The Official 2021 Debt Smackdown

Welcome to YNAB's 2021 Debt Smackdown!

Happy New Year! 2021 is going to be a good one, I can just tell - or we can will it to happen 馃槈

With over 500 participants and more than $4.2 million in debt payoff, 2020 was absolutely incredible for the debt smackdown group! I know some of us are still left with debt to knock out in the new year or you're joining in for the very first time. Either way, you've come to the right place. We'll use this group for accountability and support as we crush some (or all!) of our debt in 2021!

First, a quick shoutout to BritishMuseum - they have hosted our debt smackdown for the last few years and became DEBT FREE at the beginning of 2020! What an impact their work has made on this community!

If you want to pay off some debt this year, here's 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 2021 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. Post monthly on the 2021 Debt Smackdown Sheet to track your progress. (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!

4. Check in monthly in this thread and report on how your debt smackdown is going. (required)
We'll be testing out some reminders this year when the month rolls over because we want to hear everyone's progress! Bookmark this thread and sheet so you can find it quickly at the beginning of the month!


If you come across this challenge later in the year, no worries, you can always 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.

Pro-tip: You can use ctrl+F (or command+F on a Mac) to search the spreadsheet for your name when the sheet gets filled up.

Last year, we paid off over $4million! Let's make 2021 even stronger!

In the event you have any issues with the sheet - please tag or DM Veronica

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  • January check-in: $1,612.74 paid this month toward debt (included P&I)

    Early next monthly I expect to receive an annual incentive payment of around $5k, which is great! And I'm finding myself feeling stressed about choosing the jobs it needs to be do. Trying to focus on gratitude and also feel the more complicated feelings that are coming up. And take my time is executing my plan for them to give myself some space. 

    Wishing everyone a good February!

    Like 6
    • Hot Pink Admiral Awesome, congrats!
      You don't have to make a decision for how to spend it right away. You can wait, especially if you don't have any emergencies to deal with at the moment. Waiting is perfectly acceptable, too.

      Like 2
  • January Check-In

    So I realized that I entered my stretch goal pay off dates...  for my first loan, I was really looking at paying it off in March.  And loan #2 in September.  But the truth is... I want to do my best to pay them off by the dates I鈥檝e posted.  Good news! I participated in the 34 day reset challenge... and I will be paying off Loan #1 by my birthday next month!! Woot woot!! AND I won鈥檛 be needing to use any of my refund $$ to do it, so I will be socking away a healthy chunk for loan #2!  So August is totally doable!!  Here are the updated amounts 馃帀馃嵕馃帄馃巿

    Total as of:

    Jan 1: $15,925.65 

    Jan 29: $15,085.90

     

    Loan # 1: $2,101.45 (by February)  

    Loan# 2: $9,087.59 (by August) 

    Loan#3: $3,896.86 (by October)  

    Like 5
    • Violet Yeti Congrats!!!

      Like 2
  • 鉂勶笍鈽冿笍 January Check-In  鈽冿笍鉂勶笍

    I paid a lot more than usual toward my credit card balances because I slowed down my debt payoff in November and December so I could be sure to have enough for the holidays. I was able to lump the leftover cash into my January payments. Solid start to my last-ever January with credit card debt!

    Debt pay down progress in 2021:

    January: $3923.86

     

    Current Standing

    Credit card debt remaining: $21,733.09

    Student loans: $20,121.18 (in covid forbearance)

    Total progress in 2021: $3,923.86 paid off

    Total debt paid off since starting YNAB: $25,911.50

    Like 6
    • Correction! I've actually paid off $27,985.29 since starting YNAB 15 months ago!

      Like 4
    • Violet Storm WAHOO!!!!!

      Like 2
    • farfromtheusual  I鈥檓 getting there!!

      Like 2
  • 馃捀 January Check-In 馃捀

    We've started off with a mixed bag for 2021.

