Thursday, January 26, 2023

How To Snowball Credit Card Debt

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Should You Pay Off All Credit Card Debt Before Getting A Mortgage

How do I Pay Off my Credit Card Debt Faster? l Snowball Debt

When possible, its a good idea to pay off your debts before applying for a mortgage. Thats because the less debt you have, the better your debt to income ratio, which measures your ability to pay off your debts based on what you earn. Someone with a lot of debt that exceeds their ability to quickly pay it off will be considered a risky loan prospect and may not qualify for the best offers on a mortgage.

How To Snowball Debt

Starting to snowball your debt is a relatively simple process and requires only a few steps. And luckily, its applicable for most kinds of consumer debt: student, personal, and auto loans, , and medical bills. They dont, however, work for mortgage repayments, so keep that in mind before getting the ball rolling.

  • Get organized. Paying off debt can feel very overwhelming, so do yourself a favor and write out all of your debts. List them from the smallest balance at the top to the largest at the bottom. Dont worry about the interest rates, monthly payment amounts, or any other loan requirements. Just focus solely on the balance amount.
  • Pay the loan minimums. This is important, because if you dont pay at least the minimum required on all your loans, you might be stuck paying extra fees and penalties.
  • Pay more on your smallest balance. Every month, put any extra money you have towards the debt at the top of your list. Remember, your goal is to focus on paying off this small balance first so you can tackle the others later.
  • Keep the momentum going. Once your smallest balance is paid off , cross it off your list and switch your focus to the next smallest. Everything you were paying towards the first loan should now go to the next one, including the minimum payment you were already making. As you pay off each debt one at a time, your total payment will become bigger until all your debts are paid!
  • Take Inventory Of Your Debt

    The first step to setting up your debt snowball is taking inventory of your debt.

    For some people, even finding information about all of their debts may be a challenge. Start with the debts youre aware of, such as your credit cards and loans. If you have student loans, log into to find more information about those. You can also get a free copy of your credit report via to ensure you havent forgotten any.

    The easiest way to organize your debt is to use a spreadsheetlike this one, from personal finance services firm Tillerbut there are also websites and apps specifically designed to help you accomplish this task. In your list, be sure to include the creditor, debt amount, minimum payment and interest rate.

    When youre taking inventory of your debt, you should generally be as inclusive as possible, including credit cards, loans, medical debt and more. However, since many people choose not to pay off their mortgages early, you dont necessarily need to include that in the list.

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    How To Build Your Snowball Debt Plan In 4 Steps

    The debt snowball method is broken into four simple steps.

    Step 1: Organize and list all your debts in order from smallest balance to largest balance, regardless of interest rates. Consider all credit cards, personal loans, student loans, medical bills, and auto loans. Dont include your mortgage loan.

    Step 2: Determine how much extra you can afford to pay on the smallest debt and make minimum monthly payments on the other debts.

    Step 3: Stick to a budget and see where you can find extra money in there. The best practices include cutting unnecessary spending, picking up a new side hustle, hosting a garage salewhatever bandwidth you have to earn a little extra cash in your pocket.

    Step 4: Once the smallest debt is paid off, take on the next debt on your list. Repeat until you have completed your list and paid off your debts.

    Shouldnt I Pay Off The Credit Card With The Highest Interest Rate First


    In most cases, focusing on the credit card with the highest interest rate and balance makes sense to avoid paying more interest than necessary. But the debt snowball method is about earning little wins by paying off smaller credit card debts quickly, building momentum to stay focused on getting out of debt.

    If you want to limit the amount you pay in interest as you pay off your credit cards, the debt avalanche method is here for you.

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    When Is The Debt Snowball Method The Best Approach

    There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to paying off your debt. Where one method may work for a friend or family member, another may be a better fit for you. Here are some scenarios where the debt snowball method may be the best strategy to use:

    • You want to close some credit cards. If you want to reduce your exposure to credit card debt and those balances are lower than other loans, the debt snowball method will help you pay them down faster. After that, you can close the account and keep yourself from racking up a balance again.
    • You’re trying to reduce your debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio is an important factor when applying for new credit, especially with mortgage loans. By eliminating loans with lower balances, you’ll remove them from the DTI equation entirely, making it easier to get approved for an auto loan or mortgage if you need it.
    • You’re having a hard time staying motivated. Paying off debt can be a monumental task, and it can be tough to stay on track if you go years without getting rid of any balances. By eliminating your lowest balances first, you’ll start seeing progress sooner in the process, which can encourage you to stick to your plan.

