How to Pay Off Debt Fast: The Debt Snowball Method

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Do you want to learn how to pay off debt fast? I’ll show you how.

I hate to tell you, but there are no gimmicks or magic bullets here. It really all starts with you.

It’s no secret that we are trying to pay off over $670,000 in debt. We’re making really good progress so far, and I credit much of that progress to the way we’re going about paying off the debt.

I can show you how to make the same progress in your own finances.

But first…

Before you start thinking about tackling your debt, I encourage you to first think about why you want to pay it off. I talk about the importance of your “why” here. Having a big motivator will push you to keep going, even when you want to quit.

My “why” is my kid and creating a better life for our family.

Next, set good, achievable financial goals for yourself. Write them down. Studies show that people who write their goals down are more likely to achieve them.

Now, create a budget. The budget is the best way to get control over your money because it helps you see where your money is going.

If you have extra money coming in and you don’t have an emergency fund, start saving those extra dollars until you get to a level that’s comfortable for you. I provide recommendations for emergency fund amounts for different situations here.

Related:

All of these steps set the foundation for the next step. The main event. What you came here for. Are you ready?!

How to pay off debt fast

I’ve talked before about how everyone has to find the right path for them in this personal finance thing.

Related: Personal Finance Is Personal

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some solutions that tend to work for a lot of people. With respect to paying off debt, that’s the debt snowball method.

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What’s the debt snowball method?

I’m glad you asked.

The debt snowball method is one of the most popular ways of paying off debt.

You list out all of your debts from smallest balance to largest balance without regard to interest rate. Then, you pay the minimum payment on everything but the smallest one.

Next, you put every extra dollar you have each month (which you can easily identify when you do your budget) toward that smallest debt until it’s paid off.

Once the smallest one is paid, you roll all of the money you were paying on that one to the next highest, along with any other extra money you’re able to squeeze out of your budget, while paying minimum payments on everything else.

Follow this same pattern until all your debts are paid off!

It’s called a snowball because as you go along, the payments you’re able to make keep growing over time.

Why it works

Money is more psychological than anything else. The debt snowball works because of that psychology.

Related: Mind on My Money, Money on My Mind

Quickly paying off those smallest debts motivates you to keep going because you feel like you can actually do it.

Getting those quick wins also allows you to free up more money faster (the minimum payments you would have been paying on those smaller debts), which you can then use to pay off the next debt even faster.

I know that mathematically it doesn’t seem right to ignore the interest rates on your debts, but I promise as you keep making quick progress, it gets addicting. You’ll be trying to figure out ways to pay off even more debt. The interest won’t matter much in the long run.

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How to get started

Okay, now that you know the method I recommend for paying off debt, you may be wondering how to get started.

Take a look at your budget. Is there extra money at the end of the month? If so, use this extra money to make an extra payment on your smallest debt each month.

If there isn’t any extra, look into areas you can cut back on to create some breathing room in your budget. Use the money you save to make an extra payment on your debt.

Related: How to Save $1,000 in One Month

If you don’t see any areas you can cut back on (and be honest with yourself here because almost everyone has something they could cut back on), you can try selling items you no longer need or want to pull together some money to help you knock off your smallest debt.

(I personally use OfferUp and Letgo, but other apps may be more popular in your area.)

You can also increase your income. Bringing in extra money will definitely help, and unlike cutting expenses, there is unlimited potential to how much you can earn.

Try working overtime at work or asking for a raise or promotion. You can also take on extra work outside your regular 9-to-5. This list of  side hustles will get you started.

Related: 21 Side Hustles You Can Start Today

It only takes a little bit to get the snowball going, and before you know it, you’re on your way to debt freedom!

One side note

I mentioned in this post that we’re not rigid in following the snowball method.

If there’s a debt that you think would be more beneficial to pay off before its allotted time in the snowball, that’s okay.

We treat the debt snowball as a general guideline or rule of thumb, but we don’t have a problem deviating from it where we think necessary.

As long as you continue to make progress, do what works.

Parting words

Remember, the best debt payoff method is the one that works. People tend to be more successful with the snowball method because it gives them the quick wins that motivate them to keep going and make them believe they can do this.

My husband and I paid off almost $50,000 last year using this method, and we’re on track to pay off even more this year. I credit a lot of that progress to having a plan of attack that we can see working and that doesn’t make us feel discouraged.

You can do it, too!

If you’re looking to pay off debt fast, try this method. What have you got to lose?

Have you tried the debt snowball method to pay off your debt? How much progress have you made so far?

If you liked this post, don’t forget to (1) share it with everyone you know and (2) connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.  See you there!

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