Why my wife and I are choosing to remain DINKs

83 thoughts on “Why my wife and I are choosing to remain DINKs”

  1. Steve this is a fantastic post. I really respect people who own this type of decision rather than feel like they have to make excuses. There are too many people having kids who don’t really want them, which is unfortunate both for the kids and the parents.

    1. Thanks Mark – I agree, there seem to be a lot of people out there who robotically go through the motions of getting married and having kids just because that’s the natural order of things. Like you said, it really is unfortunate.

  2. What a wonderful post! I feel there are a lot of people out there who are not open to others and deal with the frustration of questions at each and every family gathering. There are countless other ways to interact with kids such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters for example that allow for that mentorship but not having to carry them everywhere you go. I’m in the opposite camp in that I can’t wait to have kids but the majority of my friends are not that interested in ever having them.

    1. Thanks Amanda, appreciate the kind words! Big Brothers and Big Sisters is another wonderful way to get more involved with kids. In fact, I know someone who spent many years in the program as a Big Sister and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Her “little sister” enjoyed it even more.

  3. I am so glad you wrote this post. I often have a hard time relating to many other early retirement blogs because they factor in childcare costs or spend a lot of time focusing on how to raise a family on a budget, and having children is something my partner and I are not interested in. My partner has a nephew (and soon, a niece as well!) whom we adore, and we look forward to being a big part of his life in the future – we would also like to help pay for college, etc as you mentioned. We also have a house full of rescue animals – 2 cats, a dog, and we are on our second foster dog – this is my idea of how I can contribute back in a positive way to society and give of my time and affection without bearing children. Just, thank you for this post! I know we are in the minority but it’s so refreshing to hear someone with a similar point of view, who is taking a similar path to reach their goals.

    1. You are most welcome, WLS, and I appreciate your kind words. It’s true, and I’ve noticed the same phenomenon, that you’ll find a LOT of very insightful commentary about raising kids on a budget, but for those of us who choose not to have kids, we probably don’t get as much out of it.

      Good luck with your second foster dog. Out of curiosity, what kind of dog is it? We have a poodle mix and a boxer mix, both are white and are absolutely adorable. 🙂

      1. She is a black lab mix of some sort (we think bulldog) and is a pretty goofy-looking animal. She’s 9, the same age as our dog, but it’s amazing how much older she acts/seems. Who knows what she has been through, though. It’s been a great experience so far, and I’m so happy to be able to help these dogs until they get a furrever home. Your pooches sound cute! I can’t imagine white fur everywhere is any worse than black or tan fur everywhere… 🙂

        1. Ha! Yup, our Boxer does a good job at spreading out some white fur throughout the house. Luckily the poodle doesn’t shed at all, so it’s only a single dog that we have to worry about. It’s not horrible because the Boxer isn’t allowed up on furniture, but of course, the fur can and will get pretty much everywhere. 🙂

  4. So much yes. We’re running the risk here that we’re going to start turning every one of your posts into a series! 🙂 this is definitely something that we feel strongly about, and I’ve been wanting to write about for some time. But, like you, we don’t want to criticize anyone else’s choices, but just talk about why we’re making hours. Parenting is a huge deal. And though we’d probably enjoy having kids, It’s not worth giving up what we prioritize more: freedom.

    1. Hey ONL – For us, it really does have a lot to do with freedom as well, and we just don’t want to give that up for something that we don’t feel strongly enough about. 🙂 I definitely got the feeling that you had a very similar point of view even without writing a specific article about it.

  5. Being true to yourself is the most important. And, as people that question the norm, of course none of us would agree that anyone should have kids just because that’s what you do. Thanks for the heartfelt insight. And yes, when I look at early retirement needs with 3 kids, it’s certainly much larger than if I just took off with my husband! Happy travels!

