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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  • March - Stimulus check came in = 1st auto loan paid off.

    $5k to debt so far (3 months) and $10k left to go.  Looks like September is gonna be our debt free month!

    Like 9
    • Keith & Kittery Barrows YES! Congrats on that auto loan payoff - that's huge! This chart is looking goooooood 馃槏Keep it up!

      Like 2
      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 7 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Keith & Kittery Barrows omigosh!! Just about the same numbers and pay off goal here!! Know you have a cheerleader over here rooting you on!

      Like 2
    • Violet Yeti  - Awesome!  And likewise!  We got this.

      Like 1
    • Keith & Kittery Barrows AWESOME!

      Like 1
  • After a wild year, we have started 2021 with 29,832 in debt (unfortunately not counting house or car).  My goal is to pay off $25,000 of it this year.    I have line 192

    Like 4
    • Steel Blue Screwdiver (e62dac0d365b) Welcome to the Smackdown - we're rooting for you! 

      Like 2
      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 7 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Steel Blue Screwdiver (e62dac0d365b) 

      Like 3
  • Short version: $5,000 debt reduction this month! We are on track for EOY to finish all but car loans. 

    Long version: https://support.youneedabudget.com/t/p8htam6?r=y4hlgk4

    Like 5
  • February and March 2021- Paid $7286.17

    Like 10
      • TickTock
      • tick_tock9
      • 7 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Wizard 

      I love this! I'm such a visual person and this would motivate me so much...definitely going to download this now. Thank you!

      Like 1
    • Sky Blue Wizard I look forward to seeing your colorful picture every time you post it!

      Like 2
    • Sky Blue Wizard Wow, you're crushing this!! 馃帀

      Like 2
      • Kitty_S
      • Jewelry Artist
      • Kitty_S
      • 2 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Sky Blue Wizard Wonderful news!!! 

      Like
  • March Check-In :

    This month is $459.42 to the principal of Personal Loan #1 bringing the balance of that one to $15807.  

    I had hoped for more, but I'm still waiting on the tax form to amend to be ready. Since my W2 changed after I filed it, I'm worried with how much I'll need to give back that I can't really move around too much.

    It is kind of nice having a larger checking account than normal, makes me feel good when I look at it, until I remember that most of that money is not really mine to keep. But for the moments before, it's nice to pretend I'm a lot better off than I usually am and hopefully I get to keep a decent amount...

    Like 5
    • Actually had more put to the loan this month than I thought. I forgot about the Qoins payment that was pending. The principal is down to $15575 this month for an extra $232 than I original reported. Feels good. Automating the payment with Qoins has really helped me make a bigger impact on the debt. That plus the cash back I get from the SoFi card (the loan provider I used), is making the dents that I haven't been able to really do outside the minimum. 

      Like 5
    • Green Cleric That's the best feeling! Keep it up! 馃帀

      Like 1
    • Lauren Thanks! Definitely the best feeling to see more money then you thought you had go into smacking down that debt.

      Like 1
  • March check-in: 

    $918.39 paid towards my personal loan this month with the remanding balance of $8552.95. Now that I'm a month ahead in YNAB, I feel comfortable using the money that would be going towards my student loans to pay down the personal loan faster. Hopefully by end of this year I'll only have the student loans to pay off!

    Like 8
    • TickTock 馃憦awesome!!

      Like 1
  • March Check in:  happy to say it's the same as last month.  2903.53 towards the mortgage!

    Like 5
    • Grey Tux So good! 馃帀

      Like 2
  • March check in! Well...lots of changes and priority shifting for me all of a sudden. Some great, some not so great. 


    Bad News: Taxes, I owe...a lot. The stimulus I got plus a good chunk of my emergency fund are going towards taxes this year. I might not owe as much as I originally thought, but still unsure of the total amount. Still waiting on some info from IRS. This is a major blow towards my debt payoff. I have the money, but once spent, I'll need to focus on replenishing that emergency fund. 

    Good news in general/bad for debt payoff: I was accepted into grad school!!!! WOOHOO! This of course will mean I need to add on to my student loans, but I've been planning for that and feel it's worth it. I did receive 35% of my total tuition in scholarship (HUGE surprise!!) , so that will definitely help! The only bad part about it, is I now have a lot of upfront costs like tuition deposits ($500), orientation class deposit ($3250!!!!) due before July. These were not known before hand and so were not planned for. That combined with having to owe on my taxes...I don't have a lot of extra money floating around. At this point I'm going to have to stop being so aggressive on my debt and go back to minimums for a few months until I can get these other things paid off. I'm really going to try to not put any of these costs on credit cards or loans and pay them outright to prevent myself from going deeper into consumer debt. On the bright side, since I was so aggressive these first few months, my minimums are a lot smaller than they were :) 

    For March I did manage to pay $500 towards my debt. 

