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 update for @TheMagenpies and all going well. 

     $535 of Facebook marketplace sales, and alterations and mending income. Two regular payments of $660. 

    $1855 towards the mortgage, covering both principal and interest. 

    I've been crunching some numbers, and rather excited as I could dramatically reduce the mortgage time from 30 years downwards. 

    If I release the company car, and have it for commuter use only, that would free up $120 a week, allowing for continued expenses of car sharing with family who own an electric vehicle and use it but rarely.

    Rental market is very difficult here on the south coast of NSW at the moment, and so I could conceivably rent my extra room for minimum $110 per week. They'd have to be the right person of course! 

    I'm feeling an extra push to knock this mortgage down while I have a fixed low rate, given the implications of inflation (to start with). Noting of course that interest rates will rise and so the calculation is flawed to start with, this extra repayment scenario will have me pay it off in 12 years rather than 30. What's not to love about those numbers haha! 

    Like 3
  • I'm almost at the finish line on my HELOC!!

    October: Maximum payment $618.85

    November: Maximum payment $495.08

    December: Will be $618.85 

    THEN JANUARY: Final LUMP SUM PAYMENT OF $2500 (approx) paid back 9 months early!! Been saving for that lump sum amount in its own category.

    Since joining this group in 2020:

    January 2020 owed: $28514.85 which will be GONE in January 2022. Thank you YNAB! 鉂わ笍

    馃拑HAPPY DANCE! 馃拑

    Like 8
    • Purple Foal WAHOO!!!!

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  • Purple Foal that's freaking amazing!!! Woohoo! 

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  • November 2021, Line #37

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

    Total paid in November: Minimums plus $5,220

    Miles driven for work: 19,600 miles

    Like 5
    • Previous Total debt owed: $13, 874.33 

    2021 11 27 current debt: $13,947.22 (interest increased debt)

    Like 4
  • November check-in: Well, could've been better. But just barely breaking even is better than another month adding more debt. I'll take it.

    Oct balance: $14940.24
    Nov balance: $14929.68
    Difference: $10.56

    $1020.38/$2500 = 40.82%

    Like 5
    • Orchid Display Every penny counts.

      Like 1
  • November check-in:

    Only my minimum payments of $800.00 made this month. My partner and I are in the process of buying a home and it's shocking how expensive it is - it seems like every day, we need to shell out more money for one thing or another. Amazingly though, even after an $775 electrical repair on the new home, all of our deposits and fees, and finishing all my Christmas shopping, I avoided adding new debt.

    I've already beat my debt smackdown goal of $15,000 for the year, and I'm still hoping to beat my second goal of $18,000. We're closing next week, which is also my birthday week so I'll definitely be ending 2021 with a bang!

    See you all in 2022!馃槅

    Like 5
    • AstronautEAP CONGRATS!!!! And YES, buying a house is very expensive! Lots of unforeseen stuff happens continually, and then eventually it all settles down again!

      Like 1
  • November check-in: $1,668.52 paid to debt (includes P&I)

    Slow and steady over here. Added another bit of red to my debt paydown thermometer on my fridge :) Hoping next month to reach the under $10k balance milestone on my credit cards. For someone who started at credit cards at $26k+, this is very exciting.

    Hope you all have a good end of the year!

    Like 6
    • Hot Pink Admiral WOW!!! Congrats!!!!

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  • Initial total debt owed: $13, 874.33 

    2021 11 27 debt: $13,947.22 (interest increased debt)

    2021 12 04 current debt: $13,467.42 (bills paid on 12/3)

    decrease of $406.91 since tracking initial debt

    Like 5
    • internettie Congrats!! One step at a time!

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  • November check-in paid off $2809 this month. Now at 149% of goal! 

    Like 4
    • Turquoise Drill WHOA!! Amazing!!

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  • December check in - I took off another $406.25 off my student loans leaving me a whisker above $10,000 dollars worth of Student Debt to Go my goal for next year is to get it gone. 

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    • Turquoise Griffin Awesome!!

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  • Line 99 reporting in!

    Its been a few months since I posted, but I've still be paying off debts. Probably just best to do a year end summary now that my last payment has gone through. 

    Beginning debt: $77,797

    Remainder: $26,711 

    Total debt paid off: $51,086

    猸 I cleared my credit cards in June. 

    猸 I paid off my truck in November. 

    The only debt that remains is my RV, which is my full time residence so that's basically just a mortgage masquerading as an auto loan. I'm now snowballing the truck payment and my alimony check into the trailer every month. At that rate, I'll have the trailer paid off in 15 months. 

    Its been a good year. Hope you're all doing well too.

    Like 8
    • 92to0 WOW That's awesome! Way to go!!

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  • December check in:

    Chucked 994.51 at credit card debt.

    Since I have the remainder of my credit card debt at 0% until September of next year and I'm looking at potentially changing jobs in the next month or so, I'm going to take my foot off the gas a bit and start to build up my E-Fund (or as I call it in my budget 馃彺鈥嶁槧锔 War Chest). 

