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It sounds like you're in a really tough situation -- but doing wonderfully well, even with the student loan mess. You ARE making progress, you're keeping body and soul together, and someday you'll be on the other side of this thing.

My best advice to you: don't look at the cost-cutting measures you're taking now as something you're forced into -- think of it as a choice that you've made, because you'd RATHER be out of debt than be debt-ridden and eating in fancy restaurants and driving a car that you can't afford. This is a choice you have made, and the choice reflects your values. Plenty of people live way above their means, blithely racking up debt. You've chosen to put a stop to that. For a lot more on this subject, check out the very active "Living Beneath Your Means" board, which has a lot of great advice on living cheaply. Also, go to your library and check out Amy Dacyzyn's "Tightwad Gazette", a book that truly changed the way I think about money.

Let me second the advice about rehabilitating your loan. Call them, tell them you're serious about getting out of default, but that you're on a severely limited income. They have heard all of this before, and (assuming it's Direct Loans, private lenders may have different practices) will not yell at you; they will work with you to set up payments you can afford.

The very best of luck to the two of you! It sounds like you're on the right track!
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