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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  • Paid 2700 this month (including around $1000 above minimum payments) and staying on track to pay off the car this year. Next month bonus and tax refund should be in, which should really help knock down the principal after saving for true expenses like furnace and AC replacement this spring.

    Like 5
    • Silver Router You're making fantastic progress! 馃帀 Slaying debt left and right. We just replaced our furnace last month, turns out it was trying to kill us (carbon monoxide)鈥攁nd it had to go! 

      Like 1
  • I've already checked in this month, but I spotted today that the card that I'm targeting at the moment has dropped from the third-highest balance down to the second highest :)

    There's quite a way to go to have this one with the lowest, but I'm really chuffed with the progress and this little milestone. 馃檪

    Like 7
    • Turquoise Major You should be! Love it when those milestones pop up, for an extra boost.

  • February check-in!  First a big thank you to you all for sharing your stories!  I check this thread in the morning and it keeps me focused on my goals before starting my day!

    We made major progress this month thanks to budgeting and a few windfalls including our tax return and a refund from our escrow account.  We used most of it to pay off as much debt as possible.  We saved the rest of it for my husband to sign up for some classes he can take, which if he finishes means he can get a raise next year.  Definitely worth it!  So this month we were able to pay off our car and one credit card!  We also did a balance transfer from CC#2 to CC#3 which has 0% interest.  So we are now going to focus on CC#2 for the next few months.  Our pace will be much slower the rest of the year, but it felt good to kick start our effort like this!

    (Starting  Balance/New Balance)

    Car Loan $3,912.75/$0 Paid in Full!

    CC#1 $6,297.39/$0 Paid in Full!

    CC#2 $24,770.68/$18,403.01

    CC#3 $0/$6,369.53

    Like 7
    • BlueSkies I love that you read this thread each morning! 馃槶 YNAB stories are so inspiring. I was addicted long before working here. You might love the Debt Stories Podcast too! 

      Like 1
  • My name is Shelley and I'm in debt - to the tune of just under $20,000. 


    I'm tired and need to get it gone and I've decided that 2020 is the year that I bust my butt and get as much of it paid off as I can.

    Like 8
    • Beige Boa You can do it!

      Like 1
    • Beige Boa You've got this, Shelley! This thread can be a great motivator. We're all in this debt pay down journey together!

  • I didn't read the part about checking into thread - but I did check in to the spreadsheet every month last year. I paid off over $20,000 in debt last year. That is my goal for this year too. I am forecasting that I'll be rid of my student loans in May and totally debt free in October. I cannot wait. 


    Starting  Balance/New Balance, as of 2/4/20:

    LAST Student Loan: $5,264.46/$4,588.48

    Car: $13,954.59/$13,523.59

    Like 7
    • Lavender Cobra You've made amazing progress, and I look forward to hearing how it goes. Paying off those student loans (and really, everything) is going to feel amazing. Glad that you've joined us in the thread this year. 馃檪

  • Hello, I claimed line 388. I have, as of right now 7957, 80$ in debt. And I plan on paying at least 3000$ this year. Good luck to everyone!

    Like 4
  • My goal for the year is  $31232.00.  This is not my total debt but what I hope to get rid of.  I have eliminated the overdue bill ($1232), paid $1060 on my truck, and reduced 6 credit cards by a combined total of $1741.19.  Hopefully now that the overdue bill is gone, I can put more to the cards!  Let me just say THIS FORUM IS SO INSPIRATIONAL!!!  (Pardon me for screaming but it has been so very helpful) Thanks

    Like 11
    • Cyan Yeti You're smashing the pay down! The screaming here is warranted. 馃槈 It's pretty great!

  • February Check-In:

    Feb Principal paydown: $2011

    YTD principal paydown: $2929

    2020 total goal: $20K

    I have another $2600 saved towards debt paydown in YNAB, paying in big chunks since $30 of my payment goes to interest whether I pay an extra $100 or and extra $1K. Also, all current extra payments are going to a 403b loan, so even though timing the market is terrible blah blah...I'm trying to throw chunks in when the market is down a bit (like today).


    So far so good, and watching the group paydown total is inspiring!!

    Like 5
  • Hello! Newbie to this forum here. I'm just wrapping up YNAB's Debtbootcamp on Facebook and while I made some progress, there is still more work to be done! I love having a spreadsheet tracker and support group so I figured I'd join this for the remainder of 2020.

