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Ashley’s February 2023 Debt Update



It’s been a while since my last debt update (July 2022), so I thought it was a good time to write an update on recent happenings and progress.

Student Loans

Advantage services my student loans. Thanks to comments from readers here, I applied for Public Service Loan Forgiveness back in August.

The program allows for student loan debt to be forgiven after 120 qualifying payments for folks who work in eligible public service positions. I’ve been working in an eligible position since August 2015, so I would only have 2.5 years left until the remainder of my loan balance is forgiven. But I didn’t apply for the program back in 2015. Thanks to readers, I was made aware that federal regulations for a period of time (now expired) allowed for a request to have past payments count toward the 120 minimum qualifying payments.

Updates from Mohela

It’s taken 6 months, but I finally heard from Mohela that the department of ed has transferred customer service for my federal loans to Mohela. I’m officially enrolled in the program!

That said, I was disappointed to see that I still have 44 qualifying payments to go (roughly 3.5 years instead of 2.5, as I’d thought/expected). When I clicked to view my loan payment details, I saw that there are months in 2017, 2018, and 2019 when I was in a period of deferment or forbearance. They amount to 9 months in total across the 3-year period.

Any advice on this? I thought non-payments during deferment or forbearance also counted now? Or maybe that was a separate application that I didn’t get in on time because I did not remember/realize I had periods of deferment or forbearance??

Either way, I was excited to officially be enrolled in the program, and then bummed to realize I have a whole extra year that I didn’t realize would be tacked onto my acceptance.

Student Loan Debt Update

Since my last debt update in July 2022, I haven’t made any payments toward my student loans. I mentioned in my 2023 Financial goals post how I’d had to dive into my EF to fund lawyer fees for ongoing child custody issues. The legal fees were ongoing from August until the present, though we came to an agreement earlier this month and I am hoping that I’ll get a break from the legal fees in the months ahead (though…who knows?).

In my last debt update, I had $26,561 in student loan debt. I have the exact same amount now. No more, no less. Womp wooooooomp. I do have some money in savings to put toward student loan debt. I’ll post about this in the next couple of weeks, as I plan to do a financial goals update post.

Carmax Auto Financing

My only debt right now other than student loans is for my car financing through CarMax. And while my student loan update may have been a little anticlimactic, I’m happy to say I’ve been making good progress on my car debt.

In July 2022, I reported owing $16,084 on my car (originally purchased in 10/2021 for $20,539). In just the past 7 months since writing that update, I now owe $11,804. That’s a difference of $4280 (plus the interest paid during that time). I’m pretty pleased with that progress. It amounts to an average of over $600/month paid toward the car. The minimum payment is $374, and I’ve been consistently paying extra to try to whittle down that balance.

In an ideal world, I’d love to have the remaining balance paid off by the end of the year. That would be a very lofty goal, as it would require payments of over $1,000/month (which is higher than I’m currently doing), but it’s not impossible. Who knows – maybe at the end of the year, I’ll re-appropriate the student loan debt savings to throw at the car just to be done with it. I’ll revisit this down the road.

So there you have it. I’ve put it into a chart, too, for those who prefer a succinct display of information.

February 2023 Debt Update

DebtCurrent BalanceOriginal BalanceAPRMinimum PaymentFebruary Payment
Carmax$11,804$20,539 (10/2021)3.45%$374$500
Aidvantage$26,561$96,020 (2014)0% currently$0 currently$0 paid; $350 saved


I’d love reader input if anyone knows more about having periods of student loan deferment “count” toward PSLF. Am I too late for requesting that?

Replacing Eggs With Cheaper Alternatives And Planning for Kids


Expensive eggs

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but the price of eggs is out of control! The USDA reported that the average price of a dozen eggs has tripled to $3.13 this month. Honestly, I’d be delighted if I could find them for that price! In my area, a dozen eggs cost nearly $5. My sister who still lives on the East Coast told me that eggs in her area are nearly $8 a dozen, which is shocking.

As a vegetarian (formerly a vegan, but I found the diet too restrictive), eggs used to be one of my main sources of protein. However, they’ve just gotten too expensive to justify adding them to my grocery list. So lately I’ve been relying on other sources of protein such as legumes and tofu, and making some of the old faux egg recipes I used to enjoy when I was vegan, such as tofu scramble.

Tofu Scramble Will Turn You Into a Tofu Lover

Tofu scramble is just crumbled-up tofu sauteed in a pan with a variety of spices that make it taste eggy, such as onions, garlic, turmeric, paprika, and nutritional yeast (a seasoning that’s popular with vegans because it has a cheesy flavor).

You can even add a special rock salt called kala namak to tofu scramble to replicate that slightly sulfuric taste that real eggs have, but I usually skip it because it’s delicious without it. Here’s my recipe of choice if you’re missing scrambled eggs and are daring enough to experiment with tofu to save money! Trust me, you’ll love it.

I’ve also been skipping eggs in baking and relying on vegan egg substitutes instead. You can usually replace one egg in baked goods with a quarter cup of applesauce, or make a faux egg out of flax seeds or chia seeds.

How to Make Flax and Chia Seed “Eggs”

Flax and chia seeds take on a gelatinous texture when you add water to them, which makes them an ideal replacement for eggs in quick breads, cakes, muffins, and cookies. They bind baked goods beautifully and you can’t even taste them or see them in the finished product!

I usually put one tablespoon of chia or flax seeds in a dish and mix it with three tablespoons of water to create one faux egg. Then I let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the seeds to absorb all the water and add the resulting mixture to my recipe.

Even though flax and chia seeds are specialty health foods, they’re cheaper than eggs right now, which I honestly can’t believe. I can get a 12 oz package of chia seeds for $5, about the same cost as a dozen eggs. But I can get 24 chia eggs out of that package, so it ends up being half the cost of using real eggs.

If you don’t want to make your own chia or flax seed eggs, you can also get readymade egg replacers from brands like Bob’s Red Mill. This option is also cheaper than using real eggs in baked goods right now, at least in my area.

Speaking of Eggs…

Speaking of eggs, my sister is undergoing egg retrieval as part of her fertility journey. Seeing her navigate the IVF process has made me start thinking about my own fertility and how to plan for those eventual medical costs when I want to start having kids.

Unfortunately, I’m probably going to have fertility problems as a result of a tumor I had as a child. I had a grapefruit-sized tumor removed when I was 3 ½ that had been growing internally in my abdomen since birth. I’ve had major stomach issues ever since the surgery, so I likely have a lot of internal scarring, and my doctor believes I’ll have fertility problems as a result.

My spouse and I probably want to start our family within the next decade. Hearing about my sister’s medical costs has opened our eyes to how expensive having kids could be if I need IVF as well. We’re open to other methods of expanding our family such as adoption, but that too comes with costs.

Right now I’m in the research phase of figuring out how much it may cost us to have kids so I can start to plan. Because we’re debt-averse, we definitely want to have enough saved up to start our family without taking out any loans. If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear more about your experiences and how much it cost you to adopt or have biological children.

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