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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  • I just graduated from University and owe $30,306.59 in federal student loans. I would like to pay off at least $10,000 of that debt in this calendar year, but I feel like if I truly make it a priority, I can bump that number up! Hoping to get out of debt as soon as possible for the sake of me and my fiance. 

    Current plan is to pay $1,000 a month to loan debt payments at the beginning of the month. Any rollover I have in my YNAB budget at the end of the month will be split 50/50, with half going towards building an Emergency Fund and half going towards Debt repayment. This split will also apply to any surprise income I come across this year (Tax returns, etc.).  

    Like 6
    • Ski Beast Congratulations on graduating! It's taken me years to tackle my student loans seriously, but I've found the best of company in the forum. :)

      Like 1
  • February check-in: we paid $1,007 principal. 

    Like 6
  • February Check In - Got a little bit of a tax refund - split it between debt and true expenses. On track for my goal! Picking up a side gig that will hopefully help keep moving things along...

    Like 5
  • Hi there, I am a YNAB newbie and happy to be joining!

    I am hoping to purchase a home sometime in the future but would like to go in a clean slate so that my mortgage is my only major worry and I can stay under good debt to income ratio. <3 

    I hope to cut down my car loan significantly by adding any "extra funds" to the loan this year. As well as paying off a hefty amount of consumer debt.

    Here are the totals:

    $19,000 Car loan

    $3,000 Consumer debt

    Total: $22,000

    Looking forward to seeing the progress. Its such a great feeling!!! Thanks for this support in advance everyone. :)

    **Claimed line ID: 374 (Row:381)**

    Like 7
  • February update!

    I'm redecorating my bedroom at the moment, so even though I got a tax refund, I'm paying slightly less towards debt. Still making good progress!

    Rent arrears: Paid £1,013, cumulative total £2,026/£4,788.35
    Loan from parents: Paid £300, cumulative total £800/£4362

    Total paid: £2,826/£9,150.35
    Remaining: £6,324.35

    Like 6
  • Line 375 claimed! I'm so excited to be here :) I've been a part of YNAB since Nov of last year...though I didn't actually start using it until halfway through January! And boy do I wish I had found this sooner... 

    I have a total of $17,381.90 in both credit card debt and one personal loan... does anyone else even just feel better after saying that? Like somehow you're in more control just by acknowledging the amount you still owe? 

    Anyways...My plan is to get it all paid off this year! I want to start with the card with the lowest amount due and then pay them off in that order...I read on one of the blog posts that this can really help keep your morale up so I'm excited to see how that goes! I also really want to make more of an effort to put my money towards my true expenses, because I feel like that's where I suffered in the past. I would pay off a lot of the money I owed, but then wouldn't have anything left over for when something unexpected happened. 

    Excited to do this with you all! We've got this!!! 

    Like 8
  • Time for some new goals. I have paid off nearly 10K in consumer debt so far this year thanks to a tax return and reduced spending. 

    Personal Loan: 23,537 now 20,545.11 and counting

    Personal Loan (2): 4,573   3,823.80

    Personal Loan (3): 4,208 3,670.13

    0 Int CC: 4,763  GONE

    Total Debt I want to pay off in 2020: $30,000 Let's say 35,000 and be consumer debt free in 2020

    1. 0 Int CC by March when the interest kicks is goal one.  DONE
    2. Refinancing my mortgage to a lower fixed rate to free up cash is goal two. DONE

    New Goal

    1.  Focus everything extra on Personal loan to payoff in 2020 - avg 3K a month.
    Like 7
    • Tomato Barnacle That's amazing! Keep going! I like how you stretched your payoff goals. And I especially like how you've colour-coded & striked through changes! :)

      Like 1
  • Feb update!

    $715.86 paid towards my debt!

    I was hoping for 1200 a month to pay down but had some expenses this month that ended up going on the visa.

    Either way, it still feels great to know that slowly but surely I'm making a dent :)

    I really appreciate this smackdown and the motivation it's giving me, wish I found it sooner! But, everything happens as it's supposed too and 2020 is my year!!

    Like 4
  • Here we are with 8 more days left in Feb and i do not anticipate being able to apply any extra to debts.  I haven not yet budgeted my paycheck received today as i know 1/4 of it will be covering overspent categories since last payday.  Things keep popping up and i have no true expenses built up. I do have a  $1000 EF i an online savings acct, but  any true expenses i had saved had been wammed away since December. January i only added to debt. My son now needs invsalign which will be another $4000. I will have to put it on my care credit at 0% interest for 24 months. 

