Debt Snowball Or Debt Avalanche – Which Strategy Is Right For You?

debt snowballIf you’ve ever had a balance on your credit card bills, you know just how easy it is for the debt to grow faster, and faster, and faster until it seems like there is no way down from the mountain of debt! And when you reach the top of the mountain, it can be lonely, depressing, and a LONG way down. The good news is that once you find the right way to start paying off your bills, they do start getting smaller and smaller until over time you can finally see the bottom of the mountain. It may not be a quick trip down, but eventually your momentum will start building, much like a snowball or even an avalanche depending on which debt reduction method you use.

But how do you know what the “right way” is to get out of debt?

Debt Snowball

Debt snowball is a process where you pick one debt to pay off first, then when it’s paid off you move on to the next highest debt, and then the next, and your payments start to “snowball” or get bigger and bigger over time, like making a snowball in the winter time. You start with the debt that has the smallest balance and move one by one towards the one with the largest balance. The benefit to this method is that you see results faster by quickly knocking off the smaller debts and building momentum to tackle the larger debts.

But is this really the best way to reduce your debt?

Debt Avalanche

Another option is to start with the card that has the highest interest rate. That way you get rid of the most damaging debt first, since a higher interest rate means you’ll end up paying more in the long run. By eliminating the high interest debt first, you’ll pay less in the long run. You may not see results quite as fast as with the debt snowball method, but you’re paying down the balance that’s costing you the most money first. And that’s why this approach is called the “debt avalanche,” where you start from the top and work down, like an avalanche of snow falling down a mountain.

So, which is better for you, debt snowball or debt avalanche?

Either way, they both work better than sitting on your butt and doing nothing but whining about how much debt you have. So don’t take too long deciding. The answer depends on how you look at it:

Choose Debt Snowball if:

  1. you need to see results faster
  2. you’ve tried other debt plans and didn’t stick with it
  3. you don’t care so much about the details or theory, you just want a debt reduction plan that is simple to follow
  4. your debts have a wide range of balances

Choose Debt Avalanche if:

  1. you are a numbers cruncher
  2. you’re disciplined enough to be patient and stick with your plan, even when money gets tight
  3. you do pay attention to the details and want to maximize the use of your money to pay down your debt

The Key To It All

Regardless of which one of these strategies you choose, the key is to stick with it. Because the longer you stick with your plan, the more likely you are to succeed. So pick the one that appeals to you the most. Before you get started, find a quiet place and ask yourself this question:

Am I ready to do whatever it takes to get out of debt?

If so, write it down on a piece of paper, and make a few copies. Put one in your bedroom, one in your purse or wallet, and another inside your checkbook. Or, put it wherever you think is best to remind you of your commitment. But when you are ready, when you are fed up with dealing with credit card debt, when you are ready to change your life, then you’ll do whatever it takes to successfully get out of debt!

Tired of struggling with credit card debt? Visit, which was created by Kris Bickell as a way to share the lessons he learned about debt settlement, credit repair, and other money saving tips. You can also learn more by signing up for the free email course “5 Steps To Completely Eliminating All Of Your Credit Card Debt!”

(photo credit: Telesaur)

  • Keith Morris

    Love the analogies. I think I prefer the snowball method. I love feeling like I’m making progress and it’s motivating to be able to cross bills off the list.

  • Jamar

    Great article. I think both methods are useful depending on your debt and the types of things going on in your life. A great free online tool that I like to use to help me stay on track with both of these methods is A free online software that allows for account aggregation and video coaching.

  • Ana

    great article. I am currently taking a finance class and this article really provided insite. Posted the link to the online school forum for other students to view.


    Are there any published studies on snowball v avalanche?