Multiple Income, No Kids Lifestyle
Double income no kids (DINK) couples have an advantage when it comes to financial independence/early retirement. This "easy" path still deserves exploration. After all, going without children streamlines your life for many more adventures.
In my corner of the world, society is largely built around families, and the traditional advice I've run across is geared towards that path of relationship escalators and child-rearing. Knowing that I do not quite fit the traditional path, I have always felt a little lost therefore.
At least within the FIRE community there is a decent variety of perspectives – a quick survey suggests that about half of the FIRE bloggers I've seen are parents and half are child free. I do so love diversity and colourful niches, so I linger to appreciate each of these perspectives as I would a flower in the garden.
Along the way I've picked up an understanding of what it means to be a DINK. As mentioned earlier the term itself just refers to "Dual-income, no kids." This is usually the status of a couple that either does not have kids yet (DINKY), or does not ever want them.
I personally dislike the term DINK, and I prefer to use MINK: multiple income, no kids. This term does not preclude polyamory, nor does it imply that one person should only earn one income. People should have multiple individual incomes.
Growing up, I first heard DINK used as something of a slur prescribed to yuppies (young urban professionals). It was dismissive, writing off their experiences as a byproduct of their privilege and wealth. There was resentment against the DINKs in my life because they had it easier, and they had different values for money. They had truly "disposable" income for expensive items, from fancy knives to coastal houses. My frugal family members just could not relate.
DINK as a slur stuck in my mind for many years, fuelled by what I'd seen with the yuppie DINKs in my life. They had all these advantages, and strong opinions about the world. They complained about injustices, but crucially instead of fighting back they squandered their money on selfish pursuits. These pursuits gave nothing back, not to the world nor to them. Expensive cars, expensive food, expensive hobbies that didn't transform them.
With time I discovered that being MINK did not necessitate being a wasteful yuppie. I discovered people who felt compelled to give back to the world, and with them I realised a core value of mine: service.
I believe in spending your life on causes to rally behind, vocations, and grand projects. Some choose to raise a child as their grand project. MINKs take all that capacity that would have been spent on raising children, and can instead use that freed up capacity to pursue other worthy causes.
In short, I believe service to society is vital. If you're a in MINK situation you should make the most of the opportunity.
Being a MINK also comes with a host of advantages that make it easier to accomplish life goals. One of the most obvious ones is the amount of focus MINKs can afford. They can focus wholly on careers, hobbies, work & life balance, philanthropy, charity, or relationships. At the same time, when their focus wanes and energy lulls, there are not as many pressing demands – such as being dead tired and still needing to perform childcare – to weigh them down. They can recover and come back with renewed vigour.
Similarly, MINKs can strategically use downtime. With multiple income streams, they can afford to take time off for a sabbatical, or to recharge from daily grinds. Most importantly, thanks to low overhead there is less pressure to make end's meet, meaning that MINKs can invest in longer term projects. For instance, taking time off to build a new side hustle, which can take months before it pays off.
Being chained to a daily or weekly grind is one way of trapping people – for example, a typical worker pulling forty hour work weeks living paycheck to paycheck. There is little wiggle room for them to properly recover, let alone to invest in a long-term goal that risks not paying out.
Relocation is another advantage that is more feasible for MINKs, allowing them to enrich their life with travel. It also allows them to chase better jobs, since they can make a lot of money as long as they are willing to move around to where high-paying work is at.
Some people also relocate as a part of their strategy of geoarbitrage. They take advantage of low cost areas to live in whilst maintaining their high-paying work, or coasting using their already-amassed wealth.
MINKs have plenty of opportunity for streamlined and consolidated expenses. They can have efficient living situations with smaller housing and roommates. Cooking benefits from economies of scale when there are multiple partners. Transportation can and should benefit from better resource utilisation – rather than having a car for each person, they can have a shared car.
MINKs can also afford smaller emergency funds, since their cash runways are typically padded out by multiple income streams. Losing a single income stream is less of a danger therefore.
On the topic of funds, MINKs face the decision of whether to maintain separate accounts or to use joint finances. I'm a fan of keeping individual accounts for income and discretionary spending, and pooling assets into the joint account for joint expenses such as housing.
Related to this, MINKs still face the usual gamut of income level considerations, such as income disparity and homemaking. If one partner makes significantly less, should they also contribute less to expenses? If a partner wants to quit their job and stay at home, how does that work in the relationship?
At least MINKs have a better chance at equality when it comes to finances. It's possible for relationship participants to make similar amounts and feel that splitting evenly is fair.
MINKs have a better-than-average shot at becoming financially free thanks to these advantages and more. They can also easily fall into the spending trap of living beyond their means, especially if they feel peer pressured into the affluent lifestyle.
Ultimately it boils down to financial discipline, same as with anyone else. DINKs should practise discipline to achieve freedom, even if they have it "easy".