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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  • February check in. Still maintaining the course. Almost didn't make my goal payment for this month, but Tax refund came in (despite my best efforts at making it $0 last year), so that saved the day. Almost makes me reconsider my goal of paying off the one full credit card if that's what it took for this month, but I think we'll be able to do it.

    Like 7
  • Quite a boring February for me:

    Paid: 拢731.36
    Total Paid off 2021: 拢1409.19
    To Go: 拢10,590.81

    Still just paying the minimum payment  on the Mortgage, but on the positive side, with interest being charged daily, I've actually been able to pay a little more off the actual capital with February being a shorter month.

    On the positive side, I finally got through February, which was a very lean month due to a large tax bill I had to pay in January so feeling better about my finances at the moment.

    Like 8
  • Total Debt: 69760.58

    Goal to pay off in 2021: 18k

    Started YNAB a couple weeks ago, mostly because of my need to tackle my debt - and avoid bankruptcy.

    Starting the challenge a bit late as a result, but so far:

    Jan: 239

    Feb: 1084 - Heading into March already near to matching Feb's number - hopefully double it. 馃

    Like 8
    • EW2 Congrats!!!

      Like 1
  • February check in - used my 34 day challenge money to put an extra chunk on my debt.  Also saving up for a potential vacation in November - fingers crossed! - plus a new furnace. 

    Like 7
  • February check-in: $1,040.40 paid! Planning on doing another 34-day challenge to challenge myself to keep sprinting. It's hard not to get caught up in impulse stuff, but I'm trying to remember to "find the money first!"

    Like 8
  • February check-in: $4,971.97 paid (includes P&I)

    I'm happy to report my car loan is now paid off! This is the first debt I've paid in full since starting YNAB 2+ years ago and I am so very excited to be able to use the $282.16 towards debt snowball payment and true expense savings, like car and home maintenance. I also completed 2 credit card balances transfers this month, both had 3% balance transfer fee and 18 month 0% interest. I have $15,861.00 outstanding in credit card debt and for a second I thought, ooh! maybe my goal will be to have that paid in full before the 18 mos is out. But, then i did the math and lol, $881 monthly payment is too steep for me. Especially once student loan payments start again. Never say never though! I am going to do my best to pay it down as much as I can :)

    Like 6
    • Hot Pink Admiral I think we're on our 3rd balance transfer now with some of the BF's debt. We just keep rolling it along and chipping away at it, then move it to a new balance transfer when the first one is up. Just keep chipping away and it will get smaller and smaller!

      Like 1
  • March check-in: Paid $1113.67 towards debt.

    Very excited for next month, when one of the 4 Major Debts we started with last year will be officially wiped out!

    Still a little nervous about the electricity bill post-Texas-Snowpocalypse. We are in a municipal utilities area so hoping it won't be as alarming as some of the variable-rate stories, but it's hard to know exactly what will happen yet (weather-wise it feels like it was a hundred years ago but it was only really a week and a half). Our Feb bill was normal, but that's because they're still figuring things out. In the meantime there's nothing to do but wait and see with some kind of equanimity. 

    Like 8
  • February check-in!

    Paid this month: $1,492.67 + $3,763.80 from last month that I forgot to report
    Paid this year: $10,145.09 (30.14%)
    Remaining goal: $23,514.91 (three credit cards -- immediate goal is the high-interest card)

     

    Feb was a pretty quiet month for us, debt-wise. One thing I'm proud of is that we didn't create any debt and *also* didn't spend our cash-in-hand in unplanned ways (meaning, we didn't use our cash to cover spending that would've normally turned into debt; that said, I did plan for -- and buy -- an accordion!!!). As anticipated, a big chunk of income has come our way, and now we've got a bunch of money in the bank. I'd planned to use it to pay off a credit card in full (about $10,000), but it's surprisingly hard to let myself do that now that the moment is here! Would it be better to treat this as income and budget out for a few months? I'm realizing as I write that part of what I'm up against is a variable work/payment schedule: I know the next check is coming, but I'm not sure when, so I'm not exactly sure how long I'll need the current money to last. So maybe the dream of paying off in one fell swoop gets put on hold for the moment, and I throw a more modest amount to the card and budget out a few more months. Vexing as paying more interest is, I think that might be the safer choice. Okay, that's the plan for March. We'll see how it goes!

