Well, March wins for the craziest month ever!
In March’s report, I asked our Debt Smashers how the current world conditions (I’m looking at you covid-19) were affecting (or likely would be affecting) their debt payoffs and financial goals.
Many of you are putting financial goals like debt payoff on hold in favor of bulking up emergency funds. Like us, some of you are setting aside additional debt payments to hopefully put toward debt after this is all over, but that you want to keep available just in case.
There are lots of you whose work is not affected (or is actually positively affected) by the pandemic. Some of you even work in essential positions like healthcare or grocery delivery. Thank you! Still some of you have reduced income due to the pandemic.
I was touched by how many of you are reaching out to others and helping those who are really struggling. Some of you specified that you would be using your stimulus check to bless people and businesses who could use support.
It was lovely to read of your generosity. Jackie said that making a donation to help support others made her “feel like [she] could do something positive during a time of so much uncertainty.” She recommended that others who are able, give also.
Linda shared a beautiful thought, “Everything is an opportunity for growth. Always look for the good that is possible in every situation.”
I hope you are each well and making the most of this unusual situation.
For those who are new here, in 2020 we’re having a Debt Smash-athon! Everyone is 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.
MARCH Debt Smash-athon Totals
During March, we collectively put $55,623 toward debt!
Way to go friends!!
Of the 29 of you who reported your Debt Smash-athon progress for March, 83% reported putting money toward debt in March. That averages out to $2,318 per Debt Smasher, with a median of $1,622 paid in debt.
As a group, we invested $20,603 toward retirement! 59% of respondents reported retirement savings.
We also put a total of $9,736 toward big savings goals other than debt and retirement. 52% of respondents saved money for a big goal in March.
When you put that all together, the 29 total reporters made $85,963 of financial improvement in March! 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. 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 January’s Frugal Fresh Start Challenge!
March’s randomly chosen winner is Megan. I’ll be in touch, Megan!
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.
“For the first time in 13 years my student loan balance was below $100,000!” ~Amy
“We had a record debt payoff month. Paid off the Discover card so we’re down to one credit card and a second mortgage.” ~Sherrie
“Paid off credit card” ~Linda
“Record income month – despite coronavirus! Fully funded every ynab category! Started funding emergency savings account.” ~Austin
“Another car loan paid off in March! I am now using this money to snowball to my last big debt which should be paid off in August. Then it’s just my mortgage.” ~Chris
“Paid off my line of credit – $4.5K in one fell swoop!” ~Winnie
“Got a new job – income won’t increase this year but I’ll have a better chance for promotion and salary increases” ~Danielle
“My husband got his first paycheck!” ~Jackie
“Even though my part-time income dried up due to coronavirus, the Lord blesses me with other income earning opportunities leading up to quarantine, plus we got our federal tax refund this month. So we still had “normal” income!” ~Brooke
“Put almost $2000 from tax refund toward car loan and took our planned family vacation to LEGOland! (before the whole self isolation started)” ~Stephanie
“Filed taxes and ended up owing less than we thought (messy year with complex issues).” ~Shannon
“I got my annual work bonus and put the whole amount on my mortgage! I also didn’t owe as much in taxes as I thought I would. Win!” ~Emily
“Was able to bring our son home from college without incurring any debt or changing our debt payment goals.” ~Nicole
“Used tax return towards Roth Ira limit for the year.” ~Kolia
“Got our current loan we are working on under 10k.” ~Jen
“We continued to pay extra toward our mortgage balance. We are at $30,000 left-woo woo!” ~Elaine
“We replaced carpet in our walk in robe with vinyl laminate for less than $200.00. It was a test run for the rest of our main living areas. We will start replacing the rest of our flooring in the coming months.” ~Rivkah
What was the key to your success?
“Consistency. It took 13 months to pay off the credit card. It was always a focus.” ~Linda
“Pay yourself first” ~Ingrid
“Got our federal tax refund and put it straight to savings!” ~Brooke
“Not being able to go to the grocery store very much because of the stay-at-home mandates meant that it was a lot easier to stay on our grocery budget! (As well as not spend money eating out, on entertainment, etc.)” ~Torrie
“Bonus and raise from work were WAY higher than I ever expected, and I used 70% of my take-home from my bonus to pay off debt. It was the best month I’ve ever had financially aside from when I sold my house!” ~Winnie
“Not leaving the house really helps cut down spending.” ~Jessica
“Not spending more with all my free time” ~Whitney
“Acting on instincts and promptings to make decisions for our family. Several times these actions have been just what we needed.” ~Shannon
“I haven’t spent very much money this month since everything is closed! I also have bought less groceries and am eating from my stockpile.” ~Emily
“Working late, making extra money.” ~Austin
“Trying not to use the craziness in the world as an excuse to spend (a lot) more money than normal.” ~Jackie
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 to share this report – it genuinely gave me something else to look forward to.” ~Winnie
“Thanks again for continuing to run this challenge!” ~Danielle
Well, $85,963 of financial improvement among us is fabulous! It will be interesting to see what everyone does in April!
Stay safe out there Debt Smashers!