Ashley, 27, and Kendall, 28, Burgemeister met while attending law school in Boulder, Colorado. Love bloomed, and after two and a half years of dating, the twosome became engaged. A year later, they were walking down the aisle. When the officiant spoke the "for richer or poorer" lines in the ceremony they'd already gotten a jump on that aspect of their relationship.
So which was it? Richer or poorer? "Richer," says Ashley. "I think part of that correlated with graduating, having full-time jobs, focusing on saving for the long-term and putting money away." Indeed, post-graduation the couple moved to Gunnison, Colorado, and purchased their first home. Engaged at the time, they put the house in Kendall's name, a situation they soon rectified after tying the knot. Says Kendall, "The mortgage rates were at an all-time low right after we married, so we refinanced and put Ashley on the title."
Saving for the wedding was a nonissue as parents were kicking in for expenses. Ashley and Kendall financed their honeymoon, choosing a destination within driving distance and covering all expenses with savings and money they'd received as wedding gifts.
Still, with little invested in a honeymoon, the newlyweds were faced with student loan debt after the wedding. Currently, Kendall is working as an attorney and Ashley as a judicial clerk. Kendall's undergraduate degree in economics and finance has definitely come in handy for the duo when plotting how to handle student loans, expenses and saving for the future.
The Burgemeisters have joint checking and savings accounts as well as credit cards. Kendall's in charge of big-picture items like investments, something he's been doing for himself since the age of 18. He also files their income tax returns and manages their IRA accounts. Ashley is in charge of day-to-day expenses. "We don't do a lot of gratuitous spending," she says. "At this point in our lives, we want to save money. I suppose we could have bought a bigger or more expensive house, but we knew we wanted to start our nest egg now."
As for how those student loans are being tackled during this savings process, the couple has a plan. "Our goal is to pay them off in the next two years," says Kendall. To do so, they keep a tight rein on their spending, splurging only occasionally on things they enjoy doing together, like mountain biking, golf and attending concerts. They keep daily expenses low by eating at home for almost every meal, dining out only once a month. "Living in a small town, and only a short drive from work, we're able to eat lunch at home," says Ashley. "We make our coffee and tea at home, too, saving on buying expensive coffees on the run." Some of that savings goes into IRA plans to supplement the retirement plans they both have through their jobs.
Once those student loans are paid off, the Burgemeisters have other expenditures on the horizon. "Ashley needs a new mountain bike," says Kendall. "And we want to buy her a truck and get rid of her lemon Volkswagen Jetta." In the meantime, they're not fretting about Ashley's need for new wheels, knowing they'll purchase them when needed. "We haven't done anything formal in terms of setting aside a certain amount of money each month," says Kendall. "Instead, we think about that every time we buy something and realize how much longer we have to wait before we buy the bike or truck if we make a different purchase."
So how does Kendall feel about the richer/poorer question? "We're certainly not made of money," he says. "We're both conscientious about not wasting money on things we don't really need so that we can have money to spend on things we value."
An Expert Weighs In
Kaiser says the Burgemeisters are on the right track but need to refine their direction. "Kendall saying our goal is to pay off student loans in two years is great," she says. "But what tools are they using to make sure that goal is a reality?" What's key here is having a plan in addition to a goal. "A goal is a goal," Kaiser says simply. "A plan is a path to action." Snyder takes this a step further: "Depending on the interest rate of the student debts, it may make more sense to put money towards paying these off rather than putting funds into savings."
When it comes time to purchase Ashley's new vehicle, Snyder also has a recommendation. "Consider obtaining a home equity line rather than an auto loan for the purchase as the interest on the former is tax-deductible and the latter is not."