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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  • May/June update

    These 2 month I just paid the min for my loc (+17 extra). I've got no other debts right now and I'm trying to use the extra money I get to add to my future expenses categories. So, I'm not sure how I'm going to make much of a hit on the loc this year. I seem to be lacking motivation on clearing it. That's probably because I know I'm going to be getting a 10 to 17k medical debt - so I'm more focused on getting cash to make that as small of a hit as possible...

    Reply Like 4
    • ISuckatMaths  Saving to pay an anticipated expense is debt reduction by preventing new debt. I say you're very motivated in reducing debt, even if it is a future one. Good luck!

      Reply Like 5
      • ISuckatMaths
      • Where Budget and Math collide
      • ISuckatMaths
      • 5 mths ago
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      Spring Green Rain thank you, I don't know why I didn't think it that way. but you're right and that makes me feel really happy. Thank you😄

      Reply Like 4
    • ISuckatMaths you might have to change your name to: ISuckAtMathsButNotAsBadAsIUsedTo

      Reply Like 4
      • ISuckatMaths
      • Where Budget and Math collide
      • ISuckatMaths
      • 5 mths ago
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      WairereRose Hahaha, world's longest name and such a typical hashtag 😂😋

      Reply Like 1
  • Just figured out total debt payments for may come in at $1073. Feels good! Making some good progress again!

    Reply Like 5
      • Gold Song
      • Gold_Song.6
      • 5 mths ago
      • 2
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      Gold Song Gold Song actually came across savings on something else. Able to add an additional $125

      Reply Like 2
  • Paid $1,061 on my CC in May. I'm now at 40% of my goal for the year, and am still on track to pay it off. 
    Fingers crossed but June looks like it will be around the same. 

    Reply Like 6
  • May is extra pay day month!  I dropped my summer class due to a visceral reaction to group work in a lecture class.  ;)  Unfortunately I dropped it a day late to receive my full tuition back, but the remainder will be carried over to my fall term.  That money was the price I will pay for my sanity.

    Anyways!  What this did do was allow me to put an extra payment down to debt.  So I'm now sitting at 44% of my goal, which feels amazing!  

    At this rate I will be out of debt by April next year.  AND I WILL PARTY!

    Reply Like 8
  • June update - - somehow made it to 76% of payoff goal! Haven't added any debt, am paying off my other credit card weekly and using all the wonderful YNAB features to stay on track.

    Here's the thing: I've also more than doubled my savings since starting YNAB in January. If I used savings to pay off the card, it would leave me with $3700 in savings.... and debt freedom! But should I do that, or is it better to stay on track with my new healthy spending/saving habits while slowly working toward the payoff goal?

    I'm 47, single/child-free, but would like to have a healthier nest egg (3 months expenses = $10,000, and 6 month salary = $24,000; Current savings total = $8500). Thoughts from others who have been at this crossroads?

    Reply Like 8
      • Gold Song
      • Gold_Song.6
      • 5 mths ago
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      Hot Pink Yeti I personally would go ahead and pay the debt and then begin working to replenish the savings.

      Reply Like 2
    • Hot Pink Yeti pay off the debt. Be done with it and move on. 

      Reply Like 2
    • Hot Pink Yeti You're doing great! 

      I admit it would be tempting to just get rid of that debt in one hit (heck, I just did exactly that with the last $1000 on my card!). But I'm wondering how long it has taken you to save that 8500, and how long it will take you to recover that awesome buffer you've built... maybe consider a 3-5 month plan for that card?

      Reply Like 3
      • Slate Blue Vacuum
      • Trying to ignore the Joneses
      • Slate_Blue_Vacuum.5
      • 5 mths ago
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      Hot Pink Yeti Whoohoo. Pay it OFFFFFF! You'll feel so much better!

      Reply Like 1
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 5 mths ago
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      Hot Pink Yeti Pay it. Definitely pay it.

      Reply Like 3
    • The Late Heavy Bombardment Great point. I’ve got some veterinary and dental bills coming up, so I’m gonna play it safe and just delete *part* of the debt with *some* of my savings. The interest amount will go down, so I’ll get to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment without taking such a big risk. Thanks for your input! 

      Reply Like 7
  • May check in- this was a wacky month that because of my mistiming some payments ended up with an overdraft transfer. So stupid! I get paid every two weeks and each paycheque is alloted to certain monthly payments. Those payments went out before the cheque hit. Anyway, cheque rolled in and I transferred back. 

