- Next to the Envelope Method, the Debt Snowball Method is the best system I’ve seen in action to get finances under control.
- What Does it Mean to Snowball Debt?
- How Does the Debt Snowball Work?
- Next Step in the Debt Snowball
- The Debt Snowball in Action
- Free Printable Debt Snowball Worksheet
- Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche
- Tips about Debt from Dave
Next to the Envelope Method, the Debt Snowball Method is the best system I’ve seen in action to get finances under control.
As a blogger, my goal is to make extra money. But the money isn’t doing me any good if I have extra debt around my neck. To get out of debt, I’ve used the Debt Snowball Method to hone in on my finances and get everything sorted out.
Check out my 2016 Income Reports and learn how I make money blogging.
See My 2016 End of Year Income Report and Learn How to Make Money Blogging so you can get out of debt faster!
What Does it Mean to Snowball Debt?
Dave Ramsey, a financial guru, lists it as his #2 Baby Step when trying to get right side up financially.
In a nutshell:
The debt–snowball system is a debt reduction strategy where you start paying off the accounts with the smallest balances first while paying the minimum on larger debts.
How Does the Debt Snowball Work?
Basically, you list all of your debts from the smallest to the largest and also put the payment information next to them… for example, what’s the monthly payment for each account?
Second, you make minimum payments on ALL of your debts except for the smallest debt. For the smallest debt you make the minimum payment PLUS extra money monthly.
For example, if you have 5 debts…. car loan, 2 credit cards, 1 store card, and student loan, you’d find the debt that you owe the least on and start paying MORE to that one.
Store Card – $600 ($30 monthly payment)
Credit Card #1 – $750 ($40 monthly payment)
Credit Card #2 – $1300 ($60 monthly payment)
Car Loan – $8430 ($300 monthly payment)
Student Loan – $22,000 ($320 monthly payment)
Since your store credit card is the smallest debt, make the minimum payment of, let’s say, $30 PLUS an extra $50 per month.
This way you are paying more than the minimum due and cutting the debt down faster.
Each month you pay a consistent $30 + $50 per month.
Within 7.5 months that debt is paid off.
Next Step in the Debt Snowball
The next step is to ROLL OVER the $80 you were paying to the store card into your next smallest debt.
Credit Card #1 is $750 (and you should have stopped spending on it so it’s not growing), but it’s also not going away fast because you’ve been paying the minimum only.
For the past 7.5 months you’ve made the minimum payment of approximately $40.
Well, now you start attacking that card with an extra $80 per month. Instead of paying $40, you are now paying $120 per month.
Within 6.5 months that debt is paid off.
At this point, you are 14 months down the road and out of debt on 2 of your cards.
Attack Credit Card #2. Take the $120 per month you were paying towards your first 2 debts and combine it with the monthly payment being made to CC #2… Maybe that number is around $180. In another 7.5 months you’ll have that debt paid off.
In less than 2 years you have eliminated $2600 in debt and that awful revolving interest rate. Some credit cards are out of control and have over 25% interest rates, especially if you’ve screwed up and missed a payment.
Now, let’s tackle the fixed debts with the $180 you were using on the credit cards.
Maybe your car loan is about $300 per month…. add in that extra $180 you freed up, and you’ll be paying $480 per month. In 17.5 months you’ll be out of your car loan completely. If you’d been paying only $300 for your car loan, you’d be paying it off for 28 months.
You’ll save almost a YEAR in payments and interest!
Let’s take down your student loans to nothing!
With the money you’ve now freed up to pay your student loans, you could be out of debt within less than 28 months.
With the Debt Snowball, you’ve now paid off all your debt in a matter of 5.5 years… or less depending upon how hard you tackle your debt.
My numbers are very general, and probably longer than it would take if you were able to throw more money at your debt, but you get the idea of the equation.
The Debt Snowball in Action
This is the Debt Snowball in action: rolling your prior payment amount into the next debt on your list and cutting debt off at the knees.
It’s’ a remarkable tool to use to get out of debt in a short amount of time.
Dave’s example is to start out using $500 extra.. but not everyone has an extra 500 bucks a month to spare.
Start small, start with what you can afford.
It’s not an overnight fix, rather, it’s a short term (3-5 years usually) to eliminate debt once and for all.
If you want to achieve faster results, like I mentioned above, add more extra money to the monthly payment equation as you find more free money in your budget.
Pick up a second job if you need to, and use that income to get out of debt.
When you started with the Store Card you only put in an extra $50…. maybe over time you find that you have another extra $25 to commit. If you can find an extra $25 to $100 per month to add into the equation, you’ll pay off your debt a lot faster than anticipated.
Free Printable Debt Snowball Worksheet
Right click the Debt Snowball FREE Printable Worksheet Image Above… Save the Free Worksheet to your desktop.
You can easily print this Horizontal on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper at home and fill out all YOUR info to build a plan to get out of debt.
Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche
The difference between the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche is basically how you approach paying off debts first.
Not everyone likes using the Debt Snowball method to pay off debt. I’ve found it useful because it has allowed me to get many debts off the books faster. If you have a lot of small, open, revolving credit card debt, use the Debt Snowball to work through them quickly.
By reducing & eliminating the credit card debt, you will open up your credit cards available balance faster. This is helpful when you want to increase your credit score in a short amount of time. Available balance helps increase your score faster month over month.
