Over the years, I’ve written about different methods to paying off your debt faster. Most couples I hear from have this as one of their first financial goals. They are tired of living paycheck to paycheck and they are looking for the best way to get ahead with their money.
I love sharing tactics that help you not only build your net worth, but help you develop smart money habits and one of my favorites to share is debt snowflakes.
It was an idea I picked up from Paid Twice, which sadly no longer up. Jaime did an incredible job with demonstrating how debt snowflakes helped her reach her financial goals. I’m creating a resource to help explain the term and show how you can use it to pay your debt off faster.
Debt Snowball is Made of Snowflakes
Dave Ramsey is most associated with the debt snowball. Once you are current on your bills and your have a small emergency fund set aside, you list all of your non-mortgage debts from smallest to the largest amounts.
For example, let’s say you have three credit card cards you ‘d like to pay off. You’d prioritize your bills like this:
- College Credit Card: $800 @ 16% ($50 minimum payment)
- Visa: $2,700 @ 23% ($95 minimum payment)
- Mastercard: $2,900 @ 15% ($50 minimum payment)
You may think that it would be better to put your visa bill ahead of the others, but for the debt snowball, you don’t pay attention to interest rates.
Because the snowball is about changing your behaviors by getting early wins with paying off your debt. Since you’re paying off the smallest debt first, you knock it off your list quicker, making most people excited.
Imagine that you managed to scrape up $100 each month towards your snowball. You put that towards your old college credit card and you pay it off in just over 5 months.
Once that is done, you then take that money and roll it into the next debt and you continue until all of your debts are paid off.
Build Your Debt Snowball with Snowflakes
Debt snowflakes are smaller, more frequent amounts of money that can be used to whittle down your debt. That money can grow your debt snowball so you be debt free quicker.
The big take away with the snowflakes is that no amount is too small to include. You have to be willing to use that extra $5, $10 towards your debt.
Where do you find that money?
Jaime from Paid Twice found creative ways to boost up her snowflakes.
I take surveys online, I sell possessions on craigslist and eBay, and I have yard sales. Any money I get from these endeavors goes directly to my debt.
I also keep a strict accounting of all the money that comes in, and everything left over at the end of the month not earmarked for future expenses also goes directly to debt. These are my snowflakes. I have averaged over $200 extra going to my credit card debt every month due to these snowflaking efforts.
For us, we found extra money by cutting our monthly expenses by negotiating better rates for cable, finding deals on our cell phone, and comparing our insurance.
Gathering More Snowflakes for Your Debt Snowball
Want to get started? These ‘golden rules’ were created by Jamie, but I’ll share my personal take on them.
Snowflake early and often
The best time to get gathers cash is now. Make it a game and see if you can find some money in your budget to pay down your debts.
No amount is too small to be a snowflake
I can’t emphasize this enough- every dollar counts. You don’t have to come up with a revolutionary way to save or make money, you just have to keep your eyes open for every opportunity.
Anything can be a snowflake
Like I mentioned, we found most of our snowflake material, by cutting our monthly expenses. Some may find it easier to earn more money and use that cash to pay down debt. If you need some ideas, you may want to check out the 50/50 challenge where I share ways you can make and save money.
Snowflake as immediately as possible
Big tip – as soon as you have the cash, send it in!
Keep track of your snowflakes to use for motivation
Most of us dismiss small amounts, so it is important to go and track your snowflakes to help you see how much extra you’re really putting in.
Photo Credit: Matt
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