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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  • March check in:  this month is the same as last:  $2853 towards debt!  Just keeping moving...

    Like 5
  • March check-in time!  It's been another tough month, as I'm sure it has been for all of us.  My son was involved in a car accident and his car was totalled.  No one was severely injured, so we're thankful for that!  But the insurance didn't pay nearly enough for him to get a decent replacement vehicle, and he just changed jobs at the beginning of 2020 so he didn't have the job history to get a car loan.  So, my husband and I lent him the money to buy a nice used car.  $14k out the door...YIKES!  Before YNAB, we would have NEVER had access to that kind of money.  So, I'd call that a victory!  We only made minimum payments on everything, totalling $3217.26.  better luck next month.

    Like 5
    • Sea Green Vacuum I'm happy to hear your son is okay and it's great to be in a position to help a loved one! Wishing him safe travels in his new car! I'm hoping next month is a bit calmer for all of us. :)

      Like 1
  • March check-in

    Put $279.80 toward our credit card debt this month. I debated not doing that considering the condition of the world right now, but I think it will still pay off in the long run.

    $5473.95 left to go.

    Like 5
    • PeculiarBella Great job still making that payment! I've been on the fence about my student loan payment all month - just in case I need those funds for something more important later, but it would be nice to be that much closer to debt freedom.

      Like 1
    • Faness Will your lenders hold off the interest on your student loans for 6 months like others are? :)

      Like 1
    • Purple Foal Yes and it looks like they're extending current Income-Based Repayment Plans (mine was due for renewal, which would amount in a higher payment, but it hasn't been changed). I'm telling myself not to wait an entire 6 months, but I'm definitely holding off until at least April.

    • Faness Hopefully they will cut the interest. Stick the money in a HISA then attack that debt. :)

      Like 1
  • March Checkin. 

    Paid 1141.54 to debt, which brings me to 34.25% of my goal paid - $800 to a personal loan, the rest to credit cards, including making more than the minimum payment on one card. I'm $500 away from having my first personal loan completely paid off, which hopefully will be able to happen in April, and if not April, then definitely May. 

    May have to rethink my strategies moving forward after that, because I'm nervous about my emergency fund, even though at this exact moment I do have job security. I'm still extremely nervous about what happens when the fiscal year rolls over in July. 

    Like 5
  • March check-in.

    A few weeks ago, I was feeling good with a new aggressive plan to pay 50-100% of my debt before summer along with a surprise amount of taxes due...but with the latest Corona developments, my income security has deteriorated, so I've reluctantly decided to play it safe. I'm reprioritizing to make sure I can support myself for the next few months without having to dip into my tiny emergency fund too much. If all my open invoice paychecks come in, I might still be able to tackle my debt more aggressively, but that remains to be seen. For now I am grateful that I haven't technically lost my job, just some client projects for a few months. No severe health problems yet among my immediate family, so I am thankful for that.

    Paid the minimum $151.30 to my loan. Planning to keep a close eye on my situation and play it flexibly from here.

    Like 8
      • Wendy Sneed
      • Mom, Farmer, Business Consultant
      • Gold_Cup.8
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Purple Panther You are doing what you need to take care of you and if by chance the additional dollars do come then you can make one amazing payment after this has all passed.

      Like 4
    • Wendy Sneed Thanks, Wendy, very right.

  • I have been not following or updating like I did last years, but considering I am housebound (probably like a majority of us) at the moment, I decided to update and post a quick update. I have been slowly paying off my debt. Just the minimum payments as I am focusing on saving up money to do some work on the outside of the house. The plan was to do the siding (its orginal colorloc siding from 1962 and is starting to rot in places), but over the winter it has become clear that the windows should be replaced as well, so I have decided just to wait another year and save up enough money to get both the windows and siding done at the same time.  Inside of the house will have to wait a couple of years though it is not in bad shape but needs to have some updating. 

    The upside of being stuck at home, I have not spent any money for the past week (apart from renewing my car registration) and I have finally unpacked and organized my crafting statsh (somewhat). I have also finished some gifts and items I can sell which will come in handy towards the housefund.

    How is everyone doing in this crazy time?

    Like 5
  • March Monthly Check In

    • Construction Loan:  Paid $600 - Balance $2,550
    • Medical Loan: Paid $100 - Balance $1,600

    Total paid this month $700.  $4,800 / $8,950 - 54% complete for the year!

    Smaller month as far as payments. We needed to save $600 for our fall vacation so we could go ahead and purchase tickets.  The new medical debt hasn't all settled yet so I will probably add those new numbers next month.  I have $300 to pay on debt but I wanted to save it for next month, with all the uncertainty right now. 

