It’s kind of a weird time for debt payoff right now. Many people were caught off guard by the pandemic. Okay, pretty much everyone was caught off guard, but some were more prepared than others.
Some people are in survival mode, just focusing on keeping afloat with the bare essentials.
Some have had no change to income but took this pandemic as a wake-up call to get a more reasonable emergency fund in place before focusing on debt.
Others, including us, are holding on to extra cash during these uncertain times rather than funneling everything to debt (though we did pay off some debt to get us to a milestone).
You do what works for you! Even if you aren’t actively paying off debt, I hope you’ll still continue to participate in the Debt Smash-athon by reporting your monthly totals, even if your debt paid off during the month is $0.
For those who are new here, in 2020 we’re having a Debt Smash-athon! Everyone is invited to participate by reporting how much debt you paid down the prior month. We also keep track of how much we invest for retirement and save for our big goals. If you want to learn more and join this debt smashing movement, you can join the fun here.
Let’s start with the numbers, even though the best part is all of your personal thoughts and accomplishments. You’ll find those after the numbers.
April Debt Smash-athon Totals
During April, we collectively put $124,125 toward debt!
Way to go friends!!
Of the 33 of you who completed the Debt Smash-athon report for April, 82% put money toward debt in April. That averages out to $4,597 per Debt Smasher, with a median of $1,562 paid in debt.
As a group, we invested $19,829 toward retirement! 55% of respondents reported retirement savings.
We also put a total of $48,347 toward big savings goals other than debt and retirement. 48% of respondents saved money for a big goal in April.
When you put that all together, the 33 total reporters made $192,301 of financial improvement in April! That’s amazing!
Each month I have a special prize for a randomly selected Debt Smasher who reported his or her progress.
This month’s winner will get a $25 Amazon gift card!
April’s randomly chosen winner is Tina who said that her win was getting halfway to her goal of 3-6 months of savings! I’ll be in touch, Tina!!
Beyond the numbers
We all know that numbers aren’t the only indication of progress. Even with small numbers, we still make important progress as we change our course and build better money habits.
I was blown away by all of your accomplishments this month. I picked a variety of the wonderful responses to share with you below.
“Paid off our credit card debt!” ~Whitney
“Getting my 3-6 months saving half way there” ~Tina
“I became debt free other than my mortgage!” ~Monique
“This month was my highest mortgage paying month ever! Watching that principal amount go down motivates me to keep going!” ~Emily
“My husband got his annual bonus which we weren’t sure would happen during the pandemic.” ~Beth
“We finished saving for one of our savings goals this year, a costly home improvement project!” ~Jessica
“Had fallen behind in our debt payoff goal but was able to catch up plus some with extra unexpected income and the tax stimulus. Looking forward to reaching our goal of having it paid off before August!!” ~Nicole
“No spend month really showed me what I can do to tackle my debt if I tighten the belt” ~Megan
“A family member unexpectedly paid off his loan” ~Ingrid
“With federal student loan payments on hold (and no interest accumulating!) I’m saving up all of my normal minimum payments and the extra that I pay as a mini emergency fund. It feels good to have that money sitting there just in case. Then I’ll be able to pay off one of my graduate student loans in one swoop before September 30. After that I’ll be down to $30K of student loans left!” ~Danielle
“Our net worth reached a new high. Our retirement accounts rebounded plus our big stimulus check helped.” ~Stephanie
“We’ve almost fully funded our emergency fund at a level I’m comfortable with.” ~Sherrie
“I am focused on paying off my Armada this quarter. I only have 2 more large payments and then I am completely debt free except for my mortgage. When you get to this point it’s so hard not to throw every penny at the debt.” ~Chris
“Used the stimulus payment towards Roth IRA.” ~Kolia
“Funded my emergency savings to the tune of $1,000. Saved and paid cash for a medium-sized purchase. Continued the tedious process of true-ing up my annual expenses, adding in additional annual expense categories into the budget.” ~Austin
“Continuing to contribute to my retirement fund. Got a new little source of income temporarily” ~Jill
“We also built an additional hen house for our chickens for $8 – yep. We only paid for the latches and hinges. We were able to find all of the wood we needed for free off of Facebook’s Marketplace. We found exactly what we needed by sifting through all the junk. My husband estimates the coup would have cost around $200 for all of that wood (it can house 18 chickens at once). We guide our lives through faith, so we prayed that we would be able to get all the wood for free and we ended up finding it within a couple days.” ~Ann
“My buy/sell used items side hustle that I run from home has been busier than ever since covid19. I thought people would be scared to come pick things up but I guess being stuck at home and bored made them want to buy.” ~Nancy
What was the key to your success?
