Many Americans are overwhelmed by finances. It is hard enough for many to budget for food, gas, and utilities without adding debt payments to the mix. However, there is a solution that can help reduce anyone’s debt quickly and effectively: The Debt Snowball.
The Debt Snowball is a method that seems complex, so I’m going to break it down with an example. Let’s say you have a monthly mortgage payment of $1000, a car payment of $300, a credit card payment of $100, and a student loan payment of $100. Altogether, you’re paying $1500/month toward debts.
The Debt Snowball has you pay off your smallest debts first, while leaving your larger ones for later. I will note that I generally agree with this, although I suggest paying off the debt with the lowest interest rate instead of the lowest total amount. It may seem counterintuitive, but it works.
Let’s say you have three monthly payments of $100 toward your credit card before it is paid off. You go about those three months paying the minimum amount you owe toward each debt. Once month 3 is over and your credit card is paid in full, you do not charge anything else to it. Some people cut up their card (which can be helpful if you are prone to overspending), while others save it for an emergency. Either is fine, but you must not use your card for non-essential purchases.
Now that your card is paid off and that bill is no longer an issue, you still have your mortgage, your car payment, and your student loans. Your car payment may be your next lowest debt. Let’s say it is a flat amount of $12,000. If you pay $300 per month, you will have the car paid off in 40 months. However, the Debt Snowball means you roll over the $100 you previously put toward your credit card and apply it to your car payment. By paying a total of $400 per month, you would now have 30 months of payments, saving yourself almost an entire year of payments. During this time, you continue to pay the minimum amount toward your student loans and mortgage.
Once you’ve paid your car off, you can quickly pay your student loans (remember, you’re rolling over $400 per month instead of $100). Then, you can go after your mortgage. By utilizing the Debt Snowball, you will eliminate your debt quickly. And, although this example does not include interest, you would also potentially save hundreds of dollars in interest by applying this method.
The average American can utilize this method effectively, for one simple reason: it requires you to pay one flat amount the entire time. Some debt-elimination plans have people pay different amounts during different times of the year, and some suggest throwing every penny you have at your debt. However, the Debt Snowball allows people to save and spend money freely, as long as they can pay their bills. If you are struggling to get out of debt and you feel the bills piling up, I suggest you make a list of everything you owe and begin applying the Debt Snowball to your life.