    1. Hi Maggie – absolutely agree, life is all about being true to yourself and making the best decisions for you and your family. So long as you can honestly say that at the end of the day, I’d call that a success in my book. 🙂

  6. I want to start by saying I have two great kids but I wholeheartedly support anyone who doesn’t want them. The thing is if you don’t feel strongly that you want them, don’t have any! I actually think I liked kids better before I had my own. They are an incredible amount of hard work (more emotionally taxing than anything) and when other parents don’t put in the hard work, well, everyone notices. I think many, many parents feel the same way. I have some friends who seem constantly frazzled with the two kids they have and are deeply ambivalent about having a third. I want to tell them not to – just don’t.

    1. Thanks Stephanie, I absolutely agree with you. Ambivalence I don’t believe makes for a productive environment to raise children. I’m so with you – just don’t.

  7. Well put, Steve. If you must, and feel callous enough :-), you can console any “gotta have kids at any cost” folks with the vagueness of “there’s plenty of time to re-examine later, after FI, and we wouldn’t have to worry about the finances then either”. (The Mr Money Mustache serendipitous path of “retire then have kids”.)

    1. True that, Joseph. There is nothing wrong with killing it with your career and saving every last penny to achieve financial independence first in life, then approach the idea of having kids. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  8. I find this post mostly accurate but the cost of raising a child is grossly overstated. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I can tell you that their combined cost is in the range of $3-4k/yr and my wife and I have found that we spend much less since having our children. All in, our savings rate doubled since having our sons as they serve as cheap entertainment, strong disincentives to eat out and strong motivation to put money away for later.

    Kids are a lot of work. They limit some freedoms in terms of traveling. Expensive? Definitely not.

    1. Appreciate the insight, Patrick! I definitely agree that kids don’t HAVE to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime if you do it right. Looks like you guys are doing it right! 🙂

  9. It’s so great to hear from someone else who also doesn’t plan on having kids! I’m on your side and my boyfriend is on your wife’s side. Time will tell in the next few years what he decides on this. Lots of introspection for sure. I am adamantly in the no kids camp. I thought I might change my mind when I found the right partner or when friends had kids. Finding the right partner showed me a bit that having kids with him would be cool, but I still don’t want them. And friends having them definitely made me not want them. At 27, I’m finally feeling super confident in my decision which is a great feeling! I still don’t want to have my tubes tied, but that’s an irreversible decision.

    1. Thanks Leigh, appreciate the support. I agree that my friends’ kids really isn’t making me want them any more. I am more than okay just continuing on with my wife being a couple of high saving DINKs, and then high-adventuring early retirees! 🙂

  10. Steve your post sounds uncannily like the same discussion DH and I had at around thirty years of age – between ourselves and with others. We met with quite a lot of advice to the contrary – that we would regret our deision one day. Well, fourteen years on we can definitely agree we have no regrets. Now standing at the brink of retirement I am quite relieved not to have the responsbility. Like WLS we “collect” rescue dogs :-).

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Due South! There is something about rescued dogs, isn’t there? Like you, we don’t anticipate having no kids being a problem for us in the future. If we’re lonely, we’ll rescue another pup! 🙂

  11. I dont think there is anything wrong with not wanting kids. It is a huge commitment. As my little ones are growing out of the baby stage – I never realized how difficult it is to try and help them have values and mold them into great little humans. Way much more than the feeding, watering and occasionally “pick yourself up and try again!”. Constant worrying too. lol. Neither of us wanted kids until we were in our mid-30s… so I totally get where you are coming from. When I told my parents we were having a kid, their first comment was “Was this planned?”

    1. Hehe, funny story! Nothing wrong with waiting until you’re into your 30s either. In fact, I personally feel that the two biggest mistakes that people can make in life are either getting married too early or having kids too early. Nothing wrong in waiting. In fact, I’ve heard that good things come to those who…wait! 🙂

  12. Havings kids is a life long commitment and kudos to you and your wife deciding that’s not for you. We have a toddler and it’s definitely a lot of work. 🙂

    1. Thanks Tawcan – I bet it is. It seems like every time I see a parent with their toddler, they have that “Help Me!!!” look in their eyes. 🙂

  13. Steve –
    I’m a first time reader, but really appreciated this article! I’ve been searching for alternative perspectives for a while now as my wife and I are in a (similar?) situation where we are also debating if we want to end being DINKS. I really appreciate this thoughtful article that differs from the 95% of the others making the argument for why kids are a must.

