The Official 2020 Debt Smackdown

Welcome to the Official* 2020 Debt Smackdown! 

Happy new year everyone! 

That's right, we're back for 2020. Last year we saw about 310 of us brutally destroy  about $3 million in debt. Wow. Right. Massive achievement. Can anyone say 'YNAB blog post'?

But there are plenty of us with still some debt to go. And as much as I hate debt, I do love a good spreadsheet, so here we go. A few of us have come into 2020 with some debt remaining. Maybe over spent at Christmas. Either way, this challenge is open to anyone who wants to eradicate that debt from your life. 

So what's this about? If you are holding onto some debt as you enter 2020 - and would like to get rid of it - this challenge is for you.

To the participants from last year, welcome back! For some of us, our total debts are too large to smack down completely in one calendar year, so if you're here from last year, congratulations on your progress and let's keep on doing this! In 2019, we collectively paid down over $2,800,000 in debt! An increase of OVER $1,300,000 than in 2018!

For all new participants, we are happy to have you join in this year! New blood is always welcome. Let's all motivate each other to pay off those debts and continue moving forward to financial freedom.

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 2020 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. Check in monthly in this thread and report on how your debt smackdown is going. (This part is required.)

4. Post monthly on the 2020 Google Sheet to track your progress. (This part is 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!

If you come across this challenge later in the year, no worries, you can still 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. 

Last year, we collectively paid off $2,800,000. Let's smash that number again in 2020!

Please let me know any issues with the sheet - sometimes things are a bit wonky when making new ones!

*Official in the sense that there's a spreadsheet. Not official in the sense that it's made by YNAB. I'm just following naming conventions here :)

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  • Oh boy, October! This year has been such a drag. 馃ぃ but I paid off a student loan today! Posting my update for the month earlier than usual, because I don鈥檛 foresee making any additional debt payments through the end of this month. I was unexpectedly accepted to start Nursing school in the spring (!!!) which is exciting but also nerve-wracking. So I鈥檓 shifting slightly from aggressive debt payoff mode to saving some money for school. I will receive some scholarship money from work which will help, but the rest I鈥檒l be paying out of pocket. I don鈥檛 want to take out any additional student loans. 


    2020 Starting Debt: $30,766.04

    October Debt Paid: $2,366.12

    Current Debt: $15,777.49

    Debt Smackdown: $14,988.55 / $15,000 (99.92%)

    Like 11
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      zoebby congratulations on getting into nursing school.  And great idea to do it without loans.  Its going to be hard but if you make all your decisions with no new debt as the guiding principle then it will be awesome.  You can do it!!!!

    • zoebby Congrats!! A loan paid off & an acceptance to nursing school. Which will be harder: the studying or staying out of debt? Equally challenging but you've got this! :)

      Like 1
    • zoebby Congrats!!!! It's fantastic that this time you can choose how you want to do it, rather than being at the mercy of needing the loans. Way to go!

    • zoebby wow - congrats!!  You're doing great :)

  • October Update

    Paid off my car loan 馃帀

    I am officially debt free! So happy for the support of this community. I began my journey in April 2018 and paid a total of $26,158.46 (combination of credit card and auto loan).  Some days it felt overwhelming and there were a few tears but I was persistent regardless.  I've gotten a good head-start on my emergency savings and I am tracking my progress in the savings challenge. 

    Wishing everyone continued success. You've got this!

    Like 11
      • Peripherie
      • Tomato_Captain.11
      • 1 mth ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Tishy Wishy Congrats! 馃コ!!!

      You stuck with it for the long haul and I know it feels so good to get to this point! Good luck with the savings challenge!

      Like 1
    • Tishy Wishy AMAZING!! 鉁煉 Congratulations!

      Like 1
    • Tishy Wishy wahoo!! Congrats!!

  • I continue to plug away at my one family loan left.

    BUT - a big personal accomplishment in relation to debt!

    Large medical bills (multiple bills in the hundreds) and even larger cat vet bills (multiple bills in the thousands) came at me this month and I paid them all ... without using debt or having to ask family for help!

    It has been rough to take away from my savings but it feels fantastic to be able to deal with what came and then be done with it. No lingering shadow of the bills in the form of debt and interest.

    Thank you YNAB. I rolled with the punches and I'm still okay.

