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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  • Check-in for August & September...just the maximum payments, no more extra payments allowed on my HELOC.

    August: $495.08

    September: $495.08

    Paid this year: $11,641.34/$13,936 and 83%

    I have been saving my snowball payments to make the final big chunk in January. Exciting as well to see the monthly interest decrease & decrease. Stop paying my bank! My balance of the debt is now $4001.36 and I can't wait until Friday to colour my debt smackdown picture under $4000!! I've attached my progress so far. :)

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    • Purple Foal SO awesome!!!!

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  • Just updated my payments for October and feeling really good that I'm on track to pay of part of my debt this year! Good job to all who are sticking with this and believing in yourselves...Thanks for the continued motivation everyone 馃槃 

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  • I haven't checked in I think in a few months, but I've been plodding along according to plan! Should make my goal this year, and a few things happened that will allow me to bump the amount I can throw at debt, so I'm hoping for an exciting 2022 (paying off one student loan)...and then if all goes well being student-debt-free in early 2023. Which will feel like a Christmas miracle no matter what month it actually happens in.

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    • Turquoise T-Rex Congrats on the progress!

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  • Likely have paid all I can to this debt this year.  $9776 remains of my Student Loan.  In addition, added $8224 to the same Loan year for a total of $18,000.00.  Still 0% interest, but will be 5.3% after January.  

    Choosing to focus on the positives....

    1) I have maxed out my 401K this year ($26,000) and my Roth is on its way to being fully funded for 2021 ($7,000).  This has been just as important to me this year as my pay down of debt.

    2) I have an emergency fund!

    3) I have a Christmas category that has money in it!

    4) I have set a goal to have this last loan paid off in June 2022.  And I cannot wait ;)  

    Great job to everyone that has paid off their debts!  Huge congratulations!  Can't wait to be standing where you are!  

    Like 3
    • Sweet Tangerine Wow! Even with any debt setbacks, these are still HUGE wins! Congrats!

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    • Sweet Tangerine Congrats! That's a lot of progress!

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  • Checking in...

    Sept: 1700

    Oct: 5422

    I paid off my last credit card the other day! I had been using a 0% interest card that just ran out, and I was thinking about transferring to another 0% card (again). But it made more sense to just use some of my buffer to pay it all off. Now, I just have a relatively small student loan left and I'm already at 95% of my payoff goal for the year.

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    • MoneyMonster Congrats!!!

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      • Kitty_S
      • Jewelry Artist
      • Kitty_S
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      MoneyMonster wow congrats!!!

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  • Finally got around to updating the debt payoff challenge spreadsheet.  The year went a bit wonky because 1) for a balance transfer we did, the new card limit wasn't enough to transfer the entire balance so we decided to pay off the difference; and 2) in March we decided to take out a 12 month RRSP loan at a cheap rate to get the 30% tax back. That was a $5k loan. The loan pushed our debt free date from December 2021 to JUNE 2022.

    I was confused as to how to represent those things in the spreadsheet and in my Debtris chart. In doing this today I discovered something in undebt.it that I didn't see before. In the transaction history section, if you scroll down pas all the individual transactions, there is a month by month total summary as well. I was trying to add them up myself. BTW this is in the free version of undebt.it

    In September I got some retro pay and we decided to just pay off the RRSP loan even though the interest was low. So that skewed the figures as well.  I did update the expected amount to reflect paying off the loan in the time frame we had planned to highlight the earlier payoff.  

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  • October Debt Smackdown Update:

    Loan Balance: $2690.76

    October Loan Payment: $325.00

    Current Loan Balance: $2378.35

    Goal: $3214.29/$3600 -> $385.71

    Almost at the goal, not as much over as I would have hoped for the year with only 2 months left, but still the fact that I'm able to surpass my goal at all is amazing. VERY happy with that at least!
    Still kicking around getting rid of this car and looking for something different with a better interest rate and lower miles. I'm so reluctant to actually want to do the research, but I probably should.