    This month showed how paying extra on the credit card really pays off (no pun intended). My interest has dropped so much! I feel like I'm not spinning my wheels anymore. 

    In summary: 30% of initial amount paid off. No new CC debt. Yay for YNAB. 

    Reply Like 8
  • May update    

    Starting debt from February: $10,956.75
    Paid down this month: $87.57
    New debt amount: $10,869.18
    Debt Smackdown Totals: $1,190.92/$4,500.00 = 26.46%

    Minimums only this month, but every bit helps. I've started using one of my credit cards for my everyday purchases like groceries and gas - now that I have the balance available on it to do so, I prefer to use that both for the security of using a credit card vs debit card and to earn cash rewards. BUT it's definitely hard. I really have to keep a close eye on myself and my spending to make sure I'm only charging on the card what I've already budgeted for that category. I've slipped a few times but I'm definitely doing better than I would have a few years ago.

    I have a few gift purchases I've got planned for the beginning of next month, but other than those I think I'm going to try for a no spend month in June. Wish me luck! :)

    Reply Like 8
  • May check in. Total in extra payments this month = $193.22. 

    The snowball is slated to start in August, so any extra payments between now and August are extra extra payments that I've scrounged together from different sources. I'm also following through on my commitment to put some of my own discretionary money towards debt. Just this small effort has fulfilled 10% of my goal. That's progress. We are going in the right direction. 

    Aside from that this has been a crazy month for spending. I'm not entirely sure what happened. Here's to getting things back under control in June! 

    Reply Like 5
  • May check in. Ready to throw in the towel. I hate self-employment. I hate owning things and having small children and most everything right now. Don't mind me, I'm just having a pity party over here. No pity actually wanted or warranted. Added $2K to consumer debt that seems insurmountable. One or both of us is in denial. The chances of making our goal are pretty much nil at this point absent a miracle. YAY! I'm serious. We have 2/3 of the income I thought we'd have and dropping fast.  Hubby's primary client is probably going under and now we're trying to figure out another couple of streams of income to replace what was the primary, which will take some months at least. My car is in the shop for $2500. My sister's car (she transports the kids, keeps one of them, and is on our insurance) which is registered to hubby can't be registered without $900 worth of work. This is why people don't try this when they're living on the actual edge I guess. If I were counseling me, I'd suggest bankruptcy, but I guess I'm just a little too stubborn--oh and still "need" to buy a house, which is definitely, probably, maybe not happening this year. I think YNAB would be keeping me going if I were still logging in religiously, but it's easier to bury your head when you're already drowning. Yes we're eating at home, yes we're driving one car whenever possible, yes we've cut all the fat that can be cut. Life is just being itself af right now. Summer camp has been cut and now I get the joy and privilege of coming home to a trashed house every day for the summer; but on the bright side, I can pay my sister minimum wage to keep both kids as a not-so-subtle reminder to stay in school. Sigh. I should take this to therapy, but we're cutting the fat, remember?

    Reply Like 3
    • Slate Blue Vacuum (((Hugs))) hang in there. Remember, every step in the right direction gets you one step closer to your goal - even when it feels like you’re sinking. Do as much as you can, and be kind to yourself. And stubbornly (Or tenaciously for a more positive spin) keep pressing forward. You’ve got this. The end might not be visible yet, but you’re way closer than you were just because you know where you are AND where you’re going. Keep correcting your course as much as possible and you cannot fail.

      Reply Like 4
      • Slate Blue Vacuum
      • Trying to ignore the Joneses
      • Slate_Blue_Vacuum.5
      • 5 mths ago
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      WairereRose You're so sweet. :) This was the don't-pity-me party remember?!? Lol.

      Reply Like 2
      • Alia Gee
      • Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
      • Pink_Keyboard
      • 5 mths ago
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      Slate Blue Vacuum therapy is a medical expense, in my budget. (But i'm between therapists myself, so you know... ;)

      Reply Like 2
      • Slate Blue Vacuum
      • Trying to ignore the Joneses
      • Slate_Blue_Vacuum.5
      • 5 mths ago
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      Alia Gee Yeah, but with our deductible, it has to be budgeted-for...we have over 1/2 the year left and the HSA is basically maxed out. Sigh. Kids and allergies. Next year hoping it'll be easier. I'm "between" therapists too as we just moved and you can't establish a rapport with a new one on a drop-in basis so... I'll wait til we get clear a bit...

