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 or Faness

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  • Line Number 2: So excited to be back for another year 馃榾 Shooting for $55,000 off the mortgage this year after surpassing last year's goal of $40,000 and ending up with nearly $53,000 paid off! 馃挭 Bring on 2021!

    Like 10
    •  So last year started with mortgage debt of $640,000. Ended with debt of $587,296. 2021 stretch goal is to get mortgage below $532,000.

      Like 4
      • Rocket Queen
      • Hair Metal Superfan
      • Rocketqueen
      • 2 wk ago
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      • Reported - view

      Aussie Beachlife That is AWESOME! Way to go in beating your goal last year! It's certainly some good mojo to carry you into 2021... 

      Like 2
    • Aussie Beachlife Wow!!! 馃く You took a huge chunk out of that debt last year and I can't wait to see just how far you're able to push the envelope this year!

      Like 1
    • Rocket Queen Thanks! This thread certainly helps to keep the focus going! 馃槃

      Like 1
    • Faness It's certainly a stretch goal this year that's for sure! Here's hoping we make it 馃馃檹

      Like 1
    • January 2021 check-in (line ID #2)

      Great start to the year with a 3 pay month 馃


      $587,296 January opening balance

      $5,197 paid off principal

      $1,303 paid in interest

      $582,099 balance owing


      2021 goal $55,000 off principal

      Actual amount $5,197 off principal

      9.45% of goal met

      Like 5
    • Aussie Beachlife 

      Fantastic way to start the year! I LOVE 3 paycheck months :)

      Like 1
  • SO excited to participate in this year's debt smackdown! I've claimed line 3 and aiming to pay off almost $45,000 in credit cards,  my husband's last student loan, and a personal loan. It's not my total debt (I've got another credit card to pay off, along with my own student loans, and our mortgage), but I'm just focusing on an aggressive goal to knock out a big chunk of the debt holding us down. I look forward to smacking down debt with y'all!

    Like 9
    • Rocket Queen It may not be your total debt, but it's an impressive goal all the same! Looking forward to seeing you crush it! 馃榿

  • Alright alright! I've got line 4. I am paying off my pickup this year, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. I've got exactly $10,667.01 left (principal only) till that sucker is GONE. 

    Happy new year! I look forward to cheering you all on in 2021!

    Like 9
    • Gnarwhal We'll all be here to help you wave goodbye once it's gone for good! 馃帀

  • Hi all, I'm new here. I've claimed Row 5 as Zack (@Buckeye). 

    I have one student loan remaining, $13,000 at a reasonable 4.25% rate. My goal is to pay this off during 2021, but to do so after building up my emergency fund to $20k (starting the year at $8k). Therefore, like January, I plan on paying a small amount on this loan (probably $250) each month until the emergency fund is filled up to my $20k target. Then I'll get more aggressive with paying off the full student loan balance. Wish me luck! 

    Good luck to you all in 2021, may you all strive toward your goals :) 

    Like 10
    • Buckeye By chance, are you a Buckeye? Asking from one student loan debt-crushing Ohioan to (possibly) another. 馃槈 Either way, wishing you all the luck and progress in 2021!

      Like 2
      • Buckeye
      • Buckeye
      • 2 wk ago
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      Faness yes! Born and raised in NE Ohio (Just A Kid From Akron). I live in Texas currently though ... thank you and good luck fellow Buckeye :) 

      Like 1
  • Hello!

    I am back again for my third year of the debt smackdown challenge :) I've claimed line 7.

    My goal this year is to pay $15,000 toward all of my non mortgage debt which includes a car loan, 2 credit cards, 401k loan and student loans (2). The total of these debts right now is $92,675.56.

    I've signed up for both the debt bootcamp and 34 day reset. For the 34 day reset, my focus will be on reducing my variable expenses (like groceries) and using any left over money at the end of the month as a payment to my car loan. I thought about selling stuff i don't need, but it's so snowy here and dark so early, I'm not up for it. I've added a reminder to my calendar for May 1st to revisit the idea of selling the stuff I have that I don't need on Nextdoor and using the proceeds to pay down debt.

    I'm doing the debt snowball method. This year I plan to focus first on the car loan and then I will focus on paying off 1 of the 2 credit cards.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Like 9
      • Buckeye
      • Buckeye
      • 2 wk ago
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      Hot Pink Admiral good luck to you in 2021. I'm sure you have put some thought into this, but I thought it was still worth mentioning ... with that amount of debt, it might make significant financial sense to avalanche the debt rather than snowball. Odds are that your car loan has a significantly lower interest rate than the credit cards. If you are disciplined enough to be using YNAB, it seems worth consideration. Good luck whatever way you decide!

