4 Ways to Pay Off Debt (That Aren’t Snowball or Avalanche) 

4 Ways to Pay Off Debt (That Aren't Snowball or Avalanche) 

Consider these methods for paying down your high-interest debt.

Do one thing: Set aside an hour and take a look at your last two months of financial statements. Review credit card expenses and checking account expenditures to see where your money is going. 

Debt Weighing Heavy on Americans

High-interest debt is crushing millions of Americans every single month. And if it feels like the problem is getting worse, that’s because it is. While the debt owed by U.S. residents has risen to historic levels, the ability for consumers to pay it off is – you guessed it – also lagging.  

A new study from TransUnion shows that median minimum monthly debt payments increased by a whopping 32% in just three years – between 2020 and 2023 – trouncing the rate of inflation (which was 18%) during that time, according to the report. 

Remember, making minimum payments isn’t recommended if you can help it because it will keep you in debt much longer than if you pay more than the minimum. Paying credit card balances off completely by the end of your grace period is even better for your bottom line.

Strategies for Tackling Debt

Back in 2004 – two decades ago now – I first published the book “Pay it Down: From Debt to Wealth on $10 a Day.” Even though things cost more now, the idea is the same. By making small permanent changes in your daily routines – like skipping an overpriced fast food meal or canceling a clothing or streaming subscription – you can begin to save money on non-necessities to get out of debt and build a better life. 

And when I say debt, I mean the kind hanging over your head from high-interest credit cards. Other types of lower-interest debt, such as what you pay monthly on a mortgage or for your education, aren’t in the same category as the little pieces of plastic you carry in your wallet. If you’re ready to feel better (and sleep more soundly) consider these methods for paying off debt.


I really like micropayments as a way to build momentum and continuously chip away at credit card debt. How do they work? Instead of making one monthly payment, you can send in several smaller payments during your billing cycle. 

Automatic Micropayments. To make it easy on yourself, set up automatic transfers from your checking account every two weeks, which means you’ll end up paying 26 times a year instead of 12. Increasing the number of payments will help you pay less in interest and pay down your debt even faster.  

Balance Transfers

Have you received any credit offers lately (maybe by mail or financial app) with low or zero introductory rates? This could be your opportunity to move some of your high-interest debt over to a card with a much lower rate. Just be sure to read the fine print and pay on time every time. If you are late with even one payment chances are the introductory offer will vanish right along with your savings.  

The Blizzard Method

What’s the blizzard method? Consider it a hybrid of two more well-known debt payoff plans: the snowball and the avalanche.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You start with the snowball method, which means paying off your lowest credit card debt first. This gives you a quick psychological boost, which researchers say many people need to keep going.
  2. After you have a few zero balance cards under your belt, switch to the avalanche method. That’s where you pay off the card with the highest interest rate, which saves you more money. (You also need to keep making at least the minimum payment on any other cards as you do this.)
  3. When the highest-interest credit card balance is paid in full, rinse and repeat until all of your credit card bills are paid off.

Do The Hustle (A Side Hustle) 

Sometimes, you really can’t squeeze any more savings from your monthly budget. If you’re already doing the following:

  • Rarely eat out
  • Carpool
  • Drive an older car
  • Know where every penny is going

it could be time to consider taking on some extra work to pay down your debt. 

Monetize Your Hobbies. If you have time, take a look at your hobbies and interests to see what might be fun and profitable. Love animals? A pet-sitting or dog-walking side job might be just the ticket. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to funnel all of your extra funds into paying off the credit card debt. You won’t regret it!

With reporting by Casandra Andrews

Jean Chatzky

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