Paying Down Debt: The Snowball Method Versus The Avalanche Method

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the weight created by unmanageable or unexpected debt, you’re not alone. Here is the good news: there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The first step is to decide that you’re going to address any outstanding debts you have. From there, you can continue to take intentional steps towards that goal. 

When it comes to creating a debt elimination plan, there are two common approaches: the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method. At first, these two methods seem quite similar. Initially, both methods suggest that you choose one debt to pay off first, while making the minimum payments on all other debts. However, they differ in which debt you should select for that focused repayment

Over the years, we’ve worked with thousands of clients who are committed to paying down debt. Many are curious about which method they should use. In this article, we wanted to take some time to provide an overview of each method and share our recommendations. 

What is the Debt Snowball Method?

The debt snowball method is an approach where you focus on paying off your smallest debt first. Once that debt is paid, you take the money you were putting toward that debt and begin applying it to the next-smallest debt that you owe. 

The benefit of this method is that you begin to gain momentum over time as your “debt snowball” continues to roll and grow. Eventually, the amount you’ve paid off “snowballs” as it gets larger and larger in size.

What is the Debt Avalanche Method?

In contrast, the debt avalanche method focuses on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first. Once that is paid, you put your money towards paying off your next debt. Rather than starting with the smallest debt, you focus on the one with the most onerous interest rate. Once that debt has been paid off, you can then move to the account with the next-highest interest rate. This process continues until all debts have been paid off. 

What Method Should You Use When Paying off Debt?

As we’ve worked to help our clients experience debt-free lives and financially independent futures, we often advise clients to take a debt snowball approach to pay down debt. The snowball approach helps individuals start to see progress at the very beginning of their financial journey. This can provide reassurance and positive reinforcement as they continue to pay down debt.

Take Steps to Pay Down Debt Today 

There is nothing like the feeling of freedom you can have in knowing that you do not have unpaid accounts looming over you. If you’re ready to take the first steps towards paying down debt, SageSpring Wealth Partners can offer ideas and advice. Our wealth teams can guide you towards living more and worrying less by creating a financial plan for the future. With time and effort, you can overcome your outstanding debts to achieve the financial freedom you desire. Contact us today to create a proactive financial plan for eliminating debt for you and your family.

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Jeffrey T. Dobyns


President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS 

Jeffrey T. Dobyns

President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS

Beyond crunching numbers and investment strategies, at SageSpring, we’re about building relationships. When you encounter Founder & President of SageSpring, Jeff Dobyns, it’s easy to understand why this is at the very heart of who we are as a firm. You won’t find stuffy formalities with Jeff; instead, you can expect to find him sharing a warm smile, communicating a compelling vision, or patiently untangling life’s complex challenges with clients. He believes in truly getting to know clients, understanding their aspirations and priorities, and navigating their financial plans with a tailored, comprehensive approach. Our team members have often been caught taking notes on Jeff’s effortless relationship skills from a distance, and we admire them for striving to learn from one of the best. 

Jeff’s financial expertise and wisdom are the perfect match to his innate people skills. Jeff holds the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChLU®) designations, and has held executive positions with financial planning firms for more than two decades. 

His dedication extends beyond the office to the boardroom and the local community, where Jeff is passionate about giving back. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Men of Valor, a prison ministry and mentoring program. Jeff also serves on the board of Send Musicians to Prison, which shares hope, healing and restoration with the imprisoned through musicians & artists. Jeff actively supports other initiatives in the community by sitting on the board of The Signatry of Middle Tennessee and the Halftime Institute of Nashville. 

Witnessing his four children, Gracyn, Hunter, Tanner, and Logan, excel on the field is almost just as rewarding, if not more, than celebrating the victories of seeing his clients overcome obstacles and build wealth. Spending weekends boating on the lake, hiking mountain trails, and fishing with his family are the moments Jeff cherishes most. It’s this grounded perspective that reveals the true meaning of wealth for Jeff: not just numbers on a page, but the freedom to create experiences that enrich your life and the lives of those you love. When you choose the Dobyns McMillin Wealth Team, you choose more than financial expertise. You choose a partner who champions your dreams, celebrates your victories, and walks besides you on the path to achieving your unique goals.

**Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.