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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  • September Check-in. I paid 1040.28 toward debt. just trying to keep paying the min and avoiding adding more debt. I think that has been the issue in the past because it's so easy to do without really realizing it. Even new phones that you pay overtime are basically debt with no interest. #progressNotPerfection

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    • Marcus G Progress not perfection is the key. Leaving yourself enough breathing room that you don't add new debt that you aren't planning for is a big deal. It feels like it makes it slower to get rid of the debt hanging around, but in the long run it's actually faster! Slow and right beats fast and wrong as they say :)

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  • August check in! I was able to squeeze $1,983.63 out of my budget to put towards my debt last month. I had $554.24 leftover after budgeting through September, and at the end of the month I had an extra $629.37 to pay towards my smallest loan in addition to the minimum payments on all of my other debts.

    I'm only $2,900 away from eliminating my next smallest loan, and only $3,640.86 away from meeting my debt payoff goal for 2021 and having paid off $15,000 of debt in my first year of working full time!

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    • AstronautEAP WOW! That's amazing!!!

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    • AstronautEAP Wow!! So exciting that you were able to pay down so much debt with a bump in income! 

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  • Almost home! August 2021 paid $2761.14

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    • Sky Blue Wizard WHOAAAAAA! That is a massive debt you're slaying! Amazing work!

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    • Sky Blue Wizard AHHHH!!! This is SOOOOO exciting!!! It's been so amazing to watch you color this in!

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

      Sky Blue Wizard VERY exciting!

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  • Thanks, I'm kinda sad bc this has been an amazing journey. 

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      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
      • 2 wk ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Wizard Haha.  I think you'll get over it.  Now a savings goal to colour in?

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  • Hello from Australia! @themagenpies here, newbie to the forum, and newbie to home owning. As of 2 days ago, I officially owe the bank to the tune of $363k. Dipping my feet in, wanting to get stuck into paying this off, but taking it slower than I would normally attack it until the end of the year when I'll have a clear idea of budget lines for house maintenance etc. 

    I'm 225 on the spreadsheet. Goal of $6500 towards the mortgage before the end of the year, ($150 above minimum repayment per week). 

    Like 5
    • TheMagenpies welcome to the party! Good for you for going slow. The beginning learning curve of YNAB can be tricky, but it's well worth sticking it out. Being conservative will help you navigate the things you miss, which is totally normal, so don't make yourself wrong for it! Looking forward to watching your progress!

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    • farfromtheusual Thanks for the welcome! I've been with YNAB for a few years now, which has been a gamechanger as a single parent.  With the crazy housing market here in Australia, more glad now than ever that I found it as I wouldn't have been able to make the deposit otherwise, let alone cash flow a number of the immediate upgrades (solar, insulation, paint etc).  It's a pretty solid place, so I don't think there will be too many maintanance surprises. Fingers crossed for being able to move more dollars to extra repayments sooner than expected! No other debt, and not enjoying seeing big numbers next to my name. 

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    • Welcome, TheMagenpies! I think it's so wise build up funds for house maintenance! 

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    • TheMagenpies wahoo! That's all awesome! We were able to buy a house (ended up with almost 0 out of pocket in the process) unexpectedly thanks to YNAB, too!

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  • Hi there - just added myself to the sheet and did all the steps. Our total amount to pay until the end of the year is 11,864.00, so far we've paid $1950.96. :)

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    • Hannah Welcome - I'm glad you've joined us!

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    • Hannah welcome to the party!

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  • Hello everyone

    I'm really excited to tell you I've just made my final credit card payment. That's 拢12,770 paid off since January.

    There is simply no way I could have done it without YNAB. I am so grateful and thankful that I found the app. I'm smiling to myself right now because I really went back and forth about spending that $84 last November. But I'm so glad I did.

    Hang in there, everyone. No matter how far you still have to go, you're headed in the right direction.

    Good luck,
    Jon
    Line 138

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    • Congratulations. Cornflower Blue Orca ! That's so very exciting! Do you have a new goal now that you've paid off that credit card?

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    • Hi Marisa 
      I plan to substantially beef up my pension contributions each month. I don't want to risk the 'creep' that could come from suddenly having a lot more spare cash each month. So about half of that will go into my pension, and the rest - for now anyway - into a few around-the-house projects.  :-)

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    • Cornflower Blue Orca CONGRATS!!!!!

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    • Cornflower Blue Orca That's freaking amazing! Well done you! 
      Love the excitement of hearing other people's debt success stories, it really does help with keeping enthusiasm high :) 

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

      Cornflower Blue Orca happy dancing for you!

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    • Cornflower Blue Orca Congrats!!

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  • September check - in 

    Paid off $383.25 off my student loans. I scheduled the last payment for one of them for October 1st! Down to 5 loans on October 1st! I'm also only about $810 dollars short for the year with 3 months to go.

    I'm not sure I'll get all three of the loans I set out to entirely eliminate this year, but I will get awfully close.  Whatever is left of those loans will be 2022's goal!

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    • Turquoise Griffin Awesome, congrats!!!

