At a Glance

In today’s world, the lifestyle choices of the dual income, no kids-demographic, often referred to as “DINKs,” have been a topic of both curiosity and controversy. As more couples opt for the DINKs lifestyle, questions inevitably arise: Are DINKs just selfish, or is there a deeper financial rationale behind their decision? This article delves into the intriguing world of DINKs finance, exploring the factors that drive this choice and examining whether the rising costs of raising children might be influencing the path to a DINKs lifestyle. Instead of just writing off DINKs as the latest TikTok trend let’s uncover the nuances behind the choices that redefine modern family dynamics and personal financial priorities.

The rise of the DINKs

Have you heard of DINKs? Though it sounds like a weird endangered bird species this is an acronym for Dual income, no kids. You may think you don’t know any of these types of people, but you do. They are the well-rested people at the restaurant who were having a glass of wine in the afternoon while you were negotiating with a hysterical 2-year-old to have one bite of broccoli. Their house is cleaner than yours, they have seen their friends recently and they made it to that 8 AM yoga class you talked about (after a delicious, slow cup of coffee they enjoyed.) They are married, employed (often with large salaries) and they have actively committed to the decision not to procreate (unless you count their adorable dog which is most likely a goldendoodle, a schnoodle, or any of the oodles and then this means they are DINKWADs but more about that later.)

OK so let’s get into the basics.

What is the DINK meaning? DINK stands for Dual Income, No Kids.

What does DINK finance look like? DINK households earn an average of $138,000 annually. This is 7% more than the $129,000 annual average for DIWKs (Dual Income With Kids.)

Some notable things about DINKs:

  • Since 1967 the number of DINKs in the U.S. has risen to 71.3% of the population.
  • These upwardly mobile, highly employable couples name financial freedom as the top reason they are not having children, according to a recent MarketWatch survey.
  • And this disposable income does enable them with the means to travel more than a couple with children could. The survey found that nearly half of DINKs (48%) are spending the money they’re saving from not having children on travel.
  • The survey also found that nearly 68% of DINKs don’t plan to ever have children and they don’t think they will regret this decision.
  • The DINKs lifestyle has become an aspirational TikTok trend (because, of course) as it shows these childless couples traveling the world in style with no tiny cohorts in tow (unless you count their designer bags).
  • DINKWADs (Dual Income No Kids With a Dog) are also a huge TikTok trend because anything is cuter when you add a pampered dog to it!
@hillarybowles DINK life🥂 #couplegoals #dinks #traveltiktok #marriagegoals #CapCut ♬ original sound – mads

@thatvancouvercouple anyone else living that dink life? 🫶🏻 #dink #dinklife #dinklifestyle #couplestiktok #couplesvlog #marriedlife #marriedcouple #marriedlifebelike #marriagelife #dayinthelife #dayinthelifevlog #5to9afterthe9to5 #nightroutine #eveningroutine #coupleroutine #husbandandwife #husbandandwifevlog #fyp #viral #lifestyle #relatable ♬ Barbie World (with Aqua) [From Barbie The Album] – Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice & Aqua

Are DINKs just selfish adults?

So now we get to the main crux. TikTok has deemed DINKs as selfish humans who hate children as they show off their lavish travels and ability to drop everything for spur-of-the-moment events like going to Disney World for dinner on a Tuesday. But are they these ungenerous, narcissistic, jet-setters they are painted as by the always-reliable universe of social media? Or are they realistic, practical, financially-conscious Millennials burdened deeply with student loan payments—almost 15 million millennials are dealing with student loan debt, with an average of $38,877 per person—who came through early adulthood in a recession then lived through a pandemic, and are quite cognizant of the fact that raising a child costs over $340,000 in today’s inflated economy? Not sure one TikTok video can sum all that up.

Let’s remember that Millennial DINKs (between 25 and 40 years old) came up through some hard stuff. They graduated from college at the peak of a recession which put them way behind their boomer parents in terms of financial milestones like buying a house (and let’s not forget they also are getting married later with 56% of millennials not being married as of 2022, according to Pew Research.) And then came the pandemic which made not having children look like the ultimate luxury for those parents who suddenly, in addition to their full-time jobs, had to be full-time nannies and teachers.