    Chase CC: Still at $0.00. I have not used this card since paying it off.

    Discover CC: $500 paid, new total at $6420.59

    I was hoping to be under $6k by April, but doesn't look like that's going to happen. All in all, I'm still happy with my progress so far and am okay knowing my shift in priority is still setting me up for the best financial success for the future. 

    Like 6
    • Green Song I think part of being financially savvy is being able to pivot when required. Your debt pay off might slow down, but not taking on new debt means that the slow down will be the only issue. If you were just as aggressive, but ended up adding debt, you'd be negating the progress anyway. Kudos to you for having a plan!

      Like 3
    • Green Song This is such a great headspace to be in! farfromtheusual is right鈥撯搕hat ability to pivot makes all the difference. Congrats on being accepted to grad school and the scholarship as well! 馃帀

      Like 2
  • Checking in for March, I put the rest of the planned amount from my unexpected windfall from last month toward my bigger loan this month. That coupled with the regular payment, means it is now officially the smaller of my two loans, and it's still so weird to realize that. With a bit of extra luck in the budget, I was able to put even more extra towards the loan, sending $6,050 in total payments and reducing my principal balance by $5,989.59. I've also continued my quest to share my luck with others who need luck too (again, in this case, to a local community project to help people without homes find support, treatment, and housing). My next months should be back to regularly scheduled debt payoff programming, but these two months being able to make large dents in my loans have been a relief, to say the least.

    Like 4
    • Spider Plant 馃憦馃憦馃憦

      Like 2
  • Just made the March payment for my debt smackdown on my truck loan.

    Here's the breakdown:

    Loan Balance: $4821.68

    March Loan Payment: $324.59

    Goal: $949.46/$3600 -> $2650.54

    This puts me at 26.46% of my goal, which is awesome. The interest keeps dropping by a few dollars every month, which is also awesome. Adding the interest on top of the extra $50 payment is not so much of a stretch that it's unmanageable. Right now Undebt.it still says payoff in July of 22, I'm hoping that starts dropping fairly quickly some time soon, but we'll see. It's still amazing to me to think that I will be able to pay it off early. When I bought the truck I didn't think that would be possible.

    Like 5
    • farfromtheusual Wow! 馃帀That's so good鈥撯揵ig progress on things that you once thought were impossible is such a good feeling.

      Like 2
    • Lauren It IS! I'm super antsy until my pay check hits at the end of the month. I'll find out about the raise that I'm supposed to be getting so we'll see how much I'll have to work with for the longer term!

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual Congrats. Here's to knocking down that timeline.

      Like 2
    • Trainee Researcher Thank you!!

      Like 1
  • I just picked up line 200. I'm getting started late with total consumer debt of 16,803.46. The goal is to pay off 50% of this debt in 2021. So far 8.90% of goal met.

    Like 8
    • systematicsister Welcome to the Debt Smackdown! We're cheering you on! 馃憦

      Like 1
    • systematicsister Welcome to the party!! You're among good company!

      Like 1
      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      systematicsister you arrive where you are meant to be when you are meant to be there... must mean now is the time to start knocking it out!! Welcome!

      Like 2
  • March 2021, Line #37

     

    Week 1: Both checks & tax refund were applied to the April budget, & April鈥檚 *nearly* funded. 

    Hubby鈥檚 mom鈥檚 leukemia treatment is going well. $300 per week will go to the income replacement category (馃崑 Lemonade Stand) through May. Remaining TBB goes to Debt Snowball. 

     

    Week 2: Topped off April! Both checks are split between Lemonade Stand ($300) & Debt Snowball (the rest). March鈥檚 electric bill (from the winter storm) is funded; the rest of the Debt Snowball can be lobbed at the car.

     

    Week 3: I gleaned $1200 from some deductible & long term savings categories for the Debt Snowball. I removed goals from some other categories (goals will resume in January 2022).

     

    Both checks & stimulus are split between Lemonade Stand ($300) & Debt Snowball (the rest).