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  • September Check-In (line 73)   

    I did it!  And I did it within a year of starting YNAB! ! I鈥檓 consumer debt free and I鈥檓 definitely doing a happy dance!  Going into my student loan to see the balance was a sublime feeling of satisfaction鈥 let me share 馃槈 

     

     

    The story really began in January 2020 when I put my foot down and said debt you are no longer welcome here鈥 and while I was putting $$ into an emergency fund - I was in aggressive debt pay down mode because it was over $36k of debt I was talking to!  By September, I paid down $12k and started freaking out that I was going to mess it up and went looking for a help.  That鈥檚 when I found a humble little tool called YNAB.  YNAB was my enabler鈥 I managed to beat my original goal of debt freehoodness by December 2021 and sent my last payment on September 3, 2021.  And I am joyous!!!

    Now the rest of the year is devoted to a couple of other goals that have been put on hold.  But next year I鈥檒l see to it that my Roth is maxed out and my 401k is increased. After that, it I鈥檒l work to pay off my mortgage and be truly debt free鈥 in fact that will push me into financial freedom鈥 however, not at the lifestyle I desire鈥 so I I鈥檒l continue to work - only with the knowledge that I could stop at any point and still have a nice (if a bit less exciting 馃槈) life.  
     

    Total as of:    

    Jan 1: $15,925.65     

    Sept 3: $0   

     

    Loan # 1: 0.00 (paid off in February)      

    Loan# 2: 0.00 (paid off in August)     

    Loan#3: 0.00 (paid off in September )

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    • Violet Yeti Woooooooo!!! Sincere congratulations on this incredible milestone!! You are tenacious!

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    • Violet Yeti AMAZING!!!!! CONGRATS!!!

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  • It is kind of surprising that there are more than $4.2 million in debt payoff with only 500 participants. I personally think that it is too much. Anyway, it is great that something like this exists to help those in need as well. However, how do you guys make sure that all of the members are complying with your rules and regulations?

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    • Beige Captain honestly, does it matter? No one is going back through and double checking. If someone is lying and saying they're paying off more than they really are, the ONLY person it hurts is themselves, because they've still got the debt hanging around. For the rest of us, whatever number someone is posting (even if it is inflated and we don't know that) is really inspiring, which means many of us work harder, which means we pay off more debt.... which as NO down side.
      And honestly? Did you do the math? $4,200,000 divided by 500 people is a whopping $8,400 per person. Yeah, I think we can manage that.

      Like 4
    • Welcome Beige Captain - are you here to join the challenge? What are your goals?

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

      Beige Captain this is a tool to motivate ourselves and encourage others, there鈥檚 not really any policing being done or governing body to ensure that 鈥渞egulations鈥 are being adhered to.  Like farfromtheusual  said $8.5k is not an unreasonable amount鈥 and that鈥檚 just the average鈥 my goal was nearly twice that.  By following my budget strictly, windfalls and overtime hustle - I鈥檝e already paid that off. So it is doable and I hope if you have some debt payoff goals you are trying to achieve that you join us here and we can celebrate your wins with you!

      Like 1
      • AstronautEAP
      • Aerospace Engineer
      • Navy_Blue_Lobster.10
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Beige Captain is it 500? There are only 225 on the spreadsheet, unless I've been looking at the wrong one.

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      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 2 days ago
      • Reported - view

      AstronautEAP The 500 participants was for 2020.

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  • I'm late to update for August, so I'll keep it quick! 

    Principal Paid in August: $6,299.94
    Principal Paid in 2021: $40,016.54 
    Goal Remaining: $39,983.46

    2021 Start Balance: $353,417.01
    Current Balance: $313,400.47

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  • I've missed two months, so am writing to catch up! Here is my summer progress report, for July and August, on my battle against the student loan beast:

    As of June 30, 2021: $173,537.53

    As of July 31, 2021: $169,150.08

    As of August 31, 2021:  $167,792.52

    Notes: Regular monthly payments resulted in principal reduction of $2,703.01. Was able to make an extra payment of $3,042.00. Total reduction of principal in July and August together: $5,745.01.

    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 $23,166.08 reduction so far this year, I'm now about 56.5% there.

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  • Here's the September update on my debt smackdown:

    Loan Balance: $3000.75

    September Loan Payment: $325.00

    Current Loan Balance: $2690.76

    Goal: $2889.29/$3600 -> $710.71

    80.34% of my goal is met!

    Still debating whether I should talk to a dealership about trading this in on something else. I'm not sure what the value is right now, and if it is high enough to give me some trade in towards something newer, and if something newer will be valued at a reasonable place so that I can swap it out and not take too much of a hit in terms of my budget. That would not be helpful. I don't know that I can afford something new, and the used cars might just be priced too high at the moment. It would be nice to get a lower interest rate, but of course the though of also being almost DONE with this loan is SO nice. That extra $325 in my budget would be lovely to have. Of course, if I am smart I'd keep setting it aside towards a replacement... It feels like I wouldn't be able to get far enough ahead quickly enough to make it worth it. Who knows. I guess there's not right answer in this situation, and if I'm going to find out anything I'm going to have to make some phone calls and see what I can find out.

    Like
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