      Reply Like 2
    • Slate Blue Vacuum *hugs* life is hard sometimes. And it seems like it just keeps kicking you when you're down. I've been in the putting my head in the sand mode a little bit too much lately, too. You're not alone.
      I'll sit next to you and we can share a pity party together, how about that?

      Reply Like 3
      • Slate Blue Vacuum
      • Trying to ignore the Joneses
      • Slate_Blue_Vacuum.5
      • 5 mths ago
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      farfromtheusual Thanks.

      Reply Like 2
    • Slate Blue Vacuum are there any therapists who work by Skype? Location is less of an issue then. Mine does - I don’t use that feature, but it’s available if I need to, and I know he can pick up on body language etc to challenge me when needed. Might be something to ask about if you had a good rapport with your last one?

      Reply Like 2
  • May check-in: Not a ton to report. I spent some and I paid some and I managed to keep going in the right direction, although not by much. $879.90 went towards the credit cards and installment loan, which resulted in a $274.51 net debt reduction. I found that the concept of a three paycheck month made me a little freer with the spending than I’m happy with, so I’m going to have to watch that in the future.

    Reply Like 6
      • Violet Drill
      • Violet_Drill_0bf6fcf19d
      • 5 mths ago
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      Violet Drill Updating because my internet security subscription, which I had completely forgotten about, renewed and screwed my numbers. Added to the budget for next year though! Actual debt reduction is $152.35, not the $274.51 that I had originally though. :(

      Reply Like 3
      • MartyH
      • MartyH
      • 5 mths ago
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      Violet Drill Still in the right direction and you corrected something for next year.  My internet provider includes security for all my devices, so I don't have to worry about that.  Make sure you aren't paying for something you can get free.

       

      I never really think about 3 payday months - I just budget what needs to be covered before the next payday and the rest goes toward debt.

      Reply Like 4
  • Well this is depressing. I *thought* my student loan outstanding debt was pretty low - I've had payments going out and everything. Anyway, I got a few letters and opened them (YNAB win, I suppose) and it turns out it's not well under £2000, getting close to £1000 like I thought, it's actually £7000. This is SO SO SO depressing!

    So I made a proper category and changed my payment amount (by cancelling two small monthly savings, two magazine and one political party subscription) and now I feel like I took about 20 steps backwards instead of the strides forwards I thought I was making.

    Damn. 😯😥😪

    Reply Like 5
    • lindsay_g I hear you. I got my statement the other day and it turns out the fees they’re charging me per year on it (even with the interest write-off) means that I’m going backwards because my income is so low it doesn’t trigger the automatic deduction. I’ll have to find $40/year to stay ahead of it till I can start paying it down more actively.

      Reply Like 3
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 5 mths ago
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      WairereRose Thanks for reaching out. I'm still very sad about it. But I've taken a line in the spreadsheet. I am just telling myself that owning up to this is a win, even though it feels like a huge loss.

      It. Is. A. Win. AAARRGH. 🙂

      Reply Like 6
  • Claiming line 275 <3 I'm making a 2000$ goal which, honestly, idk if it's conservative or over-shooting... we'll see, I guess.

    Reply Like 5
    • Simeon Goals are goals. They're yours. They're important to you, to be measured by you and no one else. Just setting a goal, any goal, is admirable; now find the path and move forward! 😄

      Reply Like 7
  • May Check In: 

    I'm backsliding, HARD. Reading some other people's struggles on this post has helped me come to terms with the fact that sometimes life is just hard. I'm keeping a list of all my financial boons so I don't lose hope out here. I was able to budget $286 towards my debt this month, and I'm very proud of that, despite how small the number is compared so some of the payments I've seen. Reminding myself that even though things seem to be going to shit (sick pets, I need surgery and won't be able to afford medical school applications this year) etc. I'm still in a better position to navigate these challenges than I was 8 months ago before I started paying attention to my budget, and than I was 2 years ago when I learned how to handle my mental health. And than I was 2 months ago when I was breaking into sobs at work, in the car, in the shower, and when laying in bed at least 5 times a day. There's always a silver lining. Gotta stay posi. 

    Reply Like 8
      • Technicolor Cheetah
      • Not sure when I became a cheetah...but I'll run with it
      • technicolor_cheetah
      • 5 mths ago
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      SiruhTheSantas 

      It sounds like you've come very far.  Sudden attacks of life happen!  You're keeping an eye on your expenses and not just spending wildly so you'll get there eventually.  Sometimes getting out of debt path looks like a teeter-totter - up one month, down the next.  