     

    Week 4: Both checks are split between Lemonade Stand ($300) & Debt Snowball (up to the point where the car balance is $19,500). Any remaining dollars begin funding May's budget.

     

    Total paid in March: Minimums plus $10,623.55.

    Like 4
    • Coral Mare WOW! That's amazing!!!

      Like 1
      • Coral Mare
      • Rolling Along on this Debt-Free Journey
      • Coral_Mare.6
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Coral Mare  Total miles for March: 21,955

      Like 1
      • Coral Mare
      • Rolling Along on this Debt-Free Journey
      • Coral_Mare.6
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual Thank you! I totaled our miles driven so far this year. It's easier to hit big goals when we average 4000+ miles per week. Also, federal "bonus" bucks help.

      Like 2
    • Coral Mare That's awesome! I just saw all of your posts! Yall are really logging some serious road time. I drive a lot due to my small business caring for farms (if clients are away I'm at their farm 2x day, and most farms are over 15 miles from me one way...), but not as much as you!!

      Like 1
  • February Update

    Total Debt - $24,950.52
        2021  Debt Reduction Total -$4,427.99/29.52% of $15,000 goal 

    Savings - $1,000
    True Expenses - $670.86
    Next Month - $1,529.09

    Big wins for the month

    • Paid for a long weekend trip and did not accrue  any credit card debt
    • Transferred my last credit card balance to 0%, so I won't have any credit card interest
    • Transferred personal loan from 11.99 to 6.99 interest rate
    • So looking forward to April 1 when I can put $1500 in my April budget and not waiting for April 10th to fund April goals
    Like 5
  • March Check In: $4,039

    This was a windfall month since my whole extra debt payment was not due to anything I really did. I got a decent state tax refund and also got a surprise little inheritance. Since I am moving next month, I didn't put any of my regular salary toward debt payments, but came out quite a bit ahead anyway. 

    Like 4
    • MoneyMonster Congrats! I hope the move is smooth and easy!

      Like 1
  • Check-In:

    February Opening Balance on HELOC: $13,362

    Payments & Lump Sum: $1955

    Closing Balance: $11,704 

    • Been tracking my progress in a spreadsheet and the interest each month. It's actually exhilarating, not only to watch the balance go down, but also the interest I give to the bank. I have been reconciling my progress with my monthly statements. I have made predictions to how much interest I will pay each month and it's fun to be wrong - I actually pay less & less! 
    • Tracking over the year too is motivating. Jan 2020 I opened with $28, 514 and paid $74 interest.

    March will not be as impressive since I had an unforeseen True Expense: new brakes on a car that is only 2 years old...thank covid for the inactivity. Sure I saved on gas & insurance, but then got bitten when my brakes corroded. If I had've known, I would've taken my car for a carwash, sprayed WD-40, and driven it every few days...instead of being a good citizen and staying at home and not venturing out. I had my Service B $300 budgeted for, but did not expect an extra $700. Yikes. So I used my side hustle money and Visa rewards towards that. I have an EF but it's in an HISA and I didn't want to drain that when I could just pay less towards my debt this month. I am still on track to have my HELOC PIF on Jan 1, 2022. 

    March Opening Balance on HELOC: $11,704

    Payments & Lump Sum: $1,095

    Closing Balance: $10,633 ...next month will be down to 4 digits!! 馃槂

    Like 6
    • Purple Foal wahoo!! All good stuff, and you were able to roll with the punches.
      The irony of vehicles is that if they sit it's not good, but if they're driven too much it's not good either! 馃檮

      Like 2
    • Purple Foal I also have to replace my brakes. on a newish car, which is a frustrating setback! But getting really excited to also be down to four digits on my focus debt soon (probably May for me) :D Good work!!

      Like 1
  • Hey all, I'm new here and just did (another) fresh start budget in March.  We are committing to slaying the debt dragon once and for all.  I've claimed line 196.  Our total debt is $70K (does not include mortgage) but includes CC, loans, lines of credit, and medical debt.  Out goal is to pay $35,000 by December.  I got a modest settlement from a car accident I was in from Dec 2019 this month and we've used that to pay down debt, catch up on bills, set aside funds for true expenses  and boost our emergency savings.   Paid down $4888 in March.  

    Like 4
      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      kbgetsitdone welcome to the debt slaydown!

      Like 1
    • kbgetsitdone welcome to the party! You're in good company!

