As winter turned to spring, I was enjoying a walk around my school when I bumped into one of my colleagues. Apparently, word had gotten around that my wife and I had paid off my student loans in record time, even though I had only told one person. The employee offered me her congratulations, and I politely thanked her.
“Must be nice that you and your wife are DINKS,” she continued.
“Excuse me?” I questioned, doing a very poor job at trying not to appear insulted.
“What? You know. . . DINKS. Double income, no kids,” she quickly responded.
With many of my employees, I had developed a reputation as “The Money Guy,” so you can imagine my embarrassment over having never heard of this term before.
“Ohhhh, right!” I said. “You’re right; it is pretty nice.”
THE BENEFITS OF BEING DINKS
Being DINKs is pretty nice, indeed. Among the many benefits Mrs. Superhero and I experience as a result of our status, I value
- Healthy discretionary income within our monthly budget
- Freedom to do what we want on our own time
- The ability to cash-flow unexpected expenses rather than raiding our emergency fund
- Time and resources to spoil our two dogs
- The ability to focus on our careers and side hustles
- Frequent travel opportunities (even if we often decline the opportunities as they arise)
- The ability to focus on our marriage and enjoy time with each other
Please don’t misunderstand me. My wife and I love kids. We are both educators, and Mrs. Superhero operates a very large and successful private music studio in addition to her public school teaching career. We spend more time with kids than we do with each other. There is a part of both of us that cannot wait to have children of our own.
However, we are currently striving to make the most of our DINK status. We are in full-blown hustle mode in the present because we know that children will occupy our time in ways which we do not yet fully comprehend (this will be a good thing). We know that children will bring us immeasurable joy, and that joy will be an asset greater than lavish sums of money, yachts, lake houses, and luxury vehicles (having never possessed any of these things before, I’m making assumptions). Right now, time is our asset, and we are seeking to maximize it while we are DINKs.
There’s just one problem.
The DINK acronym strikes me as personally insulting, though not for the reasons you’re likely expecting.
EVERY DAY WE’RE HUSTLIN’
The above meme is admittedly hilarious, and for me and Mrs. Superhero, it’s pretty accurate. That is, until we get to the final slide.
While the “DINK Life” affords many couples the freedom to pursue a wide variety of leisurely pursuits, Mrs. Superhero and I live a different kind of lifestyle.
As I mentioned, my wife is a public school teacher. Even if we (erroneously and hilariously) assumed that she worked only 40 hours in her day job, that would be respectable. As a fellow teacher, I know several teachers who put in 40 hours or less and appear beaten to a pulp at the end of every school day. Not my wife.
When the school day ends and many teachers are heading home, Mrs. Superhero enjoys a brief intermission before the “side hustle” begins. On any given day, she teaches private piano, voice, and flute lessons in our home music studio for 2-4 hours. She is a wise, self-made entrepreneur who runs a home-based business with minimal overhead. She also seeks opportunities to employ her superior piano skills by accompanying musicians at a variety of contests throughout the year.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s three “jobs.” She easily works over 65 hours per week.
Even though I write a sometimes-serious, sometimes-silly blog about my personal experiences with money, I hate talking about myself, so I’ll keep this section brief. I am a public school teacher by day, financial consultant by afternoon, and blogger by night. In a matter of weeks, I will also add part-time real estate broker’s agent to my work slate.
Side note #1: Can anyone comment on the legality of using my HSA funds to have a coffee IV port permanently installed in my left arm?
Side note #2: I used to try to fight my inner-workaholic, but now I have given up and chosen to embrace this tendency.
Scoreboard: Four “jobs” for me.
Our combined total: Seven “jobs.”
Since the acronym SINKs (single income, no kids) is already taken and is not eligible to denote “seven incomes, no kids,” I’m going to go ahead and coin a new term for those couples who have multiple income streams and no kids:
Multiple incomes, no kids.
I should probably trademark that one and put it on a T-shirt before someone else beats me to it.
This piece would be incomplete without a survey of other money-related acronyms. Here are a few of my favorites:
HENRYs – High earners, not rich yet
SINKs – Single income, no kids
SISSI – Single income supporting spouse’s interests
DINGO – Dual incomes, never go out
DINE – Dual incomes, never enough
MAID – Master (of) Arts, infinite debt
ERROR – Empty refrigerator, running on ramen
HAGGLE – Hired after graduation, got lucky everyone
(not writing the acronym because you, dear reader, are smart) – Financially unaware college kids
SHORT-TERM SACRIFICE FOR LONG-TERM GAINS
I am certain that many readers have completely misunderstood me and Mrs. Superhero by now. On the surface, it may appear to some that we are greedy, senselessly money-driven, and maybe even self-obsessed.
Over the years, I have learned that it is not actions alone, but the underlying motivations of one’s actions, which are deserving of scrutiny.
In this sense, I believe we pass the test.
My wife and I aren’t working and earning to inflate our current lifestyle, live it up in the present, and run the risk of burn-out. No, we are sacrificing in the short-term in order to build our ability to focus on what is truly important to us five, ten, and twenty years from now. In a culture which places the highest value on instant gratification, we are embracing the opposite.
Once in a while, when it feels like I’m burning the wick at both ends, I like to hit the streets for an evening run and clear my head. Invariably, my thoughts drift and I begin to form visions of the future: our future kids playing in the yard, sending them off to college without any debt, walking my daughters down the aisle on their wedding days, and taking the entire family, grandchildren included, on a two-week getaway to Disney World. Those thoughts are the magical panacea for my weariness.
In the moment, those visions represent the future, but it is a future worth working for and waiting for, even when it is difficult. On the particularly tough days, I recall one of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes:
It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
Readers, what are your favorite money acronyms? Which one best describes your current situation? Do you have any suggestions for new money acronyms?