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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  • April check-in: A underfunded significant other’s birthday this month means that my $878.80 debt payment only resulted in a net $326.21 going towards debt, but that’s still going in the right direction! In non-numbers based wins, I’ve managed to keep the card that I use online under $100 balance and the other (that I’m focusing the chunk of repayment towards) under $1000. I’m so close to being able to snowball some of my payments towards the installment loan and watch that balance go down!

    Reply Like 6
  • Just saying hi - still plugging along.  Will update April's debt payments after we get paid this week.  We go on vacation at the end of next month so some of our extra money is being held on to for spending money so not much more than the minimums going out this month.  After we get back from vacation, we will get cracking on paying some things down again.  I'm debating on a balance transfer but I haven't decided yet. Holding off until the car is paid off and we have that money free.  With that extra $450 a month, we can make a lot of progress towards some other things so the light at the end of the tunnel might seem a little brighter.

    Reply Like 6
  • Ok here's my very first check-in (hopefully I don't mess it up 😄)

    I have paid $2,860.29 for April.

    ANZ card $1,888.29 outstanding balance $0.00 YAY!!! There will be some residual interest next month, but it feels so good to have another one knocked down.

    Minimum payments on

    Citibank $240.00

    Westpac $170.00

    Personal Loan $562.00

    If I've missed anything let me know.

    Wishing everyone a fantastic May smackdown!

    Reply Like 10
    • Purple Butterfly are you in NZ too? Nice to “meet” another kiwi here!

      Reply Like 1
      • Purple Butterfly
      • It's never too late to start!
      • purple_butterfly
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      WairereRose  Close by we’re neighbours! I’m in Aus 😊 great to meet someone from this side of the planet 🌏 

      Reply Like 2
    • Purple Butterfly ah, yeah - we do pretty much have the same banks don’t we, LOL. 

      Reply Like 2
      • rushiec
      • I choose forwards!
      • rushiec
      • 7 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      WairereRose  Purple Butterfly  - knew the minute I read the banks!  Congrats.  

      Tasmanian here :)

      Small month for me here for debt repayments - but I've paid $200 just now and have another $200 if the month pans out as I plan for.  I have acknowledged a 1 month delay so now will be paid of by August....all things being WAM-able.

      Reply Like 4
      • Purple Butterfly
      • It's never too late to start!
      • purple_butterfly
      • 7 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      rushiec Hey there! I was down your way visiting a friend after Christmas, what an absolutely beautiful state 🙂

      Even small months are steps in the right direction.

      Keep on Wamming!

      Reply Like 3
  • April Check in!! Paid off 2411 in Credit Card Debt and I am officially down to one card now!! Time to hit it with 3 payments a month!!

    Reply Like 11
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 7 mths ago
      • 3
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      Maroon Ink 

      Go you!  You smack that last card, and you smack it down hard!

      Reply Like 3
  • April update   

    Starting debt from February: $10,672.82
    Paid down this month: (-$283.93)
    New debt amount: $10,956.75
    Debt Smackdown Totals: $1,103.35/$4,500.00 = 24.52%

    UGH. Backslid this month. By almost $300. Basically canceled out my last two months of progress for no reason, just overspending. I had no clothes in my wardrobe for the turning season and wearing sweaters all through the summer in the Southern US just wasn't going to fly. And I do have several returns that will be reflected on next month's statements. But I really should've handled that better. I WILL do better. It was definitely not fun typing in my numbers for this month. :(

    Other financial updates this month: The credit limit on my cash rewards CC was increased enough that between that and having paid it down enough, I can actually use that as my main card now. I've wanted to do this for so long! Not only is it just safer than using my debit card everywhere, I will now also earn cash back on everything I'd be buying anyway - free money! I have only spent on it what I've already budgeted, mostly for things like groceries and the like, so I'm not creeping that balance back up. The goal of course is to keep that habit up; it's still new but so far so good. Wish me luck and good habits there.

    Reply Like 6
    • Orchid Display Ugh, I'm sorry you had a rough month! Stay the course! We all have to have clothes to wear. No need to beat yourself up.

