Snowflakes Can Snowball into Quicker Debt Payoffs

Article excerpt

If you're in debt as we head into summer, it's time to start thinking about snowflakes.

The idea of "snowflaking" is to make small debt payments, often on a credit card balance, more than once a month.

These snowflakes become part of your debt snowball, a technique by which you pay the minimum monthly payments on all debts except one that you focus on. As you pay off that debt, apply all the money you were paying on it to your next debt, which pays off that one faster, and so on. It creates a snowball effect, as if a snowball was gaining speed and rolling downhill.

The benefit of using snowflakes and a snowball is becoming debt- free quicker and paying far less interest. You'll even be motivated and help your credit score. This is one time when "throwing money at the problem" works.

Here's how to use snowflakes, also called micropayments, and why those in debt should consider it:

Call your card company: Most allow you to make many payments in a month for free. Call the phone number on the back of the card and ask about your issuer's policy. "The majority of the major issuers will allow you to do this," said Bill Hardekopf, founder of credit card comparison site LowCards.com.

Use regular snowflakes: Set up additional automatic payments to your credit card company. For example, if you get paychecks weekly or biweekly, make payment on the payday. One painless strategy is to pay half your usual amount biweekly. This amounts to 13 monthly payments in a year, instead of 12. "And all of that extra payment goes to pay off the balance. It doesn't go to interest," Hardekopf said. "So, your balance will come down faster."

Use irregular snowflakes: Hardcore snowflakers make many small payments in a month. If you skip a $9.46 lunch out at work, ship that amount to your credit card company. …