    Disadvantages Of Using The Snowball Method To Pay Off Debt

  • Unlike the debt avalanche method, the debt snowball method doesnt take interest rates into account. If your most expensive debt also happens to be your largest, this method can cost you a lot of money in the long run.
  • It may not be the most motivating approach for you. Some people prefer to get bigger debts out of the way first. For these people, the snowball method may fall short.
  • It may take more time than other strategies. Interest accrues over time. Not accounting for that can result in a longer debt-payoff timelinenot to mention more money spent on interest.
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    Advantages Of Using The Snowball Method To Pay Off Debt

  • Its simple. The debt snowball method is easy to understand and doesnt require a ton of work to get started.
  • It can make debt feel less scary. It offers a clear, step-by-step approach to what can feel like an overwhelming task.
  • It works particularly well for those who are motivated by quick wins. The snowball method establishes a dopamine feedback loop early on. That dopamine kick may give you the motivation you need when things get tough. Sticking to the plan in tough times is vital if your end goal is to become debt-free.
  • How Does The Debt Snowball Method Work

    Debt Reduction Calculator Tutorial – Use a Debt Snowball to Pay Off Debt

    The debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each remaining balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the minimum payment you were making on that debt into the next-smallest debt payment.

    Heres how it works:

    Step 1: List your debts from smallest to largest regardless of interest rate.

    Step 2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.

    Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt.

    Step 4: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.

    Now, before you start arguing about the interest rates, hear us out. If your largest debt has the largest interest rate, its going to be a long time before you start to see a dent in that crazy balance of yours. But when you stick to the plan , youre going to be jumping up and down when you pay off that smallest debt super quick. That excitement is whats going to motivate you to keep working hardall the way to that debt-free finish line. But more on this later.

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    How Much Credit Card Debt Is Too Much

    Defining too much debt is a personal choice that will vary for each individual. In general terms, too much debt might mean that youre maxed out to the point that bankruptcy may be your next move. But if you find you cant get ahead of your debt and are just making the minimum payments on your credit cards each month, that could be considered too much debt. For some, paying any interest charge at all is considered too much. Ultimately if you have debt that youre uncomfortable with, then its too much for you to carry without concern.

    Debt Snowball Vs Debt Avalanche: Whats The Difference

    The debt snowball method is often recommended as the best debt payoff method because it provides quick wins and motivation for borrowers. However, it only takes into account the balance of your debt rather than other factors.

    This doesn’t take into consideration the interest rates of the cards and you will still be accruing interest on those cards, says Heck.

    The other most popular debt payoff method is debt avalanche. Its similar to debt snowball, where you round up a list of your debt and prioritize one at a time. But instead of prioritizing your smallest balance, the debt avalanche method has you prioritize the balance with the highest interest rate.

    The debt avalanche doesnt necessarily provide the quick wins that the debt snowball does, since the debt with the highest interest rate isnt necessarily the one with the smallest balance. However, it does provide the most financial savings, since you pay off your high-interest debt first.

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    Debt Snowball Best Practices

    Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you begin the method:

    • Find a side hustle. Try making extra money any way you can, whether that be hosting a garage sale or taking on a side job.
    • Dont take on any new debts, as this will only set you back farther in your goal.
    • See what expenses you can cut back on, such as making coffee at home instead of buying it out.

    Should You Try The Debt Snowball Method

    Debt Snowball, Eliminate Your Credit Card Debt

    If youâre looking to quickly pay down your smallest debts first, the snowball method may be a good place to start. But consider different debt payoff strategies until you find the one that works for you.

    Just remember, thereâs more than one method that can help you pay off debt. Consider your unique financial situation and the different types of debt you have to help you choose which approach to take.

    Learn more about Capital Oneâs response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

    We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

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    Repeat Until Each Credit Card Is Paid Off

    Once the smallest credit card is paid off, youll repeat the process, just with a new credit card as the one to focus on.

    When you pay off the first credit card on your list, youll move down to the next card. The payment that you were paying on the first one should now go as an extra payment to the next card.

    Your total monthly debt payments should stay the same even as your credit cards get paid off.

    Pay Off The Highest Interest Cards First

    Debt stacking is an incredibly popular method of debt repayment. With this strategy you would pay off the balance of the debt with the highest interest rate first, paying only the minimum payment on your other debts. Once the highest interest rate debt is fully repaid, move on to the one with the next highest interest rate.

