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I want you to know that debt doesn’t have to be a life sentence.
You don’t have to feel trapped in an endless cycle of payments and never-ending interest. There’s a powerful solution that can help you tackle your debt and pave the way to a debt-free life: the debt avalanche method.
By prioritizing high-interest debt first, the debt avalanche method can help you save thousands of dollars in interest and is especially useful if you have multiple credit card debts and loans with varying interest rates.
In this post, I’m going to give you a super easy, step-by-step guide to creating your own debt avalanche method spreadsheet using Excel or Google Sheets. Plus, I’ll share some of my favorite tips, examples, and answers to common questions.
By the end of this post, you’ll have all the tools and confidence you need to start taking control of your debt and crush it for good.
What is the Debt Avalanche Method?
Before we dive into creating a debt avalanche method spreadsheet, let’s review what the debt avalanche method actually is.
Simply put, the debt avalanche method is a debt repayment strategy that helps you save money on interest and pay off your debts in the most efficient way possible. This is done by prioritizing high-interest debts first.
Let’s bring the debt avalanche method to life with an example.
Imagine you have three debts:
- Credit Card A with a $5,000 balance and a 20% interest rate.
- Personal Loan B with a $10,000 balance and a 10% interest rate.
- Student Loan C with a $15,000 balance and a 5% interest rate.
Using the debt avalanche method, you would prioritize your debt repayment as follows:
- Pay the minimum payments on all debts.
- Allocate any extra funds toward Credit Card A, the debt with the highest interest rate, until it is fully paid off.
- Once Credit Card A is paid off, shift the funds you allocated to it to Personal Loan B while continuing to pay the minimum on Student Loan C.
- Finally, after clearing Personal Loan B, apply the combined payments of the previous two debts to tackle Student Loan C until it is completely eliminated.
By following this method, you not only save money on interest but also build momentum as you stack the minimum payments together.
Should I Use the Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche to Pay Off Debt?
Ah, the age-old question – which debt repayment strategy should I use: the debt snowball or the debt avalanche?
To recap, the debt avalanche method involves paying off high-interest debts first, while the debt snowball method involves paying off the smallest debts first, regardless of interest rates.
So, which one is better?
The answer is – it depends.
It depends on the total amount of each of your debts, the interest rates, and minimum payments. If all of your debts are lower interest and close to the same interest rate, it might not matter as much which debt payoff calculator you use.
Here are the pros and cons of each method to help you decide:
Debt Avalanche Method
- Saves the most money on interest in the long run
- Allows faster debt repayment overall
- May take longer to see progress and may feel demotivating if you have large high-interest debts
- Does not provide quick motivators to help you stay on track
Debt Snowball Method
- Provides quick motivators by paying off small debts first
- Helps you feel like you’re making progress, which can help you stay committed to your repayment plan
- May not save as much money on interest in the long run
- Doesn’t prioritize high-interest debts first
Ultimately, the best debt repayment strategy is the one that works best for you and your unique financial situation. While the debt avalanche method is generally the most efficient, the debt snowball spreadsheet can be a great option for people who need extra motivation to stay on track.
And the debt repayment method ultimately depends on the debt you have. If you don’t have high interest debt, the debt snowball method might actually be faster than the debt avalanche.
But if you have a couple really high interest debts, the debt avalanche method might be your best option.
Regardless of which method you choose, the important thing is to stay committed to paying off your debts and creating a better financial future for yourself.
How to Create a Debt Avalanche Method Spreadsheet
Creating a debt avalanche method spreadsheet may sound daunting if you’re not familiar with Excel or Google Sheets, but trust me, it’s easier than you think!
You can also try the debt snowball spreadsheet to see if that’s a faster way to get out of debt. Get a free debt snowball spreadsheet download here.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started. You can even watch this short video if you prefer a video walkthrough.
Step 1: Gather Your Debt Information
To create your debt avalanche method spreadsheet, you’ll first need to gather information about your debts.
- Name of each debt (e.g. Credit Card 1, Car Loan, Student Loan)
- Current balance of each debt
- Interest rate of each debt
- Minimum monthly payment for each debt
You can gather this information by looking at recent statements or by logging into your accounts online.
Step 2: Set Up Your Debt Avalanche Method Spreadsheet
Once you have all your debt information, it’s time to set up your spreadsheet.
You can look at the image below to see how I set mine up. These are the basic steps I followed.
- Open Excel or Google Sheets and create a new spreadsheet.
- Name your spreadsheet (e.g., Debt Avalanche Spreadsheet).
- In row 1, start listing your debts with their interest rates and payments. Type “payment” into column B and the name of your debt and interest rate in column C.
- Remember to list your debts from highest interest rate to lowest
- Repeat that process for each debt across row 1
- In row 2, starting in column B, type in the minimum payments and total amount owed for each debt.
- Click the minimum payment cell for each debt and drag the small box circle in the bottom right hand corner down for about 100 cells.
