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

    Like 6
    • 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 :)

      Like
  • 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!

    Like 5
    • 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! 

      Like
  • Almost home! August 2021 paid $2761.14

    Like 8
    • 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
    • Sky Blue Wizard VERY exciting!

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

    Like 1
      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
      • 1 mth 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!

      Like 1
    • 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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    • TheMagenpies September update...

      Feeling grateful for the fully funded house painting category, and for the local hardware shop's friendliness as I pop in yet again for more paint! 馃槄

      $1840.45 to the mortgage this month, very glad for the Smashdown impetus to record little extra bits of income to put towards it.  Just over $148/week more than minimum repayment of $312. 

      Two fortnightly repayments of $660, facebook sales of $175, salary sacrifice rebate of $339.90, $5 from a survey, and a whole 10c found while walking my dogs :) 

      New note opened on my phone, titled October Mortgage Smashdown... if I keep this up I'll make the end of the year target of $6500 without too much stretching. If so, next year's smashdown will be deliberately ambitious! 

      Like 5
    • TheMagenpies Awesome!

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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. :)

    Like 5
    • 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
      • 1 mth 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!

    Like 8
    • 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 )

    Like 9
    • 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?

    Like 1
    • 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 6
    • Welcome Beige Captain - are you here to join the challenge? What are your goals?

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      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 1 mth ago
      • 3
      • 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 3
      • AstronautEAP
      • Aerospace Engineer
      • Navy_Blue_Lobster.10
      • 1 mth 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
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      AstronautEAP The 500 participants was for 2020.

      Like
  • 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

    Like 6
  • 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.

    Like 6
  • 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 4
  • September 2021, Line #37

    Weeks 1-4: Tithe, then a Weekly Chunk to October. The rest goes to debt snowball (truck).  

    We did a thing. Again. Next year鈥檚 project will be to pay off the FINAL camper. Meanwhile, the truck should be paid off by Valentine鈥檚 Day, even though we鈥檝e set up additional investments to begin in October, 2021.

    The company gave the drivers in our division a raise effective with the next paycheck. This should help our progress.

    Hubby鈥檚 mom鈥檚 leukemia treatment is still going well, & she has no lingering effects from Covid. :)

    Total paid in September: Minimums plus $1345

    Miles driven for work: 18,135 = (took off a week!)

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    • Coral Mare Awesome, congrats on the raise!

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  • September check in. Another $1014 and change chucked at my debt.

    Like 3
  • September check in

    August balance: $15246.77
    Sept balance: $14750.25
    Difference: -496.52

    $1199.81/$2500 = 47.99%

    OMG for the first time in *months* I actually made progress on my debt. It has been a terrible summer for one reason or another, but I am so proud of myself this month for being better about my spending. I actually got to fill in pieces on my Debtris this month! Something I haven't been able to do in AGES! 馃榿

    Now to keep that momentum going! I really just have to remember how GOOD this feeling is compared to the temporary high of buying something new followed by the low of knowing I'm further from my overall goal. I can do this. 馃槑

    Like 5
    • Orchid Display Way to keep at it after a rough summer!

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    • Orchid Display WOOT! Congrats!!

      Like 1
    • Orchid Display How are you able to fill in the form digitally? It looks way better than my versions with color pencils and highlighters!

      Like 3
      • Yes I can
      • yesican2020
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Ivory Tiger I'd wondered the same thing (another debtris user)

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    • Ivory Tiger I'm a graphic designer. I converted the PDF form to an Adobe Illustrator document. I don't tend to do well with paper versions of things like this or journaling and the like. Digital always worked better for me. 馃檪

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Orchid Display I am a Debtris paper person too.  So loving your digital version. Looks so pretty.  I haven鈥檛 kept mine up to to date because there was a lot of weird debt changes in our life but I am going to update it and the spreadsheet too.  

      Like 1
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      You inspired me to get mine up to date. Not as pretty as yours. @orchid_display

        amazing how many time the estimated payoff date changed (all the cross outs at the bottom). Shorter / longer. Make extra payments. Back off due to COVID. But we are in the home stretch with an estimated payoff date of February 2022. 

      Like 2
    • MXMOM your estimated payoff dates are funny.... glad that the end is close in sight now though!!

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  • September check-in: $1,895.12 paid towards debt (includes P&I)

    This month I took the jump and refinanced my federal student loans. It's something I've low key considered for some time, but never acted on. I know I'm taking a risk with losing the federal loan protections/benefits and possible student loan cancellation, but the rate decrease from 6% to 3.28% was worth it to me. I shortened the remaining term by just a bit and reduced the monthly payment from $387 to $328. 

    Other than that, I've been trying new easy to make at home meals for when I don't want to cook, don't want convenience food, and don't want to spend $$ on take out. Instant pot chicken and potatoes is going to be a new go to for me. 

    Current Balances:

    • CC#1    $4,260.00
    • CC#2    $7,478.00
    • 401k Loan    $25,495.37
    • Student Loan   $46,295.00

    Total:  $83,528.37

    Like 4
    • Hot Pink Admiral love it! awesome job.

