The Family Car Dilemma

by Erika Torres

choosing a baby car seat, baby car seat problems, family car issuesFirst off, I want to say, thank you, thank you, thank you, for all the kind words and sympathetic ears on my last post. When a post is written like that, it can easily be misconstrued and I am so grateful that everyone took it the correct way and empathized with my current plight. I am happy to say after a low-key and family-filled weekend, I am doing a lot better and hope to get into full baby prep soon.

In the meantime, I desperately need some advice on a financial conundrum that I am sure you savvy spenders will be able to understand.

Choosing a Car for our Baby Car Seat

Eric and I both have two-door cars.

Back when I bought my Honda Accord in 2006, I thought the two-door looked cooler and I figured by the time I was ready to have a family, which at that time was years away, I figured I would for sure have a new car.

How very wrong I was.

If I had purchased a four-door car, I would not be in the situation I am in today.

Eric has a truck with no back-seat cab. So neither of our cars will comfortably fit a baby seat. My coupe could at least hold the car seat, but it’s going to be a pain getting the baby in and out, but I’m willing to struggle through it if need be.

Eric really, really wants to keep his truck because he does use it a lot for work, and for house projects, hauling things to and from Home Depot.

HOWEVER, because Eric and my work schedules don’t align, there will be times where Eric will need to pick up the baby from child care, and vice versa. For this reason, we really need TWO cars that will hold car seats.

Here are some of the options we’ve thought about. FYI- by the time we are ready to buy a car in October or so, we will have between $8K-10K saved up specifically for a car. I would really like to keep our loan down to a $10K, 36-month loan. We could afford to pay for a car completely in cash, but I would rather not empty our reserves, especially with a baby on the way. So this gives us a total budget of between $15-20K.

Option #1: 

Buy used family car ($20K budget, 2010 or so SUV) that would become my main mode of transportation. Keep both the truck and coupe. Eric can use the truck for work/house stuff, and use the coupe on the few days he’ll need to do daycare duty. This will mean we will have three cars. We may get a live-in nanny, so this may work so that the nanny will have the coupe to drive.

Option #2: 

Keep my Coupe, sell Eric’s truck (put money toward new car) and buy him a newer used truck with a full cab to fit baby seat. For family trips, we would use the truck.

Option #3: 

Try and trade my coupe for a four-door, sell Eric’s truck and buy him a new truck with cab.


Are there any other options we’re missing? What do you think would be the most affordable option? I’m open to any advice!


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Tarynkay July 16, 2015 - 6:38 pm

We have a two door Golf TDI and a now 3 1/2 year old. While we do wish we had bought a four door car back in 2002, having a two door and a baby in a car seat really hasn’t been no that bad. It was actually super easy back when he was in an infant seat- so easy open the door, pop the front seat forward, and click the car seat in or out of the base. It was a little bit more difficult when he switched to a convertible car seat, but still totally fine and not worth going into debt for in our opinion. I started babysitting a three month old baby when my son was about two years old, and I was able to fit the second car seat back there in my two door with no problem. After my son turned two, we turned his car seat forward facing and then it got even easier bc I could just reach back and unbuckle him and he could climb down all by himself (he could mostly do this rear facing, but it was obviously easier for him when he didn’t have to clamber over the side of the seat to get out.)

So yes, you definitely need to trade in the truck since it doesn’t have a back seat at all. I guess if you really need a truck, maybe one with a crew cab? But I would keep the coupe for the next few years at least.

Cameon Knight July 10, 2015 - 10:52 am

Does your husband love his truck or is he wanting something else? I think the biggest part of this equation at least to me personally is whether you will have a nanny or whether your little one will be in day care? Something to factor into the equation when budgeting for the new car is that when you have a live in nanny, you are responsible for paying half of the taxes. More than likely, the caregiver will have their own car. Just make sure they are properly insured, and they have a clean driving record. Most caregivers already drive 4 door cars, so that’s not a big deal. Not to mention, if you’ll have a nanny then why would your husband need a four door car?

I personally, would save save save until you just can’t deal with the coupe anymore. It may not be as bad as you think, and you don’t want to get into a situation where you get into more debt and then realize that you want to be home with the baby and don’t have that option because of minimum payments. Once you finally reach the point with the coupe, take your savings and find something you can pay for in cash and in full. From there, just trade cars with your husband if you know he will need to pick up the little one from daycare if y’all decide to go that option.

I’ve been in childcare for 10+ years and I just have seen so many moms get into the workforce and then say they wish they didn’t have to work because they’d much rather be home with their babies but they can’t because of their debt. is also a GREAT resource for learning about nanny taxes.

Lizzy July 8, 2015 - 10:02 pm

Congrats on the baby!

