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It’s funny, even after 3 years of blogging here, you guys always keep me on my toes! When publishing posts that I think might be controversial (like this one or this one), I’m met with nothing but understanding and support. And then I write a post that I think is more innocuous (like this one) and I’m met with backlash on a level I haven’t seen or experienced since early on in my blogging days. Before my financial successes, I was initially met with quite a bit of criticism (some constructive, some….not-so-much).

Nevertheless, I’m in academia. If anyone is familiar with the struggle of responding to “Reviewer #2” (an academic meme), then you know you must learn to grow thick skin.

For the record – nothing in the comments was as bad as “Reviewer 2.” In fact, most of the critiques were well-founded and reasonable. I agree with (most of) you! It’s definitely time for a reset. I’ve been working toward that end and am making some good progress on a total budget overhaul. I appreciate the time and efforts many of you took to leave tips and suggestions or recommendations. I’ll look forward to receiving more help and support when I actually post my budget numbers (eeeeeek! I’ll need it!)

For the time being, I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for your feedback! If you haven’t yet, check out the comments on my “controversial” post – I’m making my way through and trying to respond to as many as possible. I’m not always responding to specifics (in terms of numbers) because some of that will be addressed in a forthcoming budget post.

Have a great rest of the week!




  • Reply Kili |

    Hi Ashley,
    You’ll get through this too.
    You’ve already come so far and you’ll be able to make good progress.

    Good luck with the reset.
    Did you ever address if you’re still using YNAB and whether you plan on getting back to living on last month’s income?

  • Reply Jess |

    Ouch, tough crowd… while I agree with some of the comments that you need a “re-set” and some lifestyle/budget changes might have been slowly creeping in, you’ve been slogging along a really long time. I also work with dementia patients and nobody can understand the toll that being a primary caretaker takes until they’ve done it themselves – it’s mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. Take a breath, give yourself some grace and remember how far you’ve come. This is just a little hiccup in the grand scheme, figure it out and move on…

  • Reply Angie |

    Ashley keep your head up in this time of change. A nice hard reset will work wonders if you can stick to it. And don’t just think about money during the reset. Think about balance in the home and in your relationships that will help keep stuff moving. I mean right now your time is pretty stretched thin I feel like. Just to ponder (no need to answer)…. Are there any activities or budget items that aren’t serving you or moving towards a place you would like to be?

    • Reply Angie |

      Definitely something to nail down. But some quick google searches indicate that if it is for an undergraduate degree it is not taxed. If for graduate degree it is taxed. (Ashley please verify!!!)

  • Reply Katie |

    This response to your post show what class and grace you have. Thank you for being a blogger here. I really appreciate that you continue to share your journey.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Just want you to know that most, if not all, of us are rooting for you to succeed. Sometimes words come over differently in e-mail/blogs. Can’t wait for you to be on the path where you can see the end in sight.

    One thing people keep mentioning is your house. I know you had to use savings for a down payment but maybe (if you haven’t already and I have forgotten) you should put together a post that talks about the house. How much is your mortgage, property taxes, etc., and how much was your rent. In the end, you might be better off because of the mortgage/property tax deductions. If you haven’t posted about it already, you could then refer people to that post.

  • Reply Emily N. |

    I think some people forgot the “love” part of “tough love.”
    Looking forward to seeing your updated budget!

  • Reply Anthony Goff |

    Yes, how about YNAB?

    For instance, it allowed me to calculate my long-term budget. And seems that’s something that you also need now.
    Besides this, connecting all your bank accounts in one place helps you not overspend.
    Anyway, in case your readers are interested in this You Need a Budget app, I’ll leave this here: https://smartsavingadvice.com/you-need-a-budget-savings-app/

  • Reply Kiki |

    It’s been interesting to read this blog the last couple years, but I think I am finished now. People just don’t seem to want to do the hard work. I sense friction between different age groups too and differing values. You are not the only people in the world with money problems, or the only people who have had to live “poor” to reach financial goals! And now there is talk of stretching out student loans for 25 years! Oh, well. Good luck to all.

    • Reply debtor |

      what exactly are you referring to? I’m a little lost.

      I think that sometimes people get a little caught up in always saying something “nice” which is not always necessary in my opinion but I’m having a hard time understanding your point. Are you saying you think Ashley has not done any hard work? You realize she has twins right? She doesn’t talk much about that aspect on the blog but I happen to know many parents of twins and I know how much that drains you mentally (especially at the age they were when she first started). Then add the stress of her dad (plus all the things that come with that that she probably doesn’t want to talk about with a bunch of strangers online) and I’d say she’s done a lot of work. Look at her debt at the start and her debt now – don’t you think that’s progress?

      I think she has had severe lifestyle inflation but that happens to a lot of people and now I think she is aware and is probably going to have to work hard to re-adjust her mindset to get back to where she used to be (which is hard mentally after so long).

      Anyway, I’m just asking because I think not everyone wants to eat ramen and a boiled egg everyday for 2 years to save money even though you might pay your debt down faster. Some folks choose to go at a slower pace and enjoy life at the same time (because a. you’ll never get that age back and b. you don’t know when your time will be up). and where that line is a personal choice.

      As long as you make a choice and then complain about your rate of progress then it really shouldn’t bother anyone.

      • Reply Kiki |

        I think that there has to be an inherent frugal mindset for reducing debt. No, you don’t have to eat ramen and boiled eggs every day, but you also cannot trip over the obvious! For instance, Ashley and her hubby bought an expensive truck even though they had a lot of debt. People questioned her about this, and she countered with a statement something like “We want the big truck for travel and baby gear.” And herein lies the rub. No, just buy a Toyota Corolla for half that price and buy a $75 top carrier for travel. A Toyota Corolla seats four just fine. That’s the kind of thinking you have to have for debt reduction. You still have a perfectly functional car for the family for about half the price and another $15,000 or so to throw at student loans. You just have to approach all your financial scenarios with the same mindset. Think outside that box.

  • Reply Chantal |

    Ashley: make sure to have a drainage pan installed under your water heater. Can avoid future possible damage. Your house inspector should have mentioned this, but just in case…

So, what do you think ?