Snowball vs Avalanche vs Tornado: Which Debt Payoff Strategy is Right for YOU

pay off debt!

Digging yourself out of debt is hard.  I know, I’ve done it.  But, there are three methods I’ve seen used successfully over the years.  They all require patience, perseverance and tenacity, but I can tell you from first-hand experience they all work.  

The three BEST methods to pay down debt are the: 

  • Debt Snowball method
  • Debt Avalanche method
  • Debt Tornado method.  

First, let’s talk about each method, and then we’ll talk about which method can help YOU pay down debt fast and get your debt eliminated FOREVER





The Debt Snowball

The Debt Snowball method was popularized a number of years ago by Dave Ramsey and it’s been successfully used by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people eager to get out of debt fast.  

Here’s what you do to set up your Debt Snowball:

  • First, organize your debts from smallest to largest  
  • Next, put the most money you can towards paying off the smallest debt 
  • Paying off the smallest debt gives you a “quick win”, which keeps you motivated to Keep Going!  
  • For the rest of your debts, you pay the minimum amount so that you don’t incur any fees
  • You will still rack up interest on those debts, but late fees just make a bad problem worse, so avoid those at all costs

⬇️  ⬇️  ⬇️  Don’t want to Read?  Here’s a Youtube Video I did on The Debt Snowball!⬇️  ⬇️  ⬇️



What Happens Once You Pay Off the First Smallest Debt?

Once you pay off the first smallest debt, you take the money you were paying on that debt and you add it to the amount you’re going to pay on the next smallest debt.  

 Once that second smallest debt is paid, you take the money you were paying on the first debt and the second debt and you put all of that money towards the third smallest debt.  

So, what happens is that as you pay off your debts, you roll that money to the next debt and the next debt, creating a “snowball” of cash.  




By the time you get to your largest and final debt, you’re throwing the most cash possible towards that debt!  


The Pros and Cons of The Debt Snowball Method

As with everything else in life, there are both Pros and Cons to the debt snowball method.   

The Pro of the debt snowball method, or strategy, whichever you prefer, is that it gives you QUICK WINS.   

If your smallest debts are only a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars, you can probably get those taken care of in a few months.   Then, you’ll have more dollars to throw at some of your larger debts like paying off your car.  Those initial small wins can be a great way to get and keep you motivated! 


The Con of the debt snowball method is that you’ll probably end up PAYING MORE INTEREST on those debts in the long run.  

Your smallest debts may or may not be the ones with the highest interest rates.  So, paying them off quickly does free up cash, but also allows debts with a higher interest rate to continue to rack up interest.  


If you want more information on the Snowball Method of Debt check out this blog HERE


The Debt Avalanche

The Debt Avalanche method, or strategy, of paying down debt comes at the problem of paying down your debt from a completely different direction.  

Here’s what you do to set up your Debt Avalanche:

  • Starts with organizing your debts from the highest interest rate to the lowest interest rate  
  • Then, you start putting as much money as possible towards the debt with the highest interest rate 
  • You don’t worry about the total amounts due, you ONLY look at the Interest Rates  


Then, just like with the Snowball Method, once that debt is paid you roll the money that you were paying on the first debt to the second-highest interest rate debt. 

 And so on and so on....

 Until all of the debts are paid.  


Just as with the snowball method, by the time you get to the debt with the lowest interest rate, you will be throwing as much money as possible at it, paying the debt down quickly!

⬇️  ⬇️  ⬇️  Don’t want to Read?  Here’s a Youtube Video I did on The Debt Avalanche!⬇️  ⬇️  ⬇️



The Pro and Con of The Debt Avalanche Method

Just as with the snowball method of debt repayment, there is both a pro and a con of the debt avalanche method of debt repayment.  


The Pro of the Debt Avalanche is that because the debts with the highest interest rates are paid off first, you’re going to pay less interest in the long run.  Which is great!


The Con of the Debt Avalanche is that if the debt with the highest interest rate is a large debt, then it might take some time to pay that debt off and it can feel you’re not making much progress.  


That can be demoralizing and demotivating and, frankly, FRUSTRATING, which can cause some people to give up on paying off their debt.  

When that happens, it’s just a shame because paying off debt is the first step to true financial freedom!





The Debt Tornado Method

The Debt Tornado method is rooted less in math and more in EMOTION.  

With the debt tornado, the debts that cause you the most angst, anger, or sadness are paid off first, regardless of interest rate or total balance.  


The theory, or thought, is that by paying off the debt that causes you the most negative emotion you put that situation behind you as fast as possible and then move on to other debts...and your debt-free life! 