I thin the way to go would be option #1. The infant seats these days grow with baby, so they are worth looking into for that. A lot go up to 35 pounds and 35 inches, so you can get over a years use with it, unless you have a kid like mine and comes home from the hospital in a 3 month outfit and wears 6 month clothes by 3 months old. Keeping the coupe for days Eric has to pick the little one up seem ideal at the moment, especially if you decide on having a live in nanny.
I love my Toyota Highlander if you’re looking into SUV’s. We can fit 2 car seats in the back and all our junk in the trunk still.

Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank July 1, 2015 - 2:14 am

That is not a good situation to be in. I agree that you would have saved money if you had bought a four-door car. That being said, you have options and I think option 1 is the best one to do. Good luck! Hope you keep us updated on what your decision would be.

Haley Buhman June 30, 2015 - 8:42 am

One thing to think about is how many kids you might have in the long run (or short run).
We unexpectedly had 3 children in 2 years and needed a car that would allow for at least 2 rear facing carseats. We purchased a Mazda cx9 and love it. It fits 3 carseats next to each other. It has a 3rd row as well.
To each his own, but I use a convertible carseat for all my kids. I found the infant one was grown out of too quickly (6-9 months) thus more money spent.
And don’t get me started on baby carriers. That’s what I used as opposed to lugging around a 20lbs. carseat. (Baby K’tan and Becco).

Reply June 30, 2015 - 7:17 am

Option 1 is your best bet. Having a comfortable and spacious car when you have a baby is a life saver. The coupe will be your backup car but maybe your husband could drive the newer car when it’s his turn to pick up baby. When I was pregnant we went through this and ended up trading both of our cars for two new-to-us cars. I drive a 2012 rav 4 and LOVE it (I call it my cool mom car) and my husband got a 4 door 2009 Toyota Corolla. Both can fit a car seat but obviously the RAV4 is our main car given the space. You will only have a base cataract that snaps in and out for the first 7-8 months then will need a bigger convertible. You need space for that thing! Good luck!

Emily June 30, 2015 - 6:22 am

If you really just need a truck for hauling stuff, could you sell his car and get a family vehicle and buy a cheap beater truck for a couple thousand to get stuff from point A to B? It’s something my husband and I always talked about.

So my baby only lived in the infant seat (the clamshell we called it) for about 8-9 months and then we went with a convertible car seat that’s rear facing. It is a total pain to get them in and out of a smaller vehicle. I would start with trading in one car and then work towards trading in another. We ended up learning we all couldn’t fit in my little four door car as a family of three and traded in my car while on maternity leave. We took a small loan and paid it off as soon as my tax return check came in. I have a Dodge Caliber that we spent $12K on. I wish I had spent a little more to get a bigger car (babies require SO MUCH STUFF), but it’ll be perfect once she’s safely forward facing.

When you go testing, have a car seat with you and the stroller if possible to see if it all fits! If you don’t have yours yet, borrow from a friend!!

Mark@barebudgetguy June 29, 2015 - 3:51 pm

I agree with Kirsten on this one. Nothing like putting babies in and out of cars. All. the. time.

Julie, mama of two June 29, 2015 - 10:24 am

Could you get one car seat-friendly car and trade off vehicles whenever Eric has pick up duty? So basically, the car follows the baby rather than one of the parents.

Also, if you went the nanny route, would you have to worry about pick up at all?

On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the peace of mind of knowing that you can always get the child(ren) someplace with whichever vehicle you have at your disposal. Hence us currently having 4 car seats in 2 cars for 2 children. It’s not the most economical choice, but it is the “easiest” with the most peace of mind.

Reply June 29, 2015 - 10:20 am

I will preface my comment with I am a car person! Might be a little biased!
With my first child my husband would have put me I a tank if possible…I opted for a Nissan Murano, which I loved. Especially when we surprised when #1 was just 9 months old and we found out another was on its way!
Since then I have driven a Sentra (not big enough) and now I’m in a Maxima which is great. Hubby has to have a pick up truck for work which he is required to replace at certain age/mileage periods. He’s driven a Ford F-150 super crew and now has a Dodge Ram with a full cab. He spends a lot of time driving and thought the ford was more comfortable.
You for sure do not want to deal with the two door! You also need a good trunk for a stroller. Obviously hubby’s current truck won’t work if you both have to handle drop offs and pickups.

Reply June 29, 2015 - 9:28 am

If you install a base in your coupe, it’s a “breeze” to get the infant seat in and out. Buckle the baby in the infant seat at your location and then just pop it in the base in the car. No hassle.

I’d concentrate on the truck and worry about the coupe later on. Good luck!


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