      Reply Like 5
    • SiruhTheSantas *hugs* I'm noticing that an awful lot of people in this thread have had a really hard month in May, so we're totally not alone, and that makes me feel better.
      Just gotta keep doing the best we can with what we have.

      Reply Like 4
  • I bit the bullet and took some money from savings to pay off my cards that carried an interest rate.  Now I have two debts - one card and a car payment - at 0%.  I'll pay those off by the end of the year, but I'm going to use the extra $$ to build back up the savings and pay down mortgage.  It feels great!

    Reply Like 9
  • May Check In:  I was able to put an extra $225 towards my debt this month, thanks to some overtime!  Yea!  So I put $3077 towards the bill,  in 2 more months we'll have the personal loan done. The stats:

    Total Debt as of 5/29/2019

    Personal Loan @ 9.75% - 1,245

    Visa CC @8.99%  - 11,196

    Auto Loan @2.24%   -  17,472

    Mortgage @3.24%  - 143,542

    Total:  $173,455

    Reply Like 7
    • Grey Tux So close! Sending that final payment will feel great! I'm working on paying off a personal loan too. 😄

      Reply Like 3
  • May check in:
    I went through and updated my challenge numbers and as of today I met my goal! And it's "real" money, not just the 10-13k I've got parked in the HELOC for long term true expenses. My goal was $25k, and I've paid it down by $25,059.01 as of today.

    I'm not sure if I want to change my goal or not. I know I can't pay it off this year, and we will be taking out another loan in the next 6 months, so I'm not sure how to handle that. But for now, I'm celebrating the win.

    Reply Like 7
    • Alia Gee that is awesome! Congratulations. 

      A lot of folks set themselves a “stretch goal” in case they meet their first goal, so feel free to go ahead and do that. You may surprise yourself again - and whatever you pay off before the next loan is needed gets you that much further ahead for then.

      Reply Like 4
    • Alia Gee Congratulations on meeting your goal! That's amazing, and definitely a win worth celebrating. 😄

      Reply Like 2
      • Alia Gee
      • Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
      • Pink_Keyboard
      • 5 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Alia Gee Bummed. I did a new budget, and a bunch of cash disappeared from my budget. I'm not sure why, but it meant I had to pull from a bunch of long term savings to cover my bills. It could be worse, I just am uncomfortable that cash disappeared from my budget. I'm hoping that it was a case of numbers being debited twice from ynab, rather than actually not having that cash. I don't know. Bleah.

      But, I'm not paying down debt anymore this month until I catch up with where I thought I was. Maybe not next month, either. Sigh.

      Reply Like 2
    • Alia Gee Oh no! I hate it when that happens. I've had to reach out to the help support before, and they've always helped me figure out what happened. A few times we've found where the money went and it helped get my budget back to what it should be! I hope you're able to find the missing money!

      Reply Like 2
  • Ugh, this month has been rough. Though mostly my Savings Challenge Goal took the brunt of it and I was able to still use my bonds interest to knock my mortgage down just a bit more this month. I also hit the halfway mark for my debt payoff goal this year. 😎

    • Starting Balance (January  2019): $69,112.11
    • Current Balance: $63,139.38
    • Paid Off this Year: $5,972.73

    Overall Progress Update:

    • Starting Balance (April 2018): $74,400.00
    • Total Paid Off: $11,260.62
    Reply Like 6
    • Madkat-Z Sorry May was a rough one. You've made it through, and reached a milestone to boot. Hooray for that halfway mark! 🎉

      Reply Like 3
  • Just paid another $2000 off on my credit card debt. Finally seeing the end of the tunnel - I should be done in a couple months, just before the 0% interest rate period ends! 🙌

    Reply Like 7
    • nomade0 Perfect timing!

      Reply Like 1
      • nomade0
      • Silver_Door.5
      • 5 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual thank you! At least that's the plan ;) 

      Reply Like 2
  • May check in.  I paid off $1118.51.  Slowing bringing down the interest each month.   Working two jobs is a killer, gonna be worth it.  Been working close to an extra 30 hours at my full-time job each paycheck plus about 15 to 20 hours at my second job.  I'll sleep when I'm dead lol.  Put one of my seadoos up for sale plus the trailer and lift that's gonna make a big dent when that's sold!

    Reply Like 7
      • Technicolor Cheetah
      • Not sure when I became a cheetah...but I'll run with it
      • technicolor_cheetah
      • 5 mths ago
      • 3
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      Maroon Ink 

      Are you on the spreadsheet?  I'm not good at spreadsheets, I couldn't find your name.  Congrats on being able to work 2 jobs for the time being.  Don't burn yourself out, though!