      Reply Like 3
      • Technicolor Cheetah
      • Not sure when I became a cheetah...but I'll run with it
      • technicolor_cheetah
      • 7 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Display 

      You could think of it as your becoming aware of another true expense, and that your clothing category needs to be increased so you can purchase required items in the future without having to WAM.  Or if you don't have a clothing/wardrobe category, that you need one.  It's just a correction that will help you going forward.  I'm budgeting a certain amount each month for my clothes until I hit a cap amount and then I will replenish the category to that cap again.   I budget twice that amount for my kids because while I can buy cheaper quality clothes for them as they aren't going to be wearing size 8 forever, they will need more frequent wardrobe updates to take into account growth and seasonal accommodations.  YWardrobeNeedsMV.  

      Reply Like 4
  • End of April update, also covering March, since I didn't post anything, even though I kept the spreadsheet up to date.  March was big because of the tax refund and my wife's pay schedule, and therefore car payment schedule.  April wasn't so amazing.  Normal payments, and a little extra on the Citi card, but not much - a whole $16.48.  Next month looks like it'll be similar, but I get three checks in May, so June should jump a little bit.  The normal payments are telling me that we'll far surpass the $7,500 goal, so I think I'll go ahead and change it on the spreadsheet to $10,000, and we should still surpass that.  $12,500 still feels like quite a stretch to me though.  Guess the next 8 months will tell the story on that one.

     

    March:

    Car loan: 545.22 - Paid bi-weekly, so this was a month it got 3 payments - Woot!

    Citi Card: 3,375.14 - Let's hear it for tax refunds!

    Total Paid: 3,920.36

    Cumulative total: 5,867.97

    % of 7,500: 78.24%

    % of 10,000: 58.68%

    % of 12,500: 46.94%

     

    April:

    Car loan: 364.54

    Citi Card: 166.48

    Total Paid: 530.96

    Cumulative total: 6398.99

    % of 7,500: 85.32%

    % of 10,000: 63.99%

    % of 12,500: 51.19%

    Reply Like 7
  • Is it too late to get in on this awesomeness? I started YNAB in late December and have been tracking my own debt smackdown. Would love to be added to this community, but can wait until the 2020 smackdown because, alas, I’ll still have debt next year. My goal is to pay the AmEx in full by Nov 2020. 

    January: $7,870 across 3 different CCs (paid off 2 during this month)

    February: $6,608 on AmEx (@ 11% interest)

    March: $6000 on AmEx

    April: $5,582 on AmEx

    Reply Like 9
      • TC Jackie
      • HR Manager
      • tc_jackie
      • 7 mths ago
      • 8
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Yeti People have been joining all along.  I don't see why you can't start now.  It's very motivating.  And a lot of us will still have some debt come 2020 - just less of it and feeling it's more manageable.

      Reply Like 8
    • Hot Pink Yeti you are definitely welcome! 

      Reply Like 6
  • So here's April's update:

                                Original Bal     Pmt               Interest       Final Balance

    Mastercard: $1193.31         $71.33          $22.48           $1144.46

    Visa:                     $355.42                                                                 $674.41

    TOTAL:            $1718.70                                                              $1818.87

    Lots of fun numbers in that one! I was able to add a tiny amount more to the payment, which is awesome, so that got it down a wee bit more than my norm. AND I didn't add to the debt this month, either. I was able to cover my over spending from the middle of the month with my final pay check and I had enough that I should be covered until I get paid again. So that's helpful!

    I also am going to be able to move this debt over to a zero interest promotion, which I'm really grateful for, so then ALL of the money will be going towards the debt and none towards interest! I'm going to stretch it out for the duration of the promotion, so it won't be paid off by the end of the year, but I really don't mind when it's at zero interest. I'd rather focus on building up some buffers elsewhere and just keep paying it down a little at a time. So I'm a bit bummed, but at the current trajectory I wouldn't have it paid off by the end of the year as it is anyway.