    I also realized I have enough in my car repair category to make a pretty sizeable extra payment if I really needed to, so I suppose that could be put towards a down payment, or to pay this off if I needed to, and I think I'll keep adding to it as frequently as I can with that double intention in mind...

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  • October Check In

    Settling into a routine now, and I'll easily make my not so very stretch goal of paying $6500 towards the mortgage by end of December.  Not enjoying seeing the two steps forward one step back of interest deductions each month, but I'm covering the interest repayments with the extra amount towards the loan so it's not all bad. 

    This month: $1901.35 towards mortgage (P&I). 

    $204.60 of that from facebook marketplace, Gumtree sales, and return and earn container recycling. 

    Only $2758.20 to go to meet the end of December goal. 

    Working out what the goal for 2022 will be now!

    Like 6
    • TheMagenpies Awesome, way to go!

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  • Hey everyone! Ben B posted this adorable Debt Free Tracker in the Debt Bootcamp Facebook group, and I thought of y'all! 

    You can divide your debt by 50 and color in a space every time you make that much progress. Download and print the original here: https://tinyurl.com/us8rt4zy

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  • I love this!  GREAT JOB and thank you for sharing!

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  • October 2021, Line #37

    Weeks 1-5:  THE PLAN: Tithe, then fund November. Options after that were Debt Snowball or fund December. 

    Then the plan changed. On October 12, we were called after a doctor visit. Hubby鈥檚 mom鈥檚 leukemia was deemed 鈥渙ut of remission and aggressive.鈥 We notified work, headed home, and joined siblings. Mom passed away on October 27. After the service, we'll return to work on Oct. 31.

    YNAB made shifting the budget to reflect our priorities a smooth part of this very Rule #3 month.

    Total paid in October: Minimums plus $2085

    Miles driven for work: 12,211

    Like 1
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Coral Mare  so sorry to hear about your loss.  It is awesome that money was not part of the stress of the situation.  

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      • Coral Mare
      • Rolling Along on this Debt-Free Journey
      • Coral_Mare.6
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM Thank you. Adding a sinking fund when she was diagnosed helped us prepare to focus on family when the time came.

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    • Coral Mare I'm so sorry for your loss 鉂わ笍But so glad that YNAB was able to help you roll with the punches. I hope that you're able to give yourselves lots of grace as you transition back into the day-to-day.

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      • Coral Mare
      • Rolling Along on this Debt-Free Journey
      • Coral_Mare.6
      • 1 mth ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Rachel Thank you. Most of the toughest losses of my life have been accompanied by that moment when old plans on a calendar get erased/deleted to make way for revised plans. My dear MIL planned with grace, too. The best way I can honor her is to carry on with planning. 鉂わ笍 

      Like 5
    • Coral Mare SO sorry to hear about hubby's mother. Sending you so much love. I'm so glad that YNAB was able to help through a difficult time and make one less headache!

      Like 2
      • Coral Mare
      • Rolling Along on this Debt-Free Journey
      • Coral_Mare.6
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual Thank you so much. Hubby and I have noted a few potential sinking funds to add to YNAB once we get past this weekend. My 馃嵎馃崝 self is searching for creative names for headstones and pre-planned funeral policies. But first, we must get this batch of wheeled debt eliminated!

      Like 4
    • Coral Mare I'm so sorry for your loss 鉂わ笍

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  • October check-in (wow!  Can't believe we're at the end of October already!!):

    Paid $386 towards cc - paid off the last one I wanted to and am now left with a high interest one and a low interest one.  Plan to kick those pretty hard next year.

    Feel pretty good about our trip to Disney next month - mostly funded and with throwing in the grocery/fun/eating out categories while we're there we should come home with no debt for the trip!  So exciting!  

