Advertising
Advertising

Pay Down Your Debt Fast: The Snowball Effect

Pay Down Your Debt Fast: The Snowball Effect

    Paying for school sucks.

    You end up getting a decent education (maybe), but come to quickly find out that most of what you learned is not exactly everything you need in the real world. In fact, you may find that you learn more in the first six months at your new job than you did during your entire time at school!

    What hurts worse is that most people, at least in the US, are paying more every year for school. This means larger and larger amounts of education debt as well as consumer debt. Think of all that pizza!

    Advertising

    But, the size of your debt doesn’t have to scare you. Trust me; it scared the hell out of me for a while. This is how I dealt and continue to deal with it.

    Budget

    A debt snowball doesn’t work without a good budget in place. I know that this may be the last thing that you want to hear about getting rid of your debt, but seriously, it won’t work without a budget. I didn’t realize the strength of budgeting until I got on the You Need a Budget bandwagon and followed that “system.” This helped me see my life in the form of item buckets and a “Buffer” so I could get close to being a month ahead on all my bills.

    Having this leeway in your money is the first step to trying to find the little extra each month to pay down your debt fast. When you have the month buffer sitting in front of you, you can more realistically and with less fear, approach paying down your debts.

    Make the list

    Next, you need to know the exact amount of each of your debts as well as their interest rates and minimum payments. After you get this information you can make the list in either two forms:

    Advertising

    1. In order from lowest to highest amount.
    2. In order from highest to lowest interest rate.

    To be honest, most people will tell you to pay the highest interest rate debts first. That makes sense for the most part, especially if you want to save money with some debts with ridiculously high interest rates. But, I chose to pick my lowest amount first.

    Why?

    Because I could get satisfaction of paying off one of my debts and see the effects of the debt snowball faster. That’s all.

    You should take it by a case to case basis though. Try to weigh how much you owe against the interest rate to see which method is better. You may even need to approach it a different way, like if you have a very low debt amount with a super high interest rate and a huge debt amount with a mediocre interest rate. You have to see which way you are paying more money in the long run, then avoid that way.

    Advertising

    The law of three

    After you know your minimums and add them and everything else you need in your life to your budget, you should have some shillings left. If you don’t, this isn’t the post to tell you how to make more money. Instead, try to stick to the absolute essentials in your budget. If you have entertainment money; cut it. We will create some of that shortly.

    Now that you have some extra money un-budgeted for the month, you have to split it into three equal pieces for:

    1. Savings
    2. Debt
    3. Fun money

    Some debt gurus will say that you shouldn’t have any fun money, you should strictly concentrate on paying down debt and saving. I say, “screw that,” that is unless you are in dire straights and need out of debt in a hurry.

    This extra money you have for debt, that is the money that you will put on top of your minimum payment to your first debt in the list you made above. Once that first debt is payed off then you will move the minimum plus the extra money for debt to the next debt payment and so one.

    Advertising

    See it? A snowball!

    Here is what is awesome. None of this accounts for you making more money during the month. As soon as you start pulling in any more money, you can throw it towards you debt, or use it as more play money, or buy some pizza. It doesn’t necessarily matter.

    Now calculate

    You can do this on paper, if you are like a crazy mathematics ninja, but I prefer the digital way because it is easier to keep track of and idiot proof. One of the best ways that I have found that works on Mac and PC is with the trusty ol’ Vertex42 Debt Reduction Calculator Spreadsheet. I first saw this thing mentioned on Get Rich Slowly in 2006, but it still holds true today. Since then I have migrated to an iPhone app called DebtPayoff Pro that is great. There are many more out there, but these are the ones that have worked well for me in the past and present.

    Now that you have a tool you can enter all your debt information, how much money you are going to throw extra toward your debt, and the starting balance date. Then you can get an idea of when certain debts will be paid off as well as when the total debt will be paid off. If you are putting away a decent amount of money extra toward debt, you are going to be very surprised at just how fast your debt diminishes.

    Now party

    Paying down your debt fast can feel like the biggest burden in your life, especially if you have a lot of it. The truth of the matter is, if you can cover your minimum payments right now and have a little money extra every month, you can put a serious hurtin’ on your debt.

    More by this author

    Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time 6 Ways Journaling Will Change Your Life

    Trending in Money

    130 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much 235 Real Ways to Actually Make Money Online 3How to Make Money with a Blog (According to 23 Successful Bloggers) 4This List of 50 Low-cost Hobbies Will Excite You 530 Fun Things To Do With Your Friends Without Spending Much

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

    30 Fun Things You Can Do This Summer Without Spending Much

    Summertime can be a real strain on your wallet. The sun is out, there are people to see, places to be; it’s no wonder you might be short of funds during these sunny months. Not everything has to cost you an arm and a leg.

    Take some time to go through this list of 20 cheap summer activities and make some realistic goals to complete as many as you can.