    So yay for a bit of good news this month!

    Reply Like 5
  • April check-in.  Paid $830.  So close to paying off that 3rd card I can taste it!  First payment on my student loan since I consolidated them, and the required monthly payment is less than half than it was prior to consolidation.  It's actually closer to 1/3.  Which is great; I should be able to throw the difference at the credit cards.  Just chugging along 🙂

    Reply Like 9
  • April - paid standard mortgage, and a little extra off the credit card ($12 more than march). Truly, this is baby steps, but the positive news is that I haven't used the Credit Card for months now (it was my 'oh shit I'm out of money and payday is next week' card, so this is a good sign).

    Reply Like 8
      • Violet Drill
      • Violet_Drill_0bf6fcf19d
      • 7 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      The Late Heavy Bombardment That's a great sign! Nice job!

      Reply Like 3
  • April check-in: Paid $2,253.29 toward debt this month. We have completed 42% of our yearly goal of $30K! We are just chugging along. This would go so much faster if we didn't have so much dental work due, but such is life. We are not taking away from our debt snowball category, so I am grateful for that. 

    Reply Like 5
  • April - Paid $2,411.75 (includes P&I)

    I'm so happy to report that after 1 year of working on the debt smackdown I've paid in full the first credit card and can snowball that payment going forward. (woo! the imaginary crowd goes wild! :) ) There were times that I thought this would never happen and it is so very exciting now that it has happened. On the snapshot below it is cc #1. Cc #3 is at a zero balance as a result of balance transfer, not paying the debt off.

    Reply Like 9
      • Coral Pony
      • If nothing goes right - go left
      • Coral_Pony.6
      • 7 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Admiral WOoooooooHOooooo, the virtual crowd joins in on the celebration !! Way To Go, now rolling , rolling, rolling snowball

      Reply Like 4
    • Hot Pink Admiral wahoo!! That IS something to be excited about! And the zero balance transfer is great! I love those things!!

      Reply Like 3
    • Hot Pink Admiral wowwwwww!!! Congratulations!!! 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

      Reply Like 2
  • Sticking to my own little snowball plan $500 - ish a month. Theoretically it should have been slightly higher, but I am still trying to catch up on life, to one day be in front. I am lucky I live in a country where I don't have to think about cost of health care, loss of income due to illness or unemployment, mking my buffer not needed atm. So as long as I can keep the "rolling with the punches" to a minimum, get ahead on those long-time expenses, avoid life creep as the economy gets better - this is going very well down the zero-debt path.

    It is the scenic route, but the view is amazing,  the flowers smells wonderful and birds sings fantastic. It is well worth the trip. 27% down - 73% left to tackle

    Reply Like 8
    • Coral Pony Yay, you! What a great attitude. Like the tortoise taught us, slow and steady wins the race.... And lets you smell the flowers along the way. :)

      Agreed about the health care issue. I'm NOT in a country that takes care of its citizens this way, and lordy, could I tell you stories about debt from unavoidable health issues - - even for people with full time jobs with health insurance...... Cheers to all those places that make healthcare a priority. 

      Reply Like 4
  • Got 1/3 of the money owed, so was able to clear my cc of the petty cash amounts. That means all cc are cleared and now have to figure out how to pay the loc, with the additional expenses that I'm going to incur this year. Also, will I be willing to increase my debt for some medical expenses...

    Reply Like 3
  • I just made my last Child Support payment. I am out from under that debt, last hearing in 2012 I was over $75.000 behind. I have cleared that and since he dropped out of school, when he turned 18, actually before that from what the DA's office could find out.  

    I am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't a train. 

    Reply Like 9
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Ruff16965 (05bd62cee897) 

      Congratulations.  That is such a phenomenal achievement.  Well done!

      Reply Like 2
  • Good news and bad news:

    Good news- I used my state tax refund to pay down a whole lot of CC2. The cash advance principal has gone down 50% since the start of the year. I am snowballing and last month I paid off CC1, so this month was a combination of CC1 payment, tax refund and usual CC2 payment for CC2.