    Experts at Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, a not-for-profit charity, say debt stacking is the best strategy because it makes the most of your money. By paying off your debts with the highest interest rate first, you minimize the overall amount youll pay in interest in the long run.

    Say, for example, you have two credit cards, both owing $2,000. Card A has an interest rate of 11.99 per cent. Card B has an interest rate of 19.99 per cent. If you paid just the minimum payment of $50 per month on those cards, it would take you 158 months to pay off Card B, and you would have paid an additional $1,178.43 in interest. Meanwhile, it would take you 259 months to pay off Card A and you would have shelled out an additional $3,459.59 in interest.

    Campbell stresses that for anyone using the stacking method, its important to not get frustrated and give up. The downfall is that it may seem the debts take forever to pay off due to the fact that you will be paying them all for some time especially if the higher interest one is a high balance, she said.

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    Debt Reduction Calculator From Vertex42

    The Debt Reduction Calculator from Vertex42 is a spreadsheet that gets a little more intricate. The first page allows you to input your debt and select your payoff strategy: Snowball, avalanche or stair-stepper the last of which is a unique combination of the snowball and avalanche methods.

    If you choose the snowball method, there is a handy chart that will show you your projected progress. There is no such chart for the avalanche or stair-stepper method.

    Whichever method you choose, there will be a separate tab where you can log your payment schedule.

    Advantages And Disadvantages Of The Debt Avalanche Method

    Debt Snowball vs Avalanche Method: Best Way to Pay Off Debt?

    Just by switching the order of your debt payoffs, you can save hundreds of dollars in interest payments with the debt avalanche approach. For individuals with more significant amounts of debt, the avalanche method can also reduce the time it takes to pay off the debt by a few months.

    The debt avalanche method is the best strategy to save money and time, but it does have its downsides. It mainly requires disciplineto put all your extra allocated money into paying off a particular debt, not just the minimum. The debt avalanche will not work as effectively if you lose motivation and skip a month or two of strategic repayments.

    The debt avalanche approach also assumes a specific, constant amount of discretionary income that you can apply towards your debts. A bump-up in daily living expenses or an emergency could throw a crimp into the plan.

    • Minimizes the amount of interest you pay

    • Lessens the amount of time it takes to get out of debt

    • Good for budget oriented people

    • Takes discipline and commitment to pull off

    • Requires constant amount of discretionary income

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    They Lost Work And Needed An Emergency Fund

    For eight months, the couple put every spare dollar toward paying off debt. But one day, Lacy received unexpected news.

    “I got a call that the company was restructuring and was told that in two months, I wouldn’t have a job. It was completely unexpected,” he says.

    Even with that news, the couple was still committed to a debt-free future with more time to spend traveling and raising their kids. “We already had the important conversations about what we wanted our life to look like. I was determined not to fail on this journey,” Lacy says.

    So Lacy got a job delivering food while interviewing for new positions. His wife made a steady income as a teacher that was enough to support them temporarily. “There were days where I was crushed, and my wife uplifted me,” he says, “and vice versa.”

    But then his wife’s autoimmune disease flared up from stress, and she had to take two weeks of unpaid leave. At that point, the couple decided to take a break from debt payoff and focus on saving an emergency fund.

    Snowball Alternative: The Debt Avalanche Method

    You can choose to pay off your credit card debt with the highest interest rates first, regardless of the balance size. This method is known as the avalanche method. Essentially, this approach will save you money in interest payments. By targeting high-interest debt first, your overall interest payments will most likely be lower.

    Lets say we bring back those same credit card balances from the above example $4,000, $1,000, $3,000, and $2,000. Lets give them each an interest rate:

    Using the avalanche method, youd prioritize paying off your debt according to interest rate, not the amount of the debt. For instance, if you had $1,000 a month to pay down that debt, heres what your first month would look like:

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    Alternatives To The Debt Snowball Approach

    If you dont have the funds to make extra payments or youd rather pay the absolute minimum on interest, there are other options, including:

    • Debt snowflaking,
    • The debt avalanche,
    • A custom modelfor math lovers only!

    If youre strapped for cash, debt snowflaking involves putting any extra small sums of cash toward debt repayment. Snowflakes could be a tax refund or a $10 bill found in your jacket pocket, for instance.9 If you want to save on interest, the debt avalanche method focuses on paying off your highest-interest debts first, regardless of loan size. And finally, if you like math: Research has found that customized mathematical models using mixed integer linear programming might beat both the debt snowball and debt avalanche method in terms of efficacy.10

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