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Coffee Chat with Ashley


It’s been a long time since I’ve done a coffee chat (like….literally its been years). This is where I imagine us having a little coffee friend-date and getting updates on each other’s lives. Dive in below for my updates and please leave comments with YOUR life updates! 🙂

Health Updates

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your and your family’s health. Unfortunately, I’ve had a pretty sickly last month. I spent a good ten days down with Covid. As soon as that cleared up, I had maybe 2 good days before I broke out in a full-body rash. My official diagnosis was hives caused by some type of allergic reaction, and it took another trip to urgent care and a 5-day prescription for prednisone to clear up symptoms. Still waiting on the bills for that to come in, but I’m very grateful to have a Health Savings Account so this doesn’t have to come from my normal budget.

In the midst of the crazy full-body rash, I also had to complete my routine medical lab work for my kidney disease. I have a bad kidney due to recurring kidney stones and while I am grateful everything is under control and I have a great specialist….I absolutely loathe the lab work. It requires me to collect my urine for 24 hours, take it into the office for testing, and get a couple vials of blood drawn at drop-off. Typically, this labwork only has to be done once/year, but at my annual check-up one of my numbers was off, so my medicine was adjusted and I had to redo all the labwork only 3 months later. Knock on wood that my next follow-up shows my numbers in a good range, and I won’t have to redo the dreaded urine collection for another year.

Table Update

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask if you have done any redecorating anytime recently. I am *not* an HGTV girlie, and while I love watching the shows, I know I don’t personally have that type of talent. That said, I would be excited to share that I’m getting my new kitchen table! It’s a big, gorgeous 9-piece Dining Set on sale from Costco this month for only $1400 (including delivery and setup!).

I just ordered it so it’s not here yet, but will be here soon and I can’t wait! I saved up to pay in cash by cutting my spending in several categories. To be honest, a perk of being sidelined sick for half the month of August is that I had almost no social engagements, no eating out, no shopping or superfluous spending, etc. Plus, I finally got paid for some side work I did back in May. I agreed to participate in some advanced professional development training and take what I learned back to my department. In exchange, I received compensation for my time. It took forever for the money to finally hit my paycheck, but it came through in August.

Job Updates

I would want to know how your job is going. Do you enjoy it? Are you feeling valued and happy? I’ve been going back to campus more in-person these days (I spent a solid year-and-a-half fully remote, but now I’m approx. 50-50 in person vs remote). I have mixed feelings about it. I have missed my coworkers and there are some benefits of being able to quickly ask someone a question in the office versus having a formal meeting. But, going to campus comes with additional costs (gas, parking, time of the hour round-trip commute), and I feel less productive in the office because there are always more distractions.

That said, I wanted to update on asking for a raise. Over the summer I shared some tips about asking for a raise and never reported back on my progress. I did in fact get a raise. It was not as much as I had hoped or wanted, but I am grateful for the raise nevertheless. I had gone into the meeting asking for 10% and ended up with 5%. Given inflation, it’s pretty minimal. But I know that talking about compensation should be an ongoing conversation. Even if I didn’t get what I wanted over the summer, that’s okay. I’m going to ask again sometime later this Fall. I’m also positioning myself to apply for a sabbatical. And I’m still doing little side hustle situations like the professional development training I just mentioned. So on the whole, I’m happy with my salary situation and feel well compensated.

Kid Updates

I would want to know about the kids! What activities are they into now? How are they doing in school? I would share that both my kids are in choir this year, and one of my daughters is in cross-country for the first time! I’ve been a runner for many years so it’s been extremely exciting to watch her follow in my footsteps and I love cheering her on at cross-country meets! I’m so proud of them both!

I’d also update you on the debit card situation. I’d mentioned getting my kids debit cards so they could start learning how to budget their money and spend wisely, etc. So far, I feel like it’s been going really well! I ended up going with the Greenlight Core plan ($5/month for up to 5 kids). I love how easy it is for me to transfer funds, and for them to have different designated accounts within their app (e.g., saving, spending, donating, etc.). I also love the oversight – I receive automatic messages whenever they spend anything. I think eventually I’ll move them over to a free kids’ account (some suggested a Capital One teen account, and I’m a big Capital One fan – I use their travel credit card and 360 savings accounts for myself), but I’m happy with Greenlight for right now.

Upcoming Plans or Goals

Before we part ways, I’d want to know what the next couple of months look like for you on the horizon. Do you have any big plans or goals you want to share? What are you working toward personally, professionally, etc?

I would be thrilled to share that I’m hoping/planning to pay off my car in October. I still owe about $5,000 and that is more than my monthly budget can absorb. However, I have an EF with $5,000 and a few other CapitalOne360 savings accounts with other various pots of money. I have accounts for annual fees, student loan savings, a car repair fund, and more). Now that my table savings is complete, I’m going to redirect those funds toward my car loan. And then I think I’ll take whatever I’m “short” from my savings accounts to pay the whole thing off in one swoop.

The reason why I’ve set the target date of October is two-fold: 1) I bought the car in Oct 2021, financing $20k, and it will feel sooooo good to have paid it off in exactly 2 years. I can be very proud of paying $10k/year to get it paid off. And I know how good it will feel to be car payment-free again!!! 2) Student loan payments resume in October, so the money I would have been putting toward my car loan is now likely going to be pulled over into my student loan debt payment. I still owe $26,561 in student loans, and that will be my last remaining debt besides the mortgage.

Money talks aside, I really want to spend some time this Fall trying to re-prioritize my health. I’ve let a lot slide in the past year and I’m ready to recommit to healthy eating, regular exercising, adequate sleep, etc. I can’t help but think that some of my health issues have been due to putting my own health on the back burner and I’m ready to reclaim that part of me. I might sign up for a running race this Fall to help get me motivated and stay on track. I hope next time we meet for a coffee date, I can share some fun updates on that.

