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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  • The last update for the year and I made a lot of progress this year even though I didn't hit my goal (only $984.51 shy). My car loan is now a faded memory and the mortgage is a bit smaller.

    • Car Loan:$7,313.03/$7,313.03 
    • Mortgage: $6,215.49/$7,200.00
    • Total: $13,528.52/$14,513.03

    My saving goals more than made up for not making my debt goal and I'm honestly blessed to be able to weather 2020 as well as I have done. See you all in the new year for the next Debt Pay Off Challenge. 馃憢 

    Like 7
    • Madkat-Z That's solid progress in a crazy year! Way to go!

  • December Check-In:

    Truck and Car payments were made as planned (minimum to truck; minimum plus $100 to car).  $6,786.06 additional principal was sent to the car's balance. True expenses are still being funded.  In December, we funded January.

    Work update:   No change since June.  Still running lots.  Regular routes are on the horizon, though.  Today's the 18-month since orientation celebration.  Praise the Lord for safety!! 

    MILESTONE CELEBRATION:  Non-mortgage debt is under $70k. The car is still upside-down, so it'll be the focus debt for a while longer.

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

    Like 6
    • Coral Mare That's some awesome progress to head into 2021 with!

  • Happy Holidays Ynab!  Here we are close to the end of 2020.  I am glad that I was able to participate in this challenge.  Even though my business was turned upside down with no income for the last 9 months, I have been continually paying towards my debt and only added $5000.00 for the year. Considering the amount of income I have lost, I have managed to control the spending and know exactly how much I am spending on what now.  There were no credit cards used for Christmas and I am hopeful the new year will begin to bring business back, though it may not be until the second half of the year that I will start to see some income return.  Looking forward to a new year, Happy New Year everyone! 

    Like 6
    • Pink Mermaid That's a huge accomplishment! Way to go!

      Like 1
    • Pink Mermaid I'm so glad you're able to keep a positive perspective and find wins in a year that was so tough on you. I'm hoping your business will begin booming again swiftly in the new year!

      Like 1
  • Final check in for 2020... I did it!!! I submitted the final payment to my last private student loan today!!! Wooot! That means I have paid off over 20K of debt in 2020. I'm so proud.

    Can't wait to join the 2021 challenge. My current debt listed is just my federal student loans, but next year I will be adding in my husband's debt (car loan and student loans) to my paydown goal as well. Debt paydown/payoff will not be my biggest priority in 2021, since I need to prioritize school, but I still want to pay down my husband's car loan by about $14K by summer time so we can refinance (we are upside down on the loan.)

    Congrats to everyone else who participated this year.  :)

    2020 Starting Debt: $30,766.04
    December Debt Paid: $2,139.39
    Current Debt: $10,559.30
    Debt Smackdown: $20,206.74 / $15,000 (134.71%)

    Like 7
    • zoebby Wow! Congrats!!

  • Last Check-in:

    Plan was to clear my LOC didn't manage that this year. Also didn't end up clearing some funds I had for medical. But it's all right, I did what I could - I hit 84.44% of my goal. Not bad. Even though most of that was for unexpected debt. Either way cc will be cleared next month and I'll, once again, just have my loc.

    Like 7
    • ISuckatMaths forward progress is still forward progress. And at this point I consider any gain in 2020 to be a positive thing!

      Like 1
  • Final Check-in for 2020:

    December: $1,696,22 (includes P&I)

    Total paid toward debt 2020: $10,985.89 (Original goal: $15,000)

    Total debt reduction (Principal only) since starting debt smackdown March 2018: $22,795.26 (excludes payments toward 401k loan and mortgage debt incurred for Oct 2020 townhome purchase)

    I didn't meet my original goal of $15,000 debt paydown for the year. I did have some savings successes. I feel like this year I internalized the understanding of funding true expenses more thoroughly while paying down debt. The funds that would have normally gone toward student loan payments instead went to my income replacement fund. I'm current at about 75% of the way to my goal of 2 months income on hand. December was the first month that I funded a full one month ahead! That very exciting to me. And it adds to the clarity that I have x dollars incoming each month, how will I choose their jobs?