If your debt avalanche spreadsheet is starting to look like this, you’re doing it right.
Step 3: Adding Dates to Column A of Your Debt Avalanche Spreadsheet
It’s time for the first formula of this spreadsheet.
In column A, row 3 type in the month and year it currently is for you. In the debt payoff calculator I’m using, it’s May 23.
You may need to format the date so it appears as words and not a numbered date.
Once you do that, go to the next row down and type this formula:
It should automatically make that cell the next month of the calendar year.
From there, click on the cell A4 (the one you just entered the formula in) and click the box or circle in the bottom right hand corner of the cell. Then drag that box down your spreadsheet.
This will automatically add the dates and years for as far down as you drag.
It’ll save you so much time vs typing the dates manually.
Step 4: Calculate How Much You Actually Pay Off with Each Payment
Here’s an approximation of what your debt avalanche spreadsheet should look like. And now we’re ready to use formulas to calculate our debt free date for each debt.
If you’ve never used formulas in a spreadsheet, it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.
The only formula you need calculates the approximate interest you’ll pay with each payment. The formula for this is pretty simple.
(Total Amount Owed X Interest Rate) / 12 = Monthly Interest You Pay
Let’s calculate Debt 1 together. Use the image above as a guide.
The total amount owed is $53,434 as listed in cell C2. If I multiply that by the interest rate of 8.24% (multiply by .0824) it equals $4,403 after rounding. Then to get the monthly interest, divide that by 12 to get an average monthly interest payment of $367 (again after rounding).
(53434 x .0824) / 12 = 367
This is approximately how much of the payment is going toward interest every month. Now you’re ready to create your formula!
Click in cell C3 and enter the following formula.
=(C2-B3)+monthly interest rate
For Debt 1, I entered “=(C2-B3)+367.” If you’ve done this correctly, it will automatically calculate the new remaining balance on your loan.
Now click in the cell C3 again to drag the small blue circle down until the balance is negative! You might need to drag the minimum payment down further until cell C goes negative.
The beauty of this is that if you need to change your monthly payment, or have extra money that month, all you do is type the amount of money you’re putting toward the loan in the “payment” box, and it will automatically update your repayment for the rest of your cells.
Now repeat the process for ALL of your debts!
Step 5: Updating Your Debt Avalanche Spreadsheet When You Pay Off a Debt
Congratulations! You’ve successfully paid off one of your debts using the debt avalanche method. Or at least you will, and when you do, this is what you’ll do.
When you pay off a debt, you take the minimum payment from that debt and apply it to the minimum payment of the next debt in your debt avalanche.
In the example I’m using, the minimum payment for Debt 1 goes from $930 to $1,230. That’s going to accelerate your debt repayment.
Here’s what you need to do:
- In the “Minimum Payment” column of the paid off debt, go down to the month you’ll pay off this debt. You can delete the minimum payment column from that point down.
- Now add that minimum payment to the minimum payment of the next highest interest rate debt. You’ll enter this number in the row just after the paid off debt.
- Next, drag this new minimum payment down until THIS debt is paid off! This step is crucial as it allows you to accelerate your progress by snowballing the payments.
- Repeat steps until all of your debts are paid off in the debt avalanche spreadsheet.
As you eliminate each debt, you redirect the minimum payments towards the debt with the next highest interest rate, allowing you to pay it off faster and save more money on interest in the long run.
Real Life Debt Avalanche Method Example
Recently I made a debt avalanche spreadsheet for one of my readers. It’s actually the debt avalanche I’ve displayed in images throughout this article.
They shared their debt information and entered it into a debt avalanche spreadsheet to see how long it would take them to pay off all their debt.
Here’s what happened.
They had a total of $145,000 of debt and if they made minimum payments, it would take them 17 years to be debt free.
But not with the debt avalanche method.
I arranged their 4 debts by descending interest rates and applying the rollover effect when a debt is paid off, they can be debt free in just 9 years.
That’s cutting 8 years off their debt repayment using the debt avalanche method spreadsheet.
Just for fun I tested the debt snowball spreadsheet too. For their specific debt, the debt avalanche helped them become debt free 5 months faster.
You can watch this video I made to show the difference between them using the debt snowball vs debt avalanche methods.
I’m excited for you to make your debt avalanche spreadsheet and crush your debt into oblivion.
I love the debt avalanche because it helps you pay off debt faster than making minimum payments. Remember these few tips as you use your debt avalanche method spreadsheet.
- Gather all of your debt information
- Organize your debts from highest interest rate to lowest in Excel or Google Sheets
- Add minimum payments and dates to your spreadsheet
- Use simple formulas automatically calculate monthly payments
- Once the first debt is paid off, redirect the freed-up funds to the next debt on the list.
- Repeat this process until you’ve eliminated all your debts.
Once you set up your debt avalanche method spreadsheet, take time to allocate your debt payments in a zero based budget template. Using an effective budget will help you send more money toward your debt!