Written by Alli

Did you know you can save months by paying off your credit card debt by using the right strategy?

By the end of this post, you'll know which strategy is right for you. We'll be covering debt snowball, debt avalanche, debt tsunami and our favorite, debt tornado. We’ll also include a calculator comparing debt snowball vs. avalanche vs. tsunami vs. tornado.

Scroll to the bottom if you'd rather watch the video.

We've crunched the numbers of all four, to give you the best one.

So, what are these three strategies to paying off your credit card debt?


The first one, made popular by Dave Ramsey, is the Debt Snowball. This is based on paying off your lowest balance first. So, whichever credit card has the least amount on it, that's the one you go for first, doesn't have anything to do with interest rate, it is purely a psychological method because it gives you a quick win from the beginning, so you can see that debt gone.

The debt snowball is where you actually pay the most interest in the long run and it's the slowest way of paying off your credit card debt.


The second method is the Debt Avalanche. The Debt Avalanche, I'm not sure who coined this strategy, but whoever it was, was good at math. This is a mathematically based principle, instead of an emotionally based principle, like the Debt Snowball. This looks at your highest interest rate credit card first and that's the one you're going to attack first.

This one definitely reduces the amount of interest you're going to pay and you can pay off your debts faster than using the Debt Snowball method.


The third one is Debt Tsunami and this one is based on paying your most emotional debt first. If you have a debt to a family member or a friend that is really weighing on you that makes you worried, it keeps you up at night, this is the one you pay off first. This method helps you to overcome that emotional barrier right away. After you pay off the most emotional debt first, you go to the Debt Avalanche where you pay off the highest interest rate.

Depending on the status of your most emotional debt, this one could be slower than the Debt Avalanche, but it is likely faster than the Debt Snowball.


The Debt Tornado is a term we coined- it’s like a Debt Avalanche but with a little bit of twist. With a lot of these strategies listed above, their very first step (like Dave Ramsey’s baby step number one) is to save up $1000  dollars in your bank account as an emergency fund. We don’t agree with saving up an emergency fund first, and we know that’s pretty controversial, but we’ll explain why.

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Here’s an example:

If you have $1000 saved up in a savings account, earning you 1% interest, but then you have $10,000 dollars as a credit card balance that has an interest rate of 30%, we recommend taking that $1000 dollars and knocking out some of that debt. By doing this, you would stop paying 30% interest on that $1000 dollars. The alternative (that Dave Ramsey suggests) is you can keep it in your savings account and use that emergency fund to avoid putting more money onto that credit card.  But we recommend bringing that $10,000 balance down to $9,000 and should an emergency come up, put that $500 back on a credit card. Then just keep paying it down after all.

The Debt Tornado is the fastest way to pay off your credit cards.


The purpose of the Dave Ramsey Snowball method is to feel like you got a win and you’re making progress. But with our clients, we’ve been able to show them through visual methods, using spreadsheets and graphs, that they are making progress even when they have unexpected expenses and hiccups come along.

So it’s really all about tracking, and if you want to download our starter kit, which have everything you need to get started.

Mindset is super important.

When you’re tackling one of your debts by one of these mathematical principles like the avalanche or the tornado, it is really important to make sure you have your mindset right from the beginning.

Our course really helps with that. With our clients and coaching students we go through a whole series of exercises to uproot limiting beliefs and make sure your money mindset is in the right place so you can really jump in and budget and pay down debt effectively and stay on track.

We’ll go over the details of the Tornado method in another post, but with the Debt Tornado method you can pay off your debt 10%  to 20% faster than the Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche. So you can shave off months to even years depending on your personal situation.

To get the Debt Snowball vs. Avalanche vs. Tsunami vs. Tornado calculator join the family and download the starter kit!

The Snowball vs. Avalanche vs. Tornado Calculator

Snowball vs Tornado vs Avalanche Calculator

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[…] Tornado strategy. If you are confused about what the different strategies are, click our post on the Snowball, the Avalanche, the Tsunami and be introduced to our […]

2 years ago

I signed up to get the spreadsheet, and the only email I got was confirming I subscribed to your newsletter. How long does it take for the spreadsheet to be emailed?