     

    Bad news- I shouldn't be trusted with ANY credit card. I used CC1 again. I had the money budgeted for a trip, but since I put it on my credit card for points I decided to play the float game. Well seeing that money in my CC category but knowing that it isn't due till the end of this month, I went ahead and moved it around. So technically I don't have the money to pay off the credit card. I have to use a May pay cheque to cover it. Lesson learned. Put the credit cards in the freezer. They are not for me. 

    Need to update the spreadsheet.

    Reply Like 6
    • Magenta Panther I’ve been there, and am slowly learning. I have only one card now, and as I paid it off I reduced the credit limit right behind me. I put it in the freezer while I did that so I learned how to live without it. The first few months were pretty scary - maybe not that bad. Then when it was completely paid off and the limit reduced right down to the minimum of $500, I bought something online. Next thing the bank is on the phone checking it’s a legitimate charge because I hadn’t bought anything with it in so long, LOL. Now I keep it at the $500 limit with a “lock” so it can’t be used to exceed that limit, things will bounce if there’s not enough credit there, and I’m finding I run a slightly credit balance some of the time. I don’t transfer every time I spend, but a couple of times a month, once a week if I’m really onto it. The freezer is a great start, but make yourself rules for when it will come out. My rule was if I couldn’t clear the entire balance in a month then I had to complete plastic surgery - cut that baby up and not get a new one till the natural cycle meant it expired. That was about 2 years out at the time. All the best with retraining yourself. I would suggest that you consider which is the card you REALLY want to keep when you’re debt free (if any) and then cut all the rest up anyway. It sure helps your laser focus when there’s nothing to “fall back” on.

      Reply Like 4
    • WairereRose thank you for the encouragement. It was so stupid of me. Getting rewards isn't worth it when I am stressed paying it off. What's the point???

      Reply Like 3
    • Magenta Panther I know. The card I kept was my rewards card, and I barely spend enough on it to get a reward every 2 years. Looking at it like that helps me stay focused on the budget better. The “rewards” are only ever going to be a bonus, not the point.

      Reply Like 4
  • In April I paid $298.59, only $50 more than the minimum payments. I had a trip to LA/Long Beach from April 22nd - April 25th. I'm waiting on my expense reimbursement and my payment for a video shoot I did on the trip. Once I get that I can figure out how much I can pay on debt. I'm happy that I paid even $50 more on debt last month. I did add some temporary debt but I will pay it in full when I get paid for the video shoot. I'm glad to get back on track this month. It's going to be a busy month though and I have 4 trips up to Denver. I'll have to watch out of pocket expenses closely. I'll have some expenses to be reimbursed so I'll need to keep track of that too. I have kept the spreadsheet up to date (#21).

    Reply Like 6
  • I thought I'd done an April check-in, but I didn't. I payed $1568.26 toward debt in April, but increased it by $24K. State Farm royally screwed me and my 2006 Honda Odyssey just had to go. We bought a 2016 to replace it. I'll be paying off about half of that before the end of May. May payments are currently at $1966.00. 

    Reply Like 3
  • I paid $772.99 towards eliminating our debt this month. My goal is $7500 for the year.  I am currently at $5528.97 paid, which puts me at 73.72% complete. April was a good month. 🙂

    Reply Like 7
    • Karen Harris  Go, you!! We have similar goals and it looks like you're CRUSHING it! Nice to see almost 74% this early in the year. Nice work! 🤩

      Reply Like 3
    • Hot Pink Yeti Thank you so much! When I set this goal, I honestly thought it would be a stretch, but we just keep finding ways to put a little more to debt.  This month, the 'pinch' might be a bit too much, so I may have to take a step back.  Once you get excited to pay off debt, it's really easy to push your limits, lol!  

      Reply Like 5
  • May check-in: I made my snowball payment of $725.04 to my private student loan and the auto payments are set for both my private & federal student loans for the month.  So I've made it another month on track to my stretch goal. Fingers crossed this can continue with all the new baby expenses. One month at a time.

