• Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages
  • Home equity lines of credit
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans
  • Tax liens

These are just a few of the many types of debt that most people shoulder at some point or another.

It’s pretty scary how easy it is to borrow money, and that debt can quickly start to feel overwhelming when you get bill after bill after bill for all the balances you owe.

If you’re looking for a way out, then it’s time to get into a snowball fight with your debt.

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ultimate guide to debt snowball + free printable



  • Download our free debt snowball printable (look for the green box)
  • Grab all your statements to figure out what you owe now
  • Start pummeling your debt balances with payment snowballs!

What is a debt snowball?

The debt snowball is a debt repayment strategy that focuses on the sizes of your debt balances rather than the interest rates you are being charged.

One of the biggest fans of this method is none other than Dave Ramsey, who incorporates this in step 2 of his baby steps to financial freedom.

You start by making all your minimum payments and then putting as many extra payments as you can towards paying off the smallest debt first.

Once that first debt is paid off, the money that’s freed up from no longer having to make that minimum payment will go towards helping to pay down the next largest balance.

Over time, the extra payments that you are making towards you debts will grow bigger and bigger, just like a snowball that’s been let loose down a hill. That’s how the debt snowball gets its name.

This debt reduction technique has exploded in popularity for several reasons:

watch, clock with time

You see more immediate results:

Paying down big balances can take forever. If, instead, you focus on knocking out a smaller debt in entirety, the accomplishment you feel from those quick wins helps you keep the momentum going.

graph showing growth

Your progress gets faster and faster:

As you pay down debts, you free up more and more money to use for paying down the bigger balances.

thumbs up cartoon image

It’s simple & easy to use:

No complicated spreadsheets or calculations here. Since you’re only honing in on one debt at a time, there’s no complex math or crazy balancing act needed.

How does the debt snowball work?

If you’re a visual person, then here’s a poster chart graphic to show you an example of how exactly the debt snowball works.

Is the debt snowball the best method for paying off debt?

Some critics say the debt snowball is not the ideal way to pay off debt because it doesn’t take interest rates into account.

They argue for the debt avalanche technique instead, since that has the greatest potential for saving on interest charges.

But we think the “best” method is always the one that actually gets you to do something about your debt.

Even if there are faster methods, or ones that cost you less in interest, they’re useless if you hate them and bail on trying to tackle your debt.

For many people, seeing the debts drop like flies is incredibly encouraging, so if the debt snowball keeps you fired up about chipping away at your debt, ignore what anyone else tells you and just stick to what works for you.

You do you.

Does the debt snowball method really work?

You bet!

A quick Google search for “debt snowball success stories” brings up 720,000 results. These are ordinary people, who decided they were over it with debt and dumped that burden with the debt snowball method.

Free debt snowball worksheet

Doesn’t “worksheet” make paying off debt seem like a drab chore?

Instead, let’s go with “printable,” because printables are kind of like sprinkles – they just make anything more fun. Which is exactly what we tried to do with our colorful tracker.

And staying motivated to pay down debt isn’t exactly a trip to Disney World, so you need all the help you can get to make it appealing.

Share this post, then click the button below to get access to your free debt snowball tracker spreadsheet. We’ve kept this debt snowball printable as simple as possible.

Please “PIN” or “SHARE” Before You Download:

Click Button to Download Files:

How to use the debt snowball method

Starting a debt snowball involves only a few easy steps:

Step 1: List out all of your debts, sorted by the size of the balance you owe from smallest to largest.

how does debt snowball work tutorial - step 1

Step 2: Mark down the minimum payment owed for each of the debts.

how does debt snowball work tutorial - step 2

Step 3: Each month, pay at least the minimum payment due on every debt you owe. Any extra payment you can make should always go towards the debt with the smallest balance.

how does debt snowball work tutorial - step 3

Step 4: As you pay off debts, the money for that would have gone towards those minimum payments are now freed up. Instead of pocketing that cash, use them to help pay down the next smallest debt faster.
how does debt snowball work tutorial - step 4

One of the best things about this method is that it doesn’t require you come up with more money just to pay down your debt.

Instead, it repurposes the money you were already paying towards debt to build momentum and clear your debts off faster and faster.