    Then it's time to pay for Christmas and I'm not quite fully funded there but farther along than I have been in the past.  Because of our trip, I have told the kids that the Christmas gifts will be more subdued this year and I think they get it...  Now we just need to break the news about Santa to our youngest so he doesn't expect gifts from both Santa and us!  lol   He's almost 11 so he's old enough to know - I'm sure he suspects anyway ;)

    I have some sinking funds set up for my son's grad next year, gardening, etc and those have been funded fully for the last few months. 

    A few months ago, I changed up how my budget appears - I had categories based on pay date and then "cumulative" expenses for the variable spending (groceries/fun/etc - split into $ per pay that needed to be allocated to each one) but I never seemed to get ahead or have money for the wish farm/sinking funds.  I realized I was still slightly forecasting and so I changed things up and man, what a difference!!! 

    Got my "new-to-me" car last week and paid the last payment of another 12 mth financed item.  Not loving the car as much as my old one but am getting used to it and know that the small loan/gas bill will be worth it!

    Like 7
    • Orchid Cup Nice work on that credit card! I hope you have so much fun on your trip!

      Like 1
    • Orchid Cup It feels SO good to have a vacation fully funded!! Congrats!!

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  • October check-in: paid $3202 toward debt, now at 147% of goal. We have finally eliminated all revolving debt + a payment plan with IRS for a surprise tax bill from 2016. Only remaining debt is mortgage + 2 car loans. Now will focus on one car loan at a time to pay off. Meanwhile, thanks to YNAB we also have allocated funds (sinking funds?) set aside for: Christmas gifts, real estate taxes, tax prep fees, house painting fund, and vacation fund. This feels AMAZING.

    Like 9
    • Turquoise Drill CONGRATS!!!!!

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  • October Check in. yet another 1014.37 chucked at the debt. Nothing too exciting.

    Like 4
  • Forgot to check in the past few months, but as of today I've paid off my personal loan!!! $10,200 paid off and now I can snowball that payment towards my student loan debt! I'm so exciteddddddd! 

    Like 7
    • TickTock Congrats! Nice work!!

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    • TickTock WAHOOO!! Way to go!!!

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  • October check-in: $1,699.21 paid towards debt this month (includes P&I)

    Like 5
  • October check-in: paid $2,076.32 towards my private student loans & credit card this month! 

    Like 5
  • November check in. Another 1014.37 chucked at my credit card debt. I paid off my last card charging me interest. Now to pay off everything else i rolled over with a balance transfer to a card with 0%

    Like 3
    • Dave Awesome!

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  • I鈥檓 not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I think it could be helpful for people trying to smack down that debt!

    I found an offer through creditcardgenius.ca for the Scotiabank Value VisaMBNA True Line that offers $20 cash back on approval.

    This card is really helpful for balance transfers. You can get 0% interest for 12 months, and it鈥檚 only 12.99% after that. And there鈥檚 no annual fee.

    I tried to find the credit limit, but apparently, that鈥檚 determined on approval.

    Like 1
    • SavingsMentor Oops! That should have just said the MBNA True Line Mastercard. The Scotiabank Value Visa also has a great rate for balance transfers (0.99%), but the credit limit is only $500.

      Like 1
  • oops, I think I forgot my October check in. Probably because it was depressing. Really trying to focus on how I paid almost half of my goal, which is not nothing and better than zero paid off, or worse. But man, I really wish I had made more progress as I reflect back on a year almost gone. *sigh*

    Sept balance: $14750.25
    Oct balance: $14940.24
    Difference: -189.99

    $1009.82/$2500 = 40.39%

    Like 3
    • Orchid Display It is absolutely better than nothing; pretty much all of us here have probably faced down those demons of regret. Shopping can be a powerful "drug" that is difficult to handle, especially when other parts of our lives are in disarray. Sometimes the non-financial parts of our lives need some TLC in order to tame our debt. They don't care about calendar-based goals :)

      Like 2
    • Orchid Display It happens to all of us, just gotta keep going. You're still here and that counts for a lot.