    1. Thanks Freedom40, I appreciate the kind words. Kids really are a personal choice and certainly aren’t for everyone. I’d be very, very suspect of those who believe kids are a “must”. Such advice, at least to me, is downright irresponsible at best, and just dangerous at worst.

      Thanks for reading! Checking out your blog now… 🙂

  14. Gee wiz Steve, how could you possibly give up the IRS tax deductions for dependents by not having children? Next thing you will say is you won’t own a home just for being able to deduct interest and property taxes. What if everyone thought this way about children? We would all be doomed after this generation. The same question goes with what happens if everyone retires early, no one be working, providing any services or products. Oh the horror! 🙂

    I too thought I would never had kids. We ended up having two daughters and I have enjoyed the experience. It certainly was not cheaper and it made us make choices that were not always in our own best interests, often putting our children’s ahead of ours. I have many friend that are DINK’s and I don’t knock that lifestyle.

    Next year we will be DIKOOTH’s (Dual Income-Kids out of the House) and soon to be retired! 🙂

    1. Ha! Yup, I’m forgoing alllll the tax breaks and incentives to pop out little ones. The horror, I know. 🙂

      Congrats on the looming DIKOOTHness! 🙂

  15. I think it’s awesome you don’t feel pressure, just because “it’s normal” and “everyone does it.” I’m still up in the air on the subject but I have a long journey ahead of me before I have to decide 🙂

    1. It’s true, there is absolutely no hurry or any need to rush this decision. I think having kids too early in life is one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people make. Good on you for not rushing, especially with a decision like this that will literally effect the rest of your life. 🙂

  16. I think that it is perfectly fine that you don’t want to have kids. And on some level I can see why they don’t give you “freedom.” However, freedom, in some respects, is a relative term. I mean you have dogs and they hamper your freedom. MMM wrote a post on how having pets is a choice, which it is. And we love our dog and we also hope to reduce our freedom even more with a kid. I think as long as it is right for you and you guys have certainly talked about it that whatever works…great.

    1. Hey Jason – 100% agree, freedom is definitely a relative term, and in many respects dogs do decrease your freedoms. But like you said – and I tried to allude to within the article – so long as you’re doing what’s in your best interest, that’s all that really matters. And for my wife and I, what’s best is sticking only with our pups. 🙂

  17. Glad you’ve the insight to make the right call on the parenting decision. It is an all in choice that will consume you and your money at an alarming rate.

    I don’t know your ages, but beware the regrets, especially for the Mrs. I’ve known several women who decided no kids and stuck with it and are happy. But I also know some who changed their mind in their late 30s but had already run out of time. Biological imperative is hard to ignore, especially as that clock starts ticking louder and louder.

    Easy to say no kids when you’re 32.

    Harder for a woman to say no kids at 38.

  18. My wife and I are DINKS too and have three little 4-legged cartoon characters at home.

    I totally get what you are saying in your entire post. Our relatives kept asking us why we don’t have kids. I would simply respond back with a question – “Why should we have kids?”. That usually ends the conversation.

    Dogs can get expensive. We like to travel a lot and boarding costs are insanely expensive. Hard to ask any family or friends to watch 3 dogs for a couple of weeks. And they do restrict you from staying out with friends late into the night. You have to come home and take them out.

    And they don’t help with any chores; we tried to talk them into it, but one of them walked away, the other started voicing incomprehensible arguments and third one went belly up, so that conversation didn’t go according to plan.

    We still think they are a lot less of a time and money sink than kids. As always, its a trade off. Currently, we are both employed and spend most of the year at home, so we like to come back home to our pups. For nomadic early retirees, I can see how pets can create some issues.