    Thanks to all who are in this challenge. It's inspiring and so very helpful to read about everyone's path. I look forward to seeing those who will be continuing at the 2021 challenge :)

    Like 6
  • 馃崅馃 November Check-In  馃馃崅

    馃巹馃ざ馃徑 December Check-In  馃ざ馃徑馃巹

    For the first time, I can see a way out of debt. Next year at this time, I will have paid off all of my credit card debt. It will be the first time I won't have debt since I got my first credit card at age 18.

    (note to self: teach children financial responsibility)

    I slowed down my debt progress in November and December to make sure I had enough for the holidays. I have a chunk leftover, though, so 2021 is going to start STRONG!!

    Here are my big wins in 2020:

    1. I blew past my goal of paying off $12K in debt and ended up paying off $22K.

    2. I was paying $450 EVERY MONTH in interest on my credit cards. By paying down the balances and taking advantage of transfer offers, I have that down to $25 a month. That's an extra $425 I will have to pay off debt every month. An extra $5000 in 2021! 

    Debt pay down progress in 2020:

    December: $1054.82

    November: $1473.25

    October: $2214.35

    September: $1959.69 (it was really a but more, but I did some balance transferring and the fee brought my September total payment amount down a little)

    August: $1994.53 

    July:  $2126.43

    June: $2528.02

    May: $2002.09

    April: $1712.68

    March: $1730.05

    February: $1370.62

    January: $1821.11

    Total progress: $21.987.64 paid off. 

    Current standing

    Student loans: $20,121.18 (in covid forbearance, so I'm redirecting the payments to cc's)

    Credit Cards (2): $25,656.95

    Like 7
    • Violet Storm That's incredible!!!! Way to go!!!

  • December check-in: 

    Balance from last month: $1691.32
    Paid down this month: $16.79
    New balance: $1674.53
    Debt Smackdown Totals: $1674.53/$3885.24 = 56.90%

    Another rough month after a long year of ups and downs. I could've done better, but I could've done worse. I'm trying to focus on the fact that even with things being as rough as they were this unprecedented year, I still managed to pay off a little over half of my goal. That's not as good as I hoped, but it's nothing to sneeze at either. I really want to work to do much better in 2021, not only being better at keeping money set aside to pay down my debt, but by keeping my spending under control on my other cards. Already looking forward to the 2021 challenge - bring it on! 馃挵

    Like 6
  • December check-in. I am happy with our 2020 progress. We knocked out 62% of our debt reduction goal, despite significant changes to our finances this year. I am looking forward to next year's outcome already!

    Like 4
    • Turquoise Drill That's awesome!!

  • November/ December checkin--no extra payoffs, unfortunately, just holding steady ;/ But at least not further in debt! Darn Christmas gifts.

    Like 7
    • Salmon Motherboard Holding steady is often an accomplishment in and of itself. Kudos to you!!

      Like 1
  • Final update of 2020: 

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

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

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

    ***Year ending debt load: $15,917.87

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

    With YNAB鈥檚 help, I destroyed over $20k in debt... if you were to tell me at the beginning of the year that I鈥檇 pay off this much debt - I never would have believed it.  Even in September I thought $15k was going to be a stretch... it鈥檚 amazing what you can accomplish when you set your mind to something and have the tools to get it done!

    Like 10
    • Violet Yeti You cut your debt by more than half in 2020! Excited for 2021!

    • Violet Yeti WHOA!! That's huge!! Way to go!

  • December Check-in: $1,274.66 to debt

    We met 100.1% of our adjusted goal: $11,552 to debt. We did this while also saving money, so I'm happy with the progress. 

    Year ending debt: $38,161. We started seriously paying down this debt in Oct 2019 when it was ~$70,900. I'm thrilled with how far we've come. Sorta bummed with how far we have to go.

    With the savings we accumulated this year, we've decided 2021 will be focused solely on debt paydown. Looking forward to being free of this debt soon!

