Key takeaways

  • Dual income, no kids (DINK) couples may have more financial freedom, but they should still create a financial plan that accounts for both expected and unexpected expenses.

  • When estate planning, couples without children will need to consider their beneficiaries carefully. These could be friends, family or charities.

  • It’s also important for childfree couples to plan for long-term and end-of-life care, which is even more critical when you don’t have children who may be able to assist in caregiving.

As more Americans choose not to have children (or choose to have them later in life), the number of DINK couples continues to grow.

DINK stands for dual income/no kids, and while these couples often have more flexibility over how they spend their money, they’re not off the hook when it comes to financial planning. It can be tempting to overspend or fail to plan for life’s unexpected moments just because you don’t have children to look after—but it’s still wise to take a thoughtful approach to finances.

Following are four financial mistakes couples without children should avoid to ensure a bright financial future.


4 financial mistakes for DINK couples to avoid

In general, couples without children may enjoy more disposable income and more freedom to spend their money on opportunities such as travel, investing and charitable giving than couples with children. But to make the most of that financial freedom, childfree couples may wish to sidestep these four potential pitfalls.

Alt image text: Four financial tasks for dual income, no kids couples include financial planning, legacy planning, end-of-life and long-term care planning, and planning for the unexpected.

1. Not being on the same page financially

Not having a solid financial plan in place is a common mistake that all couples should avoid.

“Every household needs a financial plan, whether you have children or not,” says Darcy Houghton, Senior Wealth Strategist with U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management.

Everyone can approach financial planning from the same starting point: Establishing shared goals and values, creating a financial plan, and taking steps toward that combined vision. Marriage and child-rearing necessitate important conversations, but even if couples aren’t taking one or both of those steps, they should still get on the same page financially.

“If you’re an unmarried couple that hasn’t developed a shared financial plan, it’s important to do so before making that long-term commitment,” Houghton says. “A financial plan helps set priorities and a pace for your lifestyle and for your future.”

“Childfree couples, just like anybody else, need to decide what their shared financial goals are and then design a plan to help support those goals.”

Darcy Houghton, Senior Wealth Strategist with U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management

Every plan is unique and can accommodate your goals, income and assets. If you and your partner aren’t fully on the same page, a plan will provide guidelines for growing together, with space to pursue individual passions.

2. Not thinking about your legacy

Childfree couples should take the time to thoughtfully create and maintain their estate plans. This may include beneficiary planning, philanthropic opportunities, and life insurance. Houghton offers the following ways for couples to thoughtfully plan their legacy:

  • Carefully consider beneficiaries. Those without biological heirs need to be more intentional about who will inherit assets. “Childfree couples should ask themselves: Who do I really want to benefit from my time, labor and accumulation of assets?” notes Houghton. These may be family members, friends or even charitable organizations.
  • Understand your charitable giving opportunities. Gifting to charitable organizations is one way to leave the legacy you want. Childfree couples can also give through gift annuities or charitable trusts to clarify the gift while retaining an interest during their lives.
  • Don’t leave out life insurance. Some people mistakenly think life insurance is only necessary if there are children involved, but it also ensures that there is income provided for one spouse if something happens to the other. “Life insurance is always an important consideration,” says Houghton, noting that even couples with significant wealth can use it for the payment of taxes.

3. Not preparing for long-term or end-of-life care

No one likes to think of end-of-life planning, but if you don’t have children who can step in as caregivers, any long-term care needs will have greater financial repercussions. Couples without children should ask themselves if they are financially prepared to deal with long-term illnesses or care costs that may arise at the end of their lives.

Houghton adds, “More importantly, I think they need to consider: ‘If I need care and outlive my partner, who is going to make the decisions and step in to make sure I am receiving the kind of care I’ve saved for?’”

Have open discussions with your partner about what those costs might include and ensure you’re saving enough — an HSA or a life insurance policy with a long-term care component can be great vehicles for this — to account for different potential scenarios.

4. Not planning for the unexpected

DINK couples need to prepare for unexpected family changes. So often, the modern family does not follow tradition. Some people become caretakers for a relative’s child later in life, or choose to care for their parents or even friends who have become like family. And some couples may add children later in life.

“Life throws unexpected expenses your way, with or without children,” says Houghton.

Houghton recommends that couples start their lives together with a financial plan that can provide a buffer for unexpected expenses or changes — whether that’s stepping up to the plate to support someone in need or having that unexpected, yet fantastic opportunity cross your path.


Financial planning for DINK couples: Prepare for a bright future

With a little forethought, all couples can put plans in place that will bring them peace of mind to enjoy the lives they’ve created for themselves.

“Whether you’re childfree or have five kids, setting a sound financial plan and being just a little bit conservative with it in the early years gives you more bandwidth for everything life brings to you,” says Houghton. “It’s never too early to begin the plan—and it’s never too early to get on the same page.”

Learn how our approach to wealth planning can help you work toward your financial needs today and in the future.

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