Snowball vs Avalanche – Getting out of Debt

“Just find what works for you, what style suits you best, and just be confident enough to rock it.” Odell Beckham, Jr.

I should have titled this post, “Debt is a 4 Letter Word” because it IS. This little monster has caused more than it’s share of stress and sleepless nights, and kept many of us from reaching our life goals. The first step to getting out of debt is recognizing that whatever you’re doing isn’t working and something has to change. Yeah, that old definition of insanity, right? So, how do you tackle your debt? You use the method that WORKS FOR YOU!!

While there are probably as many methods of dealing with debt as there are starfish in the ocean, I’m going to focus on 2 of the most well-known–the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche. Both methods focus on paying off smallest to largest, but the way the debt is listed is where they differ.

With the Debt Snowball, your debts are listed by amount, smallest to largest. You pay the minimum payment due on all but the smallest debt, and throw all your extra cash at that smallest debt. Once that debt is crossed off your list, you do the same with the next debt on the list, and so on until all the debt is paid. More information on the Debt Snowball is available here.

With the Debt Avalanche, you list your debts by which has the highest interest rate, regardless of amount. All your extra cash is put towards the debt with the highest interest rate, while paying the minimum payments on the rest. Once the highest interest rate debt is paid, you move on to the next one on your list, and continue until all of the debt is paid. More information on the Debt Avalanche can be found here.

So, which is better? It depends…according to research, the Snowball has the psychological advantage of allowing you to cross items off your list a little faster since you’re starting with the smallest amount first. Conversely, the Avalanche will save you the most money since you’re starting with the debt with the highest interest rate. This method really takes a good bit of discipline, since it will cost you more money in the long run if you miss a planned payment.

I ask again-which is better? I can’t answer that, since I’m not you. The one that works for you, the one you stick to, is the better of the 2 methods. If you’re not going to stick to your plan, it doesn’t matter which plan you choose. I’m a firm believer in “there’s no ONE right way” when it comes to getting out of debt. If you create a plan and work it with intention, you WILL get out of debt. It takes a lot of planning, budgeting, and discipline (ESPECIALLY discipline!), but it CAN be done. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it. It took a TON of discipline, along with some sacrifice, but it was all worth it.

Have you paid off a good bit of debt? Leave a comment and share how you did it! Thanks!!

Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…


Dave Ramsey

Nerd Wallet


Author: olderwisermoneymiser

I’m a 50-something wife, mom, and full time accounting administrator sharing my observations about life and money.

9 thoughts on “Snowball vs Avalanche – Getting out of Debt”

  1. Credit cards are evil. There, I said it. They charge outrageous interest and can tank your credit rating right across the board if you’re late on one payment to one company. We took a consolidation loan years ago and paid them all off, then cut them all up. Then I took all that extra money and paid off everything else. Doubled car and mortgage payments. It was hard, and made for a few vacationless years, but I wish I’d done it sooner. We are completely debt free now…. house, cars, loans… all paid off. It’s marvelous!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. So many emotions stirred from this simple post — beginning 2007 with only a mortgage debt, the recession hit us hard and life was ROUGH until 2015 – when I decided to work for myself. Since then, I’ve made incredible strides in paying down debt over the last year through a combination of snowball and avalanche. I set up an oversized payment on the highest interest rate card, pay the minimum on the mid-range rate cards with higher balances, and each month pay off either the smallest debt or as much as I can with what is ‘left’ at the end of the month. So I get the great feeling of crossing things off my list and seeing the highest rate card shrinking quickly. Last year I paid down half of our credit card debt. I have a PROSPERITY PLAN spreadsheet that prioritizes and tracks my timeline. This works for me. Thanks for another great post that helps folks like me know I’m not alone in this mess.

    Liked by 1 person

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