    Aside from our mortgage, I have an auto loan that is at about $11,500 right now. My goal for 2020 is to wipe that out!

    Like 6
    • Welcome to the forum, CTheJoy ! We're so glad that you've joined us from the bootcamp to continue your debt pay down journey. 

  • February Check-In #2

    Our tax return came!!!!!

    I fully funded our savings goal for our upcoming vacation after stealing from it earlier this month. Paid off two cards and made my snowball payment to a third! I still have about $850 sitting in the budget as part of one card payment waiting for things to process, but the money is there so I've taken it out of the debt total. All-in-all for this month I'll have put $2585.29 towards debt! 

    Only 5753.75 to go!!! 馃榿

    Like 8
    • PeculiarBella 馃槻馃憤

    • PeculiarBella Getting closer! 馃帀馃拑 I love the balanced approach鈥攆or paying down debt and making sure you have a fully funded vacation to avoid burn out. 

    • PeculiarBella Love those tax returns!!!!

  • So in February I paid off $975.58, up from $421.58 in January. This moves my total for the year to $1397.16, or 11.18% of my annual goal. I'm still running a little bit behind, but things are starting to head in the right direction. A lot of this is me "out-earning my stupidity", basically just working my backside off to make enough money to make the numbers work. The good news - this has led to some legit stability financially. Next step is to start drilling down into where the "waste" is (HELLO FAST FOOD!!!!) and start using that extra income from all the overtime to not just stabilize, but really crank down on these debt numbers. I've got an extra $1,200 coming on my paycheck at the end of this month -- so there's a solid beginning. 

    Keep working folks! This is absolutely do-able! 

    Like 8
  • My Feb update: My balance is now $9298.  My original goal was to pay of $7k, but since I got a bonus refund from my home insurance being paid during my refinance and I finally put my redecorated basement on Airbnb again, so that income should help, I'm going to try to kill my entire balance this year, by the end of 2020. Hopefully I start getting some reservations in soon and can use that to help me meet my goals.  

    Oh, I'm line 81, I didn't mention that last time.  

    Like 4
  • Checking for February:

    Let me begin with a story. I've been really focused on doing what I need to do to get this paid off, and that made me realize I needed to sell some items too. I'm a bit of a gear head when it comes to camera equipment, and over the last two years have put a lot of money on my credit cards to pay for a camera/lens, tripods etc. It suddenly occurred to me that I never owned those cameras/lens. They were bought on credit and that cost was still sitting there so were still part of the problem.  So, I hopped on Kijiji (our buy/sell app) and sold all of it. This has helped me with my payment plan as it moves me along. Once this is all done, if I want that stuff back, I can save up for it the way I should have the first time. As a result, I also bumped up my goal for this year to $32,700 so that it really matters.

    Total payment this month: 5883.20 - 23.3 % of my way to my goal this year. This will not be a standard month as I also did not have to pay rent due to next steps, but it was a great way to kick off the year and helped to shift the needle. 

    I'm now embarking on step 2 of my plan. As of this weekend I'm moving back in with an old roommate. This will free up money due to sharing of rent and utilities:) 

    Like 7
    • auntdar congrats on selling stuff! Though I will point out the same to you as I did to my exBF - if you have camera equipment you can make money with it. It's not easy, and you do need some time, practice, patience, some people skills, and marketing, but it's possible to use it as an extra stream of income. I made a deal with him that he could buy whatever he wanted equipment wise as long as he paid for it with the camera he had. He also learned that if there was something fun he wanted to try to see how it worked there were plenty of lens and equipment rental places that had really good deals so he could try out longer lenses (or get a lens for an event and then return it and use the profit to buy said lens).
      You can always start over again whenever you're ready! 鉂わ笍

      Like 1
    •   auntdar I completely understand where you're coming from with the camera gear. When I got my first SLR around 15 years ago, I went out and bought a bunch of lenses and filters, as I thought I'd need them. I'd buy photography magazines and look at EXIF data on Flickr and if I didn't have the focal length/speed I'd buy a new lens.

      It took me a while to realise that actually I only used 3 of my lenses, and really only one of those on a frequent basis: 50mm prime, so I sold the rest. Ironically, the 50mm was the cheapest lens I bought, yet it's my favourite to shoot with and forces me to be a bit more creative.