      Like 1
  • March Check-In (line 73)

    Thanks to 3 months in a row of extra income... I have slayed down 35.93% of my goal for this year so far! Since I鈥檓 not expecting anything extra next month, I鈥檓 going to shave and save to make me feel a little better 馃槈 pretty happy about my progress despite a pricey surprise... but as I say 鈥渒eep calm and WAM on鈥! Well, no I don鈥檛 really say that... but that鈥檚 what I did!

    Total as of: 

    Jan 1: $15,925.65  

    Mar 24: $10,379.90

     

    Loan # 1: 0.00 (paid off in February)   

    Loan# 2: $6,729.77 (by August)  

    Loan#3: $3,660.13 (by October)

    Like 5
    • Violet Yeti Awesome!!

      Like 1
  • Just realized that I had entered in the wrong amounts for my updates last month! That's what I get for retyping and not copying/pasting lol. Turns out my totals were better than I actually reported last month. It all comes to the same amounts whether I write it for this month or last, but I was just looking at that like "I paid off how much this month? That doesn't seem right." Because it wasn't lol, half of it was paid off last month, I just didn't get credit for it because I transposed a few numbers. Oh well - definitely a happy mistake vs a bad one, so I'm not upset. And so, here are my numbers for March's update:

    Starting debt: $15004.92 (corrected from what I had accidentally put in my records for February)
    March balance: $14774.41
    Feb difference: -230.51

    $1175.65/$2500 = 47.03% 馃榿

    Like 4
    • Orchid Display oh man, that SO happens to me! I used to fill in for one of the ladies who does a lot of financial tracking when she was away, and she always told me my mistakes were tiny little errors in being a number off here or there LOL Glad it was in a positive direction for you!

      Like 2
  • 馃尡鈽橈笍  March Check-In  鈽橈笍馃尡

    According to the Official 2021 YNAB Debt Smackdown sheet, I am 39% of the way to my goal for the year! Yay for being ahead! I can also feel how close I'm getting to being free of credit card debt for the first time since I turned 18 and got my first credit card. I'm 43, so 18 was a long time ago. It's a weird feeling!!

    Debt pay down progress in 2021:

    • March: $3038.60
    • February: $3094.69
    • January: $3923.86

    Current Standing

    • Credit card debt remaining: $15,599.80
    • Student loans: $20,121.18 (in covid forbearance)

    Total progress in 2021: $10,057.15 paid off

    Total debt paid off since starting YNAB (11/2019): $34,118.28

    Like 4
    • Violet Storm amazing!!! that has to feel SO good!

      Like 1
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 6 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Violet Storm So inspiring! I love seeing CC debt shrink. 

      Thank you for being so organized -- I borrowed your post format 馃槈馃構

      Like 3
  • MARCH RECAP!

    Big progress was made this month. I was able to put over $5,000 toward my debt!

    2021 Debt Paydown Progess:

    • March: $28,750
    • February: $33,841
    • January:  $37,450

    My overall CC utilization is down from 91% in January to 69% as of March! 

    My feelings for the month...

    It feels so great to be in the $20ks and over 20% of the way finished! As I enter April, I'm back-and-forth over whether I want to spend some money on me or put that chunk of cash toward paying off debt.

    I'm just getting into makeup and had no idea it would cost over $400 to get everything from Ulta. 馃槺Good thing I priced online before heading to the store.

    I think the drug store makeup aisle is in my future...

    Like 3
    • Pineapple Gal If you're like me you'll just sit there with the money for a while trying to decide what to do with it before finally figuring it out.... I have a couple things I'd like to purchase for myself, but I very rarely make purchases for myself... so I can't decide if I should do it or not!

      Like 2
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 6 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual That's exactly what I found myself doing! Now that I'm using YNAB, it takes a great deal of convincing myself to spend money on "me" things, even if I've spent weeks budgeting for it. I think it's just too satisfying watching the debt get smaller and smaller. 

      Like 2
    • Pineapple Gal agreed, and I've become pretty fond of watching the pile of money get bigger and bigger! I have to remind myself that I can't take it with me, and I might as well enjoy some pleasures while the opportunity is available.

      Like 2
  • March Check-in:

    Another month with nothing to the debt.

