If you're in debt heading into summer, it's time to start thinking about snowflakes. The idea of "snowflaking" is to make small debt payments, often on a credit card balance, more than once a month.
These snowflakes become part of your debt snowball, a technique by which you pay the minimum monthly payments on all debts except one that you focus on. After you pay off that debt, apply all the money you were paying on it to your next debt, which pays off that one faster, and so on.
Here's how to use snowflakes:
Call your card company: Most allow you to make many payments in a month for free.
Use regular snowflakes: Set up additional automatic payments to your credit card company. For example, if you get paychecks weekly or biweekly, make payments on paydays. One painless strategy is to pay half your usual amount biweekly. This amounts to 13 monthly payments in a year, instead of 12.
Use irregular snowflakes: Hardcore snowflakers make many small payments in a month. If you skip a $9.46 lunch out at work, ship that amount to your credit card company. The point is to immediately make a payment with extra money or cash that you saved.
Read next week's Tightening the Belt for details on why snowflaking works.