      Like 1
  • September check-in.  Paid $201.06 to credit cards.  Next month should have the last cc I wanted to be gone paid off and then I'm down to one high interest one and one low interest one.  I am getting a different car which will cut my monthly payment by over $350 plus some other payments are falling off in the next couple months.  And I got a raise at work!  I will be dividing the extra between the high interest cc and saving for some home repairs (we need a new furnace!)  I am looking forward to smacking debt a little harder in the coming months!

    Like 4
    • Orchid Cup wow! Very exciting news! things are looking up :)

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    • Orchid Cup Awesome! That's all great news!

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  • September checkin!  Paid $1695 toward debt and only have $532 on the last credit card and then it is only the equity loan.  So excited.  We are saving for next summer's vacation and I know that it will be paid for well before we go. thank you YNAB.  

    Like 5
    • Pink Mermaid Awesome!!

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  • September check in:

    I beat my 2021 debt smackdown goal! I've paid off $15,000 in debt so far this year, my first year working full-time after college. I'm increasing my goal to $20,000, it's a stretch but hopefully I'll be able to reach it!

    September was a great month for my debt payoff journey: I sold some things and cut wayy back on spending, and was able to pay off $2,537.86 of debt this month, including eliminating my smallest student loan! 

    Have a great month everyone 馃榿

    Like 5
    • AstronautEAP Congrats, that's amazing!!

      Like 1
  • September check-in: I paid off our debt consolidation loan this month. All we have left are our two car loans and mortgage. Next payoff focus is one of the car loans, hopefully in Q1 2022. We are at 138% of our goal for 2021! So grateful for YNAB and this community!

    Like 6
      • AstronautEAP
      • Aerospace Engineer
      • Navy_Blue_Lobster.10
      • 2 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Drill congrats on destroying your 2021 goal!!

      Like 1
    • AstronautEAP Thanks so much. We got a bit of a financial windfall earlier this year and thanks to YNAB and Undebt.It we knew exactly what to do with it to improve our long-term financial health. YNAB really has changed our financial management and outlook. Things that were once only a dream feel completely viable now. So grateful!

      Like 4
  • Almost Home!!!!!!!

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    • Sky Blue Wizard OMMGGGG This is SOOOOOO cool!!!!!!

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Wizard you have to frame it once its done!!!

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    • Sky Blue Wizard Incredible!!

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  • I made a payment of $1,124.03 instead of my usual $500 because I finally knocked out my auto loan payment! I now own my vehicle as a result. Decided I only had that much left, so might as well get it over and done with by the end of 2021.

    My only real debt remaining is my student loans, which will begin again in January. My payments on that are just under $250 per month by default, but I have enough income free to throw $500 or more at it each month to pay it off much sooner.

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    • Royal Blue Cyborg WAHOO! Congrats!!!

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  • October early check-in

    Technically the last debt payment of the month goes out Monday on auto pay.  But I know that all of that payment goes to principal.

    Paid off another of my student loans leaving only 5 left and made a bigger payment on the smallest of the remaining ones. 

    Total October payment is $561.90. Only about 260 dollars of the original goal left. Plan is to have it be dust in November with time to work on reducing the carry over in December. 

    Like 4
    • Turquoise Griffin awesome!! Congrats!!

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    • Turquoise Griffin Congratulations on your progress and paying off that student loan!! 馃帀Woooo! Wishing you the best in November. 馃檶

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  • Hello!  I have officially paid off all my debts as of this morning!  A small question remains,  I've assigned money to those categories all the way to June 2021, the goals have been deleted, but I want to removed assigned money to these categories from today till june. How do I go about that, other than going to each month and removing them?

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

      Don Lafontaine congrats!!馃帀

      Like 1
    • Don Lafontaine That's so exciting - congratulations! There isn't a way to remove the funding you've done in the future, without going month by month. I'd encourage you to submit a Feature Request if you'd find that useful!

      Like 1
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Don Lafontaine congratulations!  And I would do that assigned money movement just to enjoy each moment. I don鈥檛 budget out into the future. I use a holding account instead and then release it each month. Stealing from the future is such a big fear of mine. I also have a extra debt payment category for money that I want to allocate to debt payoff and just build it up.  But you don鈥檛 need to worry about that anymore!!!!!

      Like 1
      • Purple Foal
      • Purple_Foal.3
      • 7 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Don Lafontaine Congrats!! I second the suggestion to just enjoy the process of reallocating that money! :)

      Like 1
      • Don Lafontaine
      • IT Professional, General uber geek.
      • celticdon
      • 7 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Purple Foal Yeah, that's exactly what I did :)  

      Like
      • Don Lafontaine
      • IT Professional, General uber geek.
      • celticdon
      • 7 days ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      MXMOM I do get to stockpile my buffer now. 馃槈

      Like 2
    • Don Lafontaine Congrats!!! That's awesome!!!!

      Like 1
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