The 2 Ways to Pay Off Debt: which one is right for you? {with free printable}

The 2 Ways to Pay Off Debt: which one is right for you? {with free printable}

This post may contain affiliate links.

Once you’ve made the (very smart) decision to get serious about paying off your debt there are two main strategies to choose from: The Snowball Method and The Avalanche Method. The goal of this post is to help you decide which strategies in best for you. I’m also going to share which method I’m using and why that method is best for me.

The 2 Ways to Pay Off Debt: which one is right for you? MUST READ! This helped me figure out how to pay off my debt. Free Printable is great!

Disclaimer: I am not, by any means, a financial planner. I just know what it’s like to be money-challenged and to overcome the struggles that come with overspending. I’ve also been consistently killing off my debt with a vengeance for over a year. So, I’d just like to share my take on things.

What are these 2 methods?

The Snowball Method

The Snowball Method is a very popular method for paying off debt. To use this debt payoff method, you need to start by listing all of your debts in order of lowest amount owed to highest amount owed. For this method, you don’t need to worry about the interest rates.

Then you’ll make only minimum payments on all of your debts except for the lowest one. You’ll pay as much as you reasonably can to the lowest one and pay it off as quickly as possible.

After you’ve killed off the lowest debt, you’ll take all of the money you were putting towards that debt and apply it to the next smallest debt. This cycle continues until all of your debt is paid off.

Dave Ramsey is the founding father of The Snowball Method. Here is a post from his website about The Snowball Method that fully explains this process: The Snowball Method – Dave Ramsey.

My take on The Snowball Method:

The Snowball Method could be ideal, depending on your circumstances. If you have many debts with varying balances this method could help you to focus on one debt at a time.

I think the biggest benefit of The Snowball Method is that it can be very encouraging to see each small debt disappear. Eliminating a debt feels incredible and it is likely to motivate you to continue paying off the rest of your debts.

You’ll probably pay a little more (or maybe a lot more depending on your circumstances) in interest in the long run. That’s something that needs to be weighed against the motivation benefit of this method.

Here is a great post about The Snowball Method from Joanna at Our Freaking Budget (a blog that I love!).

The Debt Avalanche:

In The Debt Avalanche you’ll start by listing your debts from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate, regardless of the total amount owed on the debt.

You’ll make minimum payments on all of your debts, except for the debt with the highest interest rate. You’ll attack the highest interest rate debt with full force. You’ll send every available spare penny you can find to this debt.

It’ll probably take you a while to pay off your highest interest rate debt. When you’ve eliminated it, you’ll move on to attack the debt with the next highest interest rate. This process will continue until all your debt is squashed.

Here is a great post about The Debt Avalanche from Kumiko at The Budget Mom (another blog I love!).

My take on The Debt Avalanche Method:

The Debt Avalanche allows you to pay off your debt faster. This is because your debts will accumulate less interest over time. You will pay less in interest if you use The Debt Avalanche because your higher interest rate debts will be eliminated first.

In my opinion, a prerequisite for choosing The Debt Avalanche Method is to already be extremely motivated to pay off your debt. You won’t get the exciting boost that comes with eliminating small debts along the way. However, if that isn’t something you need because you are already motivated, The Debt Avalanche could be right for you.

What you should never do, no matter which method you choose

Whichever debt payoff method you’ve decided is best for you, the important thing is to focus your extra payments (all payments beyond minimum payments) on just one debt at a time. Paying a little extra on each loan isn’t going to help you very much. You’ll lower each debt a tiny bit more each time, but you’re not going to get to a point where you’ve completely paid off a debt.

The common goal of both the Snowball and Avalanche Methods is to eliminate one of your debts as quickly as possible. In doing so, you free up funds to forcefully apply to another debt. This keeps you motivated and it’s the most effective way to eliminate your debt.

Which debt payoff method was right for me?