      Reply Like 3
  • May check-in. Paid $1,250 (P&I) this month. Also completed a balance transfer and brought down the interest rate on about 12k of cc debt from 15-17% to 2.9% for the next year and after that rate would be around 13% if I don't move it again. Feeling thankful for my credit union. The balance transfer was 0% and I learned that if I decide to go with a personal loan in a year, the rate (as of now) is around 8% and no origination fees. I'm also feeling thankful for working with YNAB and this challenge as it has helped remove some of the shame I was feeling about having the debt. Before I would have been too ashamed to call and ask about options at the credit union. Because I called and asked I was able to take advantage of the much lower rate. Woo!

    Reply Like 6
    • Hot Pink Admiral Congratulations on getting the information and such a great rate for the next while! That's sure to help a lot.

      Reply Like 2
    • Hot Pink Admiral Awesome! Shame around debt really does keep us trapped in the loop and not being able to get out. Kudos to you for shifting the energy around that! That's a big deal!

      Reply Like 3
  • April & May Update: My car kicked it this month, so I chose to purchase a new used car and chose to finance about $8k to get the quality car I wanted. Still planning on being debt free by the end of the year, this just slows me down a little! Fortunately it was a 3-paycheck month so I don't feel like I've lost my momentum!

    Reply Like 6
  • May check in:

    Total debt owed on 5/31/2019: $8,656.86

    Total debt paid since 1/1/2019: $364.43

    Total paid on debt in May: $1,208.87

    Obviously since I have paid that much in May and overall I'm only $364.43 less in debt, I spent a lot more than I have paid off since the beginning of the year. At least I have paid off some and not gone deeper into debt. I'm so ashamed of my spending behavior. I feel like I will never learn. I'm going to turn this around though. I'm not going to be defeated. I will keep moving forward and do my best to stop spending on the credit cards and pay more on debt each month. I'm frustrated with myself but I'll use this to be more determined and motivated going forward. I still want to be out of debt by the end of 2020 so I'm going to have to pinch every penny I can and that's not going to happen if I keep spending money. I feel like I am hopeless but I'm going to tell myself that there is hope and that I can do this.

    One of the things I learned in my year with my foster pup, Addie the Wonder Hound, was that I can do anything, especially things I've never done before. I've never been great with money. I have never been completely out of debt. I have never been out of debt AND had money in savings. That does not mean I can't do it. I can do anything, especially things that I've never done before!

    Reply Like 5
    • internettie Sending you lots of love! It's a work in progress. If you're coming from a place where you had habits and responses to situations that caused certain behavior, it takes a lot of conscious effort to remember not to reach for those habits in the future. Just keep working at it and stay focus. You'll slip and slide, everyone does, but you just have to pick yourself up and start fresh every day from where ever you are.

      Reply Like 3
      • internettie
      • Writer
      • internettie
      • 5 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual thanks for the support and encouragement!

      Reply Like 3
  • May checkin:

    We paid $5,732.50 toward debt this month because of a third paycheck, and a bonus check. 

    Goal: $30K

    Paid so far in 2019: $18,352.40 🎉

    We are 61.17% paid toward our stretch goal, and 91% paid toward our $20K goal!

    Reply Like 4
    • Budget-ish Gotta love those three paycheck months!  🎉 That goal is so close to completion. And plenty of time to keep chipping away at the stretch goal!

      Reply Like 1
  • So I'm catching up and doing the April and May check-ins at the same time.  Our income-based repayment on our student loans just renewed/reset, so April was a weirdly low month since the autopay didn't restart until May.  Then we made up for it by paying extra in May and setting ourselves up for automatically paying a little extra in the future.  I also expected to be having regular paychecks by now, but some things happened with work and I am now unemployed.  I am trying a new route, so hopefully we will truly be a two-income family very soon and can knock these loans out!

    April: 334.34, entirely regular payments with no extra

    May: 814.73, regular payments, plus extra since we didn't have some student loan payments in April, plus a little extra above that

    Reply Like 6
  • May was a really strange month.  190.67 (the minimum) to student loans, 543.00 to credit cards.  I'm within spitting distance of getting one of those cards paid off.  My boyfriend moved in with me mid-May so there's some tweaking going on as we combine some accounts and figure out how we want to handle our bills.  Hoping that by next month all will be smoothed out and chugging along.  

    Reply Like 5
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