The Official 2019 Debt Smackdown

Welcome to the Official* 2019 Debt Smackdown! 

Happy new year everyone! 

I know a few of use have been chomping at the bit to get going with 2019's debt - so with out further ado, I present this years spreadsheet! First of all, quick thanks to everyone on here who supported this last year, and helped make sure the Google Sheet remained in tip top shape.

So what's this about? If you are holding onto some debt as you enter 2019 - and would like to get rid of it - this challenge is for you.

To the participants from last year, welcome back! For some of us, our total debts are too large to smack down completely in one calendar year, so if you're here from last year, congratulations on your progress and let's keep on doing this! In 2018, we collectively paid down over $1,500,000 in debt! An increase of OVER $600,000 than in 2017!

For all new participants, we are happy to have you join in this year! New blood is always welcome. Let's all motivate each other to pay off those debts and continue moving forward to financial freedom.

Per last year, this is a shared one between the two forums/communities. Hopefully, that won't bring any problems! (Link to the Forum post [soon])

How it works:

1. List the amount of total debt that you owe. 
This step is to give you an awareness of your current debt situation. Feel free to share, this forum is a safe and nonjudgmental place. You can also decide to keep this information private, you don't have to post your total here if you are not comfortable doing so. 

2. Post in this thread the total amount of debt you would like to pay off during the 2019 calendar year. (This part is required.) 
Feel free to break down the amounts by credit card/type of debt. Also, if you have a specific plan or some ideas on how you plan to pay down the debt, you can post that too. Maybe your plan will spark some ideas for others on how to tackle their own debts!

3. Check in monthly in this thread and report on how your debt smackdown is going. (This part is required.)

4. Post monthly on the 2019 Google Sheet to track your progress. (This part is required.)
Claim a line on the spreadsheet, and post your total debt to be paid off, and the monthly amount that you send off towards it. Some people track their total payments and don't account for interest, some people account for principal only. The method you choose is up to you!

If you come across this challenge later in the year, no worries, you can still jump right in. Just put zeroes in the months where you had not joined the challenge yet, and start in the month you join in. 

Last year, we collectively paid off $1,500,000. Let's smash that number again in 2019!

Please let me know any issues with the sheet - sometimes things are a bit wonky when making new ones!

*Official in the sense that there's a spreadsheet. Not official in the sense that it's made by YNAB. I'm just following naming conventions here :)

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  • September check in #2.  Transfer between banks has finally cleared.

    Last $700 AUD transferred (back to joint savings in our offset account).

    I don't owe money!  

    Consumer/I want it now debt is all done  😀

    We do still have our house mortgage  😆 (20 years to go on that).  I do not yet have a category for the next car/large asset replacement.  I do have an unfunded category for small asset replacement ready to start funding.  Plus catching up on some of the not yet due categories and then making a start on some 'just for fun' categories.  


    Good luck to everyone with plugging away and getting through your own targets!


    Like 6
  • Check-in for July, Aug, and Sept: I've caught myself up on the spreadsheet. Have only been able to make minimum payments on my private and federal student loans, and have started making payments over the minimum on our interest-free loan for our new floors. I need to have that paid off within 12 months or will have to pay interest on the full original amount. So that will be the focus. Hoping with my partner's new better-paying job, the other household expenses will be better covered by both of us, so I can direct more funds toward the flooring loan. One month at a time.

    Like 4
  • August/Sept check-in

    Added more to our debt this month. I'm surprised our credit card company hasn't called to make sure our card wasn't stolen considering the Amazon spending spree we've been on this month. Between my husband starting the police academy and the expense that comes with that (uniform purchases, school deposit, and eventual loans) and buying things for our baby due in October, I don't think we stood a chance. 

    Quite frankly I'm coming to the conclusion paying off our debt won't be feasible until sometime, years probably, into the future. On the plus side, we do have a nice chunk in savings to account for me being out of work for maternity leave so no added expense there. Racked up $50 worth of rewards on same said credit card that I redeemed today and set a goal in YNAB to at least have that card paid off by the time we go on vacation in March, which we are on track to do. 