The debt tornado was created by a guy named Steve Donovan of Even Steven Money.  

⬇️  ⬇️  ⬇️  Don’t want to Read?  Here’s a Youtube Video I did on The Debt Tornado!⬇️  ⬇️  ⬇️



Here’s what you do to set up your Debt Avalanche:

  • First, make a list of all your debt
  • Then, figure out HOW LONG it’s going to take you to pay off that debt if you keep paying it like you currently are
    • Your credit card statement will tell you how long it will take you to pay it off if you only pay the minimum
    • You can also a debt calculator like THIS ONE from (scroll down for loads of calculators)
  • Now, re-order them with the one that makes you the angriest or saddest or most emotional first, and then in successive order


Once you figure out which debt makes you the most emotional, then you have to figure out how you’re going to ATTACK that Debt!  

You’re going to sit down and figure out how you can come up with more money to throw at that debt.  Whether it’s taking a temporary part-time job, starting a side hustle, selling stuff on eBay or Facebook Marketplace that you don’t want anymore, whatever -- How are you going to come up with more money to throw at that debt and DESTROY it with all the force of one of Mother Nature’s TORNADOS!!




The Pros and Cons of the Debt Tornado

Just like with the Debt Snowball and the Debt Avalanche, the Debt Tornado has Pros and Cons.  

The Pro of the Debt Tornado is the extreme amount of FOCUS that you bring to eliminating the debt can enable you to pay off massive debts in far less time than it would have taken you.  Getting you out of debt faster!  


The Con of the Debt Tornado is that you may or may not save yourself interest in the long run because the debt that makes you the maddest, may not be the debt with the highest interest rate.  Another Con of the Debt Tornado is that the debt that makes you the maddest might be a really big debt like a school loan.  Larger debts take longer to pay off, so no quick wins like you would get with the Debt Snowball. 


BUT, there’s always something to be said for getting things, debts, even people out of your life that don’t serve to make you happier!  So, if the Debt Tornado speak to you, then give it a try!


Snowball vs.  Avalanche vs. Tornado. What’s Best?

So, after all of that, which strategy is the BEST??  

Okay, I’m going to get a little cheeky here.  

The BEST one to pick - Snowball, Avalanche, or Tornado IS 


🙃 🙃 🙃 🙃 🙃  THE ONE YOU STICK WITH! 🙃 🙃 🙃 🙃 🙃

I KNOW.  Sorry.  But, that’s really what this all comes down to:

The Absolute, 1000% BEST Method for YOU is the one you Stick With

💯 💯 💯 

Yes, you’ll pay less interest in the long run with the Avalanche Method, but if you get frustrated with how long it takes to pay down the debt and go back to just paying the minimum on everything it will literally take you YEARS to get rid of it!! 

The Snowball Method will give you some quick wins and get you some of those sweet, sweet dopamine hits, but, if you stop paying attention and wander away and, again, go back to paying the minimum….well then, it won’t work.  

Like all things in life, consistency and tenacity are your friends.  🤗 🤗 🤗


The Combination Platter of Debt Pay Off!


My last tip for you when it comes to paying off your debt is to remember one of Auntie Chelle’s Life Lessons:

>>>>>>>>>LIFE IS NOT ALL OR NOTHING<<<<<<<<<


When I was super deep in debt, I used a combination of all three strategies:

First, I looked at all my debts and focused on a couple of really small store cards I had and paid those off quickly.  THEN, for the other debts - with the one exception below - I organized them in order of highest interest rates and started throwing as much money as I could at the highest interest rate debt.


But, there was this ONE DEBT that I really hated.  Everything about it made my stomach churn and brought up its own tornado of negative feelings.

For THAT debt, I actually took on a couple of additional consulting clients and pledged all the income from those two clients would go 100% to THAT DEBT. 


So, if you’re struggling to figure out which strategy to pick, take a step back.  Maybe YOU can put together your own Combination Platter of how to get rid of your debts FAST!  


Want to know the BEST THING about PAYING OFF YOUR DEBT??

Now you can SAVE!!!  Here are a couple of additional blogs to help you do just that!:

How to Start Saving Money - Even if You’ve Never Been A Saver

The 3 Savings Accounts You NEED TODAY!

What is an Emergency Fund?



**I am not a licensed financial advisor.  I am a money expert and I offer education, tips, tricks and my opinions around money.  You should consult a professional who understands your needs in order to make the best decisions for you!  Additionally, some links in this blog may be affiliate links, which means if you click the link and buy the product I may earn a small commission - at NO COST to You! It’s one of the ways I keep the lights on around here so TYIA! 😉

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