    Like 8
      • Hachi bean
      • hachi_bean
      • 2 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Harriet You sound like you鈥檙e doing a killer job! Mostly I鈥檓 just jealous that you bought an accordion, what an awesome wish farm save! I have a few items in my wish farm but none as cool as an accordion 馃獥 馃挄

      Like 2
      • Dave
      • Slate_Gray_Deer.9
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Harriet I think you did the wise thing by using the cash to hold for future months to smooth out your variable income. The first step in crushing debt isn't to pay it off, but to stop new debt from accruing.

      Like 3
  • February Update ( Line #157)

    Principal Repaid - 1374.25

    Using student loans payment for personal loans, till the payments are suspended. reducing the overall interest cost.

    Like 5
  • Checking in for February and March!

    Paid in Feb: $1,000.84 (our minimum)
    Paid in March $2,400.84 馃帀

    We're in a time of transition with my wife starting a new job, which pays less for now with the potential to make more than her last job in about a year. She also had a period between jobs where she wasn't paid. So we had to adjust a bit and just paid the minimum in February. But we're back on track in March! 馃帀

    Happily, with our stimulus check in January, we were able to pay over and above what we normally would, so we're not really really behind on our goal. 

    Like 10
    • BenB Amazing and congrats to her on the new job! Love seeing the YNAB team participating in this challenge; makes our efforts feel more realistic and achievable when our teachers are not so far beyond debt that they can't relate to the slog.

      Like 3
  • Well it's really weird to see in my online banking account my loc disappeared like it ever existed. I've been helping my brother with his new house, so didn't get to clear completely my last cc. I put 1500 on it this month and tomorrow I'm going to look elsewhere and see if I can clear it. Currently I have 4,77.82. Once that's done. All cc will be cleared.

    I haven't been putting aside for my medical. Actually locked some money in a GIC and putting some money into retirement. I'm still hoping I'll get a balance transfer option so I can have a year to pay it. Otherwise, things are going well.  

    Like 5
  • February Check-in (a bit delayed)

    Paid to Debt: $1099

    Remaining Debt: $8531

    2021 Percent Paid Off: 12.69%

    I'm getting pretty antsy with this debt.  I wish I could pay off more, but I paid my taxes this month instead 馃し鈥嶁檧锔

    And I purchased a much needed office chair...working from home on a folding chair was not cutting it.  I hope to send a significant amount of additional payment towards credit cards in March.  

    So inspiring to hear from everyone thus far!

    Like 9
    • Little Green Ghoul The office chair is so worth it! My husband was working from a card table and rickety, uncomfortable wooden chair for months. After that, the office chair felt like heaven!

      Like 1
  • Hello Ynab,  Happy March.  I am also a little late in reporting February numbers.  I was able to pay $900 towards the debt in Feb and just added $1100 for March. My plan is to use the tax refund for the last of the on cc and then in the next few months use the stimulus check towards the remaining cc and then add to the amount I am putting towards the home equity each month.  Business is picking up a little but it looks like it may be a slow year with many clients wanting to travel in 2022. So the income will be a while off yet. Thanks!

    Like 5
  • February progress report on my battle against the student loan beast:

    As ofJanuary 24, 2021: $185,367.70

    As of February 28, 2021: $184,064.51

    Notes: Regular monthly payment resulted in principal reduction of $1,303.19. Wasn't able to make any extra payments. Total reduction of principal in February: $1,303.19.

    Year-end goal is to get the balance down $41,000.00 (from $190,958.60 starting place on January 1, 2021) to just below $150,000.00. With a $6,894.09 reduction so far this year, I'm now about 16.81% there.

    Like 9
  • Greetings YNAB debt smackdown peeps! Hopping in for a belated February and partial March check-in. February I got to do something I've never done, which was put some money from an unexpected windfall towards my student loans. If you're curious, I wrote a longer run-down in my journal over here, but after the shock, then some of the guilt at my sudden good luck, I gave myself some time to consider how to use it wisely. I ultimately decided to use some to reduce my student loan burden, and some to donate so that I can use my luck to bring luck to others. Rather than do it all at once, I've opted to spread it out over two months, in part to make sure I don't over-extend myself (I'm working on getting a proper month ahead in my budget, too).

    So, February I put $5,050 towards my loans, and reduced principal by $4,982.88. With March's payments, I'm hoping to put another large chunk towards them, which will bring the collective balances to just over $10,000.

    I just passed the 10 year mark since paying on these loans, so I am incredibly ready for them to be gone. Even before these March payments, I've now paid back over $23,000 MORE than what I borrowed (or roughly 41% of the total amount I borrowed). Which means I'm super over anyone who tries to say student loan borrows should pay back every dollar we borrow. I know there's a lot of us who have already done that and then some, so I'm so over hearing that noise. UGH.

