The days of family channels being the internet’s ideal family arrangement are behind us. Instead, apps like TikTok are making room for DINKS, an acronym for households with double incomes, and no kids.
DINK videos, which have over 33 million views on TikTok, showcase the lifestyle of kid-free married couples– from traveling the world, to parenting pets, to spending $100 on candy, because why not? Kate Anderson, known as @engelthang on TikTok, gained nearly 100,000 followers from posting “dink vlogs”— videos that show her and her husband’s day-to-day life. One of her most popular videos is a date-night run to Costco. “We don’t have kids to feed, but we’ve got lots of money to spend on goodies,” she says in a video with more than 1.5 million likes.
Anderson, a 30-year-old newlywed based in Minnesota, makes content for other couples that feel pressure to have kids after marriage. “There’s not a lot of discussion for other lifestyle choices available for couples who are newlyweds,” she says. “I was really surprised at how aspirational some people found it. They’ll tell me, ‘Yeah, that’s my dream life.’”
While this may be another case of the vertical-video app rewarding relatability, it’s also a direct reflection of the reality for many adults. Fertility rates have been declining in the U.S. for more than a decade and there is a growing share of adults in the U.S. that don’t plan to have children, according to a 2021 Pew Research study.
But as much as Gen-Zers and millennials are embracing the word “DINKs,” they didn’t come up with the term. Boomers have been using it for decades, as noted in the 1987 TIME article ‘Living: Here Come the DINKs.’ The piece points to the cost of raising a child to age 18 as almost $100,000 at the time. That number is now closer to $310,000, according to Brookings Institution analysis of data from the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Jadyn Bryden, who is 23 years old and a venture capital investor, first heard the term DINK when she was younger and admittedly couldn’t imagine what that life-choice as an adult would look like. Now, she and her husband are self-proclaimed DINKs, living in Boston together, where they’re bringing in two incomes and have yet to have children. The choice is a financially smart one, she says.
Bryden and her husband haven’t decided to splurge on expensive bags or luxurious trips with their sizable dual incomes. Instead, they’ve decided to live off of one income, and completely save and invest the other. “Having dual income and no kids is the perfect opportunity to use your discretionary income to save or invest,” says Bryden. By living off of one income, the couple has been able to save for their wedding, build their retirement and savings accounts and work towards funding future rental properties. Her advice for other DINKs is to follow suit if they can.
But just because Bryden doesn’t have kids now, doesn’t mean she doesn’t want them in the future. In fact, her choice to have dual incomes and no kids at the moment, is preparing her for when she does have kids. “DINK status is not necessarily always a long term thing,” she says. “We’re using this time as an opportunity to put together a strong financial foundation so we won’t have to struggle in the future.”
Although these households may have more disposable income, DINKs aren’t fully exempt from financial planning. Some realities to consider are that there are fewer deductions when filing taxes with no children and you may have to look into who will receive your potential assets, according to advisory firm Mariner Wealth Advisors.
Anderson explains to her followers that budgeting is just as necessary for married couples without kids as it is with. “Yes, even DINKs budget sometimes,” she says in videos detailing their choice to save towards house remodeling and landscaping.
“I would love to help normalize this type of relationship,” she says in another. Anderson has received some messages from parents defending their ability to still do similar things with children. “I never want to make content that makes parents feel bad for having kids,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with having children and I don’t think the lifestyle of a DINK is superior. People should be open to picking the lifestyle they want.”
Many viewers are getting this content on their ForYouPage and responding positively, vocalizing their hopes to mimic the lifestyle for themselves. “The little DINKS (dual income, no kids) trend on TikTok is how I aspire to be,” writes one on Twitter. “I always thought I would want kids eventually, later in my life, but ever since I saw a TikTok of a DINK couple I’m starting to think that’s more the life for me. Why do I let TikTok invade my thoughts like this,” writes another.
The hashtags don’t stop there. Another one getting traction on TikTok is DINKWAD, meaning double income, no kids, with a dog. The hashtag, with 3 million cumulative views, celebrates couples who have instead invested their paternal instincts towards their pets. “That’s what I want,” says one person in a viral video with nearly 4 million views “I want to be a DINKWAD and I don’t care how stupid it sounds. At least I have no kids and a dog.”
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