The Debt Avalanche method has you start paying off your highest interest rate debt first. Why? Because by paying down that debt first, you will save a lot of money over the long term in interest payments.
With the Debt Avalanche you will apply extra money to the debt with the highest interest rate first. It may take longer to pay off the first debt, but you’ll pay less in interest over the long term and may become debt free sooner.
The main benefit of the Debt Avalanche method is the long term savings.
It can save thousands of dollars in interest – but the downside, and the reason why Dave Ramsey doesn’t recommend it – is that it doesn’t feel like your debt is going away as fast.
It can be discouraging to pay extra on a debt that is high dollar and high interest for a long time before it is paid off.
For example, if you have 40K in student loans at a high interest rate and it takes you 3 years to pay off the debt while you have low interest rate credit cards at a lesser amount, it will take a couple of years to even touch those. It may be disheartening in the long run to use the Debt Avalanche – but it may be fiscally prudent!
Ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to approach your debt. Either way you go, if you start using a system to get out of debt your life will improve greatly.
Debt is an emotional weight no one should be burdened with, and by being out of debt, you are in a better position to negotiate interest rates when you buy a car or a home. And, you are in a better position to get lower interest rates on future credit cards or personal loans.
Tips about Debt from Dave
A tip that Dave Ramsey recommends before starting with the Debt Snowball is setting up an Emergency Fund of $1000 to cover those unexpected expenses.
And, Dave also recommends ignoring interest rates as the deciding factor when tackling debt.
He says, pay down the smallest debt first, regardless of the interest rate. Get little wins over a short amount of time to give you the momentum you need to cut the debt out of your life once and for all.
As a blogger who makes money on the side, I can use my extra income to pay off debt. I don’t have a lot of debt, but when I was younger and a single mom I did. It’s easy to get upside down in life just trying to keep the basics covered.
I hope you find your way out of the mind-numbing maze of debt, and use the Debt Snowball to change your life.
Bonus: The Envelope Method for Savings & Budget Control
When I was younger and in college, I got into a bit of debt.
My spending was out of whack, and I wanted to get myself into a better financial situation.
My mom recommended I talk to a lady at her church who counseled people on how to get on a budget and stick with it.
Her main method was the Envelope Method of Budgeting.
Basically, she helped me decide how much money I had for each of my major expenses every month – PLUS setting aside money to pay off debt by using the Debt Snowball Method.
Once you have determined how much you can afford to spend on your dedicated expenses and a few must-have’s such as clothes, going out to dinner and fun, you break down the amount you separate from each paycheck and put CASH/MONEY into an envelope dedicated to that expense.
Use the envelope system for items that tend to bust your budget. Common examples include groceries, restaurants, entertainment, gasoline and clothing. When the money runs out of each envelope, don’t spend any more until the new month starts and new money goes in there. – Dave Ramsey
Here’s an example of the Envelope Method in Action:
Let’s say you make $2000.00 in each paycheck and want to start living within your means… (and not on the plastic!).
Common expenses are:
- Savings/Back-up Cash/Unexpected Expenses
Other major expenses such as Rent/Mortgage, Insurance, Utilities, Cell Phone, Student Loan you don’t put into the envelopes.
These expenses you should have set up to auto-pay from your checking account so you don’t have to think about them.
After your money for monthlies is deducted, you should have money remaining to fill your envelopes.
You’ll decide how much money you want to dedicate to each category. Some people recommend the 50/20/30 method, but you may not be there yet…
For our example, we’ll use it anyway.
50% of your budget is for things you must pay for monthly, 30% is for personal expenses, 20% is for savings.
You will find that you want to add more to the categories which are fun, such as clothes and entertainment, and less to the groceries & gasoline.
Yet, the goal is to change your spending habits, which may be emotionally challenging at first!
Get your envelopes together, label each one with the categories and place the cash you’ve dedicated to each into the envelope.
From your $2000.00 paycheck every two weeks:
50% or $1000.00 is for Essentials and should have been set up to Auto-pay so you don’t have to think about it.
20% or $400.00 is for Savings and should be Auto-deducted from your checking account.
30% or $600 is for Personal Expenses and goes into the envelopes.
- $250 Groceries
- $100 Restaurants
- $100 Entertainment
- $100 Clothing
- $50 Back-up Cash (OR Debt-Snowball Cash)
The next goal is to only spend what’s available – don’t pull out the plastic – don’t take money from other envelopes.
When you need to spend cash from your envelopes, estimate how much you need to spend and take that amount of cash with you when you leave the house.
When you return home, put the change back into the envelope…. and maybe drop the coins into a basket to change into dollars later.
If at the end of the two-week period you have left-over cash in an envelope, you an either carry it over to the next pay period or move it into your Back-up Cash envelope.
If you roll over your extra cash into the Back-up Envelope you can start to plan something fun with it such as a weekend away or save it for a big expense.
Now that you have an idea of the Envelope Method in Action, take your bi-monthly paycheck and apply the Envelope Method principle.
If you really want to kick-start your Debt Snowball, you can trim your monthly expenses by following the Envelope Method – throw the extra cash towards debt, and cut down the amount of time it would take to pay off your debt a lot faster.
Using smart financial tools to eliminate debt & get on a budget will revolutionize your life and give you back control of your finances. I hope the free printable debt snowball worksheet helps you prioritize your debt as much as it helped me.
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