      For everything else, I just use my phone.

      I hope you're able to get back into the hobby in the future.

      Like 2
    • auntdar Way to get creative!

    • auntdar said:
      It suddenly occurred to me that I never owned those cameras/lens. They were bought on credit and that cost was still sitting there so were still part of the problem.

       That's a big lightbulb moment! And a game changer as you move forward. 馃帀 It's already showing with that stretch goal.

      I have a few lenses that are collecting dust. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Like 1

    $1,333.18/22,638.69 with $21,305.51 to go. Which means I have to up my monthly contributions to a bit over $2,000 the rest of the way to get it done. But it WILL get done.

    Like 5
  • February check-in: One credit card has a balance of $15.00. I have the money to pay it, I just haven鈥檛 scheduled the payment yet. I鈥檓 mentioning it here to keep myself accountable since that鈥檚 one way my balances crept up over the years (鈥淚鈥檒l wait until the balance is at $100 to make a payment, it seems silly to bother with such a little amount鈥 very quickly leads to 鈥渢he balance is now $100 but I don鈥檛 have that much available to pay it all off鈥 and so on, rinse and repeat). I paid a total of $567.91 this month, of which $39.02 went towards interest, for a total of $528.89 paid. 

    Like 3
  • Just joining in.  My husband and I started 2020 with the following debts:

    • Student Loans: $113,107.27  (down from $213,187.12)
    • Mortgage: $215,681.79

    We are focusing on paying off our student loans, while just paying the required monthly payment on the mortgage.  So, for my monthly progress, I just plan to report on the student loans.  We're paying the minimums on each student loan, and then throwing everything extra towards one target loan (until it's paid off, and then we'll turn to the next).

    We want to pay off $20,000 on our student loans in 2020.  So far, we paid off $2,030.41 in January.

    Like 9
    • Tiffany Tyler I'm glad you're joining us! You've already made a huge dent in that student loan figure and I'm looking forward to seeing its further decline! :)

      Like 1
    • Faness Thank you!

    • *Update: Our starting student loans should've been $113,017.27.

      January Update -- Total paid: $2,349.65

      • Student Loans: $110,986.86
      • Mortgage: $215,362.55

      February Update -- Total paid: $4,723.58

      • Student Loans: $106,583.55
      • Mortgage: $215,042.28

      Due to a bonus at work, we were able to pay off one of our student loans in February.  We'll be starting to push hard on the next student loan in March, with the hope of having it paid off by the end of October.

      Like 2
    • March Update:

      We are very fortunate in that we both still have our jobs.  We are still trying to pay down our student loans (especially with the 0% interest right now), but we're trying to save a bit more too. 

      March Update -- Total paid: $2,864.28

      • Student Loans: 104,040.57
      • Mortgage: $214,720.98
      Like 5
  • ID 393. I'm new to the smackdown and to posting in the forums at all. Last year we got some inheritance money and paid off both cars and my husband's student loan. So now we just have our mortgage, which I'm not tracking because at this point I don't plan to pay extra to it, and my student loan. 

    Student loan: $95,899.64. Enormous, but I'm trying to focus on the positive - I'm under $100k finally and I'm paying extra. Monthly payment is $1,086 but I'm paying at least $1,336 and hopefully more, with a goal to pay $20,000 this year. 

    I got a new job at the start of the year that was a huge step up in pay. My plan was to pay a crazy amount of extra on the loans...but as it turns out I don't like it here and am looking for something else already and it will probably mean a pay cut so I still haven't settled on the exact extra amount I will pay each month. 

    What a great project! Can't wait to smash the debt with you all. 

    Like 7
    • Silver Vacuum Welcome from another person with large student loan debt.  We're not quite at the under $100k point, but we're planning to be by the end of the year (if not sooner).  Hope you can find a job you like a lot better without too much of a pay decrease.

  • March payments are scheduled! I'm paying $2460 toward debt, which is $160 more than planned. 

    Like 6
  • Just finished paying all of my Feb bills and was able to pay off $2475 this month. It certainly feels good but hoping we can do even more next month!

    Like 6
  • Hi, first time coming across the Debt Smackdown. It's good timing because last week I just resolved to get serious about eliminating my credit card debt this year. I had refinanced it with a 3-year payment plan, but it still has a high-ish interest rate. I suddenly thought, hey, maybe if I get rid -all- the debt, I can actually save and keep my money faster!

