Todd Burkemper has a secret. For the past two years, he’s demanded that his brother, Alex, hands over rent money for staying in his house. And for the past two years, Todd has been secretly stashing that money away. He hasn’t used it to pay the rent. He hasn’t even used it to pay household bills. No, Todd has simply kept hold of it for his own purposes – and not told his brother what he is doing. Now, though, the secret is out in the open… and there’s no telling how Alex is going to react.
Why did Todd feel the need to do this? Was he saving up for something in particular? It all seems very odd! After all, it’s not unreasonable for Todd to ask Alex to pay something toward the house. Todd owns the property in Wentzville, Missouri – some 30 miles away from St. Louis – and is really doing his brother a favor by letting him stay. So there must be an ulterior motive. But what?
Todd had been staying at the property since 2013 after finishing his university studies a couple of years before. Then, in 2017, Alex found himself in a somewhat similar position. He too had just completed his time at college and was looking ahead to the future. Though where would Alex live? That’s when Todd had his first brainwave.
Alex’s options seemed fairly limited at the time, so it looked for all the world that he’d be returning to his folks’ house. Todd decided to step up, though. As an alternative choice, he opened his door and asked if his younger brother wanted to move in. How cool of him! Right?
Todd’s offer was soon accepted, and Alex joined him in Wentzville. But here’s where it gets interesting. For the first half-a-year, the 2017 graduate didn’t pay any kind of rent to his older sibling. He was essentially living in the house for nothing. But that all changed at the six-month mark. So what happened?
At that stage, Todd asked his brother to hand over monthly rent payments. Pretty reasonable, wouldn’t you say? Then again, while Alex accepted the request, it couldn’t have been easy for him. You see, he was hoping to save enough cash to purchase a home himself. And this new fee didn’t help with that!
Speaking of financial concerns, that brings us back to Todd. As we mentioned earlier, he’d earned his university degree back in 2011. And unlike some other students who graduate, he was able to secure a solid job soon after. Yes, Alex’s older brother plies his trade for Buildium as an app designer and senior software developer.
The software position paid well, yet Todd couldn’t rest easy during the first couple of years. Why? Well, according to The Epoch Times, he had to cover the debt that had accumulated from his student loan. With that hanging over your head, it’s difficult to save significant portions of your incoming wages.
Plus, Todd also had other commitments to contend with as well. For example, the graduate purchased his own vehicle over that period, which required a regular remittance. And then there’s the house. Like we noted before, he moved into the property in 2013, but there’s more to it than that.
Todd didn’t just spot a house that he wanted in Wentzville and put the money down for it. He instead reportedly commissioned the construction of a building from scratch. So, it’s no surprise to hear that the app designer faced some financial challenges at that time.
Despite all of those outgoings, though, Todd persevered and came out the other side. Yet that experience was no doubt at the front of his mind once Alex wrapped up his academic studies in 2017. After all, the younger brother was sure to face similar financial obstacles going forward, too.
Todd’s initial offer to Alex really highlighted the state of their relationship. The pair are actually very close pals. There might be a six-year age gap between them, but that makes no difference. So, they were perfect for each other as housemates.
And that might explain why Todd was willing to let Alex stay rent-free for as long as he did. If they weren’t as close, he could’ve enforced the payments much quicker. Anyway, we know what you’re thinking now. How much did his sibling have to hand over following those six months?
Well, Todd had a clear number in mind. The software developer told The Kelly Clarkson Show in 2020 that he asked Alex to pay around $350 a month. Across a year, that would set him back by $4,200. Sounds like a decent rate, right? You might’ve thought the figure would be higher. But how does it compare with the average rent prices in the state?
The website RentData.org offered some figures that covered Missouri in 2020. According to the site, the “average fair market rent prices” had a significant range depending on the property. For instance, studios were marked at $484 each month, while houses with four bedrooms would cost $1,086.
As for homes with two bedrooms, that would set you back by $700 a month. But like we just mentioned, those are only average figures. The numbers in different parts of the state wildly range in price. So, let’s stick with the above properties so you can get a better idea of that.
Houses that boast two bedrooms in Adair County, Missouri, had rent-rates of $634 in 2020, according to RentData.org. Though a little further south in Kansas City, the same type of property would cost you $978 each month. That’s a pretty sizable gap! And don’t get us started on the eye-watering fees for four-bedroom houses there.
So, Todd’s price was more than reasonable when comparing it to the previous figures. He could’ve been a lot harsher! Mind you, the sibling didn’t place Alex’s cash into his bank account like you’d expect. As we touched upon earlier, the older brother decided to stash the payments in a secret spot instead.
Incredibly, Todd told The Kelly Clarkson Show that this went on for around two-and-a-half years. And Alex had no idea that it was happening! Though why was Todd doing this? What purpose did it serve to store the rent money somewhere else? Well, as it turns out, he had a very intriguing plan for his younger sibling.
Todd wasn’t afraid to share those plans with his parents, either. Yes, mom Barbara Burkemper was soon let in on the secret: the cash was being saved up to help Alex purchase a house himself. But Barbara needed to keep that information on the down-low.
