Comparing debt repayment strategies – Snowball vs. Avalanche methods

By Shan Williams, YourLife Financial Coach

If you have debt, you are not alone. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American household carries $137,000 in debt.    

First thing first, in order to tackle your debt, you must set a budget. Yes, a budget! Write down what income you have coming in, so that you may allocate your money toward your expenses. Once you allocate your money, decide how much extra you can pay toward debt each month. 

Paying down debt can be a challenge. Below you will find two strategies that will help you get rid of your debt.

Debt Snowball 

The snowball strategy focuses on the size of your balances. List all your debts from smallest to largest. Focus on paying off the smallest one first. Make minimum payments on all debts except the smallest one to which you pay as much as possible. Once you have paid the smallest debt off in full, you follow the same strategy for the next smallest debt. Continue this process of paying off your smallest remaining debts until all are paid off. 


  • Quick satisfaction 
  • Stay motivated 
  • Positive momentum 

Debt Avalanche 

The avalanche strategy focuses on the interest rates of your debts. List all your debts from the highest interest rate to the lowest interest rate. Begin by paying the minimum amounts on all debts except the one with the highest interest rate and direct any extra money to that debt. Once it’s paid off, shift that payment to the debt with the next highest interest rate. Continue this process of paying off the highest interest rate until all are paid off. 


  • Get out of debt faster 
  • Pay less on interest 
  • Save money

Don’t forget! 

  • Pay debt in order of smallest balance (snowball) or highest interest (avalanche)
  • Focus on paying off one balance at a time, while paying the minimum balance on all other debt 
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