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A DINK couple

The acronym “DINK” stands for “dual income, no kids.” It refers to couples where both members have paying jobs and don’t have any children living with them. The number of people living as DINKs has been increasing for decades as couples delay having children and, in some cases, opt not to become parents at all. DINKs represent an attractive group of prospects for financial institutions and sellers of luxury goods, because they are presumed to have significantly more disposable income than couples saddled with the costs of raising children. If you and your partner or spouse are deciding which category to fit into and money is a factor, consider working with a financial advisor.

A financial advisor can help you find all the tax deductions and credits available to people raising children.

While DINKs are sought-after customers, the delay in child bearing and declining birth rates that are behind the growth in their ranks can have potentially negative effects on the overall economy. When a society’s population growth is stagnant or declining, it can lead to a shortage of consumers to buy business offerings as well as a shortage of workers to supply necessary labor. Having too few active workers can make it difficult to support older people who have stopped working.

In addition to DINKs, another group of couples is known as “DINKYs,” short for “Dual Income, No Kids — Yet.” These are people who are living together without children but who are likely to eventually become parents. Empty nesters, who are couples whose children have grown up and left home, are another variety of DINK. Non-DINKs include single parents, couples with children and only one income and two-income couples who are raising children.

DINK Trends

The number of DINKs has been increasing for decades. A 2017 report from the Census Bureau found the percentage of adults living without children grew 19 points since 1967, to reach 71.3%. One cause of the shift is people delaying marriage and, since most babies are born to a married couple, delaying childbirth or just not having one or more children. Census reports median age at first marriage moved from 20.6 years old to 27.4 years old for women since 1967, while men’s age at first marriage went from 23.1 years old to 29.6 years old.

Financial Impacts

A DINK with a friend and the friend's babyDINKs benefit financially by avoiding the costs of child-rearing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent report on this topic found that a child born in 2016 to a middle-income couple will cost an average $12,980 per year until age 18, for a total $233,610, not counting inflation. This is for a couple earning $59,200 to $107,400. Costs may vary depending on various factors including local living costs and the number of children, since it costs less per child to have a larger family.

The biggest single portion of the child-rearing cost is housing, accounting for 29% of the total, followed by food at 18% and childcare and education at 16%. Since the USDA child-rearing cost estimate ends when the child turns 18, it does not include the costs of paying for college.

DINKs, of course, have no child-rearing expenses. They also forgo the investment of time and energy required to raise children. As a result, DINKs are able to invest more time and energy in their careers, which can lead to increased earnings on top of reduced expenses. Even more significantly, DINKs avoid the complete loss of one income, which can occur temporarily or permanently when one parent stays home full time to oversee children.

DINK Effects

The special characteristics of DINKs make them attractive to employers, financial institutions and businesses that sell luxury goods. That’s because DINKs tend to have more time to devote to fulfilling job responsibilities and more disposable income to save, invest and spend on goods and services.

When it comes to personal finance, DINKs typically are more able to build rainy day funds, pay off debt, save for retirement and perform other important financial tasks. DINKs are more likely to be able to indulge philanthropy and supporting of favorite causes, according to Synchrony Bank. Early retirement is often more feasible for DINKs because they can save more than couples whose income is diverted to child-rearing costs.

Bottom Line

DINK couple in their luxury apartmentCouples known as “DINKs” – short for “dual income, no kids” — often have significantly stronger financial positions than other couples who have the requirement of paying for child-rearing costs. They may also have more time to devote to career advancement, and tend to be heavier consumers of luxury goods and services. DINKs are also valued by investment firms because they often have more disposable income to fund retirement accounts and other investments.

Tips on Finances

  • DINKs’ extra disposable income gives them a better-than-average opportunity to grow wealth by saving and investing. If you’re a DINK, consider seeking the insights of a financial advisor on how to make the most of the investment options available. Finding such a professional doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • To make sure you don’t miss a credit or deduction that you qualify for, use a good tax software. SmartAsset evaluated common tax filing services to find the best online tax software for your specific situation.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SolStock, ©iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography, ©iStock.com/Chinnapong

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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