Thinking about paying off debt with the Debt Snowball Method? Check out this list of 10 things I wish I’d known before starting my debt snowball.
I owe my glorious debt-free status to Dave Ramsey who introduced me to paying off debt with the Debt Snowball Method. I read his book, The Total Money Makeover (<– a must-read for anyone in debt; like seriously, just go buy his book right now), and was hooked. I couldn’t be more thankful for his words of wisdom when I was broke, scared, stressed, fearful of my financial future, and desperate to get rid of my debt.
Clearly I wasn’t in a good place with all that debt (who is?). There are some things that I wish I could tell my former broke-self to help get out of the debt funk. In fact, now that I paid off my debt and have that 20/20 hindsight vision, I created a list of 10 things I wish I had known before starting the Debt Snowball Method. I hope this list is helpful for those who are gearing up to start their debt snowball and say goodbye to their debt for good!
Let’s get started with everything I would tell my former-self before starting the debt snowball:
1. Start now. Like right now. Don’t keep thinking about it for the next year
Girl, you have listened to a thousand Dave Ramsey podcasts, read through hundreds of articles about the different methods of paying off debt, filled out tons of spreadsheets calculating debt payoff dates and interest paid. You’ve gone back and forth a hundred times about when to start. Enough already!! You’ve wasted years (literally years!) because of your indecisiveness. Today is the day. No more excuses. No more “research”…start the Debt Snowball Method today.
Side note: Starting your debt-free journey is the toughest part. I wish I had the resources to help jump-start my journey. But they didn’t exist. My solution? Create them! I’ve created three killer Debt Snowball printables…and I’m sharing them with you! Just enter your email in the box below, and I’ll send you three debt snowball printables over the course of three days to help you (finally!) start your Debt Snowball
2. Ignore your math brain. Ignore the doubts.
Stop being enticed by the Debt Avalanche Method. I know, using the Debt Avalanche Method where you pay your highest interest rate debt first makes mathematical sense. You pay less in interest and you get out of debt faster. Yup, that’s what the math tells you. But guess what? Money, debt, and personal finance is about more than just math. There are a lot of emotions attached to finances and you’ll learn this lesson a thousand times over in your debt-free journey.
On paper, the Debt Avalanche Method gets you out of debt faster, but in reality, the Debt Snowball Method will probably get you there faster. That’s because you get that sense of accomplishment when you pay off your first (smallest) debt. The high you get, those happy emotions, will give you the momentum you need to continue attacking your debt. You just don’t get that feeling with the Debt Avalanche Method.
Ignore the math. Stop being such an engineer about your debt. The Debt Snowball Method will give you motivation, confidence, and so much more that will help you pay off that debt that just won’t go away.
3. Those podcasts are very motivating. Don’t stop listening to them.
You’ve been listening to tons of personal finance podcasts to get psyched up for starting your debt-free journey. Well, it works – you pick a day and start the Debt Snowball. But that doesn’t mean you should stop listening! Keep listening to the podcasts to stay motivated on paying off debt, get tips for saving money, and hear stories about other people who paid of their debt.
4. You should open up to someone about your debt
You are the only one in your group of friends that has six figures of debt. It’s a pretty lonely feeling. Find someone who can relate to you. Trust me, over 44 million Americans have student loan debt – you can find one of them. It’s a good feeling to compare strategies, feelings, goals, and struggles with someone in a similar position.
5. You are going to go over budget…and that’s okay
You are going to spend days creating the perfect budget (<– even though it should only take 5 minutes). Despite that effort, you are going to go over budget. In fact, less than 48 hours after starting the Debt Snowball Method you are going to drop your phone and it’s going to shatter. It’s an expense that isn’t in your budget and you’re going to be really angry.
There are going to be things that destroy your budget. Suck it up. It happens. Don’t let it discourage you. And don’t “screw the budget” for the rest of the month. It’s just one tiny blip (or a couple of tiny blips) in your budget, and it’s okay.
6. Always keep a spending log
This is the only method that works for you. Writing down each and every expense in your spending log helps you to consistently stay under budget, spend less, and spend more mindfully. I know it takes more time that the automatic electronic ways of tracking your expenses, but this is the way that works for you.
7. Just make a budget every month
This whole getting out of debt thing won’t work without a budget. You need one. Every month. There’s no way around it.
8. The sacrifice isn’t really that bad
You’re a little scared to start your debt snowball. That’s understandable – you’ve heard Dave Ramsey say over and over again about being on a ‘beans and rice’ diet, never going into a restaurant, and never going on a vacation. Those sacrifices seem like the end of the world to a 20-something. But you know what, (1) it’s not the end of the world and (2) YOU decide your budget. You can make really delicious food on a budget (there are tons of budget-friendly food blogs to help you). You can budget for restaurants. Oh, and you can go on some pretty great vacations that are also affordable.
You’ll have to sacrifice a little. But you won’t have to sacrifice everything. Plus, it’s only temporary.
Stop acting like your social life is over.
9. This is it! This is the KEY to getting out of debt!
You are making the right decision. Sticking with the Debt Snowball Method is going to help you pay off your debt!! YAY!
10. It is SO worth it
Being debt-free is even better than you imagined. You can do whatever you please with your money. You don’t have to hand over any of your paycheck to a credit card company, loan company, or bank. Your paycheck is all yours! That sacrifice, the work you put into earning more money and saving more money will be worth it. Do everything you can today to get out of debt. It’ll be worth it!
What do you wish you knew before starting your debt-freedom journey?