Five Ways DINKS can Harness their Financial Super Power

DINKS

Double income no kids (DINKS) households have higher disposable income. Couples without kids have between $5000 and $23000 available each year, in comparison to couples with kids.

But childless couples have an army of marketers targeting messages to purchase luxury goods at the DINKS demographic. Advertising and subconscious marketing influence us far more than we like to admit.

Decide for yourself what your priorities are, resist clever marketing and make a financial plan. The extra disposable income available to DINKS provides them with an incredible opportunity to get ahead, just as long as they can resist the consumerist brainwashing.


Definition of DINKs (Double Income No Kids)

Households with two income producing adults, and no children are known as DINKS. The term is generally meant to mean all couples that intend to have no children. This demographic generally have more disposable income, so are particularly attractive to marketers of luxury goods.

“Empty nesters” whose children have grown and left home and couples who are delaying having children for a few years can also benefit from a period of increased disposable income.

How Much Do You Save by Not Having Kids

Incredulous wanna be parents have to ignore the horrifying infographics on the costs of raising a child. It seems impossible that a child could cost so much, and unfeasible to afford. This graph is based in the US, but divides expenditure on children by income.

But of course, how much you need to spend on a child is very different to how much people actually spend. So, what is the bare minimum you are saving by not having kids?

Bare Minimum Spend on Kids

In 2018, a new budget standard was created based on research into Australian family spending.

It is not easy to completely separate essential from discretionary spending for these families. But, I have included the research based on unemployed families. Presumably, any discretionary spending for these households would be minimal. These numbers are probably pretty close to the bare minimum spend on kids.

These families spent an extra $106.47 weekly on average if they had a single child (rather than no children). Two children cost $280 per week.

The largest additional expense for families with children was food. Other expenses counted including clothing, household goods and services, transport, health, personal care, recreation, education and housing.

Higher Income Families Spend More

You can bet your professional colleagues with kids spend a lot more on their kids. Working families often need paid childcare for pre-schoolers. For the uninitiated, the average cost is pretty shocking at $113.57 per day.

At the average day care cost, a high income household earning $354,000 would pay $17, 717 a year to put a single child in day care three times a week. A professional couple with household income of $250,000 would pay $8,858 for a single child in care 3 times a week post-subsidy.

The child care subsidy covers up to 85% for families with no income, and gradually decreases support as household income rises. Families are eligible for a 50% subsidy until their income hits $253, 680. Families with a household income of $353, 680 receive no child care subsidy.

How Much Are DINKs Saving by Not Having Kids?

Depending on how you look at it then, a couple who have no children are saving:

  • $5,536 per year in comparison with an unemployed household with 1 child (no childcare)
  • $14,560 per year in comparison with an unemployed household with 2 children (no childcare)
  • $14,394 per year in comparison with a professional couple with 1 child in day care three times a week
  • $23,253 per year in comparison with a high income household with 1 child in day care three times a week

Luckily for parents, day-care fees don’t go on forever. School fees are extremely variable, from a couple of thousand a year to cover books, uniforms and trips in a public school to over $40,000 in some of the most exclusive private schools in Australia.

As children get older they get more expensive, both through groceries and extracurricular activities. The above numbers probably significantly underestimates annual costs as the kids get bigger.

With an extra $5000 to $23000 in income to spend, DINKS may be feeling pretty flash with cash!

Downsides of being a Couple with Dual Income, No Kids

We all like to think we are in control of our decisions. In reality, we are being subconsciously influenced by many factors. Check out this awesome (17 min) TED talk by Dan Ariely – are we in control of our decisions?

Businesses are falling over themselves to take advantage of our psychological errors, and sell us products we don’t need.

Consumerist Choices Are not in Our Best Interests.

It’s well documented humans are not good at predicting what will make us happy. 7.9 million people brought a lotto ticket in the financial year 2017-18. Yet studies have shown winning lotto doesn’t have a long term effect on happiness.

Our society has become extremely consumerist. We are all bombarded with advertising daily. So many hard working people are working more and more to buy more stuff they don’t have time to use.

Time spent earning enough to cover the latest gadgets, furniture upgrades and fashion items is time lost from socialising and relaxing. Yet these items don’t actually seem to improve our happiness. Check out which types of spending really have an influence on happiness.

So why do we make seemingly irrational decisions?

Factors Influencing Our Decisions – Biology

Of course it all comes down to sex! Our behaviour is unconsciously influenced by biological instincts.

Men have been demonstrated to participate in conspicuous consumption (i.e. buying a luxury car) in order to appear attract a sexual mate and in male-male competition. Women are no better, being motivated to buy luxury items to improve their appearance when competing with another woman over a male.

It makes you wonder how much control we have over our own decisions. Are the reasons we give ourselves for purchasing luxury goods just us trying to rationalize an unconscious instinctual behaviour? Can a $2500 handbag really be ten times better than a $250 one?

Factors Influencing our Decisions – Comparison

Conspicuous consumption involves expensive purchases to improve social status and the appearance of wealth. It’s the classic case of keeping up with the Joneses.

“Conspicuous consumption refers to people’s behaviour of purchasing lavish goods in order to signal wealth and superiority”  

Thorstein Veblen

From the Dutch lottery article quoted above, the winners did not have a long-term improvement in happiness. Incredibly, neighbours of the winner significantly increased conspicuous consumption in the months following the win. Neighbours of lotto winners purchase more new cars and exterior home renovations!

