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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  • Hi everyone, 

    I thought that I commented on this at the beginning of the year, and have been working on the smackdown feeling bad that I kept forgetting to check in. It turns out I never posted in January on my old account and so I didn't need to feel guilty the whole time!  馃槅

    Is it okay to update the spreadsheet with my actual data from Jan-June, or will that throw off the data project?

    I'll at least make up for lost time here, and post all the missing check-in's all at once! The debt my wife and I are carrying is student and auto loans with a little pre-YNAB credit card debt.

    Our original goal for 2021 was to pay off at least $40,000 of principal, and we've since adjusted that goal to $50,000 because we were able to make more progress than we expected and wanted to push a little harder!

    Month: Amount Owed - Principal Paid = Remaining Balance

    JAN: $353417 - $1682 = $351735
    FEB: $351735 - $4522 = $347213
    MAR: $347213 - $4083 = $343130
    APR: $343130 - $5755 = $337355
    MAY: $337355 - $2229 = $335126
    JUN: $335126 - $7483 = $327643
    JUL: $327643 - $5138 = $322505 (so far)
    TOT: $30912 principal paid

    Anyway, congrats to everyone on the wins so far this year, and best wishes for lots of motivation and ability to keep pushing in the coming months! 


    Like 5
    • tekgy It shouldn't throw off the sheet if you add anything from the beginning of the year. Some of us just plain forget to update, too, and so we catch up a couple of months at a time. Welcome to the party!

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      • tekgy
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      farfromtheusual thanks so much! I鈥檓 so excited to be participating and to watch all of the success stories play out, and to join the rest of you in mutual support and celebration! 馃檶馃徎馃グ

  • July checkin so far - paid $1,023 toward credit cards. I funded emergency fund with $1,000 and true expenses before putting that amount toward the cards. I'm paycheck to paycheck right now but will work on the month ahead as soon as I am able to. It's hard not to take all my true expense $$ and the emergency fund and just throw it at the debt but I've made a snowball plan that leaves me with those reserves and am planning to stick to it. Have a wonderful day everyone :)

    Like 3
    • leelori Reserves keep you from adding to the debt again in an emergency, so it sounds like you're right on track! Way to go!

  • i skipped a few months updating, so playing catch up now. i think one of the reasons i've been absent here is that our debt repayment has been pretty minimal. the past few months have been kind of expensive -- medical stuff we'll be reimbursed for eventually, a whole bunch of little life things (car stuff, house stuff, kid shoes, etc.), and some (admittedly very optional) purchases that have just made present a lot better. some months, we would've been more strict about that last category; this month, we decided (in these moments at least) that it was okay to prioritize some of these lesser needs.

    i'm still getting comfortable with the idea that debt is something you can manage in a calm, measured, calculated way rather than deal with emotionally. in the past, i've had a lot of guilt whenever i buy something that isn't necessary, especially when i had debt -- but that guilt never stopped me from actually spending the money! so i'm trying to rework the whole thing, get away from guilt as a managing tactic, and instead figure out how to know when i can afford something or when i should forego it -- and how to stick to priorities in spite of competing desires. you know, little changes :  )


    paid this month [may+june]: $122.14 

    paid this year: $20,975.66 (62.32%) 

    remaining goal: $12,684.34

    Like 5
    • Harriet Awesome progress! And yes, ditching the guilt about it will help get rid of it so much faster!

  • July Check-In

    Personal Loan #1 principal down by $586.80. 
    $13,498.69 left to go.
    22% of my goal with half a year already gone.

    Still, I'm glad that it's going down. It will feel great when I can use that 554 minimum payment and the extra money I've been putting towards it with Qoins and CC points to the next debt instead. I've just really had bigger amounts that I haven't had the motivation of snowballing yet - really want to get to that place. And it will feel really good when I get it under $10k which feels like that may be possible by the end of the year. 

    Qoins as definitely helped me to I pay more than just the minimum but I've been cancelling most of those transactions lately due to CC debt I've accumulated - yet again. Disappointed that I have CC debt to contend with and that's starting to charge interest already but it is what it is. 

    I had to get appliances for the new house (washer, dryer, and fridge) and then truck registration hit and then I needed new tires and some car work and then we ended up getting a second vehicle (something we've put off but with a baby coming, we decided we couldn't any longer) so insurance increased and it was due already for the first with extra money for the second added on top. Just a lot of larger expenses all at the same time and I did not plan for my true expenses well at all. These are all things (besides the appliances) I knew were coming eventually but I never did put money aside for them like I should have. 

    I've still not got a handle on the true expenses aspect that I know is the real crux of success. I take from those categories to cover overspending so I never get ahead of it. 

    Like 3
    • Green Cleric It takes time to adapt to all of these things and getting them in the right order at the right time. You have the clarity, so you'll work it out, and next time you'll be better prepared.

    • farfromtheusual Yeah, just need to manage it all better. All too often I allow myself to dip into the true expenses to cover overspending, and I need to nip that in the bud and keep to my budget. I can always talk myself into spending money even though it's limiting future me. 

  • July check in. Nothing special, just chucked $1,124 at it this month.

    Like 1
  • joining very late...aiming to pay down $17000 total. I just paid off about $12000 toward my car loans. Now to start tackling the MTG.

    Like 2
    • Flame's Edge Woohoo - we're glad you've joined us! 

  • Here's July's debt smackdown update:

    Loan Balance: $3616.69

    July Loan Payment: $325.00

    Current Loan Balance: $3309.20

    Goal: $2239.29/$3600 -> $1360.71

    So long as my budget holds, I'm just going to do $325/month, which is $75 over the minimum payment. I'm tempted to do more than that just because I want it gone (and to potentially trade it in for something else... but we'll see on that). It's exciting to realize that next month's payment will take it down below $3000. says payoff is June of 2022, but the last payment is only $150 so I have a feeling I'll end up paying that off a bit sooner because I'm already buffered pretty much one month ahead on the payment anyway.

    Good progress, I just want it gone, though! Geez what could I do with an extra $325 in my budget every month?!

  • Hi all! I haven't posted much in the group as I didn't have to much to report on tackling my debt. I realized that I really need to use my windfalls (as I learned from this group!) to my advantage. Plus I have some side hustles now to earn extra income above my expenses.


    I just made a $1,235.44 payment on my credit card. This brought my balance from $3,082.13 to $1846.69!!!!!!! I'M SO EXCITED & FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO REACH MY GOAL OF PAYING IT OFF THIS YEAR. THEN I CAN MOVE ONTO MY NEXT DEBT!!! WOO!!!!   馃コ馃コ馃コ

    Like 1
  • Hi,

    On the spreadsheet this morning I cannot see any cells to the left of and including the formula cells.  Anyone else?

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