Snowball your way out of debt
With interest rates rising and the economy being so uncertain, now more than ever you need to be financially secure. A great way to increase financial security is to repay your debt, but it’s not easy, is it.
I’ve been fascinated by human behaviour for as long as I’ve been a financial planner. The two go hand in hand in so many ways, because we are physical beings run by our emotions. Therefore, when it comes to debt repayment, we need to be aware of this because repaying debt won’t happen overnight, and we can easily ‘yo-yo debt’ – pay a little off and put it right back on!
I use a process that’s different to most others when it comes to getting debt-free, because it focuses on making you feel good as you go along your debt repayment journey.
It’s called the Snowball System, because your little decisions initially build to make a big difference.
Don’t be frozen with fear
The first thing you must do is face reality. We must plan from where we are today, not where we wished we were. We can’t change the past, but we can make different decisions about our future. Our past behaviours do not need to reflect our future behaviours, we have a choice.
Get to know your numbers and make a spreadsheet. List for each credit card or loan you have: the amount, the minimum monthly payment and the interest rate. There’s a free spreadsheet in the members area.
Next, try to get the best interest rate you can with each provider. Call them and see if they can reduce the rate you’re paying.
After that, you must find a way to have more coming into your account than going out; you need a surplus at the end of the month. You may have to make sacrifices. Just remember the end goal, and those sacrifices will be more than worth it.
Consolidation is cold comfort
I’m not a fan of debt consolidation (loading all your debts onto one credit card or loan), even if it’s an interest-free arrangement.
By keeping your debts separate, when you pay each one off, you get a win; a feeling of ‘Yes, I did it!’ – we still like praise, even if it’s from our self.
If you consolidate your debts, that win comes so much further down the line. Emotionally, that’s a lot tougher.
All downhill from here
Once you’ve got your spreadsheet, arrange your debts in order from smallest balance first to largest balance last – NOT in order of interest rate.
For each debt, set up a Direct Debit to pay off the minimum amount every month, to make sure you’re not incurring any extra fees.
To attack your debt, you pay your snowball – the surplus money you have left over each month – onto the smallest balance first. Your aim is to rapidly and aggressively do whatever it takes to pay that smallest debt off.
Why? To get a quick win and a dopamine boost. You’ll start feeling good about the process and you’ll be more likely to stay on the plan and not ‘yo-yo’.
Once your smallest balance is gone, congratulate yourself – you’ve achieved something great.
Repeat this and you’ll get rid of your debts one by one, each time feeling that little bit freer.
5 things to know about debt
Debt can be scary and the numbers across the UK are surprising, here are my top 5 facts about debt in the UK at the moment.
- The average credit card debt per household in the UK is £2,192 and the average unsecured debt per UK adult in the UK is £3,817
- The average total debt per UK household in April was £64,286
- Credit card balances have increased by 8.7% in the year to April 2022
- People in the UK owed £1,7865.6 billion at the end of April 2022
- Borrowers paid £126 million a day in interest in April 2022