• Like a bad penny, debt always turns up…

    unless we change how we interact with money, of course!

    The Bad Penny is dedicated to two pursuits: getting out of debt and staying out of debt! It recognizes that frugality and caring for our planet go hand in hand, and that our unsatiated need for stuff is hurting us in so many ways.

    Easier said than done!


    I am not a finance professional. I write about the world as I know it, and my advice may not be the best course of action for you! Please seek qualified advice for your particular situation.

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Snowball or Snowflake?

I was recently introduced to the concept of snowflaking at paidtwice.com. The author didn’t come up with this idea, but I’d never seen it before. It’s a simple concept, and one that I realize I’ve contemplated doing on occasion. But I never considered methodically snowflaking.

It’s based on the familiar concept of snowballing, introduced en masse by financial guru Dave Ramsey. Snowballing is a method of paying off debt where one pays the minimum payments on all cards but one. That final card (which is also the one with the smallest balance) receives any extra money that can be given to paying off the card. Once that card is paid off, the debtor moves to the card with the next smallest balance, paying the minimum payment plus whatever he or she was paying on the first card. As debts are paid off the credit cards one-by-one, the debt is also paid off faster and faster as the debtor applies the same overall amount to fewer cards. This method is great for that nice boost you get when you accomplish something – like paying off a credit card!

Of course, it takes many little snowflakes to make a snowball, which is where the concept of snowflaking comes in: Any time you have a little extra money – either by spending less or earning more – put it toward debts or savings immediately.

So how can you make that extra little bit?


1. Sell things you don’t need on Ebay, Craigslist, or another forum that allows the sale of items.
2. Look at your grocery receipt – usually it will tell you how much you saved at the bottom – put that aside as snowflakes.
3. When you pay in cash, keep the bills, snowflake the coins.
4. Fill out surveys or read emails online for money (more to come on the companies that have actually paid me!)
5. Become a paid blogger.
6. When shopping online, use a site like Ebates to get cash back. Then snowflake the money you saved.
7. If you use a credit card with a cash back program and pay the balance off in full each month, snowflake your rewards right back into the credit card. Use the money you saved by paying off that bill with the rewards to pay more off another credit card.
8. Find “gigs” – these are usually short-term, part-time jobs. You may find yourself serving food for a caterer, working as a model, painting houses, or any number of things. You can find gigs in the local paper classifieds as well as in their very own section on Craigslist.

There are also many ways you can almost-snowflake by finding things you need for free or cheaper.
9. Swap babysitting with a friend.
10. Use restaurant coupons to save money eating out.
11. Bargain at the farmers market or flea market.
12. Plant a garden or raise your own chickens/pigs/cows (lol, that may be extreme for a little milk…)
13. Carpool.
14. Bring a bagged lunch to work or school.
15. Turn your thermostat down and dress in layers. Use a blanket on your legs when you are sitting down. Wear house shoes or thick socks.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. You get the idea, hopefully, my readers, and I’m sure I’ll bring up the subject again!

So that’s what I’ll be trying in the next couple weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes and what I learn. We’re working on paying off our personal credit card right now, and I can make a payment once a day, so I can even just put a few dollars in here or there. In fact, I just paid $20 that we had in the checking account that wasn’t allocated to anything! That’s the beauty of being able to use a billpay system or to pay right on the creditor’s website – you can pay small amounts often, and easily!

I’ll also try to put a portion of that to our savings account, which is also our emergency fund.

I think I’ll be surprised by how much I can put in there. It will be important to track my payments so I can see what extra amounts I was able to pay.

Just remember that this is on top of your monthly payments! If you don’t pay them, you might end up with late fees, and that would defeat the purpose.

I think the main benefit to snowflaking is it will keep me on track and focused. Right now I really want to do something to work on this problem (of our debt) but we don’t get paid until this Friday. As I snowflake, I can be constantly on the lookout for other ways to save or earn more money to put toward the debt. I can be proactive. It is a huge mental boost to even pay a small amount, because it feels like I am accomplishing something instead of just waiting!


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link! Good luck with the snowflaking! Great list 🙂

  2. […] the war against debt is this method known as snowflaking.  I’m hardly the first guy on the Internet to talk about this.  The idea is pretty simple: if you’ve got a little money sitting around […]

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