    Like 7
      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 1 mth ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view


      Like 2
    • Peripherie THAT is HUGE!!!!! Way to go!!!!

  • Ok... whoosh! YNAB newbie here, just  joined last month and soooo... here are the stats:

    Started the year with approximately $36,000 of consumer debt

    Started YNAB mid-September with approximately $24,000 of consumer debt 

    Now that I鈥檓 really tracking... let's get rid of the 鈥渁pproximately鈥...  before I start my October payments:

    Current debt load: $23,531.56

    end of year goal: under $21,000 

    on track to beat that goal and then some.... so let鈥檚 be ambitious and shoot for under $19,000!

    my ultimate goal is to have zero consumer debt by the end of 2021 馃巿馃帀馃嵕馃帄 

    Like 8
    • Violet Yeti wahoo!! Welcome to the party!

  • It has been several months since I checked in. While I haven't been tracking here, you can still bet I've been working on my debt still! Little backtrack of my year: I was laid off at the beginning of April and was on unemployment until middle of August. I did get the extra money which ended up being more than I had been making previously. I was able to save a lot of it and grow my emergency fund. Also with federal loans being on hold until Jan 1, I had been putting my monthly bill still in that category. When I was hired for a new position in August, YAY!, I was then able to take that little nest egg and use it to tackle some credit card debt. Since then, I've been able to get that credit card down to $364 with my first payment this month with another $200 locked and loaded for the end of this month if I don't end up needing it somewhere else. Hopefully this means I'll be able to pay that card off in November! So close I can taste it! My new job is also the highest salary I've ever had so I should be able to keep being aggressive on my debt and start tackling my second/larger card. While I won't make my more aggressive goal this year of all my cc debt, I am excited to have at least 1/5 of my debt categories paid off by 2020. Also feeling very thankful that now I'm settled back in a permanent position and in a much better financial situation than I was at the beginning of the year. I'm already looking ahead to 2021 and I'll be working on that 2nd card and hopefully cutting into a consolidation loan! 

    Like 7
    • Green Song That's amazing! Those are some huge steps forward, congrats!!

  • Since I just scheduled my payment for my car with the extra funds on it, I'll go ahead and update my debt smackdown for October:

    MC -       $168.46       $61.00          $107.46

    Total -   $168.46        $61.00         $107.46

    Extra -                             $50.22

    REALLY excited that technically in November I don't even have to pay $61, I could make a smaller payment. I think I'll keep it at 61 just for the heck of it, but we'll see.

    I'm still really amazed that I've been able to get through this, AND pay extra on my car loan. THAT officially goes into the debt smackdown for 21! I need to set it up in and figure out how to track that specifically. I might just do principle since I'll know how much I'm paying extra on the loan ever month. We'll see. It probably won't be a big chunk, but even if I can keep up the $50.22 every month that will be a good thing.

    Like 4
  • October update: Line 500

    Paid $2052 towards my credit cards, truck loan, and RV loan.  

    With that, I am officially over $10k in debt paydown since April when I kicked off my divorce! That feels SO GOOOD. 

    There is a small chance that my ex's house refi finally completes and I get a huge lump sum payout this month as well, but I am not holding my breath about it. If that comes in, I will make another update because it will clear all of my credit cards and most of my RV loan!

    It's been a very low-cost month as I camp my parents' driveway. But eventually, all good things and family patience comes to an end so this weekend I'm hitting the road to go adventuring. That will bump up my fuel costs, but I am really looking forward to seeing Redwoods and Crater Lake so it ain't no thing. :D 

    Like 5
    • 92to0 That's awesome! Congrats!!!

  • October Check in. Reduced the amount owed on my cards by $980.05. Bringing the number from $25,880 in June to $21,903  in just five months.

    Like 5
    • Dave WOW! That's amazing! Way to go!

  • Feeling  very accomplished this month!  We have exceeded our goal for the year already! The overtime has really been adding up lately.  We were able to pay $6267.26 towards our debt in October...$42,551.28 for the year! yay

    Like 6
    • Sea Green Vacuum Holy cow - Way to go!! 馃帀 That is a huge chunk of debt you've tackled in just 10 months! I'm excited to see where the rest of this year takes you! 馃榿

      Like 1
    • Sea Green Vacuum WOW! That's awesome!!!