    On the upside, I've been given verbal confirmation that my employment contract will be extended for another 18months. My partner has been offered more steady work within the same company and with potential for advancement. I'm really trying not to be too excited about these things until contracts have been signed though.

    On the downside, my partner has decided to sell his racecar. It's the death of a dream for him so he's understandably devastated. It was completely his choice and idea, but that doesn't make it easier on him.

    This year is all about paying down debt and positioning ourselves financially so that we can (hopefully) buy our first home next year.

    Debt paydown this month (net): $1,208.90 

    Like 8
    • This_Little_Piggy The thing that I remind my BF when he feels like he's giving up on a dream to deal with immediate (and not so glamorous) things is that it's not permanent. And nothing says that he can't do it again in the future. But doing that temporarily will help secure the ability to have the dream again in the future, rather than scraping and barely being able to do it now, which will take the joy out of it.

      Like 1
  • January Check-In: $1883.85

    13.52% for 2021

    This time next year my debt will be PAID IN FULL! I could pay it off earlier, but it is a HELOC with a fixed mortgage term. I didn't make the prepayment for 2020 as early as I should've so it was processed in Jan. :( It meant that it came off the $7500 prepayment limit for 2021 rather than 2020. Nevermind, I'll just make the big chunk payment in Jan 2022 & be done with it. My tutoring side hustle has been a game changer. I have a spreadsheet going & I will reach my prepayment limit by June. So the rest of the year, I'll just my snowball & tutoring money towards saving for my Subaru buyout in Aug 2022 and increase my TFSA (pay yourself first category).

    As always, I'm very grateful for YNAB & this forum. 鉂わ笍

    Like 8
    • Purple Foal Your progress is amazing!!!

      Like 1
  • Quick one from me:

    Paid: 拢677.63
    Total Paid off 2021: 拢677.63
    To Go: 拢11,322.37

    The first few months of this year were always going to be a bit slow carving into that target - In addition to the above I also put 拢1,000 towards my tax bill, which I paid a few days ago.

    February will be getting my goals back on track from where I had to WAM money in January to put the extra for the tax bill, but I'm feeling confident of hitting my 拢12k paydown goal towards the end of the year when cashflow will be much better.

    Like 5
  • January Check-In: $3,266.30

    26.95% for 2021

    This will likely be the largest single payment for the year, because my income is about $700 higher this month and I received a bonus from Sofi Loan.

    I almost feel bad about that loan. I only applied to get the bonus; as soon as the loan was funded, I paid it off in three chunks the same week, for about $5 in interest, then filled out the W-9 for the bonus. But hey, Sofi dictated the terms and conditions, I just followed them. This offer is still active:  https://www.doctorofcredit.com/sofi-350-bonus-when-you-refinance-student-loan-or-take-a-loan/

    If I were really mercenary, I would be referring my eldest daughter and having her refer her boyfriend to get personal loans that they would also immediately repay. They would get $310 apiece, I would get $310 for referring my daughter and she would get $310 for referring her boyfriend.

    But I apparently have a limit to my greed. I sent the link to my daughter as an FYI, but I won't broach the subject again. She's more conservative with her money, and doesn't actually trust that she can cheerfully rip off Sofi with impunity. She's a good kid; makes me wonder who her mother is.

    Like 5
  • January check in:  This is such a long month!! I was able to come up with $925 after I pulled out the extra in my variable spending categories which I typically roll to the next month.  Ready for February!  At least it's a shorter month.....

    Like 5
  • Claimed line 164.  Last year鈥檚 debt smack down was really helpful, so here goes again.

    I鈥檓 a lawyer, and my husband is an architect, and we have major student loan debt. Our current total is about $210K combined principal and interest.  (Thank goodness 0% interest got extended through at least September 2021!)

    We also have about $9k left on one car, and a $10k loan from my mom that helped us buy a second.