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  • I MADE IT AND I AM DONE!!!!!! 19 months....Consistency and YNAB.  This has been an amazing journey.  Many Thanks. 

    Like 10
    • Sky Blue Wizard WOWWWWWWW!! I'm blown away. That little chart represents so much hard work and tough choices. Way to go!! 

      Like
      • SapphireSweetie
      • Changing my financial future!
      • Sapphiresweetie
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Wizard Amazing!!! Congratulations!!!

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    • Sky Blue Wizard SOOOO COOL!!!!!!! Congrats!!!!

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      • Katcantoo
      • katcantoo
      • 6 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Wizard Holy Smokes! I鈥檓 impressed! Way to stick with it! Congratulations! 馃帀馃帄 

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  • November Check in = $ 422.98 off my student loans and through my goal of $6000 for the year. Two of the seven loans I entered the year with are history and the other goal loan is now sitting at $940.39.  I'll get it close but not quite gone. Still, I am projecting with money in my budget for December to get down to just under $10,000 total left at the end of the year. 

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    • Turquoise Griffin Congrats!! That's a lot of progress!

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  • Coming in late to the game, but at least I'm back. I was going to wait until the 2022 Challenge was posted and realized that was a stalling tactic. LOL 

    • Total debt owed: $13, 874.33
    • Amount I'd like to pay off in 2021 (1 month left): $100
    • I posted on the 2021 Debt Smackdown Sheet

    My debt in February of February 2019 was $7,849.97. I have almost doubled my debt during the pandemic. I am not blaming the pandemic. It did not affect my income or expenses. 

    Like 1
    • internettie welcome to the party! You're in really good company. Starting now is great, you'll be ready to roll for 2022!

      Like 1
      • internettie
      • Writer
      • internettie
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual thanks for suggesting I come back to the challenge! Looking forward to 2022!

      Like 1
    • internettie Don't worry, you'll be in really good company! It will be my 4th or 5th year in the challenge I think...

      Like
  • November Debt Smackdown Update:

    Loan Balance: $2378.35

    November Loan Payment: $325.00

    Current Loan Balance: $2065.63

    Goal: $3542.29/$3600 -> $57.71

    So I'll blow over my goal in December. Really amazed that I've been able to maintain this, and super stoked that I'm on track to pay off my loan 6+ months early. The current payoff will be in June, but I'm trying to set aside a tiny bit extra so that I can make a BIG payment in May and be done with it. It's just $15 extra per month, but at the suggestion of someone in the Smackdown thread somewhere, I decided to just set that aside in my budget. It won't make much of a difference in the actual payoff, and if I end up in a bind I'll have that money, and it'll take me until June to make the final payment. If I can manage to maintain it until May, then I can make the whopper payment and be done with it.

    This is the last of my current personal debt. That says nothing for my business debt, which I might actually throw personal money at once I pay off my car (assuming I don't trade it in and upgrade which would mean getting another loan). We'll see what happens in a few months and go from there.

    Like 4
  • Hey Debt Smackdown!

    I joined this group back when I first joined YNAB in February earlier this year, and while I havent been posting much, I've been quietly following and putting in the work to hit my goals! My husband and I started with the goal to pay off one of our cars, and it seemed like joining YNAB was all we had to do to reach it, as we did this right away in March (see ya later $204 a month car payment)! We then turned our attention to a student loan with a $19,000 balance at the beginning of the year - we upped our monthly payments, and used a "payoff" line item in our budget to throw any extra dollars we didn't find a job for elsewhere (which has turned into an extra $1,000 over the course of the year!). By the end of this month, that loan balance will be around $9,000! Thanks everyone for the extra motivation and sharing your successes, can't wait to join the group again next year! :)

    Like 5
    • budgetmeg So great to see this update! What amazing progress! 馃挭

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    • budgetmeg WOW! That's amazing! Way to go! It's fascinating what some clarity around money and where it's going can do to improve the situation! Congratulations!

      Like
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