    •  Sea Green Vacuum 

      Awesome...way to stay focused. 

  • October check-in:    

    Balance from last month: $1812.09
    Paid down this month: $102.27
    New balance: $1709.82
    Debt Smackdown Totals: $1709.82/$3885.24 = 55.99%


    Like 3
    • Orchid Display We all know how the story of the 馃悽 and the 馃悋 ends. Slow and steady wins the race!

    • Faness You know it! I have really tried remembering that as a nice mantra when I start to get down on myself about what feels like so many steps backward for each step forward. But I will get there!

      Like 2
  • Ya'll. We've broken 3.6 M I L L I O N  D O L L A R S in debt GONE, and it's the end of October.

    Do yall realize that means we're really close to paying off  O N  E   M I L L I O N dollars MORE than we paid off last year? AND we're in the middle of a pandemic??? That's CRAZY! And amazing!!!! And I know some of yall are sitting on piles of money that you've been waiting to pay since some of the interest has been deferred, so who knows, maybe we can blow right by paying off four million dollars.

    Here's to an amazing year, despite all the bumps in the road, and onward and upward from here!

    Like 16
  • This is truly amazing, and it was only for like three seconds that I thought you were saying that you, farfromtheusual , had personally paid off $3.6 million in debt, and I was like, wait, are you a small municipality?

    Like 6
    • Matthew 馃槀馃槀馃槀 I'm no where near THAT good!!

      Like 1
  • October Check-in: All hail the extra paycheck month! Payment this month was $5852, which drops me down below the $5000 remaining mark ($4607 to be exact). I have now met 88.4% of this years challenge and am only 3 more paychecks away from being debt free. It's getting so close I can taste it !!!!!

    Like 5
    • auntdar WAHOOOO!!!

  • I am catching up on posting and updating the spreadsheet since I slacked off.... on that. But not smacking down the debt!  Today I made the last payment on my Home Depot CC 688.03 馃榿. I have not taken on any new debt and I have $3206.58 left to reach my goal to pay off 10,000 in CC's for this year. Hopefully by next year this time, I can be totally CC payment free! AMEX is officially on deck to be paid off. Happy Friday 馃帀

    Like 10
    • Powder Blue Foal WAHOO! Way to go!

      Like 1
    • Powder Blue Foal Hooray! Congrats on paying off that Home Depot card. 馃帀

  • October Check-in

    Truck and Car payments were made as planned (minimums, although camper is paid).   After making the 2nd driveway payment, my mom gifted us the remainder from the proceeds of the sale of her house. 馃檪鉂わ笍  True expenses are still being funded.  I'm working on funding December with October checks in case we need to take unpaid time off work due to illness.  Not feeling sick, just being prepared.

    Work update:   No change since June.  Still running lots.  Regular routes are on the horizon, though.

    The mortgage, refinanced from a 20-year (3 down, 17 to go, 4.95%) to a 15-year at 2.75% finally closed!  The first payment is due on December 1, but it will be made on November 18.  Once we're a month ahead, we're able to sign up for biweekly payments.  I'm not sure I want to do that yet, but I like having the option.

    I bumped the car payment up by $100.  The best way to add a principal payment online to the truck loan is via our bank, so we added two big ones this month.  

    MILESTONE CELEBRATION:  Thanks to my mom's generosity, non-mortgage debt is back in the mid 80s.  The truck's balance lingered in the 40s from July 2019 until the middle of this month. It's finally the focus debt.  Looks like it could be wiped out by summer 2021.

    Continued prayers that the virus will be stopped soon & forever.

    Like 5
    • Coral Mare That's all really good news!

    • Coral Mare Excellent progress all around! 馃憦 

  • October update:

    Started the year with approximately $36,000 of consumer debt 

    Started YNAB mid-September with approximately $24,000 of consumer debt   

    October starting debt load: $23,531.56 
    October ending debt load:  $22,598.48

    Original end of year goal: under $21,000 
    New end of year goal: under $19,000

    my ultimate goal is to have zero consumer debt by the end of 2021 馃巿馃帀馃嵕馃帄 

    If I can slay close to half of my debt in 2020, mostly on my own - I鈥檓 ready to kick the rest of it to the curb by my goal of December 2021 with YNAB鈥檚 help!!! 