    Video Summary

    1. Visit a strawberry festival

    Summer is prime time for tasting strawberries. More often than not, an area that grows strawberries will have a strawberry festival. Indulge yourself in strawberry pies, jams, cakes and more!

    2. Have a picnic

    Take your partner or your family to the local park and enjoy a relaxing picnic. Designate each person to bring one food item of their choice to add to the fun.

    3. Camp in your back yard

      The summer heat can sometimes make it hard to sleep. Why not enjoy the heat outside in the yard? Pitch a tent or gaze into the night sky.

      4. Take long walks

      Discover something new where you live. Take the afternoon off from your chores and go for a long walk. You may be surprised by what you discover.

      5. Break a world record

      Breaking a world record doesn’t have to be time-consuming. You could even break one on your lunch hour. Give it a go!

      Advertising

      6. Go on a bike ride

      The number of bike paths on roads in big cities has increased dramatically over the years. Take advantage, and enjoy the summer breeze.

      7. Join a gym class

        The gym is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but why not go with a friend a join a class? Spinning, yoga and step classes are always more fun with friends, and a lot of gyms allow you to pay-as-you-go.

        8. Find a new hobby

        The summer is the perfect time to find a new hobby. Serotonin (our body’s natural “happy” hormone) is produced by the sunshine and will be at a yearly high, which is great for when we want to tackle something new.

        9. Join a sports team

        Not all sports teams are competitive and require huge amounts of your time. Join in the fun with like-minded people, get fit, stay healthy and make some friends along the way.

        10. Make a slip ‘n slide

          Gather your friends, some plastic sheeting, a hose, washing up liquid if desired, and make a huge slip ‘n slide just like these guys. Granted, yours won’t be as big, but you get the idea… it’s fun!

          11. Make a treasure hunt for your kids

          Today’s digital world sees our children more often than not playing inside than outside. Why not create a sense of adventure by making a treasure hunt? Only rule? It has to be outside.

          Advertising

          12. Visit a free festival

          Towns and cities are awash with free festivals, with themes from film to science. Scout your local area and discover something new.

          13. Visit the zoo

            Let’s face it: we love animals. While browsing news websites and social media networks you’re bound to come across a few pictures of cats. Take a trip to your local zoo for a better experience.

            14. Take a road trip

            Enjoy the open road with a few friends and take a road trip somewhere–anywhere. Just go out and enjoy the sunshine!

            15. Play ultimate frisbee in the park

              Frisbee is always great fun down the park, but why not turn it into more of a competitive sport by playing ultimate frisbee?

              16. Make your own ice cream

              Ice cream is a very versatile dessert. Make a sandwich, enjoy a cone, or simply just enjoy a bowl full. Better yet, making your own ice cream allows you to create any flavor you want.

              17. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ

              Advertising

                When was the last time you invited your neighbors over? Do you even know them? Now’s your chance. Just ask each person to bring a food item so costs don’t mount up for you.

                18. Get a summer job

                For many students, summer is the time for relaxation and fun. But who said earning money and being productive isn’t fun? You only get out what you put into a situation.

                19. Attend a charity event

                Attending a charity event is a great way to raise funds and awareness for a cause, meet new people, and generally have a good time. Search for your local charity event today.

                20. Visit a national park

                National parks are a great way to explore nature and learn something new. You could even volunteer and make a difference in helping restore natural habitats.

                21. Visit your local comedy club

                  Local comedy clubs are extremely underrated. They are cheap to attend and no doubt you’ll have a barrel of laughs.

                  22. Make your own hammock

                    Hammocks are very relaxing, are perfect for summer afternoons and are surprisingly easy to make.

                    Advertising

                    23. Read in your new hammock

                    Now you have your very own hammock, the only thing left to do is enjoy it. Grab your favorite book and read to your heart’s content.

                    24. Watch a movie outside

                    Movies are great. Relaxing outside in the evening is great. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect combination. In D.C, Maryland and Virginia this summer, for example, you can enjoy a huge number of movies outside.

                    25. Take a hike

                      Hikes are a great way to keep fit and see more of Mother Nature. There are countless trails available for you to explore. Why not try some this summer?

                      26. Learn how to fly a kite

                      As a child, you probably had a kite and haven’t touched it since. Why not dust it off and attempt to fly it? It’s tricky, but well worth the challenge.

                      27. Work out at the park

                      American cities are full of parks with ample space for a work out session. No doubt you’ll be happier to work out in the sun rather than a crowded gym.

                      28. Take your dog to the beach

                        One of the many joys of owning a dog is taking him or her for long walks during the summertime. This joy is enhanced when visiting the beach, for both you and your dog.

                        29. Make a summer smoothie

                        Healthy, delicious and perfect for the summer. Not only that, there are countless recipes ready for you to try.

                        30. Attend a free yoga session at the beach

                        No experience needed and all skill levels are welcome. Take yourself and a buddy down to the beach and try some yoga. You’ve got nothing to lose!

                        Read Next