Debt Reduction with The Debt Snowflake Method

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Snowflake

This is a guest post by Jessica Ward — a freelance writer based in Seattle. She writes on family, business and money. She’s also a personal finance blogger at pennywisefamily.blogspot.com

What’s bigger than pocket change, but smaller than a debt snowball payment?

A “snowflake.” Confused?  Don’t be… “snowflakes” have helped me to pay off more than $14,000 of debt since the beginning of the year – no joke.

When was the last time you made a debt payment on something you didn’t get a bill for? Have you EVER made a payment without a bill?  Logistically, if you’re an old school paper-check-writer like me, it can be a little tricky  (Yep, believe it or not… I still write paper checks to pay my bills)!

Here I’ll show you how I handle multiple payments in one month, and how I make my “snowflake money.”

Paying the bills.

It’s likely that Sallie Mae, and Visa aren’t willing to accommodate your debt-free aspirations to the extent that they would mail you three to five bills per month to pay from.  Their loss…

Here’s how I do it—I fax myself a copy of the bill. I stick the invoice/statement into my fax machine and hit “copy” (alternately you could scan and email it to yourself).  Then I keep a copy of the bill around for next time I have a little spare change.  I’ll have to use my own envelope… but I’ll manage (Frugal confession—sometimes I grab an envelope out of a political solicitation and use that instead).

For those debts that don’t have a nice little invoice to pay from (like the big IOU to mom), I make a sheet of mailing labels. On the back, I keep the dates I’ve paid and the balance owed, and on the front is the address labels to the person I’m sending it to.  If you’ve got an account someplace that doesn’t bill, you can also put your account number there, below the address.

How big is a snowflake?

They’re tiny, silly.  That’s why they’re snow-flakes, and not snow-men. Every little bit truly does help.  Because all the regular paychecks in my household are deposited automatically, any extra check — or snowflake – that needs to go to the bank gets a deposit slip written, and a check for the same amount written back out to the next debt on the list.  And I mail it right away, regardless of the size.

Even the time I got a refund back from Visa for overpaying my credit card by $7.  I sent the $7 right to MasterCard the same day I got the check. I empty the ashtrays in my car and my husbands and dump it into a bucket where he keeps pocket change.  Then we roll up the coins, and write a deposit slip and a check.  Ditto for babysitting money, bonuses, mowing the neighbor’s lawn, and the manufacturer’s rebate from the new computer purchase. “Snowflake” it all.  And don’t get smart and think you’ll remember all those little transactions and make one big snowball payment. My money says you won’t.  Just do it, while it’s fresh on your mind.

Sometime you’ve got to make it snow

You’ve heard of rainmakers.  Sometimes you’ve gotta’ be a snow-maker.  Solicit a babysitting or dog walking job via Care.com, sell stuff on Ebay or Craigs’ list or pick up a little freelance work via HireMyMom.com or FreelanceJobs.com. Answer questions for kgbkgb.com. Take online surveys, whatever tickles your fancy.  Roll up those coins from the sofa cushion. Whatever you’re able to do, do it.  Every little bit helps, and best of all when it’s these little tiny increments — you don’t miss it.  It’s not like making a $1,500 avalanche payment on your student loan.

Good luck in your quest for debt-freedom! Looking forward to meeting up with you again on the other side.



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1 Brent

That is a very interesting approach. It is interesting to think how much further we could be in paying off our debt if we applied all those little snowflakes that we’ve been ignoring for years!

2 Peter

It’s amazing how quickly those small amounts can add up to big dollars. We were part of a group that was doing debt reduction while taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and by using the debt snowball – and snowflaking, our group was able to pay of tens of thousands of dollars in debt in just a few months. It really is a powerful tool!

3 Jason @ Redeeming Riches

I’ve never thought of doing that. I admire your diligence in making it happen. It is amazing how much interest you can cut out from doing that thought. Very cool.

4 Brad @enemyofdebt

Great post! I love your enthusiasm for knocking out that debt! We have done something similar with less organization but now you have me thinking I should go all out! :)

5 Eric Charnesky

I am all for debt snowflaking, but wouldn’t it make more sense to snowflake electronically and save the stamp money?

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