    Like 9
    • Dave Nice! Congrats! That sounds like a smart move. A very financially savvy friend once told me 'never pay anyone any more money than absolutely necessary if it's not costing you anything.' 0% isn't costing you anything extra, so no point in paying it down any faster than you have to!

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  • Final check-in for 2021: $18, 517.80 paid to debt last year...since the student loans were at 0% I had been socking that money towards payments into a savings account.  It felt AWESOME to hit "make payment" on 2 of the 3 loans to knock them out!  The balance isn't dreadful anymore, and I plan to tackle that last loan in 2022 with a goal to pay it off by June.  

    PS- then I can sign on for the YNAB Savings Challenge!!  

    Happy Holidays everyone at YNAB....cheers to 2022!  

    Like 7
    • Sweet Tangerine Awesome, that's amazing!!! Congrats!!

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  • Line ID 179 reporting - for the first and last time this year since I'm looking forward to continuing my debt-free journey in the 2022 edition! While my debt was way too much to even think of finishing it off in 2021, it was great to see me making the dents. I can't believe I paid off almost $30k - having the visual progress and starting YNAB in February really shifted my perspective on my debt-free journey: my mindset went from "this is insurmountable, I'm just going to live in overdraft forever" to "I've almost slashed my debt in half in a couple more months!"

    Paying off cards one by one via the snowball method was amazing and kept my momentum going pretty hard at the start. The pandemic relief funding helped dig me out of a hole as well. Things started to plateau a bit in the summertime until I was suddenly promoted in the middle of a short-staff pandemic emergency (yikes). Despite my new burden of responsibility and stress with the new role, seeing my debt actually go down instead of increase makes me feel like I can handle anything, at least.

    This is the first time since I finished undergrad in '09 that I actually have a positive net worth. I eventually want to feel free enough to consider a major career switch; sticking to the challenge was absolutely worth it. Instead of feeling trapped, now I feel that (almost) anything is possible. I think I officially deserve that Sonic 3: Barrel of Doom mug I've been eyeing (and budgeted for 馃槈).

     

    Like 6
      • Katcantoo
      • katcantoo
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Jackal the mug would be a great reward for all your hard work! Congrats! Those thought shifts can make all the difference! 

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      • Turquoise Jackal
      • A dreamer who needs to get more sleep
      • Turquoise_Jackal.11
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Katcantoo Thank you so much! The thought shifts absolutely did help from moving to hopeless to hopeful! It's been a rough last decade for me (exacerbated by just the last couple of years), so I've been trying hard not to think, "if only I'd thought like this earlier I'd be so much further ahead..." and am just trying to enjoy the ride and keep learning as I'm on this journey.

      The mug's description does give me a good re-grounding reminder: "Best reserved for the most trying times in your life, pull out this Barrel of Doom mug and remember, if you got past the Barrel of Doom, you can get past anything."

      Like 1
      • Katcantoo
      • katcantoo
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Turquoise Jackal yes, I can still have thoughts like that myself and then work to reinforce I am doing it now and that鈥檚 all that matters.

      the mug description sounds like it is the perfect reward for all you鈥檝e accomplished! 

      Like 1
  • December Debt Smackdown update!!

    Loan Balance: $2065.63

    November Loan Payment: $325.00

    Current Loan Balance: $1750.96

    Goal: $3864.29/$3600 -> EXTRA $264.29

    Last payment of the year made pushing me over my goal, which REALLY makes me happy. VERY proud of myself for actually accomplishing more than I set out to do this year.

    There's only $1700 left on the loan, so I'll be back next year, and I may still try to figure out if there's a way to flip this into a new car and get a better interest rate. Or if I should just keep this a while longer and save up to be able to put a down payment towards something new... choices, choices.

    Like 7
    • farfromtheusual Amazing!! This year has had a lot of ups and downs, but you've remained so steady and it's paid off (almost literally!). The neat thing about having a paid-in-full car is that it really does give you choices - even if that choice is ultimately to trade it in. See you here in 2022 :)

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual Wow!! How awesome that you were able to blow past your goal!! 

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    • mandiferous YES! Thank you!! The BF and I were talking about it last night (after ANOTHER call from the dealership 馃檮) and he was like, well, once it's paid off we can sell it for cash. I was like well what will I do between selling it and buying something else? He was like no, silly, you buy something else FIRST, then sell it! I was like, Oh, DUH, I won't have a loan anymore so I can get another loan before I sell it... duh!

      Like 1
      • SewPurple
      • PHP Dev with a fabric habit
      • sewpurple
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual YAYYYYYYY! Great job!

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  • December 2021, Line #37

    Weeks 1-5:  Tithe, then a Weekly Chunk to January. The rest goes to debt snowball (truck). December was a 5-check month. Also, we applied proceeds from settling the estate toward the truck loan.

    Total paid in December: Minimums plus $11,064.98

    Miles driven for work: 28,398 miles

    2022 goal is to pay off the RV.