    But rant aside, I'm relieved and excited and planning to keep going til these loans are officially gone. Cheers to all of you awesome peeps for all the ongoing motivation!

    Like 3
    • Spider Plant wooooof that's a lot of interest. But congrats on being able to make such a huge dent in your loan!

      I'm also expecting a hefty windfall later this year and trying to take time to consider how to allocate it when officially available for use. And maintaining my paydown goals in the meanwhile :) The organization you donated to sounds really interesting and right in my wheelhouse, so thanks for the reminder that charitable giving is a meaningful way to use part of a windfall - getting serious about my debt paydown has meant for me that I've ended some of my regular contributions, but restoring those and being even more generous afterwards is a powerful incentive to get to the finish line.

      Like 3
    • mandiferous Thank you!! And definitely agreed. I realized that suddenly because these have been with so long, they're just a part of my life and it'll feel weird, in a way, once they're fully paid off. But taking the time to think really helped, and I loved putting money out into the world to support others, so it's giving me extra incentive to do more once I'm out from under these loans. And cheers on your end to keeping your pay down going strong! That helped me too, knowing that I'm still determined even without this sudden windfall, and I'm glad to use it to reduce stress in my life and also to hopefully reduce stress in others' too.

      Like 3
  • I feel like such a slacker! Here is my January and February update... January was a good month. December's was a good month for me income-wise, since I was still working 3 jobs and received holiday bonus pay from 2 of those jobs. Paid down almost $3k of debt in January. February slowed down a bit. I'm down to only working 40 hours/week (nursing school is a serious time suck!) so I haven't had much extra to add to debt payment. $1k paid down in February. Not a bad start to the year. March looks like it will be about the same as February, but I won't have final numbers until the end of the month.

    My husband got a promotion at work, so I'm hoping I might be able to motivate him some to contribute a little extra to his car payments. We'll see... lol.

    2021 Starting Debt: $30,766.04
    January Debt Paid: $2,852.57
    February Debt Paid: $1,040.75
    Current Debt: $64,095.82
    Debt Smackdown: $3,893.32 / $17,000 (22.90%)

    Like 5
    • zoebby This sure doesn't look like slacking to me! Congrats on a great start to the year! 馃帀

      Like 1
      • Dave
      • Slate_Gray_Deer.9
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      zoebby That ain't slacking! Any debt beatdown is a good thing.

      Like 1
  • Periwinkle Flute  Jan-March check in:

    My only debt is my mortgage and we've been paying extra on it for a while - we're 10 years in on a 30 year, $400,000 loan. I'd like to have it paid off in 4 years.

    Jan 1, 2021 Balance = $189,072                                                      Months Left = 119

    Feb 1, 2021 Balance = $185,193                                                      Months Left = 116

    Mar 1, 2021 Balance = $177,313                                                      Months Left = 110

    In 3 months I've managed to shave 9 months off the loan. My goal by the end of this year is to have about 80 months left.

    Like 7
    • Periwinkle Flute WOW!! How much extra are you putting towards principle to knock off that many months at a time? We are just about to refinance our mortgage and it will save us about $300/month. I'm going to play with undebt.it and see what happens if we throw some extra at it each month, which we've never been able to do before. I would LOVE to actually build some real equity in the loan. We have mostly been relying on improvements we've made to the house to boost the value, but being able to do both would be really awesome.

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual I'm paying about 3 times the principal amount each month. Luckily for us we don't need to invest in improvements to boost our home value. Judging by what's happening in our neighborhood (and actual offers we've already received) our 1950's rambler will sell for 1M+ just to be torn down so that a new McMansion can be built on our lot and sold for $2.5M 馃槥

      Like 2
    • Periwinkle Flute UGH. I hate it when they tear down stuff just to build something uglier and bigger in it's place. Kudos to you for being able to throw that much extra at the loan!

      Like 1
  • March check in. $983.93 in the books for the smack down.  Depending what's left over in this month's interest change category, I may chuck that it as well.

    While I'm at 27% way in to this years challenge, I've crossed the 1/3rd mark of my over all credit card debt eliminated since I started YNAB in June of last year. I'm still on track to get rid of card number two in May.

    Like 4
    • Dave Awesome!

