Dual Income, No Kids: Learning About DINKs and the DINK Lifestyle

June 26, 2023
  • Private Banking
Senior Relationship Associate Sean Kennedy looks at the benefits and drawbacks for couples considering a DINK, or “dual income, no kids,” life.

What Is a DINK?

There comes a time in every couple’s relationship when they ask themselves, “Do we want to spend a life raising kids?” The decision is unique for every couple – countless pros and cons play a role in whether to have children or remain childless. Couples who choose to delay or forgo having children at all are coined with the designation: dual income, no kids (DINK).

DINKs have grown in popularity over the years with a rise in couples choosing not to have children. A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau saw a nearly 19-percentage-point increase in U.S. adults living without children between 1967 and 2016, with more than 70% living a child-free lifestyle. A higher cost of living, exorbitant education and childcare costs, and personal ambitions are driving factors for adults opting for a DINK lifestyle.

When couples do not have children, they have more freedom to decide how to spend their disposable income. However, whether they have children or not, couples must align their financial and lifestyle goals to ensure the best outcomes.

The Benefits of a DINK Life

Dual-Income Salaries

It is often said two is better than one. When it comes to generating income, this term holds true. Couples with double incomes have more opportunity to choose how they want to spend, save, and invest their salaries. The Brookings Institution recently published a report from the USDA indicating that the average cost to raise a child through age 17 is roughly $310,605, or more than $17,000 annually. Without the need to spend on education, food, clothes, and myriad other costs associated with raising children, DINKs can choose to focus their spending on other financial and life aspirations.

Flexible Time

Raising children is time-consuming and energy-draining, and couples without children often have increased freedom to spend time on themselves. Whether a DINK couple focuses on more frequent travel, career ambitions, or increased quality time with a partner, the flexibility can be extremely meaningful to their lifestyle.

The Drawbacks of a DINK Life

No Childbearing Years

While living as a DINK presents various benefits, the decision to not raise children can be incredibly difficult and a source of tension for a couple. Raising children is often considered a significantly important aspect of life – and one that many feel passionate about in life planning.

Potential for Undisciplined Spending Habits

With no planned expenses to budget for children, couples may fall into habits of careless budgeting and irresponsible spending. It is important to have an organized plan to ensure both disposable incomes are properly budgeted for responsible savings and investments. If the time comes later in life when having children may be a possibility, couples will be more financially prepared to make the decision.

The Financial Priorities of a DINK Lifestyle

Financial planning is crucial for every couple, and DINKs are no exception. It is vital to be open-minded with your partner and to understand each other’s financial goals.

Financial planning allows for greater flexibility to choose how to spend time and money. Tools such as Monte Carlo simulations can be beneficial to weigh the impact of various life scenarios on savings and investments. The Monte Carlo method is a projection that runs multiple portfolio simulations of a financial plan against future market conditions over various time periods. Large life events such as marriage, children, advanced education, real estate purchases, and retirement savings are examples of assumptions that can be included in these projections.

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Being a DINK is not a binding decision, and proper planning can allow for lifestyle changes if a couple decides to explore having children. Childless couples should consider how their estate planning can evolve over the long term.

To best prepare for potential life changes, a couple should consider how their estate will be distributed upon the death of the remaining partner. Extended family and charitable distributions are among the more common choices. In addition, with no direct descendants, identifying a trusted individual to act as one’s power of attorney for financial, medical, and other life decisions is imperative.

Every couple’s life journey is unique. No matter their lifestyle choices, both partners should prepare for the road ahead. Reach out to NextGen@bbh.com for help navigating and planning your legacy every step of the way.

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