To go into more detail, Barbara spoke to the U.K.’s Evening Standard newspaper in July 2020. She looked back on the moment when Todd filled her in on his heartfelt scheme. Plus, the mother also noted that she was constantly chatting to Alex about his homeowner aspirations, as it was at the forefront of his mind.
Barbara said, “Todd told us he was doing this from the start but asked us to please not let Alex know. It’s very hard for me to keep a secret. So every time Alex mentioned looking for a home, I would talk him down telling him it was not the right time to buy…”
Then again, Barbara could only hold her son off for so long. By May 2020 Alex really wanted to fulfill his personal dream. He’d been living with his brother for three years at this stage. And the mom recognized that desire to finally go out on his own during their chats together.
Barbara continued, “This time, I knew he was serious, so my husband and I could not wait until Todd told Alex.” Finally, the big moment had finally arrived! Following some disappointments, the younger sibling was given the green-light to buy a house on the evening of May 27, 2020.
Armed with a camera, Barbara and her husband joined Alex and Todd in their Wentzville home. In the resulting video, the latter holds his phone out for his brother to see. Highlighting the screen, he says, “That’s yours.” After briefly staring at the page, the 2017 graduate asks simply, “Why?”
In response, Todd replies, “So, you know how I started making you pay rent a couple of years ago? I just saved all the money and put it in a savings account.” Then, he drops another bombshell. Remarkably, the older sibling had been placing some of his own cash in there as well!
With Alex on the verge of tears, Todd continues, “That’s for you, for your new house. I didn’t want you to have to struggle like I did.” The pair then share an emotional hug in the middle of the room. Beaming with bride, their dad chimes off camera, “Pretty good boys.”
From here, the short video comes to an end. Barbara quickly uploaded the clip on her Facebook page – outlining what transpired in an accompanying message. And before long, Todd and Alex’s heartwarming exchange was gaining a decent bit of attention on the social media platform.
At the time of writing, the Facebook video has earned more than 180 likes and generated 130 comments. And once Barbara looked at the reaction, she decided to reach out beyond social media and get in touch with the Good News Network website. So, the mom fired over an email in July 2020 explaining why she wanted the tale to be recognized.
Barbara said, “After posting this story on my Facebook page that evening, and reading all of the heartwarming responses, I felt compelled to share this story of brotherly love with a wider audience. The generosity shown by Todd is just one of many amazing facets of his character. We’re so very humbled by the awesome human being he’s grown into.”
The Good News Network went on to publish an article covering the story, before sharing the video via its YouTube channel. It gained plenty of traction there – earning close to 95,000 views. Plus, other outlets picked up on Todd’s good deed as well, like the Evening Standard, The Epoch Times and LADbible.
The story became a viral sensation and eventually got noticed by a high-profile name. We’re referring to Kelly Clarkson, who contacted Alex and Todd to be guests on her show. The brothers appeared via webcam in September 2020 – sharing their views on what happened the previous May. The older sibling also revealed the inspiration behind his plan.
As Todd tells Clarkson, “I actually got the idea from my mom. Her parents sort of did something similar for her back when she was growing up – right before she moved out with our dad. So, I got the idea from her.” Alex’s brother then notes the sum that he added to the savings pot.
Todd continues, “I just took the $350 a month and put it in a savings account. And then I put $150 of my own [money] in there, so it’d be a nice, even number at $500. After about two-and-a-half years, it had grown to about $14,000.” That’s a lot of money!
At this point, Clarkson turns her attention to Alex to get his thoughts. The latter reiterates that he was clueless as to what was going on behind his back ahead of the big surprise. Yet Todd’s brother doesn’t just want to talk about the emotional revelation – he reserves some special praise for the mastermind as well.
Alex says, “I was completely dumbfounded [by the surprise], as you can see in the video. Everybody, including my parents, were just crying. There wasn’t a dry eye! You know, my brother said that he didn’t want me to struggle like he did the first time he bought his house.”
“[Todd has] always been so giving,” Alex adds. “He outdoes himself every year when it comes to Christmas or birthdays. But I don’t think that he’s going to be able to top this one!” With that, the interview comes to a close. The segment itself was then uploaded to YouTube via The Kelly Clarkson Show’s channel.
The time of writing, Alex and Todd’s interview has earned just under 5,600 views on the platform since being posted in September 2020. On top of that, it’s generated some nice comments from YouTube users too. But we’re still left with a burning question: what happened with the house in the end? Did he get it?
Well, Barbara shared an update on her Facebook page in June 2020. Todd and Alex’s mom took a picture of the latter outside his new place – sporting a beaming smile. Here, you can see him also holding an oversized key with the word “Sold” printed at the top. His dream had finally been realized!
Barbara wrote, “Congratulations to Alex on becoming a homeowner for the first time! Dad and I are so proud of you!” The post garnered nearly 140 likes, as well as some more supportive comments. The house is located in Wentzville, not too far away from Todd’s place. The brothers may be separated, but they’ll never truly be apart. Not after this.