NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Gloria Randecker's financial knowledge is something she banks on.
At 17, she took a part-time job at a local bank to help pay her way through Northern Arizona University, where she majored in mechanical engineering. Not only did that job help pay for her degree, it was her first introduction to personal finance.
"I was exposed to financially successful people for the first time in my life," she says. "I was able to learn things about money that I could not learn any other way."
Gloria, 30, was already familiar with budget living -- growing up in a single-parent household instilled the need for discipline. But it also created a desire for financial stability.
"That caused my fanatical drive to have a huge nest egg just in case something happened to either of us," Gloria said.
The other part of that "us" is husband Robert, 38, and together they have amassed a net worth totaling $426,052. Getting there hardly required any fanatical tendencies, although a touch of zealous saving didn't hurt.
A look at their coffers
The Randeckers' primary goal is a lot more practical, and shorter-term, than enjoying their golden years on the beach in Hawaii.
"Our goal is to pay off our house," Gloria stated. "That motivates us day in and day out."
Gloria and Robert owe about $135,400 on their four-bedroom home just outside of Phoenix, valued at $310,000. They refinanced in March 2003, knocking their interest rate to 5.5 percent from about 6.25 percent and they add an extra $700 a month against their principal to their bi-weekly payments. The goal is to own their home by 2010.
Still, they are actively planning for other goals, including retirement. The pair works at an aerospace firm, where Gloria is employed as an engineer and Robert is a business and planning analyst, and receive matching 401(k) contributions from their employer.
Neither contributes the full $13,000 to their accounts, but Gloria contributed roughly $10,000 a year to her 401(k) and Robert puts away some $8,000. They have accumulated $229,781 in their 401(k) accounts and IRAs.
|Note: Their outstanding mortgage principal is excluded.
The two are also avid savers, setting aside some $1,400 a month. They have roughly $14,560 divided between their checking and savings accounts. The Randeckers keep separate accounts, Gloria said, because it gives them (mainly him) the freedom to make their own spending decisions.
Robert concedes he's the bigger spender, but he isn't a spendthrift by any means. "I still watch my spending relatively closely."
Neither one of them has any credit card debt.
Gloria owed some $24,000 in student loans and another $3,500 in credit card debt by the time she finished college. Knowing it wasn't the best way to begin her new life she put in extra hours at her first job to pay off that tab.
Robert was much luckier, having obtained a scholarship to the University of Washington to study economics. He saved by living at home for his last two years of school.
Both say they want their 20-month old daughter to be partially responsible for her own college tuition, as it builds character, but they earmarked $3,000 of their savings for her and are steadily adding to that amount.
Keeping their piggy bank intact
The Randeckers earn a combined $113,000 a year, so they could well afford to be looser with their purse strings. Still, they prefer to stick to their frugal lifestyle.
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Gloria and Robert save each month by bringing breakfast and lunch to work. Often times last night's dinner doubles as a noon meal.
"Sometimes some of those Italian dishes like spaghetti taste better the second time around," Robert said.
They browse the Sunday circulars for sale items and often buy food in bulk at Costco. And chances are you'll see them buying store brands and stocking up on the basics.
"We use a lot of pastas and rice," Robert said.
The pair keeps on the lookout for bargains, particularly when it comes to technology. Gloria raves that they are proud of their ugly cell phones. Robert has his eye on a big screen television but they won't make a move until that price drops to about $1,100.
"We don't go and buy the latest and greatest electronics," she said. "We wait for it to get to our target price."
They try to save on the little things too, such as postage, by paying the majority of their bills online, and earn a few freebies, including a free trip to Hawaii, thanks to their reward cards. Of course, that balance gets paid off at the end of every month.
Gloria also sells Mary Kay, in part for that 50 percent discount, never mind any additional earnings. "I'm an engineer so I'm always around guys. The Mary Kay is kind of a social outlet for me," she laughed.
A hobby that pays. Perhaps she's on to something.
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