    Glad I found this blog. DINKS appear to be a rare breed (no pun intended) so its always good to relate.


    1. Thanks Stunta! I’m glad that I wrote this post. There are a lot more DINKs out there who read the blog than I had ever imagined.

      I definitely agree with the dogs – though not nearly as expensive as kids, they can definitely be costly, especially as they grow closer and closer to the end. After our two dogs that we have now, we probably won’t get more dogs until we truly settle down again…whenever that will be! 🙂

  19. Oh you are spot on Steve. I’m only 6 months in and it really is stressful…the lack of sleep is the worst part. Kids are SUPER EXPENSIVE, especially if you want to keep that dual income…we got one of the cheaper daycare placements at 1075 per month. Where I live, the waiting lists are insane…we went when the wife was 3 months pregnant and are STILL on several lists and the boy is almost 7 months old. The standard around here is between 1300-1500 a month. We thought long and hard about having kids and decided it would be worth it, but there are a lot of sacrifices that need to be made. Freedom is the main one. No more popping out of town on a whim, no more late nights out, no more drinking 2 bottles of wine and getting pleasantly wasted – we have to be responsible.

    It really is a full time job to do it right. I love being a parent, the kid is adorable and you get to watch them grow, develop, and interact with the world. It really changes your perspective.

    I have to commend your decision, I think it is the ultimate sign of maturity. The world/biology/society expects something different, but if you aren’t fully invested in raising them – its not fair to the child.

    1. Thanks Brian, appreciate your insight. The cost of daycare continues to amaze me to be perfectly honest. Maybe I’m in the wrong business!

      Having kids definitely gives us purpose in life, that’s for sure. Like you’ve said, there are quite a few changes that come along with that purpose, but still.

      Glad mini Debtless is doing well!

  20. I just found your website and just wanted to say thank you for writing this post. My husband and I have always been upfront about not wanting to have kids and it is something a lot of people don’t understand. While I love my friends’ kids and my little brothers in law (they are much much younger than my husband), I have never had the desire to have my own children. While I will probably still have to listen to comments from people about my “wasted womb” and questions like “but who will take care of you when you’re old?”, my husband and I are secure in our decision and our families respect our decision and have never pressured us about it. So I am always happy to read about other DINKs that we can relate to.

    1. Hi KC, I appreciate your comment, and definitely respect your decision to choose your own way in life, even if that means not having kids. It is unfortunate to me that there’s such a stigma about this topic, but really, it should be treated just like any other decision. Do what’s in your best interest, and that’s all anyone SHOULD ever want from you. Like you, my wife and I are incredibly secure in our desire to remain kid-free. 🙂

  21. I just started reviewing all your past blog posts today. Enjoying your perspective very much and will probably pop in with comments periodically. But I have to start with this post in particular. My husband and I are DINKWADs as well, in our mid to late 40s (and planning toward early (not extreme early) retirement at 50. Your comment “The truth of the matter is we don’t want them bad enough” really captures the essence of why we arrived at the same conclusion. We’ve had to endure the same criticisms you mentioned — “oh you’ll want them”, “oh you’ll regret not having them, yadda yadda yadda. We’ve reached the point of nearing financial independence for three reasons – hard work, discipline, and trade-offs. The latter includes being child-free.

    1. Hi Kristin – appreciate your comment! I agree, society seems to believe that kids aren’t really a choice and it’s only a matter of time. But, my view is kids should be treated just like any other decision in life. They are great for some people, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong if you choose not to have them.

      After all, it’s a HUGE responsibility, and I’ve heard more than enough stories to make me wish that more people would choose NOT to have children. Unless you are all in…


  22. Yes. I love your honesty. More people need to talk about this. I’m a mother of two and although we’ve travelled widely with our kiddo we definitely don’t get to do as much as we did before kids. Also you cannot deny the financial disadvantages! If we had remained DINK’s we would have easily been able to retire within 5 years, but now with 2 kiddos and one income, we’ve had to amend our plan drastically. It’s wonderful being a parent, but life can be wonderful without kids too.