    It seems like there's just a solid time period in the beginning stages of adulting that racking up debt is just part of the process. I keep telling myself: someday we'll have better jobs, someday we won't have these random expenses, someday we'll be able to cover our bills, save money for the holidays, and throw money at our debt, but as Aragorn once said, "It is not this day..."

    Like 2
  • August / Sept. check in.

    I'm self-employed and set a goal to have debt associated with my business paid in full by the end of 2019 (close to $25K).

    I'm now down to $4,500 owing.

    My updated goal is to have it all paid off by the end of October.

    The one thing I can't get over is just how free I feel. Back in January, when I was despairing of ever getting it paid off, I felt like I was walking around with a heavy burden on my back. I spent a lot of time juggling funds and worrying / feeling anxious.

    Today I'm feeling much more confident and happy. Even though I'll still have personal debt to pay once this business debt is gone, I'm no longer worried about it because I know I can do it.

    Someone from YNAB contacted me a couple of months ago (the last time I posted) to see if I wanted to share my story publicly. I don't, but here are a few of the strategies I used.

    1. Increased my income -- Since I'm a freelancer, I can do this. I worked really hard on this one. 

    2. Cut all unnecessary expenses -- It's very easy to get sucked into the "shiny new tool" syndrome. I cut everything I wasn't using or didn't need. (FTR, I even hesitated to sign up for the paid version of YNAB; I was still using the desktop version for which I had paid $60 eons ago. But I'm glad I did. It has made a huge difference!)

    3. (Slowly) built up one month of expenses and now budget monthly for annual / qrtly expenses -- My income is variable. Now that I have budgeted cash, I use it as my credit line vs. credit cards.

    4. Used YNAB religiously! -- I did all the workshops, listened to the success stories podcasts, and worked my budget every day.

    This tool / program / philosophy works. 

    Like 11
  • August check in: Last month I paid off a little over $5000, thanks to being paid back money that I had loaned quite a long time ago, when I had money to loan! I used it to pay off one credit card, and then did a balance transfer from an account with 22% interest, to an account with 5% (and no BT fee) for 18 months.  So that will save me tremendously on interest charges! 

    Nothing exploded or broke down, (hooray!) but work is still scary slow and I am not sure how this month will play out. For now, my total debt paid is $6014.62, with the goal of $9000 for the year. Maybe I will make it, maybe I won't, but at this point I am better off than I was when I started this in February, so I am happy.  

    My budget for this month is terrifying, due to playing catch up, and maybe I should have budgeted more of that $5000 instead of paying off debt, but I was so tired of paying $300 a month in interest. I am still waiting for (and should be getting closer to receiving) a little over $4000 in payments from insurance for my clients, so if I get those this month I will be in decent shape for the remainder of September. 

    Like 7
  • Coming in for hitting my goal early, even with some changes being made to my financial plan.  I think it is worth mentioning my boyfriend (now Fiance) hit his goal of paying off $10,000 in credit card debt, even with paying for an engagement ring.  YNAB Double Win! 💍

    With that, we have been having some long term planning discussions. Even though I would have loved to keep working towards knocking the mortgage down, we need to start saving up for a larger place. It is probably better to be deciding this now before we have a kid on the way and quickly realize our condo is way too small. 

    I am still going to be throwing an extra $500, but the rest is now going towards down payment fund. 

    • Starting Balance (January  2019): $69,112.11
    • Current Balance: $59,346.19
    • Paid Off this Year: $9,765.92

    Overall Progress Update:

    • Starting Balance (April 2018): $74,400.00
    • Total Paid Off: $15,053.81
    Like 8
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Madkat-Z congrats on the engagement!!!

      Like 2
  • internettie said:
    at least I'm getting the bills paid every month and saving some money

    Way to go!  Don't minimize this accomplishment because it is more than a lot of people out there can say and most of them don't have other challenges to deal with.

    Like 3
      • internettie
      • Writer
      • internettie
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM thanks! I do recognize that doing what I am doing is amazing! 