    I鈥檓 not counting mortgages (our house and a small multi family we used to live in and now rent), as we plan to simply pay these regularly for now. Maybe in the future we will speed this up.

    And we got a credit card for the first time last year (after 10 years of marriage!) so that we could take advantage of cash back, but we pay it off each month, other than one initial large purchase that we are paying off proportionally over our first year, which has 0% interest. So I鈥檓 not worrying about that either.

    My goal this year is $40k toward the student loans and cars.  Now that we are finally a 2-income household, and we鈥檝e been ok during COVID, I think we can do it!

    Like 5
  • January check-in. Just got back from 10-year anniversary trip. I WAMed from a few other categories we vastly underspent while away, so we have managed to stay within the month's budget overall. Debt payoff is on track. I'm the one who does the work in YNAB, but it's clear my hubs and I are both firmly in a frugal mindset to get out of debt and prepare for a cross-country move we want to make to a place we both WANT to be, not bound by job or hamstrung by debt. We ate most meals from groceries we bought instead of eating out. We limited even drink purchases while out and about or on our road trip. I'm so proud of how far we've come!

    Like 7
    • Turquoise Drill That's AWESOME. And so inspiring!

      Like 2
  • January check in - total progress  $9,288.11 principal payments, which is  18.58 % of goal!  Got a 3rd paycheck in December, which carried over into January's budget and allowed for quite a bit of extra this month.  For some reason the mortgage still hasn't hit the account yet, so January's principal payment will not be reflected until February.  Things I have learned this month: 1) It definitely helps me to look at this daily; 2) We are relying on credit card float that I just didn't see until I started a spreadsheet tracking beginning of each month numbers; 3) Accountability helps; 4) Undebtit is awesome!  

    Despite the disappointment of realizing we are using the cc float in ways I wasn't realizing, I thought we made a good start.  Focus this month will be to work on that float and to boost true expenses.  Looking forward to our car loan being paid off in May so we have a little extra to help with that and the debt snowball.   All in all a good month.

    Like 5
    • MovingForward February Check in.  Another disappointing month, but for different reasons.  Started the month with unexpected snow related expenses (Snowblower died in a storm and then ice from a passing vehicle caused damage to our car) and finished with unexpected travel for college visits (but on the plus side that was a trip to warmer weather and how can you hate that?).  Managed to WAM all of that and not move backwards, but didn't make the progress we had hoped for.  

      February progress $5497.75 (which looks better than it should because it included January's mortgage payment which didn't post until February) for a total percentage to date of 29.57.  Here's hoping for a great March!

      Like 3
    • MovingForward You're still on track, though, so that's positive. Congrats on not sliding backwards. That's a big deal!

      Like
    • MovingForward March Check in.  Progress slow but steady.  Knocked off another $4343.24 for a total of39.26% of goal met.

       Had some positive things happen in March - DH got a bonus and we had less tax liability than expected.  Used these to fund the EF and some TE's, so I am feeling better about the big picture. Vehicle will be paid off in May, so the snowball will start to pick up some momentum.  

      I am learning a lot as we go.  I still have some auto pays going to CC, but to keep the average daily balance (and thus the interest) down, I make sure to go in and pay them right away, and if I can I pay things I know are going to be billed to a cc as soon as I am budgeted for them. I should probably get all auto pays off the cc altogether - maybe that will be this week's project. Should see annual increases and I picked up some part time work for April.  Will probably continue to fund some TE's and work on IFNM before we add to the debt snowball.  It's hard not to just throw everything at debt, though.

      On another note - I love to look at the totals on the spreadsheet - can you believe how much debt this group has kicked to the curb so far this year?  Last time I looked it was over $790,000!  Way to go, us!  Thanks for the continued motivation and accountability!

      Like 4
  • January Check in:  I payed 3087.86 towards debt, and I did end up paying off the Home Depot CC so I've only got the Mortgage to go!!  Getting so much closer but this is going to be a long slog now...I feel like I'm chipping at an iceberg with a toothpick!