    Reply Like 7
  • May Check-in I Paid €778.12 towards my credit card & Personal Loans... Around 30% complete for my 10 K goal  :)

    Reply Like 7
  • April - $1077 paid towards debt.  Was pretty much only able to manage the minimums and that will be the same for May and probably June as well.  End of school year stuff, summer camp payments and pending vacation have all our extra money spoken for.  So far I've been able to avoid taking out new debt though to cover everything.  I'm hoping to be able to continue that but I'm not sure.   We're either going to have to pull some from savings or add it to a credit card for a couple of months, I think.   Hubby's car is down to 2 payments!  So once that's gone, we can have quite a bit of breathing room and can pick back up on the debt snowball and some savings so I'm tempted to just take the money from savings knowing we should be able to replace it by end of summer.  Waiting for hubby's pay next week before I make any decisions as he should have a little overtime on it as well.

    Reply Like 8
  • April Check In

    I only paid $505. Even less than last month.

    Remaining balance is $8,484 and I am 31% of the way to my goal. 

    BUT May is shaping up to be a much better month. I already paid $800 towards the CC today and there is a lot of month left. So fingers crossed I can get back on track.

    Reply Like 6
  • May check-n: Paid $300, for a YTD total of $2535, bringing me 63% toward my goal of paying off $4000 of the $7900 owed in January. 

    April was terrible, with work expenses and taxes wreaking havoc. I'm dealing with the downs and rolling with the punches . . . But ugh! It was more fun when I was on a budgeting high and stashing away cash like a BOSS. ;-)  Will use my upcoming work reimbursements to restock my emergency savings. Will also try remember that not carrying a credit card float, paying down some of my CC balance, and staying within my budget is something to be proud of, even if it hurt watching the age of my money descend into teeny tiny digits.

    This community is amazing, and these check-ins really help keep me focused (instead of scrolling through Amazon and adding to my cart!). 

    Reply Like 5
    • Hot Pink Yeti 🎉Way to go! 

      Reply Like 2
  • I'm over 50% of my goal for the year - actually over 52%!  It feels great.  I've been frustrated because I just want to take money from my savings to pay it all down, but I don't think that's a good idea right now.  I worry something might happen and then I'd have to use cards again.  So progress has been slower than I'd like, but steady.   I should be close to 60% by the end of May.  This is kind of addictive - but in a good way!

    Reply Like 7
    • TC Jackie the only thing to consider is the cost of carrying the debt vs the "benefit" of the money in savings. If it's costing you a lot of money every month in interest, but you aren't gaining much at all in dividends on the money in savings, then it may be much more worth it to use your savings to pay down the debt. If the credit will be available for an emergency, then you will have something to fall back on should something bad happen if you've used some of your savings to knock down the debt.

      It's TOTALLY up to you, YMMV, and it's something that you'll have to really examine. But it is also something important to consider because if the debt is costing you a lot, then it may very well be worth it to knock it down, then use the available money to build your savings back.

      Reply Like 3
      • Alia Gee
      • Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
      • Pink_Keyboard
      • 7 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual We are "parking" about $10k of savings that is budgeted for longer term stuff (future vacations, sister bail out fund) in our HELOC. It's not really debt repayment, but it only makes 2% interest in my account and the HELOC is at 6%, so it makes numerical sense. I also see it as an incentive to *truly* pay down the debt, so when we have to unpark the savings we're still in a substantially stronger position. It's already meant more of our regular payment is going towards principal than debt, so I feel good about it. Giving Wells Fargo less of my money in the long run? Priceless. ;)

      Reply Like 3
    • Alia Gee Yes, that's a great strategy! It is so worth it to me to pay down the debt and NOT pay the credit card companies any more than I have to. When it's debt with a zero interest, that's a totally different animal, and I don't really care how long it sits there! But when it costs me more to have the debt than I earn with the cash sitting in my accounts then it no longer makes sense. It means living on the razor's edge sometimes, but it's worth it in the long run!

      Reply Like 2
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