Bournville family saves thousands of pounds after ditching the car for the bus and cycling

Ruth and Tom Cumming got fed-up of rocketing bills to keep running their car

A couple with four children have saved thousands of pounds by ditching their car and travelling everywhere on foot or bus - and even go on holiday by train.

Ruth and Tom Cumming, both 38, got fed-up of rocketing garage bills to keep their car running which they used to ferry their children around.

Sign up to our BirminghamWorld Today newsletter

When they were told their ten-year-old VW Touran would cost hundreds to repair when it broke down again last January, they sold it for £2,000.

The family now walk or cycle to school and work and for longer journeys take the bus and go on holiday by train.

Ruth and Tom live with their children Andrew, ten, Joel, nine, and four-year-old twins Samuel and Naomi, in Bournville.

They are bucking the trend in Birmingham which is currently ranked one of the highest in the UK for car-ownership.

Ruth, who runs her own sewing business, reckons the family have saved at least £3,500 on fuel and running costs since ditching the car.

Ruth Cumming with husband Tom and children, from Bournville, with CoWheels car hire

What has Ruth said about going carless in her own words?

She said: “We haven’t looked back from the day we got rid of the car.

"The car broke down one day and it was going to cost around £2,000 to repair.

“We just thought that maybe this is the point where we’ll go car-free.

“It was during lockdown and no one was going anywhere anyway so it was easy but we still haven’t missed it when things got back to normal.

“The main thing we’ve learnt is about choosing the best tool for the job.

“Is it walking, cycling, bus or tram? If those are not possible then we will hire a car. I’m not anti-car but cars are overused in cities.

“We had to hire a car when we went to the peak district.

“None of us are particularly sporty, but it is important that we bring exercise into daily life.

“You just naturally fit in exercise in the day. It builds into your daily life. It’s free entertainment to the kids.”

"There was an environmental element to this decision too.

“Since having the kids we try to make as little impact on the planet as we can.

“It is something new for us because we weren’t really into being eco until we had the kids."

Ruth Cumming with husband Tom and children Andrew ,11, Joel ,9, Samuel ,4, and Naomi ,4, at home in Bournville

But what about the future? Will the family still save cash?

The family say they walk to school and cycle to church or take the bus when it rains.

They take a train to Devon for their annual holiday and they have a monthly online shop delivered.

Tom, an administrator at Birmingham University, uses his bicycle to get to work and pick up essentials from a local shop on his way home.

Ruth is also a member of Co-wheels car club and hires a car for a day when she is unable to take public transport.

The family’s drastic life-style change looks even more savvy since fuel prices rocketed this year and look set to continue to rise even further.

Ruth added: "The other day my brother spent nearly £100 on the tank of fuel.

“I’m so glad I don’t have to do that, I don’t know where I’d find that money.

“We were spending around £200 a month on the car and if we still had it today that it would be even more because of the high fuel bills.”

Ruth Cumming with husband Tom and children Andrew ,11, Joel ,9, Samuel ,4, and Naomi ,4, at home in Bournville

Are there any downsides?

She said: "You do have to take entertainment so when we go to Devon, it takes three-and-a-half hours on the train.

“The twins cope with that now they’re four.

"We’ve had some really horrific journeys back from Devon in the car when the kids were toddlers because they didn’t want to be strapped into a car seat and they were whinging and whining.

“They’re far less likely to moan on a train than they were in the car.

“It’s really liberating, I feel a real sense of freedom that we don’t have to worry about the admin of the car.

“We don’t have to worry about repairs.

"The money saving is great, I mean ultimately, that’s why we didn’t want to be dependent on a car.

“It’s nice to say we do it for environmental reasons and that, of course, is part of it but we just have never had the budget to have a really reliable car.

“With the cost of living crisis and higher fuel bills, I think a lot of people are taking a look at their car and thinking whether they really need it.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.