      Like 1
  • Bonus hit my bank account and I immediately scheduled to pay off some credit card balances.  I paid off $11, 203.  That leaves just $4k on balance transfer cc with 0% interst....part is due in June and the other is November.  

    Like 8
  • Checking in with final numbers for September.....

    Starting balance                                                        Ending balance

    $64,283.40                1st Mortgage                         $63,772.10

    $13,732.53                2nd Mortgage                       $13,519.58

    $  7,212.80                Car                                                $ 6,827.88

    $85,228.73                                                                        $84,119.56

    Total debt paid down in September $1,109.17, total for 2019 $19,612.29 (75% of goal).  Hoping to start picking up steam and get the car paid off by December as planned.  We're pacing but barely and seem to have lost the reigns of the budget recently.  

    Like 6
    • Whiskey Mama That is where this page and its accountability really comes to the fore - you realise before you get too far off that you need to pull back to stay on track, and the wobbles can be ironed out before the crash happens.

      Like 4
  • Hi to all!

    I hope I'm not too late to join:)

    I had a rough couple of months this year. I'm currently a student and used to work part-time. Never had any dept but always needed to be on edge and there wasn't really a way to get ahead more than one month. 

     Now I was out of a job for 4 months and while I do have one again, I won't be paid until mid October (planned was end of August, HR employed me later than originally promised plus they changed paying date from end of month to middle of the next). 

    Hugh sigh.

    This leaves me with ~2,200€ right now, and will most likely grow to 2,700€ by mid October (not including all the food my bf is paying for me haha).

    While I do know that this amount might seem small to some of you, it is the highest I have ever had and it stresses me out. This month I can work overtime but by next uni starts, so Most likely I will need until next year. So I guess I'll be joining you:)


    I'm really inspired by all of your huge achievements so far and will go figure out that spreadsheet now. 


    Edit: where does this fancy name come from lol

    Like 9
    • Aquamarine Storm Welcome to the forum! It's never too late to join! :)

      When you join the forum, you're automatically given a random username. If you'd like to change it, click your name on the top right of the forum and select Edit Profile, then Account. Edit your username and click OK to save.

      Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any other questions!

      Like 1
    • Faness thanks:)

      I actually like the name, I was just confused haha

      Like 1
  • September's Check in. Feeling discouraged in general, so I sent an extra $100 to debt. Total of pmts for this month: $263.32. I hope to continue with an extra $100/mo, and I'll hit at least 2k in extra payments for the year. 

    Like 9
    • Navy Blue Colt I love that you turned discouragement into extra progress! That's an amazing way to turn things around!

      Like 2
    • Navy Blue Colt 
      I'm not sure what the rules are on the Challenge, but I'm gonna change my goal. Faness Your remarks have definitely been rolling round in my head, and I've decided to change the script: To heck with discouragement, let's change the goal and have a success instead of a failure. 

      So here's the new goal: 

      Mortgage Bal of Jan 1, 2019: $65,678.09

      Mortgage Bal of September, 2019: $63,246.27

      2019 Debt Payoff Goal: Reach $62,000.00 Mortgage Bal

      Total Goal Amount: $3,678.09 on principal
      Total Paid In 2019: $2,781.67 on principal
      Remaining Goal: $896.42 on principal

      It may be cheating... but I feel pretty good about it. 

      Like 7
    • Navy Blue Colt naa, not cheating, just being realistic. You could still feasibly stretch it and beat that goal for the year, so who knows. Sometimes things don't work out so you have to adjust. I think our culture has too much of an attachment to failure, and not enough appreciation for adjusting course.

      Like 4
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view


      Hear! Hear!  Well said.  

      Like 3
  • Ugh. Just when I was so close to paying off all my debt...

    Looks like I am going to have to open up 3 new loans. 

    #1 $4,600 for waterproofing our foundation (should be 12 months 0%)

    #2 $2,200 for medical bills (12 months 0%)

    #3 $3-$5,000 for grading our yard


    #1 & #2 are must haves. #3 We might try to wait until spring but I am worried about potential water damage to our new addition so will have to check with pros and make sure delaying is okay.

