The problem with debt is that it is almost just as physical as it is mental. There is of course the cash needed to pay down the loan but there is also a toll it can take mentally. Especially things like student loans that are split up into many different pieces, with different rates. It can be difficult to wrap your head around it. These methods have different pros and cons.
The Debt Snowball
This is exactly what it sounds like, make minimum payments on all your loans, then start with the smallest loan and put anything you can towards it. In this method, you can ignore the interest rates (within reason) and just work on getting that loan paid off. Then take that money and work on the next smallest loan, and on and on. Each loan you pay, you now have the minimum from the previous loans making your payments larger and larger, spread across less loans.
Pros: This is the psychological play, this is for those of you who are stressed about the amount of loans you have, or feel hopeless because no matter what you pay each month, the numbers never seem to change.
Cons: The math is working against you on this one. I personally do not love the idea of this method, but that is because I am a numbers man. I know that by delaying paying down the higher interest rate, you are adding more on the back end.
The Debt Avalanche
This is very similar to the debt snowball, however it changes one key element. Instead of ignoring that interest rate, you use that as the deciding factor. You evaluate the list, and find the one with the highest rate, and throw everything you can at it, follow that up with the next highest rate, and on and on.
Pros: This has the math working for it. Basically, the more you pay off against high interest rate loans, the less they accrue. This means over the long hall you pay less towards the loan, and save those dollars.
Cons: The first win may take longer to achieve. With the snowball, you may be able to close a loan in a short time, whereas in the avalanche, your largest loan may also have the highest rate.
There is nothing written in stone about these ideas, they are just that, ideas. You can take bits and pieces of these and create your own system. If you have one small loan that is second or third on the rate, heck pay that off first to simplify the numbers. If there is a bank that you don't want to give your money to, pay them off first. What really matters is you pick one and stick to it. Then reclaim that financial freedom.
I am just a regular guy who does far to much research on financial independence and early retirement (FI/RE). I look forward to sharing my journey with you all.