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When it comes to credit card debt, it’s easy to fall into trouble. Everything about these cards says that they will only get worse as time goes on.
Now, when it comes to getting rid of that debt, there are a few different options for what to do. The debt avalanche method tells you to start paying on the card with the highest interest first, saving you on interest charges. The debt snowball tells you to start paying on the card with the lowest balance first, giving you the morale to keep going. Either way can be highly successful and make it even easier for you to get out of debt quickly.
With either of these, you need to make extra money out of your monthly budget, every month, to pay down the debt. But not everyone is able to do that. Or at least, not everyone feels like they’re able to do that.
If you don’t have a lot of money to put toward that debt you can use the snowflake method. It’s not meant to be a third option, but to help you toward choosing one of the other two.
What is a Debt Snowflake?
This concept is actually one you probably already know. Make one-time payments whenever you can toward your debt.
A snowflake is small, but when you get many of them together they can build up in strength. So, if you have $20 to put toward your debt it will eventually add up over time. That $20 from not going to lunch today could be another $20 tomorrow or even once a week. Whatever it is, just keep saving and putting it toward debt.
As you continue building and build you’ll find that you’ve got an extra $100 at the end of the month. Then you don’t have to feel overwhelmed next month, because you don’t have to have that $100, you just save what you can and keep moving. Just $100 a month, if you can find it, can make a huge impact on the amount of time it takes to pay down your debt.
This method works with either of the other two. Pay down the smallest debt first or the highest interest first, either way, you use your ‘snowflakes’ to do it. All you’re using this for is a way to find the money that you’re using.
The Snowflake vs. The Snowball
Now, when you use the snowflake process you’re not getting rid of the snowball. Instead, you can use the two together. When you use the debt snowball you are actually taking a set amount of money out of your monthly budget to put toward your debt. On the other hand, the snowflake method is a single payment.
With an avalanche you’re starting out with your highest interest debt. That means you pay less in total interest. In the short term you’re going to have more efficiency but less of the immediate impact.
Both of these will use budgeted money to pay off the debt.
How To Use The Debt Snowflakes
The first thing to do here is to make sure you pay any extra money that you get directly toward your debt. You’ll make each payment immediately, as soon as the money is available. So, if you do a side job for someone and get $20 you’ll put it toward the debt. If you sell something you put that money toward the debt, and so on.
You can use the excess money that you get from budget items too. If you didn’t spend all of your grocery allowances put that money toward your debt. If you came in under budget on the back to school shopping put that toward the debt.
1. Track Your Spending Habits
Have you ever kept a spending log? If you haven’t then you absolutely need to check it out. If you track everything you spend you’re going to find out a lot about what you’re spending, and that’s extremely important. You can do this manually or you can use a debit card and check the statement for all your spending. Then, take a look at where your money went over the month.
Only by knowing where the money goes can you actually stop spending it poorly.
2. Know Where You Are Weak
We all have things that we tend to spend more money on than we should. These could include your cell phone data, eating out, buying items you don’t need, impulse buying and more. Each of these things make it difficult to stick to a budget because we don’t even realize we’re spending the money.
3. Set Up Goals
Make sure that each bit of extra money that you have you’re keeping track of. That’s the money you want to use at the end of the month for your debt.
Now, look for any way that you can to figure out money savings. These are just a few ways you can go.
- Use Coupons from coupon websites, apps or even the store websites and apps so you can save even a few cents at a time.
- Get rid of subscriptions that you don’t use, from magazines and music to TV and gym memberships.
- Get cash-back as often as possible for any credit card purchases.
- Go out during happy hour or special nights rather than full price nights (if you have to go out at all).
- Look for free activities in and around your community. You can find classes, programs, fun activities and a whole lot more.
- Get money back for your purchases through online resources.
- Don’t buy convenience items.
- Get a side hustle to earn a little extra money.
Pros and Cons of Debt Snowflaking
This method of paying your debts has some great benefits. It helps you psychologically and it helps financially. You’ll always keep watching your budget for ways that you can save and add more to your debt. You’ll also be more likely to do what you can to cut back. You’re also going to find a good use for money that otherwise would just be spent on unnecessary things.
The only real downside is it can be a little too flexible.
Here are the main advantages of using the debt snowflake concept:
- If you have a really tight budget it still works because you’re not feeling the loss of money for a specific area. You’re only using the extra money that you didn’t need for that area.
- You can make small changes quickly because you’re paying toward your debt with whatever you might have. Even with just $5 extra you can start building up a much bigger impact on your debt.
- You don’t miss the money that you’re paying because it’s such a small amount. Instead, you just notice the difference on your amounts that are due every month or how quickly you’ve paid the debt off.
There are always two sides to the coin. Here are the main disadvantages of using the debt snowflake concept:
- This isn’t going to take care of paying off your debt on its own. You’ll be able to make some impact, but you need to have a more focused strategy toward paying one particular debt off before you pay the rest. That’s how you’ll be able to turn this method into something more successful.
- You’re not going to get a guaranteed result. If you can set aside a set amount of money every month you’ll see steady progress and continued impact on your debt. If you’re using the snowflake method you’re actually seeing a slower process. It’s only going to be whatever you’re able to save up in any given month and that’s going to vary from one month to the next. You might have a month where you do great and send a lot of money to debt. You also might have a month where you can’t scrape together anything extra that you can afford to give up.
Overall, for those who want a way to make an impact without feeling like they’re missing out, this is a great way to do it. You can even keep track of all of your little snowflakes to see how they’re going toward your debt and just what kind of results you’re going to see.