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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  • I just graduated college after 8 years of undergrad and am currently working as an aerospace engineer for the Navy, so this is my first time having a steady income & starting to pay off my CC debt and student loans! Hopefully I can pay off at least $20k this year!馃

    Like 5
    • Navy Blue Lobster Welcome to the party!!

      Like 1
  • April Check in.... While this month is an even $1000 to the bottom number, I took advantage of a balance transfer offer. I transferred 3 of the 4 cards I'm paying down to a 0% for 18 months card. The plan is to use most of the interest on i was paying on those three cards to pay things down quicker. 

    Like 6
    • Dave Great plan! I found it to be a huge impact to do the balance transfer and save ourselves from all that interest. 

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    • Dave Awesome!! I love those promotions! They can be SO helpful to catapult you forward and make big progress fast!

      Like 1
  • March check-in! 

    Paid this month: $10437.48
    Paid this year: $20,582.57 (61.15%)
    Remaining goal: $13,077.43 (three -- now two! --  credit cards;  immediate goal is the card with the lowest balance)

    Thanks to federal stimulus money, we were able to knock out our wildest credit card, and it feels amazing! So despite some unexpected expenses, things are basically going according to our loose plan: we knew we'd have a bunch of money at the start of this year, and have used it to pay down a good chunk of debt. Now it's time to take it a little bit slower. I actually feel a little unsure of how we'll meet the rest of this debt goal and still keep everything else on track, but am  hoping that the summer will bring in some extra money.  (The money saved on interest/debt repayment from the card we just paid off will go to random domestic things like childcare and car repairs.) But for now, trying to bask in the happiness that we knocked out that one card . . . it feels so good! Will store the feeling up for when I'm tempted by instant gratification!

    Like 5
    • Harriet Awesome!! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and it will all come together!

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  • Belated March progress report on my battle against the student loan beast:

    As of February 28, 2021: $184,064.51

    As of March 31, 2021: $182,753.71

    Notes: Regular monthly payment resulted in principal reduction of $1,310.80. Wasn't able to make any extra payments. Total reduction of principal in March: $1,310.80.

    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 $8,204.89 reduction so far this year, I'm now about 20.01% there.

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    • Slate Blue Pilot 20% = 1/5 there. Wooooooooooooo!!!! 馃帀

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  • April Check-In:  Paid $500 towards student loans!  Coloring in little flags is my favorite thing ;)  Also sent $1000 towards Roth IRA.  

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    • Sweet Tangerine I love coloring!!!

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  • $735.25 paid to debt in April. That's $145.25 to the avalanche. 
    April, May, June, and July are fully funded. I also set aside money for my husband's employer's stock purchase plan coming up in June. 

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    • Pay Me To Draw AWESOME! Way to go!

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      • kbgetsitdone
      • knockin' out debt
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      Pay Me To Draw 

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      • kbgetsitdone
      • knockin' out debt
      • kbgetsitdone
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      Pay Me To Draw That鈥檚 fantastic!! I鈥檓 so inspired by the fact you鈥檙e fully funded for next few months. I鈥檓 just getting started (again) and my dollars are only 10 days old! Appreciate any lessons you鈥檝e learned along the way. 

      Like 2
  • $4288.85 to debt for April.   46.09% so far in 2021馃帀

    Like 1
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