You’ll love watching your extra payments grow while your balances shrink!

Best way to pay your debt snowball

The debt snowball will always work as long as you are making your minimum payments and aren’t taking on more debt.

But if you want to go from chucking little snowballs at your debt to firing huge snow cannonballs, do everything in your power to pay more than just the minimum due.

There are two strategies for finding the extra money to do this.

piggy bank with coin inserted at top

The first is to slash your spending. The biggest plus about this approach is that you already have the money and just need to find it. Plus, learning to control your spending is hands-down the best financial skill you can ever develop.

negotiate a raise at work icon

A second way to get extra money is to go make more. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pick up overtime or extra shifts
  • Get a second job
  • Start a side hustle
  • Sell some of your stuff online

For the record, there’s no reason you can’t do both. Also, even if you can’t do them consistently month over month, any extra payment is better than no extra payment.

But those who are willing to regularly do either or both will have their debt buried in the snow in no time.

Debt snowball calculator

If you’re looking for a digital tool to track your debt snowball, don’t bother with trying to create your own debt snowball calculator on Excel.

Instead, use Undebt.it, a free, mobile-friendly online debt repayment tool that makes it super convenient to keep track of your debt snowball and watch your progress.

Undebt.it is seriously one of our favorite personal finance tools. Here’s why we love it:

  • FREE (our favorite price!)
  • No sign-up required (although you can save your debt info & unlock other awesome features if you do sign up for a free account)
  • Choose from multiple repayment strategies:
    • Debt snowball (smallest balance first)
    • Debt avalanche (highest interest rate first)
    • And more!
  • Add unlimited debt accounts
  • View projected payoff date & total interest
  • See your payoff progress in graph and table form

Here’s all the extra stuff you can do with Undebt.it if you do sign up for a free account:

  • Sort & export your debt payoff data to Excel
  • Automatically updates when you make additional payments
  • Compare different debt repayment strategies
  • Easily switch strategies if you change your mind
  • Supports temporary promotional interest rates

undebt it homepage - the free tool that gets you out of debt

Instead of using a debt snowball Excel sheet or trying to create your own debt snowball calculator, just let Undebt.it do the math so you don’t have to.

As if these amazing free features weren’t enough, Undebt.it also offers a 30-day free trial to their premium membership, after which it’s only $12 a year.

The nice thing is that Undebt.it truly wants to help people with their finances, so you aren’t required to give your credit card info to enroll an the automatic subscription plan when you sign up for the free trial.

In other words, they aren’t trying to bank on people forgetting to cancel. They only want the people who want truly want their service to pay for it. How awesome is that?


If you go with the premium membership for Undebt.it, make the absolute most of it by setting a recurring weekly reminder on your phone to log in and review your financial status. Be sure to set it for a time that you know you’ll actually be free to browse your account.

Debt snowball ideas

Here are some visual examples to give you motivation to pay down your debt snowball.

Motivational quotes

Here are some sayings that can help inspire you on your debt-free journey.

The journey to paying off all your debt begins with a single dollar. -Aunty Chang

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop. -Confucius

Slow, steady progress is better than fast, daily excuses. -Unknown

Bullet journal trackers

Use a bullet journal to track your finances? Try these spreads from Funding Cloud Nine:

  • Debt snowball
  • Debt priorities
  • Debt payments
  • Financial goals


The most productive snowball fight you could ever have! Use the debt snowball technique to pay off debt fast. See step-by-step instructions (including screenshots!) on how to start a debt snowball. Download our free debt snowball worksheet printable template to get your debt payoff rolling.


  • Download our free debt snowball printable (look for the green box)
  • Grab all your statements to figure out what you owe now
  • Start pummeling your debt balances with payment snowballs!



woman holding upen empty walletWhy Am I Broke?: 7 Ways to Stop Struggling Financially

stacy trinh aka aunty chang headshot


STACY, aka AUNTY CHANG, is a personal finance blogger set on a mission to show people that there's more to money than just the numbers. With two rental properties and a six-figure 401k by her 30's, she's on track to retire early without sacrificing work-life balance to get there. She wants to teach others how to identify their goals and use money to make them happen. Dual income, no kids, based in Hawaii.

Hangs out on Keeping Up with the Changs: Facebook | Twitter