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Credit cards are a common sight in America. With an economy on the road to recovery, more people are happy to use them once again. The trouble with credit is that it’s easy to use and harder to pay back. Sure, some people pay what they’ve spent in full each month. However, the reality is that many rely on credit as a way to get something they want without having the money up front or as a way to cover bills that a paycheck wasn’t enough for.

Over time, using credit cards can help your credit score, but they can also lead to ruin. If credit cards are stressing you out and causing you to struggle financially, it’s time to look into an alternative: The Snowball Method.

The Snowball Method is aptly named, because it helps you roll your payments over time into larger sums. That way, you pay off your debts one by one and eventually free yourself from debt completely.

How does it work?

To start with, you list every payment you have to make along with the total overall debts. For example, you could have a $500 loan with $35 payments each month, a $1,000 student loan with a $100 payment monthly and a $15,000 loan for your vehicle with a $230 payment every month. You’ll list these from least to greatest debt and also list the payments next to them.

The next step is to make sure you pay all minimums on time. On the smallest debt, you’ll pay anything extra you have, even if it’s a dollar or two. Eventually, once that debt is paid in full, you take the $35 payment you were making and add it to the $100 student loan payment. Now, you’re paying $135 instead of $100, making it faster to pay off that debt.

Once you pay that debt in full, you add the $135 payment to the $230 car payment, knocking out $365 a month instead of $230. You can see how this quickly adds up, dropping the time needed to pay back a debt overall.

For some people, the first debt eliminated is the first chance they get to breathe. You may not have that $35 every month, but do what you can to add more to your next payment as well. If you keep paying more than you owe and don’t miss minimum payments, you’ll pay off every debt faster than if you paid minimums alone.

The “Debt Snowball” doesn’t work for everyone. A bankruptcy or debt consolidation option may be better for your situation. Look into your alternatives, so you can find firm financial footing.