Season 2 Bachelor Aaron Buerge, who proposed with a rose only to cut off the engagement and find true love in his hometown of Springfield, Mo., is now a happily married dad.
But his life outside the world of romance has not gone so well.
Last week, the banker and restaurant owner declared personal bankruptcy, the result, he says, of the 2008 collapse of a bank that held a loan for his restaurant business – a loan that the new note-holder wanted him to pay back more quickly than he had planned.
“I’m not broke,” he tells PEOPLE. “I’m not in financial distress – nothing like that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be paying everybody.”
Both the restaurant and Buerge are otherwise operating as before, even as he pays back his loan, which was sold to a group of investors after the bank failure.
“We’ve been making payments every month, but they’ve just been pushing to come after some private assets that I might have,” he says.
According to Buerge’s bankruptcy filing, which also names his wife as co-debtor, those assets total $2.3 million against liabilities of $9.3 million. Among the property he lists is a diamond wedding ring exchanged when he married the former Angye McIntosh in 2009.
The couple’s out-of-the-spotlight courtship contrasts with Buerge’s much more public romance with Helene Eksterowicz, an elementary school psychologist who accepted his on-air offer proposal in 2002. They broke it off soon after the finale.
Buerge and his wife are proud parents of an 18-month-old girl, a responsibility, he says, that contributes to his desire to protect his family’s assets.
“I’m more focused on my family than on continuing to pay to fight the lawsuit for who-knows-how-long,” he says. “I’m a family guy now. That kind of changes a guy’s priorities in life.”