Spending down debt: The snowball effect

This repost is part of our series on strategies you can adopt to free yourself from burdensome debt.

Do you want to pay down debt, but aren't sure how to do it? One of the best methods out there is called the snowball effect. This strategy of paying off debt focuses on getting rid of your highest interest rate credit cards first, which makes a lot of sense from a financial planning perspective because you reduce your interest expenses the fastest.

Think of the snowball effect as slowly building up the size of a your snowball then getting the snowball moving faster and faster by pushing it down hill. To use this strategy you start by paying the minimum amount on all but your highest interest credit card. Then use every extra cent you can find to pay the greatest amount you can on your highest interest credit card.

When you get that card paid off, then continue paying the minimum amount you were paying on your second highest credit card plus the larger amount you were paying on the highest interest credit card.

Let me show you how this works. Suppose you have three credit cards that you've maxed out. Credit Card A charges 18% interest and has a balance of $1,000. Credit Card B charges 15% interest and has a balance of $2,000 with a minimum payment of $20. Credit Card C charges 12 percent and has a balance of $3,000 with a minimum payment of $35. In addition you have a car loan that charges 6% interest and a payment of $150 and a mortgage with a payment of $1,000.