The Bandwagon effect is the term marketing psychology researchers give to the way a celebrity endorsements make consumers willing to pay more for a product.

“Luxury is a necessity that begins where necessity ends

Coco Chanel

None of the above will surprise you, we all see these behaviours everyday. It’s all depressingly superficial. And it gets worse.

It turns out a wearing easily identifiable luxury brands will make study participants act more favourably towards a person.

When an interviewee in a mock job interview wore a shirt with a prominent luxury label, they were more likely to be recommended for the job and allocated a higher pay.

A charity collector wearing a luxury brand label collected more donations than the same collector wearing a no brand shirt.

“The present research suggests that luxury displays may be a socially learned strategy that commands beneficial treatment from others”

Social Benefits of Luxury Brands as Costly Signals of Wealth and Status

I have got every job I went for without designer labels so it’s not essential!

Factors Influencing Our Decisions – Marketing

There is a whole area of research dedicated to taking advantage of your instincts and psychology to sell you luxury items. Some of the techniques used include:

Making the item appear scarce –

An exorbitantly expensive item becomes more attractive because of the price. When most people can’t afford it, for those that can afford it, it becomes a symbol of their success.

Brands also create a sense or scarcity by using selective distribution, limited edition production and waiting lists. Some even create scarcity and a sense of exclusivity by allowing people to purchase only by invitation! We all want to feel special!

Brand Name –

I’ve always seen the production of clothing with the expensive brand displayed prominently as odd. It seems like a free advertising for the company, at the wearer’s significant expense. Clearly I think a little differently from most.

There is, after all, little point in conspicuous consumption if no-one realizes you are wearing a Dolce & Gabanna bag. The displaying of the brand is largely what makes the item attractive. As long as other people will recognise the item’s expense, it is a powerful social signal of wealth and social superiority.

Priming –

Priming is a series of marketing techniques using subtle cues to manipulate your thinking.

Repetitive priming involves showing you the same sorts of stimuli repeated. It’s why if you click on a facebook ad, you will receive further related advertising repeatedly over the next few days. You are more likely to purchase after seeing a particular product “everywhere”.

Verbal priming is effectively word association. When study participants were asked to read a list of words loosely related with the elderly eg grey, Florida they walked more slowly than control subjects.

Visual priming is altering customers’ thinking by exposing them to images. Imagine you were in the market for a new car and there were two competitors with a similar offering.

Car 1 has a better safety rating and features but is more expensive. Car 2 is less expensive but doesn’t have the same safety features.

The manufacturer of car 2 may make a webpage with a green background with money to influence purchaser’s to prioritise cost. Car 1’s manufacturer may design a webpage background with crash test dummies to encourage buyer’s to prioritise safety.

A full exploration of marketing psychology is beyond the scope of this article, but this makes for pretty disturbing reading.

5 Ways DINKs Can Harness Their Super Power

1. Recognise as DINKs you have Extra Disposable Income

Lets assume, from the above calculations that the annual extra income is

  • $5,536 for a lower income couple (<$80,000)
  • $14,560 for a moderate- high income couple (<$250,000)
  • $23,253 for a high income couple (>$350,000)

It’s very easy for this money to be spent unconsciously, on purchases that don’t bring much value. If you chose to invest this money in a broad based index fund, assumed to earn 7% annually each couple could over 18 years have:

  • $170,731 for the low income couple
  • $449,033 for the moderate – high income couple
  • $717,127 for the high income coupl

Just by investing the bare minimum saved by not having children. That seems like a nice boost to your superannuation. Those that don’t want kids shouldn’t waste the opportunity to get ahead.

For the wannabe parents reading with horror. Don’t worry, kids are worth more than a million dollars in the joy they bring to those of us that want them. Make sure you take advantage of the extra income before you have kids and plan ahead if you can.

2. Make a Plan

By far the most powerful thing anyone (not just DINKS) can do to secure your financial future is to make a plan, write it down and automate it as much as possible.

Work out what your priorities are. Centre your plan around what’s important to you both as a couple.

It often seems overwhelming and intimidating to make a plan for the next 20-40 years.

Don’t worry, it can change and in fact a good idea is to check in every year to review if anything should be altered based on your changing priorities and aspirations. Just make a start.

3. Pay Yourselves First

Work out how much to put aside to reach your goals. Automate this out of your account into your chosen investment regularly.

“Live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else

Dave Ramsay

If you can’t yet afford to save how much your plan requires, get started anyway. Consider starting by investing how much you are saving by not having children. Or 20% of your income. Or anything.

Work out where to put your savings and how to build wealth.

4. Spend the Rest on What Gives You Joy

Spend what is left over, whilst avoiding bad debt. We haven’t considered little Sebastian’s soccer coaching or Anastasia’s harp lessons, so you will likely still have more discretionary spending than your child obsessed mates.

Work out what spending really brings value to you and your household.

DINKs have $5000 – $23000 or more annual discretionary income available in comparison with their mates with kids. A little conscious effort and planning can capture this potential and build wealth, and financial freedom. Comment below what you will spend the extra cash on (after paying yourself first). What spending brings you joy?

Aussie Doc Freedom is not a financial adviser and does need offer any advice.  Information on this website is purely a description of my experiences and learning.  Please check with your independent financial adviser or accountant before making any changes.

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