    1. Appreciate your comment, Emma. Kids are wonderful for those who are all-in, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of us are on-board with the responsibility. They definitely do change things! 🙂

  23. Interesting article, I’ve never understood why people feel the need to defend the reason they want to have or not have children. It’s a personal choice. No explanation wanted or needed. Your post includes a consistent theme I hear from many non-parents-that the decision to have children somehow reflects some type of selfish need-“a need to be needed.” This is a smug and is inaccurate statement. Let’s avoid making assumptions of either party.

    1. Hi Positiveme23 – no “selfish need” written or implied, and I definitely agree with your statement. Let’s ALL avoid making assumptions, shall we? 😉

      Thanks for reading!

    1. Kids are getting a hold over you, aren’t they? It happens, though I don’t think that’ll happen in our case. But hey, you never know. Stranger things have happened! Another adventure indeed. 🙂

  24. Great explanation of a variety of points of view and decisions that need to be made before a couple marries. We are also DINKies, & after 15 years of marriage, most of the “when are you having kids” questions have slowed – but not disappeared. Thanks for the wonderful post – it sounds as if you are both thinking things through, not just following societal expectations or hormone cycles (aka “baby fever”).

    1. Thanks Beth! In the end, no kids is definitely the right decision for us – just like you guys. When your heart isn’t in the game, then it probably isn’t the best choice to have children. We have dogs and they are enough for us! 🙂

  25. I oscillate between feeling exactly as you wrote and then feeling like I want kids. Luckily I have a few years left biologically to decide but I’m getting married in December and I can just see the pressure mounting from my family! My Mom already squeals BABIES!!!! whenever she sees my cousins’ children. Agh!

    1. Ah yes, the pressure. Luckily, we didn’t have TOO much of that on our end because my family generally understands that we are all different and kids aren’t necessarily right for everyone. Kids are a lifelong responsibility, after all. Gotta be in it for the long haul, I believe. My wife and I definitely aren’t! 🙂

  26. We were thrilled and also selfishly a little saddened a few weeks ago when our remaining childless friends had their first baby. We’ve oohed and ahhed over her and enjoy pictures, and we enjoy spending time with our nieces and cousins frequently, but at the end of the day they go back to their parents and we have time to recover. It’s a good life.

    For better or worse, so many people struggle with infertility that the questions about having kids don’t come as often anymore because people don’t want to touch on a potentially touchy issue. For us, it’s definitely a choice not to have kids, but keep in mind that for many pregnancy is strongly desired but not an option.

    1. Excellent point, Julie – for some it’s just not possible, and that I think is where adoption might be a good option. Getting kids out of the care of the state and into a good and loving home is an awesome option.

  27. This is wonderful to read. My partner and I also do not want children. It wasn’t ever something either of us wanted – for different reasons. He’s actually one of the oldest of 11 children so we have no shortage of helping children grow and are already taking bets on how many nieces and nephews he will have. My reasons seem to completely revolve around freedom. It’s the same reason I don’t want a pet, a car or a house (apart from the financial obligations). I see them all as obstacles to me being able to go and have an adventure without any advanced planning. I don’t want to have to think about petsitters, parking or leaky pipes. I love having that kind of freedom.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Semira. Like you, mine revolve around freedom to a large degree as well. And as a pet owner, I can definitely attest to the demands they place on your lifestyle. It’s just more responsibility and focus on things other than adventure. 🙂

  28. I am in total agreement. If you are not enthusiastic for raising children, then not opting to have them is an excellent decision. I love being an aunt, especially now that they are older and have even more fascinating discussions.

    I’m also complicated because the cost of getting pregnant is very high for most lesbians. There seem to be enough humans already in the world for me to love. I may eventually foster, but I love my freedom. I love sleeping in. I love giving my friends with children a break by babysitting. I love going home to my not-child-proof home.