    Like 6
  • October Check-in:

    Paid off in October: 拢2608.11
    Paid off YTD: 拢8766.42 (87.66%)
    Remaining: 拢1233.58 (for this year's goal) / 拢22,988 (total left to go)

    I moved some money from savings to cover one of the smaller debts, which is why the paid off amount is higher. Should hit our goal for the year still, even though we had a few months of low payments. 

    We also swapped some credit cards around to replace some 0% deals that were finishing, which meant a couple of cards didn't need payments this month.

    Both of our salary payment dates have changed, which has completely thrown me off with our budgeting. I may pay minimum towards debt in November while we figure it out, then finish off December on a high note! 馃馃徏

    Like 4
    • Blue Sander Getting so close! Love how you've laid out the summary. 

  • October Update:

    I've had a few months of low debt payments, I wasn't quite as focused on my debt-pay down as I would have liked... but progress is better than no progress! I paid $422.44 this month towards my debt, and I'm SO CLOSE to paying off my REI credit card (only $572.84 left!!!), then I'll only have one more credit card ($3800) and a personal loan ($4250) to pay off to be debt free! 

    I'm really proud of the fact that I've paid off a little under half of the debt that I started the year off with, and that I haven't created any new debt this year! My goal was to get it all paid off this year, but even though that likely won't happen, I'm still so proud of all of the progress I've made. This has been such an amazing thing to be a part of, and it's so motivating to see everyone's progress.

    Keep it up y'all! Let's finish 2020 strong! :) 

    Like 5
    • Sea Green Piccolo Always a silver lining! It's been a year, and yes鈥攑rogress is progress. You should be proud!

      Like 1
    • Nicole Thank you so much! 

  • 11/1 Check-in: I finally bit the bullet and put the windfall I had in savings to work, and PAID OFF MY CAR!! Just got the title in the mail yesterday,  feels SO GOOD!

    So I paid $15,278 in October, taking me to 87% of goal! I don鈥檛 think I'll quite hit my goal for the year, but even if I don't, I think I'll knock out >70k for the year! I had no idea that was even possible.  "All" that's left is mortgage (250k) and student loans (150k) which is still a sickening amount, but, we're making progress!!

    Like 7
      • jmarieb16
      • Millennial Budgeting and Living
      • jmarieb16
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Steel Blue Sound AMAZING!!!!

    • Steel Blue Sound WOW! That's amazing!!!! Way to go!!

  • Well as of today, 1 Nov 2020, I have hit my goal of $12,000 paid off!!! I think I will be able to make it to $13,000 before the end of the year, which is really awesome. Its so hard in the month-to-month to see the progress but looking at the numbers overall I'm absolutely thrilled with the progress that I've made. When looking at my income, I have been able to put about 34% of my post-tax income to debt while also contributing 7% of my pre-tax income to retirement (with a 6% match from my employer)....I think those are some pretty impressive numbers for a 26 year old!! I am so lucky that I've been able to be living with my parents right now - it has helped me kick out these goals!

    Like 9
    • jmarieb16 CONGRATS! That's huge!!!

  • $293.27 this month, and stayed out of debt on the other card! I'm going to reimburse some past expenses from my HSA, which should help me get a month ahead/ pay down debt. I'm also thinking about getting a temporary distance job to throw some extra cash at it.

    Like 5
    • Salmon Motherboard Awesome!

  • October progress report on my battle against the student loan beast:

    As of September 30, 2020: $200,762.03

    As of October 31, 2020: $197,694.37

    Notes: Regular monthly payment resulted in principal reduction of $1,255.66. Made extra principal payment of $1,812.00. Total reduction of principal in October: $3,067.66.

    Year-end goal is to get the balance down $44,934.56 (from $224,934.56 starting place on January 1, 2020) to $180,000.00. With a $27,240.19 reduction so far this year, I'm now about 60.62% there.

    Like 5
    • Slate Blue Pilot That's HUGE! Way to go!

      Like 1
  • October Update

    Another good month. Keeping on track with the plan. We continue to stick to the plan which is the best feeling for us as we have, as a couple, struggled to stay on plan. We also decided to replace the washer and dryer that came with the house when we bought it two years ago. We were going to keep them until they died but research showed that September/October were the best times to replace as well as end of month. Thinking ours would not last another year, we went ahead and got a great deal and were able to pay cash!! It means we are not moving as quickly towards being one month ahead but we did NOT incur any debt to do it, which we would have in the past. Woo hoo!