At the time that my husband convinced me to get serious about becoming debt free, we had 3 debts altogether (excluding our mortgage). We had 2 small-ish car loans and my massive, previously consolidated student loan.

The car loans had very low interest rates. My gigantic student loan had an interest rate of 6.5%. The student loan was really what was killing us. We were super motivated to pay that off as quickly as possible.

We also considered our feelings about our debts. We loved our cars and didn’t mind paying those debts regularly. We were paying for something that we used every day. We (mostly I) had a deep hatred for my student loan. Sure, I use my education and I’m glad I went to school, but looking back I know I made A LOT of mistakes when it came to financing my education. Plus I graduated several years ago. I didn’t want to still be paying off my education instead of being able to save for the education of my children in the future. The student loan had to go!

So we decided on paying off our debt with the…

Debt Avalanche Method

We decided the Debt Avalanche was best for us because we were already motivated to get rid of our debt as quickly as possible. We were focused on the big picture. We wanted to spend as little as possible on interest on our loans.

Which debt payoff method is right for you?

The Snowball Method might be right for you if…

  • You want to be motivated to continue paying off your debts or you want the encouragement that comes from successfully paying off a debt.
  • You have several debts of varying sizes.
  • You don’t have any debts that have a super high interest rate (3-4x your other interest rates)

The Debt Avalanche Method might be right for you if…

  • You are already super motivated to pay off your debts.
  • You only have a few (2-4) debts.
  • You have one debt with a much higher interest rate (3-4x) your other debts.
  • You simply hate one debt more than the rest.

Money is Personal. That includes your Debt.

Eliminating your debt isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. What’s right for someone else might not be right for me. What’s right for me might not be right for you. You need to take a close look at your own debts.

This free printable can help you see each individual debt that you owe so that you can decide which debt payoff method is right for you.

The 2 Ways to Pay Off Debt: which one is right for me? free printable

Further reading:

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover

Beverly Harzog’s The Debt Escape Plan

Think about it. Continue to read about it. Then decide on the best plan for you.

Need some support on your debt crushing adventure? Leave a comment below.

Want more? Here are some of my best posts about saving money:

How to Create a Savings Schedule you can stick to {with free printable}

3 Tips to cut your Electric Bill in Half

How to Talk to your Friends about Money

The Easiest Way to Lower your Phone Bill

You can read more about my story here: A Spender and A Saver Fall in Love





How to Create a Savings Schedule you can stick to {with free printable}


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  1. Great post! I love Dave Ramsey. He gives sound advice. Thank you for sharing these great tips at Dishing it and Digging it link party. We love having you.

  2. Aside from winning the lottery, these both seem like really good options…LOL! Thanks for also helping me decide which would be best for my situation! We love when you share your ideas with us at Share The Wealth Sunday.

  3. Congratulations! Your post was my Most Clicked at #OverTheMoon this week. Visit me on Sunday evening and to see your feature! Don’t forget your badge. I invite you to leave more links to be shared and commented upon.

  4. I have used the debt Snowball before to pay off debt when I was doing the Total Money Makeover it worked great for us them. However, the Debt Avalanche might actually work better for us now. Great point about not dividing your efforts between multiple debts. Very through and well done post. Really enjoyed it.

  5. I think I might had gotten lucky when paying off my debt because my smallest balance had the highest interest rate and my largest balance had the lowest rate. So I really didn’t have to choose a method. But when I am talking to friends or co-workers, I always recommend the snowball method because I have noticed most of them aren’t really committed to getting their finances in order.

  6. I lean towards the avalanche method, but whatever works for you is really the right choice. The important thing is to get to work on paying down the debt and to keep at it.

  7. Great post! This is a really good breakdown of the two methods and I love your points at the end about who each method might work best for. Good luck with your student loans!

  8. I’m partial to the avalanche method, but I hate debt and don’t like to sit on it longer than I have to…I find i don’t need the “motivation” that the snowball method provides!

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