Snowballs, Avalanches, and Tsunamis

Matchmaker Mary Monday Credit Card BalanceLast week, those of you in the Northeast had your share of snowballs, but since the New Year, I’ve been focused on a snowball of a different kind. You see, this year, I vowed that 2015 would be the year I paid off all my credit cards. I’m embarrassed to admit that in the past I’ve been one of those people who gets suckered into that in-store marketing when the sales associates asks: “Would you like to save 20% on your purchase?” I open a store card and the next thing you know: “Mary Nicholas had a card. E-I-E-I-O. And on that card there was a balance. E-I-E-I-O. With a little balance here, and a little balance there…”

I began by researching the best way to accomplish my goal. As it turns out there are a lot of different systems for paying off debt, and the only thing they seem to have in common are weird names. After two migraines and three broken calculators, I managed to narrow the field down to four strategies:

1. The Snowball Method: Pay as much as you can on the account with the smallest balance, and the minimum on everything else. Once the smallest debt is paid off, throw the extra money at the next smallest one, snowballing your payments until you’re debt free. Sounds okay in theory, but I’ve never won a snowball fight in my life.

2. The Debt Avalanche: Same idea as the Snowball Method, except you pay the account with the highest interest rate first. This way, you pay less interest in the long run. Bad for the credit card industry, good for you! While I like the idea of beating the banks at their own game, I’m not sure this Southern girl is equipped to handle an avalanche.

3. The Debt Tsunami: This plan is more flexible, and lets you choose which account you tackle first. The trick is to pick the one that causes you the most emotional stress. Get rid of that one first, and you’ll feel better about life in general, which will make it easier to deal with the rest of your finances. Honestly, thinking that long and hard about my debt sounds stressful. I’m not sure I could handle picking a favorite.

4. The Run and Hide Method: Ding, ding, ding! Folks, I think we have a winner. Not really, I’m just having fun. Truth is, in the month of January alone, using the Mary Nicholas Method, I’ve proud to say that I’ve already paid off (and cut up!) four of my store credit cards. The balances were fairly small, but I’ll tell you it feels great to get that financial clutter out of my life (and to keep a New Year’s resolution at last!). I’m certain 2015 will be year I conquer my credit cards once and for all! There’s just one little problem…

You see, I promised my husband, Dale, that once we were debt-free we could finally fulfill his lifelong dream of moving back to West Virginia. Now that we’re getting close to making that dream a reality, I’ve been looking for a loophole and I think I’ve found it. We currently live in Alabama, and I can’t move to a new state without buying a brand new, West Virginia-appropriate wardrobe. All those camouflage winter coats and waterproof hiking boots don’t come cheap, so I’m probably going to have to put them on a credit card, and you know what that means….

Happy Monday,