    Congratulations to you all for any progress you made during a tumultuous year!

    Like 8
    • Orchid Guitar That's awesome progress!!

  • Been a while since I have posted. I didn't reach my goal of paying of $10,000 of my debt this year, but  I think I did well considering I cash flowed a new-to-me car since my old one would not pass inspection. It did clear out my e-fund and most of my home Reno fund, but I was only 2 months into using YNAB (I have used it on and off for over a decade, but with me being home during the first part of the pandemic, it finally clicked, but I didn't have anything saved in my "Car Fund".  At the end of 2020, I owe $50,629.52 (not including my mortgage). I feel okay with the fact that I was able to reach about 76% of my goal with the crazy year everyone has had. 

    Like 7
    • Ivory Wildebeest That's a pretty big accomplishment! Congrats for sticking with it!

    • Ivory Wildebeest Just to make myself feel better, since April 2020 (when I restarted YNAB) my net worth has increased by almost $11,000 or 53.6%. I say I am happy with this.

      Like 2
    • Ivory Wildebeest You should be happy about that! That's amazing!!

  • December Monthly Check In

    • Construction Loan:  Balance $0!
    • Medical Loan:  Balance $0!
    • #2 Medical Loan: Paid $4,100 - Balance $0!!

    Total paid this month $4,100.  $15,870 / $15,870 - 100% complete for the year!!

    I pulled HSA money, worked some side gigs, and borrowed $1k from my savings to pay off the loan in full. I am now debt free except my mortgage! It feels great. Next year I'll be on the monthly savings challenge instead. 馃槃

    Like 10
    • The Goat Queen wahooo!! Congrats!!!

      • Violet Yeti
      • Violet_Yeti.13
      • 10 mths ago
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      The Goat Queen so damn exciting! 

      • Schiaparelli Hat
      • Wear your best shoe on your head
      • Schiaparelli_hat
      • 10 mths ago
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      The Goat Queen  Excellent!

    • The Goat Queen yay monthly savings building.  All that 2021 money staying with you and growing.  It鈥檚 the dream!!!!  Congrats 

  • December update: Line 500

    Paid $2200 towards my credit cards, truck loan, and RV loan.  

    Year-end: $14,238.50 paid off since April

    I've also increased my cash on hand from $386 to $9552, building an emergency fund and getting a month and a half ahead on expenses. It's incredible to think I have managed a $23,800 swing in my finances since separating from my husband. In addition to being an amazing mental and physical health shift, my divorce may be the best financial decision I will make in my life. 

    I expect to easily clear all of the rest of my $77,800 debts by the end of next year. 

    Happy New Year, everyone. To a better 2021! 

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

      92to0  way to go!

      Like 1
      • Schiaparelli Hat
      • Wear your best shoe on your head
      • Schiaparelli_hat
      • 10 mths ago
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      92to0 Congratulations, great job! May 2021 prove to be the year you are debt free.

    • 92to0 WOW! That's amazing!! Congrats to you!!

  • Just joined YNAB and hoping to clear down all debt excluding the mortgage this coming year. Hoping this challenge will return for 2021. Would really help me focus on the end goal. 


    Well done to all of you that have done an amazing job smashing that debt!

    Like 5
    • Wyvern You'll be in good company for 2021! Welcome to the party!

  • Last checkin done.  105% of target hit for the year.  Less than a year left to be 100% debt free - if nothing changes!  :D

    Like 6
    • Keith & Kittery Barrows AWESOME! Love those graphs!

  • December Check-in:

    I write to you on New Year's Eve... 2020 has been quite the year, with a lot of good amidst the horrible. I just rang in the New Year outside on my street with my boys & neighbours. Now as I reflect on my year, I'm happy to say that I was able to focus my staying home efforts on my real challenge: my Debt.

    I just entered my December total into the spreadsheet & I've made my 100% goal for the year!

    Paid in Dec: $2895.77馃挵Biggest amount ever from every dollar I could scrape together.