    But honestly, I'm ok with this. I've realized that I have a lot of expenses coming up in the next few months, those that I would have added to my debt to pay for in the past. I'm now saving for them, and paying off my credit cards in full every month. I've realized that I'm also still living on the credit card float... so my priorities have shifted towards getting rid of that. I don't think I'm at a place right now where I can contribute a significant amount monthly towards debt, but will be able to keep myself on track and set aside extra income to debt as I can.

    My net worth is slowly creeping up, as is my age of money. Being a part of this group has been really helpful for keeping me accountable overall, and has helped me evaluate my financial priorities. Thanks everyone!

    Like 3
    • fiona_orange Sometimes only being able to manage the debt as is IS a win. So don't discount that fact. Throwing "extra" money at debt only to end up having to put other purchases on debt isn't really helpful in the long run. So be proud of yourself for not sliding backwards!

      Like 2
    • Thanks for the words of support  farfromtheusual - I agree with you! 

      Like 2
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 6 mths ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      fiona_orange You're doing great and definitely making progress! Setting money aside to plan for those upcoming expenses shows great discipline and a real mindset shift, which is really critical in the long run. 

      Like 3
  • March checkin: $5561 paid off thanks to the stimulus check, extra paycheck, and the 34-day challenge. I just made the last payment today.

    I don't owe anything else, you guys. I'm debt-free. Holy smokes. Now to make sure I stay that way...

    Like 12
    • Salmon Motherboard Congratulations!

      Like 1
    • Salmon Motherboard WOW! Congrats!!!!

      Like 1
    • Salmon Motherboard WOOHOO!!!!! Amazing 馃帀

      Like 1
      • Pineapple Gal
      • Goal-Getter
      • Orchid_Wrench.11
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Motherboard Amazing progress in just three months. Congrats!!!! 馃帀

      Like 1
    • Salmon Motherboard Congratulations!!!! :D

      Like 1
      • Dave
      • Slate_Gray_Deer.9
      • 6 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Salmon Motherboard Thats awesome! Congratulations!

      Like 1
  • April Update: Paid $914.82 towards debt.

    Made a few changes to the debt plan. We are thinking of trading in our car, so until the dust settles from that possibility I've removed it from the overall debt total. I'm really more emotionally invested in paying off the old student loans anyway, so it was an easy decision. 

    In other news, we made the last payment on the intrepid spouse's student loans this month! That's the first of the debts we started the Smackdown with last year, so this is definitely a milestone for us. Next we roll over that win into one of my two student loans, with an eye on defeating that in late 2022.

    Like 7
    • Turquoise T-Rex Wooo!!! congrats on the spouse's student loan payoff! And on making a debt payoff change that feels better for you emotionally :)

      Like 2
    • Turquoise T-Rex Congrats!!!

      Like 2
  • March check-in: $1,297.58 (includes P&I) paid to debt

    Completed a credit card balance shuffle this month. Moved two balances to two new cards with 0% for 18 months and 3% balance transfer fee. I spent some money on home furnishing/decorations for my new-ish place. I find it a challenge to balance between debt paydown and buying not absolutely necessary stuff for my life now. This time I went with some smaller new stuff for the living room and will enjoy my couch that is flaking (I've never had a couch flake before?! - it's a leather-ish couch and oh my, whatever material that was did not last! 馃槀). I put a couch cover on it and will add my dream sectional couch to my wish farm.

    Other than that, I've been a month ahead now for a bit, and wow oh wow does it make budgeting easier.

    Like 3
    • Hot Pink Admiral Oh! one more update for March - I found out the my 401k plan allows me to continue to make payments on my 401k loan even after I am no longer employed with the company. I took out a significant loan in October to purchase a home and this is a big relief!

      Like 2
    • Hot Pink Admiral WOW, that's AWESOME. Glad you have that option!

      And bummer on the couch, couch covers are a life saver!

      I agree - figuring out how to balance buying a few things here and there that are nice wants that make you smile and enjoy seeing them vs paying off debt is hard. I think you have to allow yourself some things now and then.

      Like 3
  • April update paid $1347.00 toward home equity and paid off one credit card.  I am waiting on a tax refund that is delayed and will hope to pay off at least half of the last cc but it has 0% until December and I will need to have some things done on the house this spring and summer. Once that is paid all will go toward the home equity. Though it seems like such a big amount that it will never be paid off.  Business is picking up so hopefully by the end of 2021 I will be at least 50% back to my normal income with 2022 getting back to 100% of precovid income.  thanks.  :-) 

    Like 4
    • Pink Mermaid all good news!

      Like 1
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