      Like 1
  • March Check-In:  Sent $500 to Student Loan #2 for total of 53% towards goal.  Shooting for September goal to pay off loan #2.  Looking like Loan #3 will drag into 2022, but will be using extra work shifts/side hustles to throw towards that as much as possible.  I know I could get it all gone this year, but would sacrifice sending money to both my Roth and Buffer (True expenses) accounts, and I don't want to do that.  The most free I have felt this month is when the (hefty) bill came in for the tree work from a winter storm and I just paid it all, didn't feel that anxiety, it was just there in my Buffer account under Home Maintenance!  Of course that's all that can go wrong on the house this year, ha ha!  Not really, I can WAM some stuff if needed.  Have a great weekend everyone ;)

    #1 Student Loan #1     9368.80 (7.6% interest) but 0% at present 

    #2 Student Loan #2    8897.90 (7.0% interest) also 0% at the moment -total paid $5500, balance $3397.90

    #3 Student Loan #3    9707.10 (5.3% interest) 0% at present

    Like 5
    • Sweet Tangerine Awesome!!! Congrats!

      Like 1
  • Paid $5369.77 in March.  The old business loan has had  6% interest because of difficulty paying but they put it back to 22.95% at end of January  (balance was $20000 at the time they notified me).  Decided I would pay it off this year because I can't stand paying that amount after paying the lower one馃槸  So I will be paying extra, extra, extra!!!  I have everything fully funded and also I'm a month ahead plus some savings.  Even if I have to rob savings a bit, it is worth it to me.  Balance of this loan is $11,500 after the March payments.   Truck loan is $22,000 and change.  I'm still going to pay more than payment amount on it but not as much as before the other surprise interest bump馃槪

    Like 2
    • Cyan Yeti Ouch, that's some incentive for real to get rid of that one! I hope you're able to do it quickly!!

      Like 1
  • I'm a little late to the game.  I got everything ready to participate at the end of December and then never got my stuff entered.  We've been smacking down the debt the first two months though!  Line 190. 

     

    Started the year out with:

    $46,258.70 in credit card debt across four cards.

    $4,950 on one car at 0%

    Close to $10k on the other car

     

    I'm tracking principal payments only (except the cars, I'm too lazy for that lol).

    Our Goal: $35,000 in CC principal and car payments.

     

    The long term goal is to be completely debt free (except the mortgage) in 2022. 

     

    January: $4,847.79

    February: $3,902.04

    2021 so far: $8,749.83

    Feel good about our start, but benefited from some bonuses and the 2nd stimulus check.  Every month won't look like those.  Looking forward to cheering you all on, on your journeys!

    Like 6
    • ChasingPar Welcome to the party!! Looks like you're off to a strong start!

      Like 2
      • ChasingPar
      • Chasingpar
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      March Update:

      Paid $4,234.75 in March!

      Received a bonus from work, which helped tremendously.  My wife's commission check was also larger than usual.  We just received our third stimulus in the mail over the weekend, so that won't come into play until April's payments.  We have two kids, so it's a hefty chunk of change.  Won't be using all of it though, found out I need to have some work done on my car.  Ball joint chasis...?  I'm not a car guy, I'm not sure, but I know it's a safety issue and needs to be taken care of.  Our car maintenance category was getting low after some work on the wife's car last month.  The stimulus will keep us from digging into the emergency fund.  Also, found out I'll be getting a raise in April, so that's exciting! 

      Debt payoff date moved from June '23 to March '23 after the March payments.  Additionally, I must have passed a credit utilization threshold.  After months of my credit score only moving a couple points each month, it jumped up 52 pts this week. 

      All in all, I feel good about the direction we're heading.

      Total paid off through March: $12,984.58; 37.1% of goal.

      Like 3
    • ChasingPar CONGRATS!! That's all awesome news!

      Like 3
      • ChasingPar
      • Chasingpar
      • 12 days ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      April Update:

       

      This month we were able to pay off $7,220.91!  As I mentioned in my last update, our third stimulus arrived after March payments were made.  It drove a lot of the progress this month, but it was a good month in general.  I'm expecting May to be much smaller, but still pretty strong due to my wife's commission check being the biggest ever. 

      Debt payoff moved from March '23 to Dec '22!  Now to stay aggressive and move it up even further.  It's funny, the CC we're attacking sent me a letter this week saying that they increased our credit limit.  They really want to keep you around!  I figure it'll help with my credit utilization number either way.  I can confidently say that we haven't accrued any debt now in 18 months with the exception of a used car purchase.  Going to research some ways to lower interest this month.  Got an offer from Best Egg that I thought I should at least research.  (Would love feedback if anyone has dealt with them.)  Have a great month everyone and keep fighting and grinding it out!

      Total paid off through April: $20,205.49; 57.7% of goal.

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

      ChasingPar way to make the big progress and moving your payoff date - woot!