    Like 3
  • March Check-In - paid 1200 this month - if I can keep this up, I'll hit my stretch goal (payoff everything but my house by 4/21). Picked up a side job (retail), which has been hit hard by the COVID crisis. But I'll be saving money other places. Pushing ahead, staying positive. Woot!

    Like 5
  • I was able to put $824. towards my debt this month.  I am grappling with not being able to put more towards this sea anchor... AKA my debt!  I was hoping to pick up extra shifts but that has not come to pass...

    As many of you have expressed wanting to be able to tackle the debt faster...wanting it gone, I am there.  Currently needing to  'stay put' provides me with time for thought...and appreciation for all that I do have.  Not being able to go out has shed a light on when I would normally go out to pick up this or a that. Totally not needed but purchased none the less.  Trying, trying to sit in the now of life.  Looking at my spending, and how it reflects with my values.  Thanks everyone for sharing your journey!  It means a lot to be able to gather strength from your posts!  :) 

    Like 5
  • March Check-In

    February Balance: $15,241.57

    March Payments: $3,718.11


    March End Balance: $11,523.46

    I have paid off 61% of my debt so far and have plans of completely paying of my student loan debt next month!! I currently have $2,872 in student loans and it's been my mission to pay it off as quickly as possible.  I cannot wait to see a zero balance on that account 😈 

    The rest are personal loans with very low interest rates, so I prioritized those last with plans to up my savings rate once student loans are paid off.  

    Like 3
  • hi all,  It's been a while.  I've been really terrible at keeping up with things like my ynab and bullet journal, both things that I rely on to keep me on track.

    Regardless, I made my last debt payment last month.  I am officially debt free.  i went in to my credit union and made the final payment with an account manager who then helped me plan out some next steps...

    ...but it doesn't feel like a win anymore.  My quiet win has become a steely silence as I know that this could change with a flick of a wrist these days.

    So I'm counting my blessings that I paid my debt off going into a time that the debt would make today seem unmanageable.  Bittersweet, thank you YNAB for taking me through the steps for me to manage my money better, and get out of debt a year and a half before my consolidation loan was due.  I paid off $25,000 in three and a bit years, all while going to school and mostly living on my own. 

    All full of gratitude and hope everyone is healthy and well.

    Like 11
    • Pixel spender So glad you shared this, and it's worth taking a moment to celebrate. Sorry it's in these times, but hope you also continue to be well and keep that torch quietly burning bright. I feel like so many YNABers stories help see through the fog, so thank you. All the best for you ahead!

      Like 3
    • Pixel spender Congratulations! An amazing and impressive feat.

      Like 1
    • Pixel spender This is definitely a win worth celebrating! Overcoming the challenges of today to still reach that debt-free milestone makes this even more impressive and a great positive when there's so many negatives floating about. Congratulations! :)

      Like 1
    • Pixel spender Oh I think its more sweet than bitter.  Congratulations! 🥳 

    • Faness Purple Panther Spider Plant  Thanks all three of you (and everyone else).  I did raise little glass of wine to myself.

      Hilariously, one of the things I was looking to buy when out of debt, and really the first thing I was going to buy, was a new mattress.  Nothing like a pandemic to put those types of purchases on hold for a while.  I'm glad my sister and niece came to stay and bought a new air mattress (which seriously is WAY better than my current mattress).  LOL!

      I hope you all are finding your feet under you right now. 

      Like 4
    • Pixel spender Congratulations Pixel spender - So great to hear a 'graduate' at this time. You have been developing some awesome skills to help keep you debt-free through this crisis too.

      Like 1
  • March Check-In

    Well, this has been an interesting month. It's been a whirlwind and I'm not entirely sure how I was able to swing it with everything going on, but I was able to throw in an extra $100 towards my larger loan this month, for a total of $1,150 towards my student loans ($900 to the large one, my usual $250 to the smaller one). $104.66 of that went towards interest, or roughly 9.1% (down from 11% towards interest last month); I think part of that was due to the extra money, and part of that was due to February being shorter and thus having fewer days for interest to accrue between payments.

    That said, I did submit my taxes (and they were accepted, thank goodness), but that took almost $1,500 out the door, so I need to recoup that as best I can. Strangely, if these "stimulus checks" come through, I'll nearly break even, I suppose; that money would go promptly into savings, because while I have a roughly 6-month savings cushion, I'm thinking I need to start building that up more pronto.

    Here's to hoping we can collectively start talking more about social democracy and taking care of one another instead of taking such great care of enormous corporations who reward their executives with huge stock buybacks and then turn around and come knocking for a bailout...

    Hope my fellow debt-focused YNABers are staying safe out there! Cheers, all.

