Dual-Income Household With No Kids? 3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Earnings
- The cost of raising children can be staggering.
- If you have two incomes and no kids, you have a prime opportunity to improve your financial situation.
- Invest for the future, invest in your career, and keep your cost of living low to make the most of your financial situation.
It's a situation you can really capitalize on.
For the first few years of our marriage, my husband and I were DINKs -- dual income, no kids. Because we both worked full-time, we were able to pad our savings account quite nicely so that by the time we did introduce kids into the mix, we had a nice cushion.
In hindsight, I'm really glad we were so careful back then, because once we had to start paying for childcare and other kid-related costs, our bills skyrocketed. And so if you're in a situation where you're a dual-income household but don't have children yet, it pays to take advantage of it. Here's how.
1. Try to live off of one salary for a period of time
Living off of one salary when you have two coming in can benefit you in a couple of ways. First, you'll have the option to bank that second salary so you have a nice emergency fund at the ready.
Second, if you're planning on having kids but don't have them yet, you may find that the cost of childcare is so astronomical that it doesn't make sense for both of you to work. If you learn to live on one income and then end up having to do so down the road, you'll be used to it.
2. Put money you aren't using to work
Once you've used your dual earnings to build up a nice savings account balance, it pays to invest some of your income so it grows into a larger sum over time. You can do so by putting money into an IRA, or by opening a regular brokerage account and investing there.
Now, one option you may actually want to consider is saving and investing for your kids' college even before they're born. That may seem excessive, but remember, college costs are skyrocketing. If you wait until your kids arrive to start saving, you'll limit yourself to an 18-year window. Getting a jump start could work to your benefit.
Keep in mind that while you can open a 529 plan for college savings purposes, you don't have to. If you want more flexibility with the money you save and invest, you can forgo the tax benefits 529s offer and stick with a brokerage account.
3. Invest in career-related success
Once you have kids, you may not be able to dedicate as much time to career development. And so if you have a dual income and no kids, now's the time to go back to school for your master's degree or take those certification courses you've been thinking about. Financially speaking, paying for those classes might also be easier at a time when you aren't feeding extra mouths and clothing extra bodies.
I love my kids more than anything. But I can easily admit that things were so much easier financially when we were DINKs. If you're in that situation, you have a prime opportunity to benefit from it -- and position yourself to manage the cost of raising kids once you start having them.
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