“The end is in sight. Feels so good. It has been a long haul but every month the numbers of debt went down. We did have a few set backs but we just kept going.” ~Linda
“Used 83% of my stimulus check plus all the money I’d started saving in March for debt payoff – decided not to hold onto it after all and go ahead and pay off debt as I had been.” ~Winnie
“We worked our budget by moving funds for things that were more important pre-pandemic but aren’t as important now (like date night and entertainment categories).” ~Jackie
“Sticking to the plan. Knowing that we have money building back up in our emergency fund, is providing much comfort to us right now.” ~Rivkah
“Focus on the end results. The feeling of being debt free is what I am capitalizing on.” ~Chris
“Discipline and transferring the money into an online savings account almost as soon as it hit our joint (bill paying) account! The other element was choosing to delay paying off our (laaaaast!!) credit card in favor of squirreling away some money until we received more clarity about whether my husband and I would be furloughed and to what extent. We both work for local government and anticipated that we would be impacted by the coronavirus economic fall-out. We didn’t want to pay off the card and then not have as much cash on-hand for essential household expenses. We are still paying the minimum, interest-free due to a balance transfer promotion, until we feel more job secure and will then throw our snowball payment at this last credit card.” ~Ivory
“I was able to save more money than usual since stores, restaurants etc were closed so there was no where to go to spend money. Also, I got a quarterly bonus this month.” ~Monique
“Less gas used! Continuing to stick to the budget.” ~Jo
“Because our income was not affected by the shutdown in our state and because we have no immediate fear of losing income, we were able to continue with our normal loan repayment which this month included some payment for additional work my husband was able to take on this year from his employer.” ~Jen
“We started shopping at Sam’s Club – a HUGE win for us. We have been able to find SO many good deals at Sam’s Club for the things we eat – things that they don’t have at Costco. They are healthy items too!! Their produce section is really good as well. I have been able to stay very close to our food budget while eating all the food we love through Sam’s Club.” ~Ann
“I got my yearly raise at work so I upped my mortgage payment amount. I also got my stimulus check and applied a lot of it to my principal. My side hustle has been booming too!” ~Emily
“The stimulus check was a great help to boost my savings and provide additional funds with which to set up my workspace.” ~Becky
“Cashing out my vacation days from my previous job and the stimulus payment let me set aside a large chunk of money .” ~Danielle
“Started working on a side hustle again…haven’t been doing it since September so good to be moving the debt needle more again.” ~Shannon
“Making a list on Google Keep of things we’ve run out of or need. Then review if we really need the item or not before we do an online grocery order or supplies order only once a week.” ~Amy
“We stayed inside our apartment as much as possible (and didn’t catch the coronavirus :/), thereby saving us money.” ~Brooke
Join Us in the Debt Smash-athon!
It’s not just me who’s excited about this. This is what fellow Debt Smashers are saying:
“Thank you for continuing this monthly reporting! I enjoy the normalcy of sitting down with my numbers, even when everything else still feels chaotic.” ~Becky
“I’m really grateful to be back on the debt payoff train – my spendthrift side was starting to show and I need to reign it in lol.” ~Winnie
“Thank you for this platform and community of people aiming to be more intentional with our money.” ~Ivory
Well, $192,301 of financial improvement among us is great, especially during this crazy time! Keep up the good work in May and stay safe out there!