What Is the Debt Snowball?

With the debt snowball method, you pay the monthly minimums on all your debts but put any extra money toward your debt with the smallest balance. Once that account is fully paid off, you put the extra money toward the next-smallest balance, and so on.

The debt snowball method is a simple and common way to pay down debt with small victories along the way, and the debt snowball calculator makes the process that much easier.

Enter details about your loans and credit cards

Estimate your savings with this debt snowball calculator

How Many Debt Accounts Do You Have?

Include credit cards and all loans except mortgage. Snowball method is applicable if you have at least two of these.

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Keep your credit and loan statements handy to fill in balance, payment and rate details.

How to Use Our Debt Snowball Calculator?

1. Plug in your debt details

Add each form of debt that you have—excluding mortgages—with the account type, remaining balance, interest rate, and minimum payment due each month.

2. Figure out which debt to repay first

Our snowball calculator will show you which debt you should repay first based on the lowest balance. You’ll repay the minimum on each debt every month but add as much as possible to the lowest balance.

3. Determine how much to put toward lowest balance

Figure out how much over the minimum amount due you’ll put toward your lowest balance each month until it’s paid off. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Which Is Better: Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche?

The debt snowball method may work better for you if you’re motivated by seeing progress in your debt payoff journey. Quick wins can help you stay on track. The debt avalanche method may work better if you want to save money on interest in the long run—however, it might take longer to get that first “victory.”

Snowball vs avalanche infographic

When deciding between the debt snowball and avalanche methods, it all boils down to personal preference: Would you rather knock out a small debt quickly and build momentum toward your larger debts, or would you rather chip away at your high-interest debts and position yourself to save some money along the way?

Read more: Best Way to Pay Off Debt: Snowball vs. Avalanche Repayment Methods

Debt Snowball Calculator Terms & Definitions

  • Debt Snowball

    A debt reduction strategy that has you pay off your debt by putting as much as possible toward the lowest balance while continuing to pay the minimum on every other debt. When that’s paid off, you roll the amount you’ve been paying to the next-smallest balance until you’ve paid off all your debt.

  • Creditor

    A person or entity that allows someone to borrow money and repay it later.

  • Balance Owed

    The amount of money that is due to be paid by a certain date.

  • Interest Rate

    The percentage of the principal that a lender charges to borrow money.

  • Payment Amount

    The total paid toward a bill.

  • Interest Cost

    The amount of interest a borrower pays over the course of a loan or other debt.

  • Payment Schedule

    The structure of dates when the borrower is expected to repay the lender.

Frequently Asked Questions

Using a free debt snowball calculator is the best and most efficient way to figure out how much you can save by using the debt snowball method. Plug in your debt details, including balance, interest rate, minimum monthly payment, and how much over the minimum amount you plan to pay on the lowest balance. The calculator will display how much you’ll save in interest by using the debt snowball method as well as how much quicker you’ll be debt free.

The best way to use a debt snowball calculator to pay off debt more quickly is to put as much as you can possibly afford toward your lowest balance. The more you’re able to pay each month, the quicker you’ll be debt-free.

Related: How to Pay Off Debt Fast?

A debt avalanche calculator allows you to see how much you could save on interest by paying off your highest-interest balance first and working your way toward your lowest-interest balance, as opposed to the debt snowball’s lowest overall balance to highest overall balance approach.

Alternatives to the debt snowball method include the debt avalanche method as well as hybrid approaches—like treating small and large debts differently, changing your strategy based on the type of debt, and the debt-to-interest ratio approach, sometimes called the debt spiral method

The easiest way to create a debt snowball spreadsheet in either Google Sheets or Excel is by downloading a customizable and easy-to-use template.

But if you’re ambitious and want to create one yourself, start by collecting your individual debts and interest rates. In the spreadsheet software of your choosing, plug in “Payment” into Column B with the amount you pay each month below. Add the name of your debt and interest rate into Column C, with the balance you owe in the row below. Continue this in as many columns as you have debts. In Column A, add dates for each corresponding payment.

  • Calculate the amount of interest you’ll pay with each payment by using the following formula:

    (Total amount owed x interest rate) / 12 = Monthly interest payment

  • Then in cell C3, create a formula from your total balance (C2) minus your payment (B3) plus your monthly interest rate:

    (C2-B3) + monthly interest payment = remaining balance

  • To duplicate this formula, click on cell C3, then click and drag the small blue box in the bottom right corner of the cell until the remaining balance reaches zero.
  • Use the same tactic for each of your debts to create the rest of your “debt log.” From here, adjust payment amounts to see how the debt snowball would help you pay off your debt more quickly.

Recommended: Does the Debt Snowball Really Work?