Please join in! Share your updates and answers to my questions in the comments!


  • Reply eli |

    It is always lovely to hear you are doing well. And congrats on the job raise front! Is there anything in particular you are looking to take a sabbatical for?

    I know on the job front for me I am currently on a contract position, which ends in January and with the job market how it is, I am very nervous about finding a new position. But my boss has told me she wants to extend my contract as far as it will be allowed, and that she wants to hire me for a full time position, but the company is stressed about a possible recession and isn’t changing any contract workers to full time. So here’s to hoping that changes before my contract ends (since I really enjoy this job and environment)

    • Reply Anonymous |

      I enjoy Ashley’s updates because they feel very personal. I think she answers these kind of questions within her story-telling. What are the best ways to get extra money to pay off debt? She just posted about asking for a raise and doing professional development training as a side hustle.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for the congrats, Eli! My goal for sabbatical (aside from R&R) is to prep a terminal Master’s degree I want my department to launch. Right now folks can complete a Master’s on their way to PhD, but I’d like to get a stand-alone MA offered as an option. 🙂 Good luck with your job – I hope they’re able to renew your contract!

  • Reply James |

    Hey Ashley,

    Lovely update…so since this is a debt blog. I’d be curious to learn a) what do you think are the best ways to pay off debt as soon as possible and b) what are the best ways to get extra money to pay off the debt?



      • Reply Ashley |

        Thanks, Anon! 🙂 I like these “life updates” but I do try to keep them pretty financially-focused (much moreso than I likely would if meeting with a friend for coffee “in real life”). I think you answered the question about getting extra money (side hustles & asking for raises). For getting out of debt, I think it depends on a person’s goals. I personally like the snowball method, but everything is super psychological too. Like, I’m very motivated to pay off my car (and am throwing LOTS extra at it)….I’m less motivated to pay off my student loans :/ But I’m very excited to be *THISCLOSE* to having my car paid off and being back down to just the mortgage and student loans remaining!

    • Reply Hannah |

      Thank you Ashley for this interesting and useful post. If you start blogging somewhere else because James gets too obnoxious, we’ll all understand and follow you.

      This blog has NEVER just answered those questions.

    • Reply Alice |

      Dude you choose to criticize the one engaging, interesting blogger you manage to have on the blog? Wow.

    • Reply Michael |

      Ashley, if it were me, I would not continue as a staff writer on this site unless you received a public apology for this comment made by the blog owner. And, even then, honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if that weren’t enough. Out of the current blogging staff, you have consistently provided the best content, both in terms of personal relatability, and yes, blogging about debt related matters. If James is not appreciative of what you bring to this site, both content wise and financially, I have no doubt that you could catch on somewhere that would value you and show you the respect that you’ve earned.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Cheering for your financial wins and resolve to pay off the car loan! What a weight lifted off if you can clear that.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about how you plan for a sabbatical. It’s something that has crossed my mind, but haven’t quite nailed down how I would want to make good use of time.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Hi Walnut! Do you mean how I’m planning for the sabbatical financially? Or like my actual plans for what I’ll be doing with my time? In terms of finances, I’m lucky that my department will still pay me for most of my salary. I say “most” because our rules dictate that they will pay for my base salary and I do have a small administrative stipend I receive on top of my base salary, which I will forego for the semester sabbatical (I will also not be doing the administrative work during that time and am happy to take a slightly lower wage during that time in exchange for not having those admin duties). Let me know if that addressed your question or if you meant something else! ***also worth noting that I’m not actually approved for the sabbatical at this point. I realize I’m talking about it as if it’s for sure happening, but I must apply and be approved and it would not be for a full academic year from now.

  • Reply Maeve |

    James–you’re the owner of this site. Why are you chiding Ashley publicly about her blog content? Why haven’t you done the same to your other bloggers, including Vicky Monroe? This is tacky and ridiculous.

    • Reply Klm |

      Seriously. Other bloggers have not been in debt (Beks), made very very little progress for years, (Hope), or not been interested in getting out of debt as quickly as possible (Vicky). Why shade Ashley?

    • Reply Lisa |

      The articles about buying things doesn’t seem like a good way to pay down debt neither. For example, “4 reasons to buy a jeep” by Semify. Not helpful at all.
      Where’s Hope been? she hasn’t been back since she left on her last trip.

  • Reply James Hendrickson |

    Hey Guys

    This is James piping up again.

    Apologies to the community. I’m sorry about that – I sometimes come off as too harsh in my emails!

    Apologies also to Ashley if she is offended! I actualy really liked this article and was hoping that she’d say more about her debt payoff progress.


    • Reply Hannah |

      She did talk about debt. The car pay off plan.

      The hard thing is that those of us who have read your site for a long time have read posts about absolutely nothing from so many of your writers. The caliber that Ashley brings in writing is heads and shoulders above many of the SEO-type contributors. She also has made sustained efforts to get out of debt. You picked the wrong post and posted for your passive aggressive garbage. And you apology was dumber than the posts on your boring DINKs finance website.

  • Reply Maeve |

    James, just pipe down. You sound like an idiot. You didn’t “come across too harsh”–you came across like an ahole when you’ve never once nagged your other bloggers about this stuff. If you just want tiresome SEO posts, go for it, but those increasingly few of us who care about the original bloggers need you to knock it off. if you want to chide them, tell Vicky Monroe to stop sounding like her posts are by ChatGPT and tell Hope to post so we can check in.

So, what do you think ?