    So to end positively.. I have applied for another job to work part time. All money made from this will go directly to debts. I filed taxes it's 1100 and will either pay off 2 small debts i have or i will buffer a few true expenses.. undecided yet.

    still here trying . 🌻☀️

    Like 5
      • NewDawnNewDay
      • Turn your face to the sun and all your shadows fall behind you.
      • newdawn
      • 1 yr ago
      • 6
      • Reported - view

      NewDawnNewDay Update:  The same day i posted i realized i had received my tax return.  After getting all my overspent categories straightened out I was still able to pay off a card with a $356 balance.  This won't show on the spreadsheet as it was debt added AFTER that started 😣

      I also forgot to add i reapplied for IBR with Navient. My student loan pymt should be dropping to $280/mo from $359/mo. This is a huge relief since they initiallyy wanted to Increase it to $542/mo!  😲  That's extra money to budget 😀

      Moving forward my goal is to check my budget and not overspend. Get my true expenses buffered wuth at least $2000. THEN i'm going to knock this debt out

      Like 6
    • NewDawnNewDay how long have you been using YNAB? If you've got a little time under your belt (4 months minimum is a start, but 6 months, and even a year is even more helpful) then it might help to double check your reports on various categories and see what you're spending monthly on average. That little thing dramatically changed how effective I was at funding my expenses for each month, and for the most part I rarely need to WAM on those types of expenses now, which is really helpful, and helps me to not end up over spending and having the debt go back on the card.

      Like 1
      • NewDawnNewDay
      • Turn your face to the sun and all your shadows fall behind you.
      • newdawn
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual  it's been over a year. I've briefly looked at reports but not really analyzed them.  Good idea. I've been more stuck in the mindset that I can't or don't want o budget more than i am and need to reduce spending, but i need to look a the reality of it too!

      Like 1
    • NewDawnNewDay I waited wayyyy longer than I should have to start looking at reports. It dramatically changed how I was budgeting, and how much I had to WAM things to keep stuff covered. It reduced my disappointment in not having enough funds to cover things by a LOT. I was able to KNOW if I wouldn't have money to pay for something later in the month, and not feel bad about it. I've had my power bill covered by allowing for the average funding each pay check, rather than having to struggle to find the entire amount at the end of the month when it's due. I'm LOVING it now that I made that change to how I budget amounts. So for each category I have it listed with the category name, and then the average I need to budget each pay check to keep things covered. So it reads "Groceries/$185" and I know that I need to put that much in there each time I get paid. It makes it really easy! I prefer to have notes listed that way rather than goals because goals keep making me think I haven't done something right when they are showing up that they aren't funded yet when I don't get paid for another week or so. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me!!

      Like 2
  • What a great idea- sharing support for dept paydown. I'm in, though I'm a couple months late to the party.


    Car debt: $2,721.21

    Amount to pay off the rest of this year: ($300 for 10 months) = all gone by November


    Total CC debt: $8,151.76

    Amount to pay off the rest of this year: ($600 a month for 10 more months) + (extra $300 starting in December after car is paid off) = $6,300.  (I will carry around $1,900 into next year but continue to pay $900 a month, for a payoff date of February 2021 . But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

    Like 4
  • Checking in on my own progress and providing some more context for my goals. Overall, I would like to eliminate all non-car loan debt by the end June. My overall debt payoff goal for 2020 is $15,460. To date I've paid off $2,855 with an additional payment of $1,125 coming before the end of February. I also plan to contribute half of what my tax refund ends up being to debt which is still TBD!

    The debt I'm most focused on paying off is a zero interest balance transfer credit card (currently at $5,318) which will begin charging interest the first week of June. My goal is to pay this off before then with payments of $1250 per month.

    I'm also focused on paying off my grad school loan ($2,870) with payments of $500/month so it should be paid off by July. 

    My car payment is $480/month which I will plan to increase next year after I convert what I was using to pay off debt to savings to build up my emergency fund and contribute to a (hopeful) house down payment!

    Here's to killing more debt in the coming months!

    Like 3
      • Gator_Gal
      • gator_gal25
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

       Despite everything that's going on, I've decided to keep on my aggressive debt repayment plan. If my employment status changes I'll obviously have to reassess, but for now I'm staying the path. I'm still adding to savings, but have increased my goals and changed how I've been tracking everything and have made some updates.

      I've decided to increase my goal to $25,000 in debt payments. This includes paying off all non-car debt which were at just over $12,000 at the beginning of the year and increasing my car payments after my non-car debt has been paid off. Currently, I've paid off $16,317 and am closing in on paying off my credit cards and student loan by the end of August. 

      Like 1
    • Gator_Gal Congrats on all that progress! That's huge!!