      Like 5
    • Buckeye Thanks for idea! I'll take a look in undebt it to see various scenarios.

      Like 3
    • Hot Pink Admiral Happy to see you joining us again this year! I'm doing the 34 Day Reset as well and my biggest objective is to stay away from fast food. Meal planning here I come! 

      Like 1
  • Happy New Year 馃帀馃帀馃帄馃帄

    Line 8 claimed for 2021

    Happy to be back again and focused on reducing my debt load. All in, I currently hold $215K of debt 馃檭馃檭 which is broken down as follows:

    CC 1: 400

    CC2: 8,150

    Auto Loan: 61,000

    Land Loan: 146,000

    My aim this year is to pay off the CCs in full and not dip back into them馃ぉ. Then make 17K of additional payments  towards the auto loan. This will be a bit of a stretch as I am looking to build up my emergency fund at the same time 馃槵 but fingers crossed that with some extra attention on reducing my non-essential spending I will end the 2021 with sub $200K debt.

    Good luck to everyone and looking forward to all the tips throughout the year.

    Like 8
  • Claimed line 9...on the ball this year! I just posted in the 2020 for my results and I'm happy to say I met my target of $13,936 off my HELOC! I was able to start a side hustle in Sept and dump 100% of my earnings into the prepayments. I stretched myself, taking the positive advantage of the lockdown, to pay more lump sums off my debt rather than spend.

    My goals for 2021 are:

    • $13,936 off my HELOC (max amount able to pay with the fixed loan) & one final payment of $1440 in Jan 2022 to see that gone. 
    • Once the prepayments are met by June ($7500) start saving for my Subaru buyout of $12,600 by Aug 2022
    • In July, increase my "Pay Myself First" investments from $200 a month to $400 to my index funds
    • Finish colouring my tracking artwork:
    Like 10
    • Purple Foal Love your artwork!!

      Like 1
    • Purple Foal Woot! Yay for crushing that goal for 2020 and here's to doing the same in 2021! I love how colorful your artwork is getting! 馃寛

    • Faness Thanks! It's becoming a guilty pleasure! :)

  • Happy New Year 馃帀

    Line 10 

    I鈥檓 new to YNAB, but used Goodbudget last year. I spent 2 days last week watching Nick True YouTube channel and that helped me get everything set up.

    Our intention is clearing all debt except the mortgage in 2021.

     Total debts (excluding mortgage)

    • CC 1: 拢362.34
    • CC2: 拢6995.20
    • Personal Loan: 拢11461.70
    • Catalogue: 拢1168.17

    CC1 will go in January, and CC2 is interest free at present so I have that on a set payment every month to clear before 0% expires. Catalogue is also 0% so need to clear by June. Personal Loan incurs interest, so I have joined the 34 day challenge to try and get 拢1000 to pay a lump in February. Everything we have left at the end of each month will go to the loan as an overpayment.

    Good luck to you all for 2021 馃

    Like 6
      • Charlotte Web
      • Is it mealtime yet?
      • Charlotte_web
      • 2 wk ago
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      Wyvern Nick True is one of the nicest people I know - I had several personal calls with him last year when I was really struggling to understand YNAB and he was super sweet.

      Like 3
  • Hello there! Line #12.... maybe... might try this on a not-phone later to see if I worked it out.

    Goal 1 - would Looooooove to see my CC balance down to zero less than the three years I promised to the bank... six months? Today 1/1/21 = $4370

    Goal 2 - mortgage. It鈥檚 complicated lol. I have three, one I plan on using my offset to 鈥渟tore鈥 my emergency funds, true expenses et al, one is not currently urgent as it is a rental and therefore fully deductible... so maybe the third without deductibility or offset... I ambitiously worked out I should have $18000 per year unaccounted for. Pare back my enthusiasm and I鈥檓 going the balance from $10,000 from this mortgage. Realistically I will be delighted with any reduction in this.

    Now... let鈥檚 go...

    Like 7
    • Oh maaan. Credit card payment plus interest _plus extra card fee plus annual fee_..... that means a reduction of a whole $30 for the month. This thing needs out of my life!!!!!! 馃槨馃槱

      Like 2
  • Just started YNAB a couple days ago and this looks fantastic! Signed up on the spreadsheet, #13. Focusing this year on erasing all/most of my credit card debt. I have some other large-ish debts (a car loan, a mortgage, and a student loan which has not yet become due because of COVID); if this challenge goes well for me then those would be primed for a 2022 smackdown.