    Like 4
  • Joining in on line 165. My goal is to pay off our car this year. I'm sure I can do it as I've been able to pay near 20K each year to credit cards and I no longer have them. So this should be a piece of cake. Fingers crossed.

    Starting at 20,319.32

    Paid $500 in January

    Like 6
      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 6 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Stacy C  Paid $1000 in February. Could have paid more, but cash flowed 2 car repairs of $2400. 

      Like 4
    • Stacy C cash flowing car repairs is huge, though! Congrats on the no new debt even if it meant your payment was a bit lower. That's still an accomplishment.

      Like 2
      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Stacy C March - paid $2000 

      Like 2
      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 5 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Stacy C April - paid $2000 

      Current balance: approximately $15050

      Like 4
      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 4 mths ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Stacy C May - paid $3000, thanks to 3 check April.

      Current balance approx $12000

      Like 5
    • Stacy C Wow, that's a big chunk! Great work! 馃帀

      Like 1
      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 2 mths ago
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      • Reported - view

      Stacy C Paid 1k in June and $1250 in July. Just went under 10K!!!!!!!!!!  Happy dance!

      Like 4
    • Stacy C wahoo!!! Love it when it drops a digit!!

      Like
      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 3 wk ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Stacy C Paid $1000 in August

      Back to work now, so hopefully I'll be kicking up the payments once my paycheck comes in. This WILL be paid off before the end of 2021!!

      Like 3
    • Stacy C Yay!! Good for you!

      Like
  • Paid off about half of my debt  last year, and looking forward to working on this challenge with you all!

    Starting balance: $6,559.09, credit card debt. I'm hoping to be debt free by the end of the year.

    Oh, and January checkin: I paid the minimum this month (ending with this balance), but I socked quite a bit away doing the 34-day challenge, so February's payment will be a bit more sizable.

    Like 5
  • January Check In: $2427.33 

    6.07% for 2021

    I'm struggling to balance debt pay-down with planning a wedding, as if I wasn't already struggling with wedding planning enough. 馃槃 Sometimes I think we should have just eloped in 2020 when we were originally supposed to get married, but I want so badly to be able to celebrate safely with loved ones. 

    Hoping to pick up some momentum on debt now that a good chunk of vendor deposits are down at least!

    Like 4
  • Starting off 2021 with a Bang! $4712 paid on Student Loan. Current balance= $47,628.81.

    Like 6
  • Checking in for January, although it was a lot simpler. I just paid my $500 on my auto loan (the minimum payment is usually $300 something) since my student loans are still on pause. I spent so much time and effort getting out of credit card debt last year too.

    Like 4
  • February check in:  happily snowballing my mortgage at 2903.53.  I'm going to see if I can squeak that extra $97 from somewhere to make it an even 3000...though I doubt that will make a difference in my debt freedom date, it will help keep where it is now!  Debt Freedom is slated for December of 2024!

    Like 5
  • February Check-In: Paid $1113.67 towards debt. Only a couple of months left on the spouse's student loan. This will be the first major debt crossed off the list since we started (i.e. we had a couple medical bills pop up and then paid last year but that I don't consider part of the group of debts we started with in the smackdown). Very exciting!

    Like 4
  • This is for my January check in. I鈥檓 running behind on all my check in stuff. For the month of January, I was able to pay off one of my credit cards. That is one card that will never be coming back. :D Between making my minimum monthly payments and paying off this card I鈥檝e paid down $579.04 of my debt that I鈥檓 working on this year. I鈥檓 still trying to figure out what method I鈥檓 going to use. Right now, the get mad and pay it off seems to work well. LOL. I鈥檓 really excited to see what this year is going to bring.

    Like 6
    • Corruptress 馃槀 that's one of my tried and true methods as well. Congrats on the card payoff!

      Like 2
    • mandiferous Thank you.

