Debt Reduction Snowball Calculator
How fast could I get out of debt? That is what this free Debt Reduction Calculator can help you figure out. Getting out of debt is not easy, but with a good plan and firm determination, it is entirely possible. The Debt Reduction Calculator is a simple spreadsheet available for Microsoft Excel®, OpenOffice, and Google Docs, that helps you come up with a plan. It creates a debt snowball payment schedule that can help you manage your payments to most effectively pay off your debts.
One of the most powerful things about this spreadsheet is the ability to choose different debt reduction strategies, including the debt snowball effect (paying the lowest balance first) or the debt avalanche (highest-interest first). Just choose the strategy from a dropdown box after you enter your creditor information into the worksheet.
The first step in a debt reduction plan is to make a budget, then stick to it. The more you can squeeze out of your budget to increase your debt snowball, the faster you'll reach your goals. Continue reading below the download block for links to useful blog articles and information about the various debt reduction strategies.
Debt Reduction Calculatorfor Excel & OpenOffice
Contents: .XLS (Excel 2003+)
Size: ~1.5MB, V 1.2
Microsoft Excel® 2002(XP) or Later
Personal Use Only
Questions / Support
Contact Us >
How to Extract a ZIP File >
Google Docs Version
"We have multiple rentals, and so mortgage loans. We were paying down each loan, distributing our liquid cash among all the loans evenly. When we fond the debt reduction calculator we ran multiple preprogramed scenarios, and a couple of our own and discovered the optimum method for us. The Debt Reduction Calculator saved us hours of time, a quarter of a million dollars and will result in our paying off all loans in 1/2 the time. Thanks for sharing a great way to evaluate and strategize debt reduction."
- Morgen Kimbrell & David Hayhurst
"Just wanted to thank you for the debt reduction calculator spreadsheet. It has helped me to get my debt under control and I will be debt free with the exception of my mortgage in a couple months. I started with about $42k of debt and will have paid it off in a little over 2 years with the help of the spreadsheet and insane budgeting."
"No Installation, No Macros - Just a simple spreadsheet - An original creation by Dr. Jon Wittwer of Vertex42.com"
Use our free Debt Reduction Calculator to help you eliminate your credit card, auto, student loan, and other debts. Easily create a debt reduction schedule based on the popular debt snowball strategy, or experiment with your own custom strategy.
In the first worksheet, you enter your creditor information and your total monthly payment. You'll then see a summary of when each of the debts will be paid off based on the strategy you choose.
The second worksheet is a payment schedule for you to print to keep track of your progress. You can also see how the snowball increases as you pay off your debts.
The download includes 2 Excel files: The debt-reduction-calculator_10.xls file lets you list up to 10 creditors. The debt-reduction-calculator_20.xls file lets you list up to 20 creditors. The .ods file included with the download is for OpenOffice.org users.
3/17/09 Update (version 1.2) - Now includes a Snowball Growth Chart so you can see how the snowball increases and your interest due decreases over time (only in the Excel versions).
1/29/10 Check out our new Credit Repair edition of this calculator.
Rate and Review this Debt Reduction Calculator
To view and write reviews, click on the button below.
Using the Debt Reduction Calculator
This is how the spreadsheet works:
- Enter abbreviated names for your the credit card or lending institution, the current balances, and the interest rate information for all of your current debts (including home equity lines of credit or second mortgages).
- Enter the minimum payment you will make each month for each debt. You may need to verify with your lending institutions what your current minimum payments are. Also, keep in mind that your minimum payment may change over time, depending on interest rates or other issues.
- Choose the maximum monthly payment that you can pay each month towards your debts, based on your home budget. The difference between the total minimum payments and your total monthly payment is your initial snowball. This initial snowball, or "extra payment", will be applied to the first debt, depending on your chosen strategy.
When your first debt is completely paid, the remainder of your snowball is then applied to the NEXT debt, and so on, until all the debts are paid.