      Like 1
    • ChasingPar WOW! That's AWESOME! Congrats!!!! Lowering interest would totally help in the long run, I hope you find some good options.
      Hilarious that they increased your credit limit... no down side to that!

      Like 1
  • Down another $258.88 on my student loans and at 43% of my goal to pay off this year.  And it's only March!

    Like 8
    • Turquoise Griffin WOW!! That's amazing!!

      Like 1
  • Joining the Party

    I am claiming Line #191. I am focused on credit card debt and a personal loan. My goal is to reduce my debt by $15,000 in 2020.

    For a little background, I am 46 and carried some sort of credit card debt since I was 18 years old. I have played with getting out of debt off and on throughout my life. I got more serious about debt when I wanted to buy an house two years ago. Even though I made some progress, I was still look at close to $40,000 in consumer debt at the start of January 2020.

    I became serious about finishing off the debt in 2020. Between January 2020 and September 2020, I reduced my debt by $6,800 and built my first savings account ever of $1,000. I wanted to try to continue to improve and YNAB was recommended to me.  

    I started YNAB in late September and count October as officially my start time frame.  In that time frame I was able to reduce my debt by an additional $3,500. I was also able to pay for a long weekend train trip and all of the holidays without adding any debt.

    In 2021, I am focusing on continuing to pay off debt but I am also working on funding true expenses, trying to get a month ahead.  My month ahead is going to be funded with any "extra money" like stimulus and tax refunds that don't have to be used to to keep my true expenses on track.

    Below is a summary of where I stood at the end of December 2020 and what I am counting as my starting point for this debt payoff.

    Total Debt - $29,378.51
    Savings - $1,000
    True Expenses - $195.57
    Next Month - $0

    Like 6
      • Adventure Awaits
      • Busting debt while fitting in Life's adventures
      • adventure_awaits
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      January Update

      Total Debt - $27,989.77
          2021  Debt Reduction Total - $1,388.74/9.2%

      Savings - $1,000
      True Expenses - $639.36
      Next Month - $0

      Like 3
      • Adventure Awaits
      • Busting debt while fitting in Life's adventures
      • adventure_awaits
      • 1 mth ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      February Update

      Total Debt - $26,476.61
          2021  Debt Reduction Total -$2,901.90/19.35% of $15,000 goal 

      Savings - $1,000
      True Expenses - $551.41
      Next Month - $148.31

      Like 4
    • Adventure Awaits You're already making great progress! We are the same age, and I've had debt ever since I was 18 as well (thank you college campus credit card sharks). My husband and I got out of debt about 7 years ago for what feels like about 5 minutes; somehow we got lazy and have found ourselves in upwards of $100K in debt (including car loans). We have been whittling away at it since Oct 2019, but got really serious when the pandemic hit and we went from two full salaries to one of us being laid off and the other's salary cut to 50%. Turns out some radical changes in our lifestyle have made a big impact even with reduced income. Will watch for your updates! Good luck on your journey!

      Like 3
      • Adventure Awaits
      • Busting debt while fitting in Life's adventures
      • adventure_awaits
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Drill good luck to you as well. I feel like this time I might make debt free stick. My calculations have me finishings up in November 2022. It seems so far away at times but I guess you don't clean of 28 years of debt in just a few months, do you?

      Like 3
    • Adventure Awaits Exactly! We are on track for sometime between July 2022 (target assumes salary increase for me back to normal + new job for husband mid-year this year. If that doesn't happen, we'll be closer to end of 2022 but that's still not bad for so many years and SO much debt! It's a race!

      Like 3
  • February update: Line 99 (Let's ignore how late this is...)

    Paid $1382 towards my credit cards, truck loan, and RV loan.  

    The vast majority of that just my regular minimum payments. I had a very expensive, busy month (bought a paddleboard, went SCUBA diving, drove all across southern CA, salon hair visit, truck maintenance), but somehow still scrounged up an extra $500 to put against my CC debt. I don't know now if I should have done that because I feel very tight, but there's no take backsies so it is what it is. 

    Like 4
  • Checking in for line 39.

    This month I was able to make a payment of $3,367.42.  I cut down a lot of my spending but I did splurge on one item and it feels like most of the payment I made this month was negated.  No regrets but it is a good reminder that I have to keep being mindful of my purchases and remind myself of my goals.

    Like 5
      • Brenda
      • brenda
      • 4 wk ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Brenda April Update

      Paid down $2,378.62 this month.  Almost at the halfway mark!

      Like 4
    • Brenda wahoo! Congrats! Almost 2 months early!!

      Like 1
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