    Like 3
      • Coral Mare
      • Rolling Along on this Debt-Free Journey
      • Coral_Mare.6
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Coral Mare Note to self... In 2021 we drove a total of 249,215 miles for work. In comparison, during 2020 we drove 265,859 miles. Although we spent more time at home in 2021, we applied more of our income to debt payments in 2021 than in 2020. My quick glance at reports in YNAB shows that replacing appliances & the roof in 2020 interfered with our debt snowball. Onward.

      Like 1
    • Coral Mare Good observations to note, and congratulations on the progress!

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  • Final 2021 check-in for December:

    Nov balance: $14929.68
    Dec balance: $14786.79
    Difference: 142.89

    $1163.27/$2500 = 46.53%

    Overall, not bad. Could be better, could've been worse. I have decided my homeowner dreams need to happen sooner rather than later, so the next few years I want to really buckle down even more strictly on only buying things I have already budgeted for and following my debt pay down schedule better. I can do this. On to 2022!

    Like 5
    • Orchid Display Awesome! Congrats on your progress!

      Like 1
  • are we continuing this for 2022?

    Like 2
      • Hammett98
      • Sea_Green_Vacuum.15
      • 3 wk ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Opal Freshness Just seen they arent doing it for 2022. Maybe we could do an unofficial one? Was really looking forward to joining this year

      Like 3
    • Hammett98  That would be cool and the age of money too... Was trying to find that one...

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      • Melissa
      • sugarapplespice
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Opal Freshness Yeah, I'm not sure why they aren't hosting it again. But if someone posts something unofficial, I'll join in!

      Like 1
    • Opal Freshness I will be in it for sure....

      Marisa is this not going to be hosted next year? Any reason why?? It seems like it is SO beneficial for so many people that it only makes sense to continue. This year we paid off over $2,000,000 dollars in debt, and that seems to be one of the whole reasons YNAB exists...

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual I know!! I love the Debt Smackdown. We're not officially hosting this in 2022. Our content team is looking into how we can incorporate it into our Debt Bootcamp, but that hasn't been sorted out. 

      Like 2
      • Ametisti
      • Environmental and Budget Enthusiast
      • Blue_Tiger.8
      • 3 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Opal Freshness Aw what?!! I've been counting down to join for 2022! 

      Like
    • I posted on the challenge update thread about this, but to chime in here as well: 2021 was the first year AFAIK that the YNAB team hosted the debt smackdown. A user-sponsored challenge in 2022 would be just as official! My bandwidth is extreeeemely limited but if nobody else takes the bait, I could set it up and post tomorrow as long as somebody else could run interference on potential spreadsheet issues.

      Like 1
  • December/year end thread posted. Long and short: YNAB helped us pay off almost $80k this year and smash our goal to reach 159% of target. What a year!

    Like 7
    • Turquoise Drill What a year, indeed! This is incredible!

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    • Turquoise Drill WOW! That's awesome!!!

      Like 1
  • Well, I did it.  100% of my goal including a little extra for Christmas and an unexpected family emergency trip.  Yeah!  Once last personal loan to go.

    Like 6
    • Steel Blue Screwdiver (e62dac0d365b) WAHOO! Congrats!!

      Like 1
  • December and Year End check-in

    December: $1,646.13 paid towards debt (includes P&I)

    Year End Totals: Goal $15,000.00, Total Paid $23,529.04   156.86%

    Thank you everyone who checked in throughout the year. It is inspiring to read about everyone's journey. I'm sad to see that there will not be an official challenge for 2022! This forum got me started with paying down debt. It really helped me to check-in and read about other's thought process and learnings as they successfully paid down their debt.

    Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2022! 

    Like 4
      • SapphireSweetie
      • Changing my financial future!
      • Sapphiresweetie
      • 3 wk ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Hot Pink Admiral  You absolutely killed it this year! Congrats to you! I'm also sad about not having a Debt Smackdown for 2022, hoping an unofficial one will pop up. Happy New Year!

      Like 1
    • Hot Pink Admiral WOW!! That's awesome!!

      Like 1
  • My final check-in for 2021:

    Nov- 500

    Dec- 1000

    I slowed down the last couple of months, but I'm really proud that I surpassed my goal and ended up paying off $25,412 this year! For the first time in my adult life, I have no credit card debt. And I just have a few thousand left on a student loan for 2022.

    Thanks for all the support everyone!

    Like 5
    • MoneyMonster Congrats!!! That's awesome!!

      Like 1
  • Hello Ynab's,  2021 is in the books and I paid off less than what I expected but considering the travel industry is still struggling, I am glad I was able to pay some towards my debt.  Here is to a better 2022.

    Like 2
  • MXMOM said:
    The year went a bit wonky because 1) for a balance transfer we did, the new card limit wasn't enough to transfer the entire balance so we decided to pay off the difference; and 2) in March we decided to take out a 12 month RRSP loan at a cheap rate to get the 30% tax back. That was a $5k loan. The loan pushed our debt free date from December 2021 to JUNE 2022.

     Finally getting a chance to update the challenge. I can't seem to update the spreadsheet. We paid off the full goal of $11800 which includes paying off the extra $5K loan we took on during 2021. We are on track to make our last payment on consumer debt in February 2022. 

    Like 4
    • MXMOM SO amazing!!!

      Like 1
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