Warning: It may be tempting to put your full financial strength into paying off your debts. But, be careful. You need to balance your debt reduction goals with the need for an emergency fund and other important financial goals. In these cases, it really CAN be useful to seek the advice of a qualified professional.
Debt Reduction Strategies
This section describes the different strategies that you can choose within the debt reduction spreadsheet. You may also want to see our Credit Card Payoff Calculator for more information.
Unless you choose the "No Snowball" option, ALL of these strategies make use of the snowball "effect" where after you pay off your first debt you roll that payment into helping pay off the next one. For more information, see Dave Ramsey's article on the debt snowball effect, or read his book, "The Total Money Makeover".
- Debt Snowball (Lowest Balance First): This method is the official debt snowball strategy. The benefit of this method is the psychological effect of seeing the number of debts disappear quickly. According to Dave Ramsey, it's important to build momentum and see success early on. After all, if it was easy to pay off debt, you probably wouldn't need this calculator. :)
- Debt Avalanche (Highest Interest First): This strategy results in the lowest total interest, but depending on the balance of your higher interest loans, it may take you longer to see your first loan/debt completely paid off. If the difference in the total interest is not significant, than you may get more satisfaction and success from the Lowest Balance First method.
- No Snowball: Select this option if you want to see how long it will take to pay
off the debts based solely on the individual payments you specify (i.e. no snowball effect). In some cases, you may find it will take more than 30 years to pay off some debts.
- User-Specified Order: There are three options for choosing the order that you want to pay your debts. You can choose "Order Entered in Table", which is self-explanatory. You can also use the Custom column to enter your own formulas or your own ranking and choose "Custom-Highest First" or "Custom-Lowest First". I'd suggest ranking each row using values "10, 20, 30, 40, etc." . The reason to enter the order by 10's or 100's is so that you can easily switch the order. For example, you can move the one marked "30" ahead of "20" by changing the 30 to 19. You can also use the built-in SORT command via the Data menu.
- Debt Snowflaking: This is a term for making extra debt payments above the normal monthly payment (above and beyond the normal snowball). You can add "snowflakes" for any given month, using the "Additional" column in the PaymentSchedule worksheet. See the article What is a Debt Snowflake? to see how to add snowflakes to the debt reduction calculator.
Variation on the Debt Snowball Strategy
If you choose the "Lowest Balance First" method, and two of your balances are roughly the same amount, but have very different rates, you might want to switch the order that you pay them off so that you pay the higher rate first. It might not make much difference in how long it takes to pay them off, but it could make a difference in how much interest you end up paying.
To use this approach in the worksheet, you'll need to choose the "User-Specified Order" methods described above.
Debt Reduction Resources
- You Need a Budget - Read our review of the #1 budgeting tool.
- Debt Snowball - The Truth About How to Get Out of Debt at daveramsey.com - A must-read article.
- Choosing and Using Credit Cards at www.ftc.gov.
- Choosing a Credit Card: The Deal is in the Disclosures at www.ftc.gov
- Free Secure Online Debt Reduction Calculator at www.PowerPay.org - I used this to compare with the spreadsheet. It allows a few more options for minimum payments.
- Use the Snowball Calculator to Pay Off Debts - at LifeHacker.com - Many comments from people who have used the technique.
Debt Reduction Calculator for ExcelProfessional Version 1.3
Includes bonus content! File Type: .ZIP Archive
Contents: .XLS (Excel 2003+)
Size: ~3MB, V 1.3(C)
Microsoft Excel® 2002(XP) or Later
(not for resale or distribution)
Purchase a Commercial Use License to use this spreadsheet in your business.
- Includes a section at the top to list your client's name and the preparer's name and address.
- Includes an additional spreadsheet that lets you list up to 40 creditors
- Bonus Spreadsheet: The download includes a commercial license of the the new Debt Reduction Calculator - Credit Repair edition.