      Like 1
  • February Check-In (Line #39)

    This month I'm making a $1,754.18 payment towards my debt.   Wish it was more but I've already paid $4,387.81 in just two months which is pretty good!

    Like 4
    • Brenda That's amazing!!!!

      Like 1
  • Hi again!  Paid $8077.15  for February.  Shouldn't be this much but I went ahead and paid off my personal credit card. It was lowest balance and middle interest charge. Now to  get the business card (highest interest, middle balance) out of the way while  paying down the truck (highest balance, lowest interest). You can see I'm not following any pay off rules but it's working for me I think.  See you all next month!

    Like 5
      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Cyan Yeti  I'm right there with ya...  My paydown hierarchy was/is all over the place... but it felt right for me!  Glad you're doing you!!

      Like 2
    • Cyan Yeti If it's working for you, who cares! Congrats!!

      Like 1
  • February check-in:  $2431.63 paid to debt.  I PAID OFF our Personal Loan!!!! I wasn't technically scheduled to do this until March, but since I have February, March, and April funded, I went ahead and pulled the payment from those months and sent it in! YAY! 
    So... after going through the Debt Bootcamp, I think I'm going to re-prioritize. Originally, the plan was to take the whole Personal Loan payment and avalanche it into the next highest interest rate, which is a student loan at 3%. However, I think I'm going to hold off on that and save that $700/month to put toward making this house into the place I've been wanting it to be for the last 12 years! I'm going to take about a year of only putting an extra $100 to debt pay-down every month. I'll re-assess after that.  With the interest rates of our remaining debt being rather low (2 student loans at 3% and a car loan at 2.625%), I'm not going to be adding an overwhelming amount of interest. I am not holding out on paying off my student loans because I'm hoping for them to be forgiven because: 1) They are consolidated loans and do not fall under whatever current hold there is on student loan interest; 2) I was well aware of what I was getting myself into when I took out the loan and I don't expect anyone to bail me out. 

    Like 7
      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Pay Me To Draw Well done!  I love your plan - and totally understand where you are coming from!  Make your home a happy place to be -- we spend so much time in it anyhow!

      Like 1
    • Pay Me To Draw I also started this smackdown before going through the debt bootcamp, and am changing some goals as a result. Congrats on the personal loan payoff and having cash flow to finally complete those renovations!

      Like 1
    • Pay Me To Draw That sounds great! And honestly - if those things you are putting effort into in the house are upgrades, then the house will be worth more whenever you go to sell, so there's nothing wrong with doing it that way. That is the way we are doing it for the most part, too. We aren't putting extra on the mortgage (well, we are in the middle of a refinance, so we might start doing it if the payment comes down enough) but we know that putting the effort into upgrades in the house will be worth a lot more in the long run. So don't discount where the money is going just because you're making it comfortable for you, which means better for someone else, too!

      Like 1
  • A quick mini-update!

    Violet Yeti said:
    Loan # 1: $2,101.45 (by February)  
    Loan# 2: $9,087.59 (by August) 
    Loan#3: $3,896.86 (by October)  

     Guess what I did today...

    Loan # 1: $2,101.45 (by February) 

    Had I continued making just the regular payment, it would have been paid off in May... I was originally hoping to pay it off by March, and February was my stretch goal.

    Goal met!

    Like 18
    • Violet Yeti whoa!!! that's a HUGE update!

      Like 3
    • Violet Yeti AWESOME!!! Way to go!!!

      Like 2
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Violet Yeti So happy for you! :D

      Like 2
  • February Check-In: $2,586.89 to student loan debt. 21.07% of goal accomplished to date!!

    Between scooping up extra $$ from buckets in Jan and the stimulus being applied in Feb, we had hoped to get a big jump on our goal since the rest of the year will probably be smaller amts, so I'm very happy w/the 21% completion :)

    Like 7
    • Orchid Guitar Awesome!!

      Like 2
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