Can you pay off credit card debt without using a consolidation loan? Sure, there are two credit card debt payoff strategies–snowball and avalanche method–that are effective in helping manage your balances and eliminate them.
Let me first address, the big pink elephant in the room about credit card pay off. When your goal is to eliminate credit card debt there is a rule of thumb–do not add to the balances. This is a tenant in achieving debt-freedom.
Put the credit cards away. No swipe. No click. Nothing.
Credit cards are a tricky type of debt
They are unsecured open-ended mini-loans requiring partial payments each month. Unlike personal loans, they don’t have a set repayment schedule and interest continues to accrue on the unpaid balances. There’s also a big temptation to keep using the available credit making it harder to pay off balances.
If you’ve wondered why credit card debt never seems to go down, it’s mostly due to your monthly payments only satisfying the interest accrued.
I’ve been where you are with credit card debt. I’ve struggled. I’ve cried. I had many sleepless nights. The stress was unbearable.
Fortunately, I finally hit the point that enough was enough. So I force myself to sit on my couch with my laptop and create a plan.
But I needed to be motivated and chose to pay off the debt I believe I could manage–the smallest balance first.
After paying off one card entirely, I focused on paying the next smallest balance and the process would continue until all cards were paid off. I didn’t know it then but this strategy already had a name.
In my book, You Only Live Once, I wrote:
Remember that debt elimination is a financial and mental process. The method that you choose to pay off credit card debt should be the method that motivates you to eliminate debt.
Credit card debt is a ball-and-chain that continues to get heavier
I want you to know, however, that all strategies require a shift in mindset. You must believe it’s possible to achieve and begin to think of credit differently.
Credit card debt was a constant reminder of my past financial mistakes. And my stress level would rise when after months of repayments, the balances never seemed to go down. It seemed the debt ball-and-chain just got bigger and heavier. I felt more depleted and constricted.
When I decided it was time to lessen that load, my life changed. It took time to turn my debt repayment habit into a debt elimination mindset. I started by accepting my role in the debt.
I did this by:
- Accepting my past financial mistakes and move on from them.
- Accepting I have control over debt and it will no longer impact your wellbeing.
- Accepting debt elimination was in my future using a strategy that motivated me.
Once you’ve addressed your mindset, you can begin using the strategy that works for you.
How to Use the Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche Method
Both of these methods require you to continue to make minimum monthly payments an all credit cards. The focus is to pay off one credit card in full before shifting your attention to the next card. Success happens when you make additional payments on balances. The debt snowball and debt avalanche is a process of applying maximum payments towards one card at a time.
Debt Snowball Method
The debt snowball method is a way to repay credit card debt by tackling smaller balances first. Make the minimum monthly payments on all your credit cards but with your smallest balance you pay the minimum plus extra money. Once you’ve paid off the smallest balance card you apply that minimum payment into the next smallest balance.
You’re essentially packing payments, like a snowball, and hitting each card balance with increasingly larger payments.
This method may not seem to make the most mathematical sense. In fact, you may be paying off the smallest balance with the lowest interest rate. The snowball method, however, focuses on keeping you motivated when you see credit card statements with zero balances.
Learn in detail how to use the debt snowball method.
Debt Avalanche Method
The debt avalanche method repays credit card balances with the highest interest rates first. You are less concerned with the balance amount. This method makes the most mathematical sense because you’re eliminating debt that may cost you more.
In most instances, your highest interest card may also have the largest balance. This requires more patience and attention to tackle that large and higher interest credit card debt.
Once you’ve paid the highest interest rate credit card, you move onto the next card with the second-highest interest rate and continue down the list. Essentially, you’re creating an avalanche effect. You will use the payments from the paid off credit card to the next card on the list.
Learn in detail how to use the debt avalanche method.
Which is better debt avalanche or debt snowball method?
The debt avalanche method makes the most sense when you do the math. Paying off the highest interest credit card debt minimizes the total cost of borrowing. It saves you more money long-term. But the success of debt repayment is keeping motivated. Choose one strategy and see how it works for you and switch if necessary.
If your debt is too much to handle consider a debt consolidation loan or credit card management app. Check the financial marketplace for additional tools to aggregate your debt and monitor your credit score.