island NZ and are on the cusp of letting go our car. Bikes, buses, ferries and walking. We have a 9 yr old and a 14 yr old, so yet to hear what they think about the decision!

Cars speed up our world and make us miss the birds, trees and air on our face.

Not sure about winter though??


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