If you’re serious about paying off your debt, you’ve probably heard about the debt snowball method.
In this method, you list out all your debts by how much you owe. You aim to pay off the smallest debt first. After the first debt is paid off, you take the money you were using to pay the first debt and apply it to the next smallest debt, increasing the monthly payment.
Debt Snowball vs Debt Avalanche
Let’s say your debts looked like this:
|Debt||Amount Owed||Interest Rate|
Using the debt snowball method, you would pay off your auto loan first. Then, when that was paid off, you’d take the money you were using towards the monthly auto loan payments and apply them to your credit card balance.
Then, when you paid off the credit card, you’d apply the money you were using for those payments towards your student loans.
This is the most effective payoff method from a psychological standpoint; studies show you’re more likely to follow through because of those first few quick wins.
But mathematically, the best way to pay off your debt is using the avalanche method. Using this method, you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first, regardless of how much you owe.
In this instance, it would mean paying off your credit card debt first, as it has the highest interest rate. You’d then direct your attention to your student loans, and finally your auto loan.
Debt Snowball Spreadsheets
While the avalanche method is the best option mathematically, we know most people don’t follow through with it as heavily as they do with the debt snowball method.
To set you up for success, here are some of the best free debt snowball spreadsheets.
Debt Snowball for Google Docs from Tiller Money
Tiller’s Debt Snowball Spreadsheet allows you to calculate estimated payoff dates and track your progress towards debt freedom. You can use this sheet to switch back and forth between the avalanche and debt snowball method.
Graphs will help you compare the two strategies side by side. This spreadsheet can be used for any type of debt.
Debt Snowball Worksheet from Healthy Wealthy Skinny
This simple Google Sheet from Healthy Wealthy Skinny allows you to track up to ten debts over the course of three years. You can strategize your debt snowball before breaking down your monthly payments to the granular level, including recording the portion of each payment that is interest and what the remaining balance will be each month.
Note: there are no graphs included with this spreadsheet, for those who are motivated by visuals.
Debt Snowball Spreadsheet from Wise Woman Wallet
This Excel sheet from Wise Woman Wallet allows you to use not just the debt snowball and avalanche methods, but also what the creator calls the ‘debt volcano’ method. This method sorts your debt payoff ranking by your frustration and emotions towards each individual debt. If one debt makes you angrier than another, you channel that emotion to fuel your motivation and pay it off first.There are no graphs or visuals with this spreadsheet, but you will be able to quickly view your total balance. This sheet will need to be updated manually each month.
Simple Debt Snowball Spreadsheet from iHeartBudgets
All of the spreadsheets on this list are easy to use. But if you have a particularly acute spreadsheet-phobia, you may want to check out this simple debt snowball spreadsheet from iHeartBudgets. Input each debt from smallest to largest, and this spreadsheet will quickly give you a countdown to your debt freedom date.
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.
Debt Snowball Spreadsheet from Life and My Finances
This spreadsheet from Life and My Finances will help you plan out your debt snowball payoff plan for up to 16 debts over the course of up to 120 months. You can add more debts or time, but odds are this sheet will have you covered as-is, tracking every penny along the way. While it is extremely detailed, there are no accompanying charts.