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

959replies Oldest first
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Active threads
  • Popular
  • April check-in: $1,961.95 paid toward debt (includes P&I)

    Re: debt paydown, my main focus is to reduce my cc debt as much as possible this year, balancing that priority with funding my True Expenses. My two cc's with larger balances are at 0% for the next 16 months. The third cc with the smaller balance should be running out of the 0% promo it had within the next month or two. Thankfully the interest rate on that one isn't too terrible. Last I checked the rate was around 8%.

    Part of me feels frustrated and like it's TAKING FOREVER to pay off my credit card debt. Then I look back over the past few years, and in March 2018 when I started getting serious about stopping accruing cc debt and paying it off my high balance was $26k+. Woof. And I need to remind myself that while I'm still working on paying it off, I'm thankful that in addition to reducing the cc balance by $10k I also paid off my car loan early, bought my first place, and made good progress on saving for true expenses and created a income replacement fund (in case of job loss) that has about 1.5 months of pay in it.

    On a lighter note, I do like when the debt moves into the next thousand down. Looking forward to seeing a total cc balance outstanding of $14k after making May's payments.

    CC1: $1,513.15

    CC2: $8,075.00

    CC3: $5,462.00

    Total: $15,050.15

    Like 6
    • Hot Pink Admiral That's some big progress while also managing some big life events, so kudos to you for that! You didn't get into debt overnight, and so it doesn't disappear overnight.

      Like 1
    • Hot Pink Admiral  There are definitely many times I get frustrated that the debt payoff is taking forever, too. Especially when I look at how far we have to go. What usually helps me, too, is doing what you did: taking inventory of ALL of the things we've accomplished during that time period (not just debt paydown, but cashflow, as well). It usually helps me breathe a little easier.

      Like 2
  • ~April Check In~

    2021 Debt Smackdown Goal: $16,487.60
    Line 151

    Jan:    $    456.25     
    Feb:    $         0.00
    Mar:   $         0.00
    Apr:    $   647.60

    $1,103.85/$16,487.60 = 6.7%

    Back on the board! Feels good to get some momentum going again.

    I overspent a fair bit in my "just for fun" categories this month, so this still isn't as high as it should be, but I'm going to try and avoid using credit cards altogether this month to try and keep that overspending in check. I have been able to pay off my credit cards in full each month so far, but it's a big drag to have to cover spending retroactively when I get paid (and not in the spirit of YNAB).

    On another note, I am also further ahead in funding May than I ever have been starting the month! It feels amazing. I have also been able to continue funding my true expenses, including saving for a LOT of education-related purchases in the next few months. And lastly, because my debt is very low interest, I've been investing a little in my TFSA every paycheque, which I hope will build healthy habits going forward.

    Like 6
  • 馃悾鈽傦笍  April Check-In   鈽傦笍馃悾


    After doing our taxes, we ended up with a refund, so the chunk of change I'd set aside to pay my self-employment taxes on my side hustle went straight to debt this month.  I'm now 59.4% of the way to my goal for 2021 and we are only 1/3 of the way through the year!

    Debt pay down progress in 2021:

    • April: $5207.18
    • March: $3038.60
    • February: $3094.69
    • January: $3923.86

    Current Standing

    • Credit card debt remaining: $10,392.62
    • Student loans: $20,121.18 (in covid forbearance)

    Total progress in 2021: $15,264.33 paid off

    Total debt paid off since starting YNAB (11/2019): $39,325.46!!

    Like 7
  • May Update: Paid $750 towards debt. 

    So this month we ended up trading in our small car and our near-death truck and buying one new truck (I work from home and other family live with us and it was frankly silly having so many cars). So that changed the equation on our debts, and for the moment I've removed the car loan from the debt goal list and will be focusing on paying off my old student loans instead. Once those are paid off (which will feel like a Christmas miracle all on its own), then we'll reassess the car loan and probably finish paying that off then. It was a good decision for us (and a good trade deal - it completely paid off the remaining debt on the car and allowed us to only need to make a very small down payment) and of course wouldn't really have been possible without the budget...buying a new truck is not something we would have considered in our wildest dreams even a few years ago. So despite adding to the overall debt load somewhat, I feel good about it!

    Like 6
    • Turquoise T-Rex I love those strategic moves! Way to go!

      Like 1
    • Turquoise T-Rex Ditto what farfromtheusual said! Strategic budgeting moves are always good moves.

  • I'm so excited to report we're 43% of the way toward our original goal (on track for April would be 33% of goal). More on my personal thread here:

    Like 7
    • Turquoise Drill Wooo!!! You're making amazing progress! 馃帀

  • April check-in - paid $1082.01 towards my personal loan. 40% of the way to my goal! Even though I planned to have it paid off by end of year, I'm hoping to have it gone by the end of September - right before student loan payments kick-in again. Then I'll be able to utilize my debt snowball to tackle those even faster than planned.

    Like 4
    • TickTock Awesome!!

    • TickTock Yesssss, the debt snowball! Amazing progress. 馃帀

  • My goal was to be below $40,000 by April 30, 2021.  In April, I  was blessed to put $5861.10 toward my student my balance is $34,481.54.  May 31, 2021 goal, to be below $30,000.

    Like 6
    • Sky Blue Wizard Awesome!!!

    • Sky Blue Wizard That's huge! I love how you're making goals for each month. Excellent motivation. 馃帀

  • hi everyone! it was a quiet month for us -- not a lot in, and tried very hard to have not a lot (unplanned) going out. just a kind of regular time, i guess!


    paid this month: $270.95

    paid this year: $20,853.52 (61.95%)

    remaining goal: $12,806.48

    Like 3
    • Harriet Regular is not a bad thing! You're still making progress and that deserves a little celebrating. 馃帀

      Like 1
  • Happy May Ynab's.   This month is both my daughter's birthdays so it tends to be a high spend month but I will not use credit cards this year and have enough budgeted to get them the gifts they want.  

    I was able to pay $800 towards the debt.  The Fed refund is still pending but when that comes I will have a good amount to pay towards the debt.  Like last year, my goal is to keep ahead of the debt and not create more. Business is picking up so that will be a blessing for 2022.  :-) 

Like41 Follow
  • 8 hrs agoLast active
  • 959Replies
  • 3747Views
  • 162 Following