Well friends, we did it! We smashed debt throughout 2019. We’ve all had ups and downs, wins and fails. In 2019, some of you made the decision to start tackling the debt that has been looming over you for years. Some of you celebrated debt freedom during the year! And lots of us are somewhere in the middle of the debt freedom journey.
Today I’m going to share the numbers from December’s updates as well as our totals for the year!
For those who are new here, in 2019 we had a Debt Smash-athon! Everyone was invited to participate by reporting how much you paid in debt each month. We also kept track of how much we invested for retirement and saved 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.
December Debt Smash-athon Totals
During December, we collectively put $55,224 toward debt!
Way to go friends!!
Of the 32 of you who completed the Debt Smash-athon report for December, 88% reported putting money toward debt in December. That averages out to $1,972 per Debt Smasher, with a median of $1,152 paid in debt.
As a group, we invested $18,113 toward retirement! 59% of respondents reported retirement savings.
We also put a total of $20,724 toward big savings goals other than debt and retirement. 47% of respondents saved money for a big goal in December.
When you put that all together, the 32 total reporters made $94,061 of financial improvement in December! That is a great finish to the year! Way to go friends!
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 their own copy of the Debt Snowball Calculator. A couple of months ago I shared what it does and why I think it’s great for anyone who is working to payoff student loans or credit cards (or any other non-mortgage debt). It’s definitely worth checking out!
The winner will also get the print version of Frugal Fresh Start, the book behind our January Frugal Fresh Start Challenge!
December’s randomly chosen winner is Alexa who said “I got a raise!” I’ll be in touch, Alexa!
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.
“Moved into my brothers basement while our house is being built. So we didn’t have a December rent payment. All of that went to our house down payment.” ~Ashley
“Got debt consolidation loan under $10K” ~Winnie
“Contributed the max to our IRAs and HSA!” ~Stephanie
“I took found money I forgot about in a savings account and paid the credit card balances down to $.00. I was earning less than 1% savings on the savings and the credit card debt was at 17%.” ~Deb
“I saved, paid off debt AND treated myself to a very necessary new smartphone (good and cheap ) and a not so necessary new fitbit charge 3!” ~Ingrid
“Stayed on our budget for Christmas” ~Linda
“$90 away from paying off another credit card!!!” ~Whitney
“On paper, December looks like it was a terrible month, but it was actually a big win! We actually stayed within our Christmas budget (for once), even though we had two smaller paychecks in the month!” ~Torrie
“$2,000 extra paid toward mortgage payoff” ~Elaine
“I feel good about how we handled Christmas this year – financially and simplicity wise” ~Kara
“Put 40% of our income toward debt this year reducing our indebtedness by $16,621.” ~Jen
“This month I upgraded my old vehicle for a newer SUV. The best part is that I paid for the newer vehicle with CASH! No car payment for me! I’ve been working hard at saving for this purchase and it feels good to have a reliable car now!” ~Emily
“Cash flowed a $400 Christmas trip and still put over $700 back to savings!” ~Brooke
“I was able to get my mortgage down to $166,000 for the year. My goal was $165,000 so while I missed the goal I wasn’t that far off.” ~Chris
” We fully funded every ynab budget category, including our savings goals, despite working considerably less in December than planned.” ~Austin
What was the key to your success?
“Consistency really does add up!” ~Danielle
“Sticking to the budget, which is sometimes harder that it sounds.” ~Linda
“Having money put aside in sinking funds for Christmas, heating oil, and other expenses so we could continue our normal loan repayment efforts.” ~Jen
“We put all year end bonuses and Christmas gifts into saving to increase our emergency fund. We will be starting 2020 with a decent emergency fund.” ~Sherrie
“Referring to what we spent money on in 2018 to better help anticipate Christmas expenses for 2019.” ~Jackie
“Patience and keeping Christmas spending to almost $0” ~Winnie
“Diligence, diligence, and diligence, sticking to the commitment we set, and then also making sacrifices like not traveling for the holidays and scaling down my daughter’s birthday party. It also helped that we had a specific deadline; we wanted to make sure we paid off the balances before 0% interest offers expired.” ~Ivory
“Listening – turns out I married a really smart guy. He could see the lack of balance in my budgeting mindset much better than me and patiently waited til I could see it as well.” ~Shannon
“Extra bonus from work was very helpful!” ~Becky
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:
“I am so glad to have found this challenge! 2019 was a big year in finances for me, and this has been such a fun way to stay motivated!” ~Becky
“Thank you so much for hosting this!” ~Danielle
“Thanks so much for doing this. It helped me stay motivated for my savings goals.” ~Kara
Well, $94,061 of financial improvement among us is fabulous! I can’t wait to see what you do in 2020!
Debt Smash-athon 2019– Year in Review
Throughout 2019, as a group we smashed $1,264,339 of debt! Wow! Over a million dollars of debt!! Our average number of monthly reporters was 43, so while we’re relatively small in number, that’s a HUGE financial improvement!
In 2020 we also saved $293,737 toward retirement and put $287,056 toward our big savings goals.
In total, that’s $1,845,132 of financial improvement in 2019, an average of over $42,000 per participant. Amazing!
Debt Smash-athon 2020
When I asked if you wanted to continue the Debt Smashathon in 2020, I got a resounding YES, so we’ll keep it going this year as well!
If you don’t already get the link to report your progress at the end of each month, sign up here! Be part of the group that accelerates your financial improvements and encourages others with your reporting. The link for your January progress goes out in the first week of February.
I’m excited to Smash Debt with all of you in 2020! Let’s see if we can surpass what we did in 2019!