    Paid in 2020: $13,936 馃

    To pay in 2021: $13,936 then the remaining $1480 in Jan 2022 (Fixed HELOC prepayment rules)

    My colouring progress...

    Like 5
  • December progress report on my battle against the student loan beast:

    As of November 30, 2020: $196,428.70

    As of December 31, 2020: $190,958.60

    Notes: Regular monthly payment resulted in principal reduction of $1,270.10. Due to a work bonus, was able to make an extra principal payment of $4,200.00 this month. Total principal reduction in December: $5,470.10.

    Year-end goal was to get the balance down $44,934.56 (from $224,934.56 starting place on January 1, 2020) to $180,000.00. With a $33,975.96 total reduction this year, I ultimately achieved 75.61% of my goal.

    Like 6
      • Purple Foal
      • Purple_Foal.3
      • 10 mths ago
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      Slate Blue Pilot That's impressive!! Keep slaying that beast! :)

    • Slate Blue Pilot those are some big numbers! You've made huge progress! Congrats!

  • September - Decmeber check in:

    LOC $800 paid: $109.07 interest pad, $690.93 on principal.  Balance $14,158.36

    Mortgage $1,472.18 paid: $444.92 interest paid, $240.55 property tax paid, $52.42 insurance paid, $734.29 on principal.  Balance $54,995.88.

    I've managed to get my AOM up to 57 days which is game changing!  I was able to put my third pay cheque in December completely towards my emergency fund.  I'm only 36% away from achieving my emergency fund balance than I will be able to throw extra money at my debt.  I was also able to increase my mortgage payment by 10% when my mortgage anniversary  came up in December.  This small change has knocked 3 years off my mortgage amortization.

    Like 5
    • TLW 3 years is nothing to sneeze at! Think of all of the interest you'll save in that time, too!


    Happy 2021 everyone!!!

    I paid 3500 towards my debts (mortgage and student loans) in December, bringing my grand total paid to $72,611.20, which is ~97% of my mind-boggling 75k goal.  I can't believe it.  I set that goal as a crazy pie-in-the-sky number, and never thought I would get this close.  Unfortunately there's still a long way to go (~400k), but, even more than the absolute reduction in debt, this challenge (and YNAB) has given me so much awareness of my finances that even though I still have this student loan albatross around my neck, I know have much more confidence that I can and will beat this!


    Way to go everyone, keep on smashing that debt!

    Like 6
    • Steel Blue Sound  That's fantastic!  What great motivation for you!

      • Blue Cobra
      • Alice_Blue_Cobra_16ecf5
      • 10 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Steel Blue Sound Way to go! I got to 89% of my goal. But the big motivating factor for me is that I finally got below $100k! 

      Like 2
    • Steel Blue Sound WOW!! That's incredible!! Way to go!

    • Steel Blue Sound This is Outstanding! You are so motivating.

  • 2020 Final Check-in

    December 2020- Paid $7576.29 toward Student Loan.

    2020 Goal- To pay off $30,000 in Student Loan Debt. ( This was pre-YNAB and I chose a goal that seemed outside of my reach)

    2020 Result- Paid off $64,584.89 - UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

    Balance- $54,065.29-  2021, the End is in Sight and Here we come!!!

    Like 4
    • Sky Blue Wizard MORE than double your goal for the year! 馃くYou could knock it all out in 2021 if you choose to aim for a similar year!

      Like 2
    • Veronica Thanks ....I will finish in 2021. With YNAB Debt Smackdown I will do in 2 years what I didnt do in 2 decades.

      Like 7
    • Sky Blue Wizard THAT'S INCREDIBLE!!!!!

      Like 1
  • We're up to 4.3 MILLION now that people are putting in their final totals! That's INSANE!!! Despite 2020's craziness. Looking forward to what everyone can do in 2021!

    Like 3
  • Just put in my December numbers. The plan was $6575 and the reality is $10,370 so yay ! We are now down to everything on one balance transfer card that is at 0% until June. Per our new payoff date is December 2021. What? Not sure how we are doing it but we are.

    Like 4
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