      • Gator_Gal
      • gator_gal25
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      farfromtheusual Thank you!!

      Like 1
  • Despite how I got my paycheck today, I won't update the spreadsheet just yet (waiting for March to arrive first), but I'm happy to report that I didn't use my credit cards at all this month. I got a little more motivated after listening to the YNAB audiobook in the past month and it feels like everything is in perspective for me.

    My debt payments up to this point went through, but most of my payments usually come around the 25th and onward to the end of the month, but I'm feeling better already. I'm excited for my income tax return to come so I can have even more breathing room.

    Like 5
  • February Check-in: $1,073.94 paid toward debt (includes P&I)

    I've been following the YNAB Debt Bootcamp and it's affecting how much I'm putting toward debt. Instead of living so close to the edge in the spirit of paying off the debt asap, I am putting more funds towards my True Expenses while also putting some funds towards debt paydown.

    One of my credit cards (cc#2) has the balance transfer promotional rate period ending this month. On my to-do list for February is to do research and see about getting the balance onto another low interest rate card. There is local credit union that has 0% intro rate for 12 months on one of their cards. I just need to check to verify that also means $0 balance transfer fee and then submit an application.

    Like 5
  • February Check-In:

    I first want to say I am so encouraged and inspired by this thread and everyone who posts. I check it daily to read about everyone's steps and triumphs. It blows my mind to see the spreadsheet and see that we have (in just two months) collectively paid off over $710,000! 😎

    All that progress inspired me to up what I tossed at my debt in February. Like many others, I have been trying to balance paying off my debt with building up true expenses. I received my tax returns and it was split between the too. I have also been trying to push more of my income into the next month to raise my AOM and get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle (I'm at day 20 today!).

    Total paid in February: $799.63 

    Left to go on two CCs:  $860.00

    I have been starting to think of my remaining 'debts' and what to tackle after the CC's are done. I am paying my parents back on a 'mom loan' at a cost of $260.00 a month. Also, I have an installment plan for my current phone through AT&T Next. I pay $32.00 a month in installments and owe about $379.93 left overall. Even though they aren't technically debts to companies with interest fees - both add monthly costs that I wish I could free up. So after my CCs are done I want to tackle the remaining balance of my phone and then work on the mom loan.

    Like 6
  • I paid off less debt this month than in January but I think I underfunded my true expenses because February was very tight until this last paycheque. In total, I paid off $510.80 on my credit card and the remaining balance is $2,118.61. It’s such a small amount I’m paying off comparatively, but I’ve held this credit card balance for almost 10 years which is crazy. I always had grand plans to pay it off and even came close a few times when life got in the way. YNAB is helping me be more proactive with my money though and it’s made all the difference!

    Like 5
  • Posting my February update! Thanks to a payment my hubby recieved for some sidework we were able to throw more at debt than expected. 


    Total paid off: $3709.57

    (This includes paying off the student loan from 2003!!!)

    Total remaining:

    Vehicle loan: $13,291.64

    Personal loan: $7,285.70

    Total: $20,577.34

    Like 5
  • Feb update (and final update here!).. Paid my last debt off for a total of $5418.63 paid to debt for the month of February and a grand total of $7,200 for 2020, $25,506.58 for 2019, and $29,525.29 for 2018 for a grand total of: $62,231.87 since doing our big restart with out finances. 

    What I didn't include here is that during this whole time we've been fine tuning our budget to include our true expenses with a large set of sinking funds to properly maintain our home, cars, dogs, and health which also includes vacation and an emergency fund for random, unplanned, expenses.. 

    So excited to be done! We had some serious (to us) set backs over the past 2+ years due to unexpected repairs on my vehicle (7k+) along with many other hits from life including having to repair our chimney (4k+) and despite those, we are debt free minus our mortgage with all of march's bills+sinking funds fully funded and still have another pay check arriving next week before the month ends.  

    Now! On to the 2020 savings challenge for additional buffer in the 

    Like 10
      • HappyDance
      • YNABing consistently since 2014
      • HappyDance
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view


      Ka-BLAM!  (confetti canon going off)

      Well done.  Congratulations.  Woo-Hoo!  High Five!

      Like 1
      • SapphireSweetie
      • Changing my financial future!
      • Sapphiresweetie
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      GSDdad Congratulations!!!! All of your hard work over the past 2 years has paid off!! Woo-Hoo!! 🥳🥳 

      Like 1
    • GSDdad wahooo!!!! Congratulations!!!!

      Like 1
  • Hello! I have paid 2,268.76 since Jan 4, 2020. Left to pay: $6909.59 in student loans, $799 for sibling loan and $128.07 in medical. I plan to pay all off in the next 7 months.