    Like 3
  • So it looks like I didn't update in here or on the sheet for February - and also my January check in, whilst on the thread, was not on the google sheet? Confusing. Nevermind, I'm here now. I paid £100 onto my credit card both in January and February. For March I was able to pay £200 as it was bonus month at work (I think the bonus amounts got decided before the world went... like this). I was tempted to pay more off but it's a balance between paying off debt and building an Emergency Fund. It was exciting to see my current account briefly go above 2K this month immediatly after payday - very briefly, it's back down now.  Late last year I was promised some money from my Nan's will but there were delays even before everything shut down, so who knows when I'll get the money now. I have £487.56 debt remaining and I intend to keep paying off £100 a month unless something happens with work. Is there a way to reflect on the Google Sheet that, although I pay off £100 per month, I also get charged £3 a month as an account fee? Maybe I should just type in £97 a month? Either way I hope to pay it off in August. 


    According to the debt thermometer started on 12th August last year I am 70% to the way of being debt free, and according to my savings thermometer I am 55% of the way to my inital Emergency Fund goal (£3K)

    Like 5
    • Mx Emmin We're glad you're still here with us! :)

      How you enter the amount in the spreadsheet is up to you. You can enter the full £100 to show how much you've paid in total (including the account fee) or you can enter the £97 to show only the principal each month. It all depends on the amount you personally want to track/see.

  • March check-in!

    I just paid off another credit card, the second of my smaller cards. I'm left with two cards with 5-figure balances and one card with a high 4-figure balance. I'm shifting from the snowball to the avalanche to tackle what's left. Onward!

    Debt paydown progress in 2020:

    March: $1730.05

    February: $1370.62

    January: $1821.11.

    Total progress: $4921.78

    Current standing

    Student loans: $20,121. 18

    Credit Cards (3): $42,722.81

    Like 6
    • Violet Storm Congratulations on paying off that credit card! You're an account closer to debt freedom now! :)

      Like 1
  • March Check-in:

    Just paid the maximum towards my HELOC $495. No snowball. I am also paying back taxes at $184 a month but that should end soon since my tax refund should wipe out the rest of the debt. It was submitted back in Feb by my accountant but has taken forever to get assessed...something to do with the COVID crisis and the gov scrambling to provide benefits to people...

    Now that the striking is over, and we have a tentative agreement, I can breath a little easier knowing my pay cheques will be back to normal. Thankfully I still have a pay cheque during these times. I'm so used to living frugally & watching my budget closely, that all the time being housebound just means I won't spend money. I'm not even tempted to order takeout or online shop: first, I don't want to spend the money, and second, eww cooties... I managed to not touch my EF and have filled up my TE's.

    So goal for April... I want to finally get a month ahead. I want to fill up my HELOC attack category and pay it off the debt. After spending a lot of money on groceries & wine to stock up, I'm hoping that my April Daily Expenses categories will be slashed. I will start budgeting money to personal care & dining out for May, hoping that life will continue again and I'll be so excited to go out for dinners, get a mani/pedi, haircut, and facial! :)

    Like 4
  • March Check in.  A little demoralizing.  I am down a hundred dollars only. Went from $51,700 to 51,600. Even though I paid quite extra on bills.  I am hoping that this will snowball.

    Like 4
    • Magenta Horn A step towards debt freedom is still a step in the right direction, and some steps will be harder to take than others. Don't be too hard on yourself, especially with what's going on around us all at the moment. There are better steps ahead. :)

      Like 3
  • March update, didn't hit the target for this month, but given the circumstances, I don't really care 😂
    £700 towards the debt this month 🙂

    I hope everyone's keeping safe and staying sane!

    Like 8
      • Blue Sander
      • Tech professional
      • Blue_Sander.7
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Update - total £801.42

      Like 4
  • March Check In: Made a calculated decision to add a car loan to our debt. So debt did increase by 11,000. You'll just have to trust me that it made sense for all sorts of personal reasons to do this. I know for sure that we can make the payments no problem as they actually don't work out to much more than what we were spending on public transport and uber. 

    At the moment all I can be is thankful that I know my job will survive this pandemic and that we have enough set aside to manage if my partner gets laid off.

    Stay healthy everyone 

    Like 5
    • Stephy T sometimes a loan is smart. Kudos to you for working out the math!

    • Jonathan
    • Crossfit by morning. Software Engineer by day. Budgeter by night.
    • jdhawley
    • 1 yr ago
    • 4
    • Reported - view

    Link to February journal

    March Update

    I was able to stay on track in March although money has been getting a little tighter. I should get my tax return in April and I have a three-paycheck month in May, so the next two months should give me the opportunity to make some significant progress and get further ahead of schedule. 