    Paying about $2,000 of medical bills with cash flow the next couple months. Also will have another medical loan in February for approximately $6,000. Sigh.

    Even with all this I am still hoping we could be debt free by end of next year. Just one year later than we wanted, but plans were derailed by incoming baby.

    Like 3
    • The Goat Queen join the club.. bought a house and thought I had budgetted for everything and then found out I had to insulate the basement once the waterproofing was done ($3500) and then discovered the previous owner tried to fix a rotten window frame by caulking the crap out of it. Hopefully, it will only be the cost of replacing the rotten wood ($150), but if there is a bigger water problem, who knows. I also have to do some major grading to my yard but holding off until next year and hoping to do some of the work myself. The joys of home ownership I guess.... 

      Like 3
  • September: $2700 paid toward debt. 
    Hubs has been home for a month and I'm not freaking out. He gets salary when he's on-call, but about half of his annual income is from overtime.  I started YNAB a year ago and we were living on CC float. Currently, I'm buffered through November and I didn't bat an eye at putting the extra $1553 toward my snowball. 

    Like 7
    • Pay Me To Draw I love Love LOVE this! WTG!!!

      Like 1
  • September Update

    Paid off my Paypal credit! I had used it to pay my taxes this year with 0% interest for 6 months. Had a balance of $133 so I used the cash back savings from my shopping apps ($73) and $60 of my own money to clear it so I am doing a little victory dance. 

    Paid $1200 towards my credit card. 

    Like 12
    • Tishy Wishy Kudos for paying that off before the 6 months were up! I know if you miss the interest-free window, PayPal charges interest from the day the transaction was made. Great job knocking that debt out! :)

      Like 3
    • Faness I didn't even know that they charge from the day the transaction was made. I thought they charged interest on the balance that was left. Learnt something new today!

      Like 3
  • Checking in early for September. Miscalculated in the best way, and had $1500 to start off the debt repayment. Monthly payments will normally be much lower, but it's nice to start off this way. I'm keeping a thermometer at home to track and even though my total debt is roughly $47000, this at least is a noticeable chunk. Nice to finally be back on track again. 

    Like 5
  • September check in

    Starting balance from August: $519.58
    Paid down this month: $118.31
    New balance: $401.27
    Debt Smackdown Totals: $1,819.87/$2221.14 = 81.93%

    Like 7
  • I'm sitting at just over 70% of my goal paid off this year.  Tuition has made things a bit tough in my life.  I have to find another $500 in the next month to pay off my tuition so I can enrol in next semester.  

    Let's hear it for the upcoming November 3 paycheck month!  It can't come soon enough.

    Like 6
  • September check in

    Mower is paid off! The last three months will be directed towards mortgage. I did not set a stretch goal, but I think I'll be able to add a tiny bit extra, maybe. Tomorrow our dog has appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Like 4
  • September Check In:

    $2605.42 to student loan.  Dealt with hoops to get it timed correctly.  Paid off a sub-loan. 

    Just last month, we were debating making the goal easier to reflect circumstances.  I don't know what happened, but now it's looking like we might be able to pay off the whole student loan (above our goal) entirely by December?  I hate to be to optimistic, only to come crashing down with a dose of reality between now and then, but I think it's a good thing to hope for.  We shall see.  Forecasting is so iffy.

    Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!

    Like 6
      • MsTJ
      • YNAB has given me back my future
      • Believer_in_YNAb
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      Move Light Sound Life  If you can't reach quite far enough, you will be a lot further along than you would have been if you hadn't tried.  Keep reaching.  👍

      Like 6
  • September Check-in time! 

    I was again only able to put $81 towards my bulk debt. BUT I was 1)able to afford a $300 expense without adding more debt, and 2) my net worth went up by $300! My second/freelance job is helping out a lot, and I have been able to get both my regular-use credit card bills paid in full every month. I still use them, but I haven't had to pay interest in months. Right now my primary goal is staying within budget through to November, since it's a 3 (ah! now 5 with my second job!) check month for me and with any luck I should be able to throw a whole 800-1k at my bulk debt! Fingers crossed everything works out between now and then!