    I have also realized that my presentation of the debt didn't show how much progress we are making. So, am going to use a different way so we can see the actual progress. We are on track to exceed this goal by $1255.92 so quite happy!

    Original Goal: $34,617.61

    Principal Paid: $30,089.01

    Remaining: $4,528.60

    Another item I thought that would be interesting to see is the impact on our interest expenses. We budget for the interest separate from the principal payment so that we can actually see how much the debt was costing us to the credit card company/bank. Even with our accounts being very low interest, it was astounding the amount we have reduced our interest expense. Also, as part of our snowball, we include the interest when we move to the next card so it can help reduce our debt faster as well.

    Jan 2020 - $760.31

    Feb 2020 -$743.42

    Mar 2020 -$670.62

    Apr 2020 -$624.20

    May 2020 -$477.77

    Jun 2020 -$449.29

    Jul 2020 -$297.24

    Aug 2020 -$291.73

    Sep 2020 -$233.59

    Oct 2020 -$309.45 (increase was due to a mistake in timing of payment for an RESP reimbursement that cost us $70 in interest. A forgotten transaction on my part but easily fixable)

    Wowzers! We have cut our interest expense in half in less than a year. And eventually that will be zero.

    Like 4
    • Navy Blue Pegasus It's amazing to see numbers like this!! Way to go!!

      We bought a new washer/dryer a year ago with cash, and then this year we purchased a new fridge, and then a log splitter (we supplement our heat with a wood stove), and both were 0% promotions on credit, but we have 100% of the funds IN the accounts right now, which means we could have paid with cash if we wanted to. I'm really proud of that, and it's awesome to see other people being able to make those same decisions. In the past that NEVER would have been possible at all!

      Like 2
    • farfromtheusual Thanks so much! It is definitely amazing to have that feeling of "we got this" and to know that we have so much more flexibility going forward. Having cash to back things is definitely a game changer. While I have been dabbling in YNAB for about 5 years, the past year has really be the game changer for us. I am one of the few (it seems) for whom nYNAB is working better than YNAB4 from a system perspective but I like the old rules. Either way, it is working and that is what counts.

      Like 1
    • Navy Blue Pegasus nYNAB works fine for me, it does have it's quirks, and there was a pretty big adjustment coming from classic, but I don't really have a problem with it. I work around the goofy stuff, and keep on going. I find that the value of being able to see my money and where it is and where it's going is what is the most useful thing! And yeah, it's amazing to just be like "yeah, I'm gonna go buy this thing and it costs over $1000" and just go drop the cash. THAT is wild to me! I can't wait to do it with bigger and bigger things!

      Like 1
  • October Check-in: Smashed another $13,000 on my Student Loan this month.  When I would see people with SLs at 60K-70K, that wasn't even a dream for was a fantasy.  Now, I am at a $67,783.06 balance. If you could see me dancing over here!!!

    Like 10
    • Sky Blue Wizard Woohoo! 馃帀 Knocking it out of the park. That dream has become reality with all your hard work! 

    • Sky Blue Wizard WOW! Congrats!! That's so amazing!!!

  • Consolidated check in from the past few months.

    I just returned from deployment and managed to save up quite a bit. What amounted to 2 extra car payments and a little bit extra thrown at credit cards. I've paid off 104% of my debt payoff goal as of writing this, and with luck at least one of my credit cards will be paid off in full next year. Total dollar amount paid this year: $12,339.54

    Original numbers when I started  --  New Amount

    Auto @ 2.9%: $23, 269.58  -- $17,482.38

    CC 1 @ 0% : $11,409.25 -- $11,085.19

    CC 2 @ 0%: $12,233.32 -- $12,150.25

    Looking at the numbers now, I had to throw some School fees on CC 2 for my advanced degree, so the end result is it didn't move much from the original. However, I'm satisfied with the fact that I was able to pay off the fees and still make some traction on bringing the debt down from when I started.

    Like 5
    • Rhei Welcome back! And congrats on meeting (and exceeding) your goal.

    • Rhei WOW! Congrats!!

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