    Starting in April, I will be putting the normal amount of money in my student loans category in YNAB, but I will be paying close to minimum payments for the time being. I have plenty of money saved up in an emergency fund already but I'd rather have a little extra just in case. Once the pandemic is under control, I will (hopefully) make a very large payment towards my student loans.

    • January Payment: $1,900.00
    • January Loans Remaining: $16,100.00
    • February Payment: $1,650.00
    • February Loans Remaining: $14,450.00
    • March Payment: $1,500.00
    • March Loans Remaining: $12,950.00
    Like 4
  • Terrible contribution rate this month, only $167.11 put towards by credit card debt, total remaining amount is $1,932.95 still to pay. I am still celebrating this as a win though, with the unexpected expense of needing a new tire for my car (stupid nail in the road) and additional grocery costs associated with isolation I was able to absorb all the extra expenses and not take on any new debt!

    Here's hoping April is more productive for debt payoff!

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

      Violet Guitar Progress is progress!

      Like 1
    • Violet Guitar I think even the smallest steps should be celebrated in such an unprecedented month! Onward to April! :)

      Like 1
    • Violet Guitar that is a great win, and that's what YNAB is all about!!

  • Paid $587 on my final loan today. Remaining amount is now under $3000. 

    Like 8
    • Schiaparelli Hat It feels great when it drops below a big number! Congrats!

      Like 1
  • March update! I'm in a very blessed position with COVID-19, as I work a job where I'm able to continue working from home so I'm still getting good income. I paid in another £1,013 to my rent arrears, leaving only £736.35 remaining! Plus another £300 towards the remaining debt to my parents.

    Rent arrears: Paid £1,013, cumulative total £4,052/4,788.35
    Loan from parents: Paid £300, cumulative total £1,100/£4,362

    Total paid: £5,152.00/£9,150.35
    Remaining: £3,998.35

    Also, a question: how do you all keep track of your previous posts in this thread? I'm currently having to spend like 15 minutes scrolling up to try and find my previous post every time I do a check-in so I know what I posted the previous month. Is there a way to quickly jump to your posts in a thread?

    Like 5
    • Quantum Jump I gave up on that! This thread is HUGE!!! (Which is awesome!)

      I generally copy/paste my notes into my journal, which is easier to find since I only post a handful of times each month, and that way I know that I posted here as well.

      Like 2
    • Quantum Jump I'm glad you're doing okay with everything going on! You're so close to having those rent arrears paid off! :)

      If you use ctrl+f on your keyboard, you can search for your username and cycle through each post you have in this thread.

      Like 1
    • Quantum Jump That is amazing news.

      Like Faness  said I tend to ctrl/cmmd+F to find myself in the thread. I also post my monthly updates as replies to myself so that once I find myself I have all of my previous posts in the same place.

      Like 2
  • Wow the world is crazy.  However I am thankful to be able to take advantage of the significant student loan relief so that I can really work on paying down debts.  With the relief I'll get, I can have paid off everything but the larger student loan debt about 6 months earlier.  I can't even believe it!

    Like 4
    • Pink Android That's a great attitude! Other people will blow it. Not people on here with a goal! You've got this!! :)

      Like 4
    • Pink Android There are blessings in this disaster, for sure, I'm glad you're able to take advantage of some of them!!

      Like 1
    • farfromtheusual Thank you!  We're very lucky compared to many I know.

      Like 1
  • Did ok for March. At 67% paid off debt. Will need to stick to smaller payments until everything with COVID clears. I’m fortunate to work from home and so is my daughter but her husband isn’t. They’re going to need some help so I’m putting away what I can for them and my granddaughters. Tough times for many right now. 🙁

    Like 5
  • My word of the month for March 2020 is gonna be "oof." I backslid quite a bit this month - ~$400 - mostly due to unexpected expenses (that I probably should have expected) and, of course, the 'Rona. While I didn't lose any work from my primary job and haven't noticed any changes with my freelance-style second job, my boyfriend is currently unemployed and I had to contribute more than usual to our joint account. It was also a little slow on the freelancing side of things, though that's on me and not the Rona (I get new jobs when I turn in completed jobs, and I took more time than usual turning in my jobs).

    After $200 in car maintenance (plus I'll need another $110 in the next few days for car inspection and registration that I should have and didn't budget for), $160 in vet bills, and a $130 for my annual Amazon membership, my overall debt sits at $6,721.71, from $6,349.56 last month, over 3 total cards. I have one that is only being paid down and threw $100 at that because I want to pay off as much as possible before Dec 2020, but the others definitely went up this month. I've decided I'm going to keep my original budget goal and just figure out all the extra debt afterward :) 

    Like 2
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