    Like 4
  • I'm currently reading Living Debt-Free by Shannon Lee Simmons.

    Some tidbits I want to share to help all of you on your debt-free journey:

    • Identify your spending "tripwires": emotional, boredom, guilt...spending tends to be psychological. Figure out when you are spending. For example, if most of your spending occurs during the workweek and on your lunch breaks, question why. If you are bored & shopping, use a pedometer & focus on increasing your steps rather than spending.
    • Save for short-term expenses rather than putting lump-sums off debt. Like in YNAB, and from people's comments about the Debt Bootcamp, fund all your True Expenses first before tackling more debt payments.
    • Figure out your "Magic Amount" to pay off debt:
    1. Monthly After-Tax Income (the lowest of the year) $XXXX  (if bi-weekly, then just include 2 cheques/month)
    2. Fixed Expenses Total (all those that must be paid, including less frequent ones/12, and debt minimum)
    3. Short-Term Savings - True Expenses
    4. Spending Money - How much you need a month to live life (frugally) but not in depravation
    5. Add up #1-5 is your Total Cost of Life
    6. Magic Amount: Income - Total Cost of Life: this is what you can afford to snowball to debt

    For me, my Magic Amount is negative. Not good right now since I'm in a strike situation at work & gov deductions are highest in the first 6 months.  But that also means I am very close to paycheck-paycheck still, I really rely on my 2 extra cheques a year, I could do with being more frugal and cutting more expenses if possible, and finally, I really need to earn extra income which I am working on.

    Every cloud has a silver lining. The work situation brought me seeking help & I found YNAB. Learning to live frugally has really benefitted my spirit through being mindful and true to who I really am, my goals, and what I need to make me happy (not stuff). Surviving the strike without going into debt will make me stronger & is bringing out my creative problem solving. I will start a side hustle (or two) and will be financially stronger in the next 6 months moving forward.

    Saving for your True Expenses while paying off debt is really key. Build up the defence, don't just tackle the monster. 👾

    Like 6
  • Checking in for February!

    Made some motivating progress which I hope I can keep up for the rest of 2020. After updating the spreadsheet, I've paid off HALF of my debt!! SO CRAZY! Even though it's required some uncomfortable choices, I'm really determined to get rid of this nagging debt especially since it drives me crazy to see how interest accumulates so quickly. I did get lucky this month! I started a new job, so I was able to cash out my vacation balance from my previous job. Since I'm working on paying off my student loan first (highest interest) I immediately made a payment before I got tempted to find something else to spend it on. I've been trying to also find other areas that I can cut back on so that I can throw more to my March debt payments. Grocery spending can definitely be cut back a little bit, but food is something that I really enjoy >.< 

    January Balance: $19,712.70

    February Payments: $4,471.13


    February End Balance: $15, 241.57

    Like 4
  • Checking in for February.  Not as significant a drop as January, but I’m still below the ideal line on my debt burndown chart which means I’m doing better than planned!

    Fingers crossed for next month and a hopefully robust work bonus to make a SIGNIFICANT reduction to the auto loan and guarantee I’m paid off before the end of the year!

    Like 5
  • Good morning Ynab's,  Thank you for all of the positive posts. Everyone is crushing it and I know it is hard.  I look at my total debt and think how did I get here. but this process has me look at it with fresh eyes and I can see the light even in the first two months of budgeting.  No more credit card use and the Target runs have stopped and there is no balance on it. Seeing what I actually spend and tracking each expense has made a huge impact on my budget and thoughts around money.  Happy Budgeting everyone. Thank you for your support. :-) 

    Like 3
  • February Update! $3600 paid to debt.  Balance after payments: $13087.  I've paid off 23.86% of my debt so far!

    I just filed my taxes and am looking forward to putting that whole refund towards debt in March. 

    I'm starting to notice myself getting impatient/wishing I could pay off faster.  Trying to be mindful of this so that I don't overextend myself and my budget.

    Like 5
    • Little Green Ghoul  wow thats awesome.

  • Just found this challenge and jumping in to help motivate me this year.

    Total credit debt: $11,075

    Total credit card debt to payoff in 2020: $7,500

    Like 4
  • Here's hoping?


    CC debt: 6670.78

    Goal 1: 1500$

    (Annual income: ~17 000$, so 1500$ would still be almost a tenth of my annual income!)

    Like 4
    • Lev I'm in a similar tiny boat, and while they debt total isn't huge, it's a big deal to squeeze extra funds out of my budget to cover the debt. Stay focused, you can do it!

      Like 2
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