After a long pandemic, life had been stalled for many people for a few years. Young people were desperate to, well, be young. They wanted to travel, to not get married and to not have responsibilities. That is why we are seeing so many trends on social media, including #DINKlifestyle, driven by FOMO.

The MarketWatch survey found that the top three reasons for not having children included ‘I’m enjoying the financial freedom of not having children,’ ‘I enjoy the day-to-day flexibility of not having children’ and ‘I can’t financially support a child right now.’ Some of these people may be accepting that they can’t afford to give a child a life they would want to give them. Others have health issues that prevent them from having children, some tried to have children and weren’t able to and others simply don’t want them.

Plus, children are very expensive! Credello recently published data on the cost of raising children in the U.S. in 2023 and found that on average a middle-class income household spends around $342,584 to raise one child through the age of 17. Factor in the prices of food, housing, childcare, school supplies, extracurriculars, etc., and that’s a large price tag on a growing human. Plus, some people may not want to bring children into this chaotic world full of natural disasters, economic collapses, record-high inflation, war, violence, Kylie Jenner dating Timothee Chalamet, etc., In the words of the great Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls, should you “drop another sucker in this mess”?

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Financial benefits of being a DINK

Though TikTok paints a picture of DINK couples expendable income being spent on nothing but lavish trips and wardrobes (and apparently leisurely trips to Costco because apparently Costco becomes absolutely delightful without children?), there are some real financial benefits to not having children. First of all, it allows for more career freedom. In some DINK couples they can take the approach to their jobs that while one holds down the fort with a more steady, reliable job the other can take some bigger career risks like a passion project such as writing a book.

According to RocketMortgage, though DEWKs own their homes more than DINKs do (72% versus 59%), DINks can also contribute more to their retirement funds. They contribute about 9% more than DIWKs for retirement, and this is increasingly seen in states where DINKs earn a higher income, like Connecticut, Illinois and Rhode Island.

Plus, more disposable income doesn’t just mean more trips and more Louis Vuitton dog bags. It means more money for investing and emergency funds. DINK couples often set financial goals related to early retirement, starting a business, or pursuing expensive hobbies. They can allocate a significant portion of their income, or in some cases, a full salary toward these goals. Jadyn Bryden, a 23-year-old venture capital investor in Boston, told TIME, “Having dual income and no kids is the perfect opportunity to use your discretionary income to save or invest.” They invest one of their salaries completely in investments and live off the other. DINKs may also place a greater emphasis on insurance and estate planning, ensuring they have adequate coverage and clear plans for their assets in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Financial advisor and writer Jay Zigmont, who specializes in DINK clientele at Childfree Wealth, told Yahoo! Finance, “It’s a different life plan, not better or worse. The hard part is that once you’re living a child-free life you have to choose your own path, which can be really hard for people. You get your personal, financial goals in place, and then what? Parents shift those goals to their kids, we don’t. Being child-free changes pretty much everything with your financial plan. Retirement is an option for child-free people, not a requirement; buying a house is an option not a requirement. All these things that are core components are no longer the same.”

Bottom line

The debate surrounding DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) and the affordability of raising children is a complex and multifaceted issue that cannot be reduced to simple labels of selfishness or economic constraints. It is essential to recognize that personal choices and circumstances vary widely, and what works for one person or couple may not work for another.

DINKs, in many cases, are not inherently selfish jetsetters. They may have legitimate reasons for choosing not to have children, such as career aspirations, personal goals, or health concerns. It’s important not to judge their choices without understanding their individual circumstances.

On the other hand, the rising costs associated with raising children, including education, healthcare, and housing, have indeed made parenting more financially challenging for many couples. Hopefully if you ask any parent they will say the benefits outweigh the financial pressures by tenfold but there should also be understanding of people who choose to forgo parenthood and they should not be judged. It is not fair to stigmatize either choice.