Lately, we have truly started to shift into being DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids). I wrote about this pretty much this time last year, when I had just gotten my first job where I made less than a checkout cashier but was finally working. Now, we both actually make salaries. We are saving for retirement, for a house, for vacation. We are able to go out to dinner, and now that we are both so busy, we find ourselves actually sometimes throwing in the towel, saying, "I don't want to cook tonight, what groupons do we have?"
When we realize we need something for our house or our kitchen, we buy it. When we realize we need something for our bikes, we buy it. When one of us realizes that we either need something or want something, we buy it and tell the other person later, without getting permission first. We are also patronizing small local shops for many of our needs rather than buying from large chains or ordering online, which is something that we always talked a lot about doing but never actually did. We still don't have Nice Things - preferring to spend our money on going out and doing Fun Things, but the funny thing is that we don't necessarily have to choose between happy hour and upgrading our TV - as long as we are practical, we can do both.
We go out more generally, to things that sometimes cost money - we've gone to see two plays recently, both with discounted tickets that we still couldn't have afforded a year ago - and yet I find myself having trouble paying full-price for a movie. We went to the Baltimore Eco Ball, a fabulous top-chef style event put on at the Living Classrooms foundation. We go to the farmer's market and buy goat cheese.
I remembered recently a conversation with a friend where he was saying he and his wife were on the fence about having kids. On the one hand, he thought his forties would be pretty dull if he didn't have kids, but on the other hand, it was really nice being DINKs. I feel like now I understand what he meant. It is really nice to live comfortably with very few actual responsibilities (besides our jobs). When I was unemployed, we were never actually broke or hurting - we simply needed to cut back a lot on our spending to make ends meet, which we did, and it's nice to know that we can do that - but once you have a job instead of school, and almost no homework, it's a lot more fun to be an adult. You can go see a play on a weeknight, or go camping at the last minute on the weekend (we haven't yet, but we could), or go out of town if there is a good deal on flights somewhere. It's been pretty good, and I think when it stops being fun, we'll know it's time to move on to the next step.