    CC 1: $700
    CC 2: $5,120
    CC 3: $8,400
    Total: $14220, goal to fully pay off

    Game plan: Pay off CC 1 this month entirely (already budgeted into YNAB). Consolidate CC 2 & 3 into an extended balance transfer offer (the fee is less than two months of interest on those two cards, which were just eating me alive) and snowball the CC 1 payment in the consolidated account. Continue paying the minimum on other debts not listed here. In August I started throwing $1000/mo at the credit cards, so I'm already pretty used to the aggressive paydown, but I really want to have them gone by the end of the year, which means bumping that up to ~$1,200/mo. If I exceed that goal before December, I can snowball this into my car loan, but this goal is already a stretch for me especially being so new to YNAB and not 100% sure of the sustainability of my current payments over an entire year. Will be exploring other cost-cutting and income-raising possibilities over the next few months but am proud to say that I switched auto policies this week and am saving nearly $100/mo which will go straight towards this challenge 馃帀

    Like 6
    • mandiferous Be gentle with yourself in the beginning, things do tend to crop up that you didn't remember only because you're not used to thinking about them in this capacity. But the clarity that YNAB gives you will enable to you to work it all out! Welcome to the party!

    • farfromtheusual fair points, and thank you! I'm sure I have forgotten some True Expenses simply because I don't have any history in YNAB to use for planning, though over the next month I'll be examining last year's statements to improve accuracy there. Honestly I will be happy to make any progress and to use this challenge as a historical record for me to compare my goals vs realistic abilities :)

      Like 1
    • mandiferous Yup, it happens to all of us, so I figured I'd warn you! Getting the first 3-4 months under your belt helps because then you can start to see trends in spending patterns, like how much groceries, fuel, and the power bills are averaging. 6 months is even better, and the first full year gives you LOTS of info. Just take your time and just plan on having forgotten some things! LOL

      Like 1
    • January Check-in: 鉁匞oal Met!

      CC 1 is paid off. 2 and 3 are consolidated with a little bonus extra payment added on. Also paid the balance transfer fee, which I had factored into my total debt amount when starting the challenge. Accounting for interest accrued, I have paid off $1,180.69 of my debt this month - right on target for this smackdown.

  • Happy New Year!!

    I have claimed Line 15 (0xC0FF33)

    Ive got three credit cards which I aim to clear and become debt free by the end of the year.

    拢6,693.77 GBP in total.

    Heres to 2021 and smashing debt!

    Like 7
  • Thanks  Veronica for taking over - so glad to be part of the Debt Smackdowns over the years. I think I'd be cracking away at my debt for maybe 5 years :/

    Some stats, from previous years, if any one wants them!

    2015: $1.8M paid off, by 213 users.

    2016: $2.3M paid off, by 234 users.

    2017: $900k paid off, by 110 users.

    2018: $1.6M paid off, by 173 users.

    2019: $2.6M paid off, by 311 users.

    2020: $4.2M paid off, by 537 users.


    Crazy amounts of progress and comittment. Good luck to everyone this year :) 

    Like 20
    • BritishMuseum Congratulations on clearing your balance sheet last year!! Thank you for leading the charge on this for so long.         

      Like 2
    • BritishMuseum Thank you for all of your work last year in the challenge!

  • This is the year I get serious about my finances. I'm hoping to buy a home in a couple of years so my goal is to pay off about $11120 in debt this year.

    Like 8
  • I claimed line 23. So happy to be back for 2021.

    Well, maybe happy isn鈥檛 the right word since it means I鈥檓 still in debt but this challenge helped me SO much last year  

    My goal is to pay off the rest of my $25656.95 credit card debt. I鈥檓 also carrying $20,121 on a student loan so I will be working on that at the same time (when covid forbearance ends).

    Like 9
  • Yesss! Sooo excited to see the new challenge! I think this will be my 3rd year joining in. I claimed line 20. 

    My goal for 2021 is $25,000! Yes, that is a high number, but I think it's possible. This would completely wipe out my credit card debt. I also have a small student loan, but probably won't get to that this year. 

    Like 8
  • Hey folks! Can't believe this will be my third year in this challenge!I claimed line 17 and my goal for 2021 is to pay 5000 on my student loans. I owe about 50K total. Goal is much smaller than previous years due to taking a pay cut and switching industries. The pay cut wasn't small either, my salary was literally cut in half. Not sweating it because I am much happier in my new industry and the earning potential is there.  In addition, I want to focus on saving, going on a few trips and doing some things around the house. Here's to a better year!

    Like 8
  • Line #18! Lets get it!

    No more car payments, no more credit card interest and NO MORE PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS...

    Like 6
  • Line 21!  

    Total debt (other than mortgage): $53,555

    Amount to pay off: $24,000.