    Like 9
  • September progress report on my battle against the student loan beast.

    As of March 31, 2019: $251,414.81. This is my starting balance after joining YNAB in mid-March, 2019.

    As of September 26, 2019: $236,663.22

    September notes: Regular monthly payment resulted in principal reduction of $1,130.82. I was able to make an additional payment of $300.00 with one paycheck and $350.00 with the next. Plus, one of my colleagues refinanced with my bank, which earned me a $300.00 bonus. Sent that right over to the loan. Total reduction of principal in September: $2,080.82.

    Year-end goal is to get the balance down $31,414.81 (from the March 31, 2019 starting number) to $220,000.00. With a $14,751.59 reduction since I've started making these progress reports, I'm now about 46.96% there.

    Like 7
  • A little late reporting on August:

    Again, we paid our regular car payment and student loan payments, as well as just a little extra on student loans that we have automatically scheduled for a total of $579.73.  That puts us at only 44.12% of our goal, which is not where we had hoped to be by this point.  We also ended up having to use quite a bit of our savings to get a diagnosis for a sick pet.

    In good news, though, I (wife) finally got a job!  Starting in October, we will finally be a two-income household, which should allow us to really knock out some of our debt.  Between our usual payments, new income, and some Christmas gifts, we could still reach our goal by the end of the year.

    Like 5
    • Oh, and my new job should qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which is a huge plus!

      Like 3
    • Duke and Duchess Those are all awesome things!! Way to go!

      Like 2
  • A late August/early September update for me:

    My husband ended up getting a promotion that came with a small relocation about an hour away, so we sold our house and purchased again in August. After the dust settled (who am I kidding, we still have boxes everywhere 😅) I was able to toss an extra $3k toward debt.

    I'll hit my goal for the year in October, but I'm going to keep at it because this accountability has made a huge difference in the decision making process. We could have used that $3k for some new furniture, etc. but I'm really glad that we stayed true to our priorities.

    Like 8
    • Veronica at YNAB If you were able to move AND still throw extra money at your debt, then you're amazing!! Moving is SO expensive, no matter how much you plan, prepare, and crunch. Way to go!

      Like 5
  • September check-in - a little early as I usually wait till everything is completely finalised, but apart from a few more groceries we have to get tomorrow which I've pre-entered I think it's all up to date so I'm going to launch in and do it.

    My loan had 2 extra payments for a total reduction of $55 and a new balance of $1210 - I can't quite squeeze another $10 from anywhere to knock it down to round numbers (same situation on our floating mortgage which would have put us at a full $1000 paid off if we could, but maybe next month...) So close and yet so far. Looking at the numbers from last month, I must have included the September payment in the total when I worked out the balance because otherwise, it doesn't add up - it's an interest-free loan so that's not the problem. Anyway, the total shows correctly now, but I'm wondering about my paydown figures for last month. Hopefully, I took the number from the top.

    The loan to the joint account after stripping many of my categories bare again is down to $1274.85 which is a not insignificant reduction of $559.54. I have two more weeks of work before my income from there stops, so not sure how much further I will get ahead before the reshuffle of finances, but I guess we'll see next month. I've been seeing what I can change to reduce other outgoings, and to prioritise better, but unsure what net result that is having. If the numbers are anything to go by (nearly doubled last month's reduction of $351) then possibly it's very promising.

    This puts me at 69.15% of my goal for the year, which is very close to the 75% that the calendar tells me I should be at.

    Like 3
  • September check in: paid of our car loan of $18,620 + credit cards if $3910.  So, we are done for the year!  Only possible because we had unexpected income coming in but now we just have our, feels amazing to finally get here. 

    Like 12
    • Maroon Viper congrats!!  That's a great accomplishment - enjoy your new budget freedom :)

      Like 1
    • Maroon Viper Congrats!!

      Like 1
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Maroon Viper 

      Woohoo!  KA-BLAM! ( confetti cannon going off)

      Like 1
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