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    Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche

    Many of us made the decision to attend college and are now stuck with difficult-to-handle student loan debt. There are several ways to pay them off or even have them forgiven.

    However, the two most commonly used repayment strategies would be the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods.

    Read on to discover the difference between the two, and learn which strategy would be most effective for your circumstances.

    Debt Snowball

    What is the debt snowball method?

    This method is named after the snowball effect: the process that commences from an initial state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming more serious and gaining momentum over time (as with a snowball rolling down a hill).

    With the debt snowball, a debtor attempts to begin with minor victories and then build these as time passes. The idea is that when dealing with several repayment requirements, one focuses on the smallest balance to begin with, making the minimum possible contributions on all other payments.

    You must fulfill the minimum requirements on the other loans, but then devote all extra funds to paying off the smallest debt, while slowly working your way up to the larger.


    There are many benefits to the debt snowball system. For example:

    • The satisfaction that comes with achieving a loan repayment can be very motivating. Seeing immediate results by paying the smallest payments first gives you the empowerment to struggle onwards
    • Once smaller debts are paid off, there are extra funds and the motivation that can be used to aid payment of the next debt


    • The main disadvantage of this method is that it will likely take you longer to pay off your debt this way

    Remember, if it takes you longer to repay debt, this likely will result in you paying more interest in the long term.

    The Best Option?

    In the right circumstances, the debt snowball method can be a great choice. The boost of motivation that comes with totally clearing a debt can be hugely beneficial to those who are suffering from the feeling that there is no end in sight, especially those with various repayments to make. However, you may pay more for it with interest.

    Debt Avalanche 

    What is the debt avalanche method?

    The name for the debt avalanche method refers to the explosive, rapid movement of an avalanche, as opposed to the slow, progressive movement of the snowball.

    The debt avalanche works on a different form of prioritization to the snowball method. The idea here is to make payments only on the debt which has the maximum interest rate, paying the smallest possible required amount on any other loans, regardless of size. This method is implemented with a view to being the most financially efficient.


    The benefits of the debt avalanche system are clear. 

    • You will end up saving a greater amount of money on interest by using this method. 
      To prioritize the highest interest rates first is to focus on removing those more expensive debts, leaving you with cheaper rates of interest
    • Due to this, the loan will actually be paid off faster. This is the most efficient method of repayment time-wise, as long-lived interest rates are shut down as quickly as possible


    • This method can be very unmotivating. If you have a large number of different payments to make, bringing that number down is a high priority, and this method could leave you with debt for a longer time than the snowball method.

    The Best Option?

    The debt avalanche method is beneficial to those with several student loans and a range of interest rates to consider. The minimum payments required may not be making much difference, so adopting the aggressive avalanche strategy to make the largest possible payments on your high-interest loan would be advantageous.

    Which to Choose? 

    The most important thing when dealing with student loan debt is to make sure you are making your payments! Every dollar brings you a step closer to life without debt.

    However, in choosing the snowball or avalanche method, you must focus on what is right for you. Are you feeling motivated to make your payments? Are you looking to save money in the long run, or ease stress in the short term?

    For those with many debts who are in financial trouble, we would recommend the debt avalanche method. Pour as much as you can into the high-interest loan and focus on stopping your maximum payments first. When you sit down and work it out, you may find the amount you save surprising.

    However, if you are someone who is suffering from many debts, and they have become constant stress and strain on your emotions, we would recommend the debt snowball method. Paying off one of the loans as fast as possible will give you an easy win and make things simpler.

    Whichever method you pick, or indeed a combination of the two, make sure that you have a clear plan of how you will repay your loans, and stand by your plan!