    I wasn't sure how much to say I could pay off, so I took the minimum payments, rounded up and multiplied by 12.  I realized that the minimum payments aren't actually what gets paid off - because of the interest payments.  I could have sat here and calculated what actually gets paid off, but instead, I decided that since I want to get ahead of it, I'd make my goal paying off the interest in addition to the minimum payment, plus my roundup amount.  

    I was SHOOK to find out that I'd be halfway to paying everything off if I just achieve this - and it's not like it's a stretch goal - the minimum payments come to $21,000, and I have no choice but to pay those.   

    So I went ahead and paid the $250 debt smackdown payment (the difference between $24K/12 and $21K/12) before I had chance to spend it.  I also got a refund today for $44.99 so I put that to the first credit card too, before I had chance to spend that.   Day 1 and I've already paid of 1.23%

    Like 7
    • Charlotte Web awesome!! Sometimes looking at the numbers gives clarity which can help to move forward and get unstuck! Way to go!

  • Excited to join in on my first debt smackdown! Claimed line #25

    Total debt (CC/Student Loans/Personal Loan): $142,066.71

    Typing that number out is a little painful, but I'm excited to make some progress bringing it down this year (and probably more debt smackdown challenges in the future 馃槃). My goal is tackling $40,000 this year!

    Like 8
  • This is my first YNAB challenge, and I'm excited to get going!  I have 拢23,463.24 in credit card debt, over 3 cards, and want to focus on clearing the smallest of the three and maintaining minimum payments on the other two for 2021...  Plus, rounding up a bit for good measure... I'm aiming for 拢5000 gone by the end of the year. 

    Like 8
  • We have been waiting ever so patiently for 2021 to begin just so we can join this challenge! Claimed Line #26

    Total debt: Wife -$38,077.30  Husband - $38K in student loans (not to be tackled until wife's is gone- currently paying $10/month)

    2021 Goal: Pay off 17K - wife's smaller CC & 90% of bigger one. Regular payments on auto.

    Methods: UnDebt.It Debt hybrid. We'll be doing multiple "sprints" (34 day resets). Negotiating multiple bills down, cancelling some things, and using whatever extra to pay off debt.

    At the end of 2020 we were down to $19K  (payoff date Feb. 2022), husband's CC gone and my student loan gone. But! Christmas Eve our car decided she was D.O.N.E. Luckily we had enough in savings to put a 10% down payment down on another but that meant our auto loan went from 70% paid off to 0% paid off! So now we plan for wife's debt to be gone May 2023. Excited to be in this journey with all of you!! We got this!

    Like 8
      • Booth Family
      • No Regrets
      • boothfam
      • yesterday
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      Booth Family January check-in. Is this where we do this?!?!? Anywho, husband couldn't help this month,  as he used this month's debt payoff $ last month to say buh bye to his CC!! Paid off $1047 this month (2 minimum payments, 1 snowball). We have $200 in our reset ready for debt next month. It will be exciting to see if it stays there and goes towards it!

      Like 7
  • I took row ID 29. We have $23,305 remaining debt in the form of two credit cards. We are aiming to pay off $13,000 in 2021. Happy new year everyone! 

    Like 4
  • Line Number 28: Started using YNAB last month and it is so much easier than spreadsheets! Excited to join this debt smackdown! My ultimate goal is to pay $39,710.09, however, I'm going to set my goal to pay at least 50% of the debt this year. Debt is as following:

    -Personal Loan: $17,783.48 @ 13.9%= Giving $1,260 payment/month

    -Car Loan: $21,926.61 @ 2.4%= Giving minimum payment until personal loan gets paid since it has the highest interest.

    I am joining the 34-Day Reset Challenge in order to kickstart the year.  I am going to sell a lot of unused clothing and cut down on grocery expenses. Excited to see everyone's success this year.

    Happy New Year's Day!

    Like 5
  • Line 30! Back for the second year! This challenge was one of the best discoveries for me in starting to get a hold of my finances in 2020. Although I still have remaining debt to be paid off, both my outstanding Line of Credit and Car loan are have reasonable interest rates and I managed to pay off all outstanding CC debt with this challenge last year. My partner and I have approximately $33,000 in  total debt and will be lookingto pay off about $10,000 of that this year, while also focussing heavily on saving for some upcoming life goals. 

    Like 5
  • Claimed line 31. 

    Below are the current consumer debt amounts that we owe:          

    • Credit card = $13,000.00 (0% promotional APR for balance transfer ending December 2021). This card enabled us to move forward with a home improvement project that we could no longer put off for safety reasons.
    • Auto loan = $13,378.12 (3.24% APR).

    In 2021 our target goal is to pay off the credit card in full prior to the deadline ($13,000.00) and make regular payments to our auto loan ($4,616.64). That makes our 2021 debt payoff goal = $17,616.64.

    Like 5
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