    So as soon as my savings amount is > my debt by at least a one month buffer, I'm planning to pay it all down. I'm already living more simply this past month, so hopefully I can keep up the momentum.

    Good luck to everyone!

    Like 7
  • Holy moly!  I just smacked down some debt!  Woo hoo and hallelujah!  $16,115 debt remains...but I'm coming for you!!

    I got my yearly bonus and was able to pay the following for a total of $12,066.79 for February (includes $400 already reported towards credit cards with previous Feb. paycheck):

    1) Paid off loan for work done on home $3342

    2) Paid off credit card balance $700

    3) Paid off travel debt $700

    4) Put $3500 toward a 0% credit card ($2000 balance)

    5) Put $800 towards a 0% credit card ($3000 balance)

    6) Paid off remainder of previous overages $2624.79


    Now...while this is all wonderful, what if, I mean WHAT IF....I actually had that bonus to use for whatever my heart desired instead of yucky old debt!  Literally, fun I've already had (do I sound like Jesse yet?)!  But alas....I am willing myself to not get in this kind of hole again.  

    Some positive things:

    I confess some of these debts are college tuition and trade school related, and I would not change any of that.  To each his own.  I have 1 more year to pay college tuition (my daughter has amazing scholarships as well as grants, but obviously still costs) and my son will complete welding school this year (I'm helping with some of those costs)...and I have a plan in place to cover it monthly, no credit cards (these are 0% interest but still), no parent plus loans, no donating a kidney.  Just paying that last year with what I've got!  Also, I've set aside some money for my "travel" fund...nothing crazy mainly just weekend trips to visit my college girl in New Orleans and some hiking in the TN mountains type thing.  Some incentives thrown in as y'all suggested for these extra shifts I'm picking up (some people like purses and is my jam!).

    My savings should be able to truly improve after this year...and that is already better, so it's definitely the journey!  I'm still maxing out my 401K this year in addition to this debt SMACKING (and I maxed it out last year as well)!  Peace! ;)

    Like 8
      • Wiecked
      • Happy Happy
      • Orchid_Tiger.5
      • 1 yr ago
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      • Reported - view

      Sweet Tangerine What an awesome month for you! I am anxiously awaiting my hubbys bonus, should come March 13th. Tick Tock! Awesome work on the 401k too! huge gains! :)

      Like 2
    • Sweet Tangerine 

      Sweet Tangerine said:
      debt SMACKING

       In all capital letters is Definitely appropriate with your February numbers - nice job! The fact you're thinking about those what if's means you'll be one step ahead once you get to that point! ;)

  • I got paid today and fully funded (half of) March and was able to find another $250 to put towards debt so I could officially say I have payed off 10K of debt this year!

    Like 8
    • Tomato Barnacle that's amazing!! Congrats!!!!

      Like 1
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      • Orchid_Tiger.5
      • 1 yr ago
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      Tomato Barnacle awesome!!

      Like 1
      • Slate Blue Vacuum
      • Trying to ignore the Joneses
      • Slate_Blue_Vacuum.5
      • 1 yr ago
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      Tomato Barnacle So awesome!

  • Checking in for Feb!  This month things slowed down, which I guess I expected.  My husband moved out and despite my best efforts to control the money some stuff happened and I couldn't quite hit my budgeted goals.  Next month I'm scaling back some of the emergency fund money I wanted to set aside to fund more of the immediate TE and scaling back slightly on debt paydown.

    Overall, we paid $1750 towards debt this month and I'm looking forward to March when I will pay off our third debt since getting serious!

    Congrats to everyone on their wins and sticking with it.  That's the hardest part.  

    Here's to March and it's lamb/lion tendencies!


    Like 9
  • Never too late to join!

    This year I'm working towards paying off my PayPal line of Credit and the last of my credit cards for a total of 2615.11.  

    Claimed line 398 on the spreadsheet! 

    Like 6
    • Misti S.  Welcome Misti !  Here's to a great year of paying off debt!

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      • Orchid_Tiger.5
      • 1 yr ago
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      Misti S. Welcome! I'm just a few lines above you 馃憤

  • Another $1000 paid off.  Every bit helps

    Like 4
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