WHICH DEBT SHOULD I PAY DOWN FIRST? Free “snowball” program works it out for you.

There are various ways of calculating how to pay off your debts; and one of them is called the ‘snowball’ method.  I first heard about it on Martin Lewis’ ‘Money Saving Expert’ site.

I was looking for a version to post here; and I saw a version on a site called ‘Living Today Forward’. The site says of snowballing: “This simple methodology was popularized in the US by Dave Ramsey. His strategy focuses on the behavioural part of personal finance, delivering quick wins by paying off smaller debts first and tackling larger debts once you’ve established some momentum.  To get started, all you need to do is list your debts, sort them from smallest to largest balance, and start tracking your progress.

To that end, we are very pleased to offer you a free, downloadable debt snowball spreadsheet in Excel format.  On the worksheet, you will find comprehensive instructions and a simple layout that is easy to follow.  This can be expanded to track your entire debt payoff experience and can also serve as a powerful reminder so you can avoid adding more debt to your life.”

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There’s a link below if you’d like to try that one. However, when I see Excel spreadsheets my brain hurts. So I found another version of the snowball that I particularly liked, on a UK site called ‘What’s the Cost?’

The idea of this site – and again I quote – is “to build a number of free, easy to use, on-line calculators to help you calculate the cost of various financial products such as loans, credit cards and mortgages. Rather than going to a debt management company, or consolidating your loans, this site contains financial tools to help you get debt free yourself!

“You’ll find tools here to help calculate the real cost of loans, the real cost of borrowing on credit cards, how much you could save by overpaying on your mortgage and more.

If you want to find out how much your loan or credit card is costing you, click on the link. This will allow you to enter your debt details and see a full breakdown of your estimated payment details.”

The calculators on the ‘What’s the Cost?’ site seem to be very user-friendly. The site has several; I tried out the one called ‘debt reduction’. It takes account of the fact that on some debts your monthly payment is fixed, whereas on others it’s your decision. The calculator gives you the optimum overall solution, which it will compute based on the data you enter, from up to 20 different debts.

However, before you use it, you need to make an important decision. How much of your spare cash (or ‘discretionary income’, as we say in the trade) are you going to use per month to pay down debt? How much of it will you use for non-essential expenditure … and how much for debt repayment?

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WANT TO GET STARTED ON YOUR DEBT REDUCTION PROJECT?

1. Here’s a download LINK to the Excel spreadsheet from the ‘Living Today Forward’ site.

2. Here’s a LINK to the snowball program (my personal favourite) from the ‘What’s the Cost?’ site.

3. Here’s a LINK for info about my book ‘Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way.’

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