  29. We were unable to have kids because of medical reasons. At first we looked into adoption, then we decided against it for various reasons. Fast forward to today, we are happy we don’t have them. We still love children, but know we are far better off financially without them. As you pointed out, we have less stress and more freedom to do what we want with our lives. Excellent post!

  30. Good on you for speaking out about your decision. So many people expect others to have kids and keep on at them for news about “when” they’ll be starting a family when it might just not be right for them (or the said couple are having infertility problems etc). I’m a mum of one and fully expected to have 3 children. Now that my daughter is five and we’ve had years of “when are you having the next one”, we’ve finally made up our minds that we’re only going to have one child. One child is perfectly enough! We love our daughter so much, we planned to have her and wanted her 100% right from the start. Now that she’s here, we can support her in every way but we think that having another child would affect our family balance now and to be honest, we’re happy the way we are! It’s ok to have two, three, one or no children at all. But no-one should feel pressured into having a child because that’s what society thinks they should do. Great post!

    1. Appreciate your comment, Hayley. There definitely does seem to be some societal expectation that people will just have kids, but yeah, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case for everyone. We don’t want them bad enough and we’re saving a ton of cash because of it. It’s a win-win for us. 🙂

  31. As a parent of two teenagers I have two takeaways:

    1) There are essential conversations every couple should have before they ever get serious. Kids is one of them (religion/spiritual beliefs is another one). It amazes me how many couples have their heads in the sand after they tie the knot. Yikes.

    2) There would be a lot more happy couples (and kids) if people were honest with themselves. Steve and his wife are living proof.

    P.S. – Steve, just my two cents but don’t be so apologetic in your article. Your blog and your feelings. If people don’t like it they can go somewhere else.

    1. Thanks Curtis – you are definitely right. I wrote this article back before I really found my voice, and I tip-toed a little too much. I definitely don’t want to sound apologetic, though. We’re extremely proud to be DINKs. I may go back and re-write some of this one.

  32. Nothing wrong with going kid-free, I never had until I was 40 and everyone is different.

    That being said from a personal point of view, having kids was and remains the single biggest most incredible experience and enjoyment of my life; period.

  33. I agree wholeheartedly with this post and this is a topic I’ve thought about writing about for months but never have because i wasn’t sure how to fit it into my blog (also a personal finance blogger here). But I think you did this nicely. I think we are making a very strong and self-less decision by saying, Kids are great but I want freedom more.

    Thanks for sharing and this is my first time here so I plan on coming back!

  34. Good for you. If I could turn clock back I would.have done same thing. My child was not.planned. It’s hard and life long.
    My children have decided not to have kids and I support that.

  35. Smart man! You are the type of person that would be a great parent. You have thought it out and have planned carefully. There are so many people that should not have had children that it is pathetic. Don’t believe the hype! Misery loves company. Stay true to YOU!

  36. We too have no kids with no plans for kids. I think you nailed it with “The truth of the matter is we don’t want them bad enough.”. We wouldn’t -mind- kids, but we decided we better really WANT them if we have them. And we keep that door open for change in the future.

  37. Great post – I was wondering about that, since I’m new here fresh off of FB. 😉

    We, too, made the same choice for very similar reasons and haven’t regretted it since. However, although I kept steady with my views on the subject, I encountered some “interference”: in my mid-30’s I experienced a few strong surges of sudden inexplicable desire to have children… to the point that I became very emotional and adamant this is what I want… which would pass a few days later. I eventually linked it to my cycle. It’s almost like the body was taking over all the logic, feelings and reasoning. I have a friend who chose not to have children, and she described experiencing a similar thing – she said she felt being manipulated / betrayed by her own body. It was a really puzzling experience for me – especially that I’m a level headed and logical person – and I didn’t like it one bit. I wonder how many births there might be due to such “interference.”


    1. Ah, love the parrot inclusion to your family!

      I’ve often wondered the exact same thing, but I’ve never had the guts to ever bring it up. I can’t imagine anyone admitting to it anyway. 🙂

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