debt snowball by

If I’ve learned anything in adulthood, it’s that life won’t go as planned.  And for a type A control freak like myself, that can be devastating news.  Things will go wrong and sometimes you just have to pause your debt snowball and take care of life.  

To pause your debt snowball, you will continue making minimum payments on all your debts.  Instead of putting all your extra money towards debt, you will put all extra money into a savings account.  But let’s be completely honest, there are valid reasons to pause your debt snowball and reasons that we just tell ourselves are valid.  So let’s lay out real reasons to pause your debt snowball and reasons you shouldn’t pause your debt snowball.

Reasons To Pause Your Debt Snowball

1. Pregnancy

If you become pregnant, whether it was planned or a nice little surprise, it might be time to pause your debt snowball and focus on increasing your savings.  Most gynecologists these days set up a payment plan so that you pay for their services before the baby is even born.  In fact, you might have even paid for your doctor’s part of the birth before you hit your third trimester!

Regardless, the hospital bills will come and depending on your insurance, they could cost a lot.  You don’t know how the birth will go, so if you’re pregnant you’ll want to have a nice cushion in savings so you can pay off all baby-related bills as soon as possible.  And hopefully your work is covering the cost of your maternity leave, but that wasn’t the case with our family.  I was docked pay and we had extra in savings to help us get by.  As always, a budget is key to help you stay on track and not go further into debt.  

2. Job Loss

If your family experiences a job loss then it’s time to put a pause on your debt snowball until you or your loved one secures another job.  Continue making minimum payments on all your debts, but put every extra penny in savings.  Since you aren’t sure when another job will come available, it’s best to be prepared in case it takes longer than expected.

If your family can live off one income and continue putting extra towards debt that’s fine, but just be extra cautious.  As soon as another job is secure and the first paycheck has hit the bank, put any of that extra money saved towards debt!  Just make sure to keep a balance in your savings account for your emergency fund.  Read more about the ins and outs of an emergency fund here.

3. A Sudden Move

Am I the only one that has a fear of experiencing a sudden move?  I mean, it’s extremely unlikely for teachers to have to pick up and move suddenly, but I am still so terrified of the idea!  Maybe it’s because I know moving long distances can be very expensive (and crazy stressful too).  So if you have a sudden move come up, then put everything on hold and stockpile as much money as possible.  Those movers need to be paid, bills will come up, and there can be many added expenses. 

4. Death in the Family

If there is a death in your immediate family (especially a spouse), then give yourself time to grieve and figure out how to navigate this life without your loved one close by.  Give yourself grace, pay what you need to get by, and take care of yourself.  You can resume your debt snowball when you are ready and have dealt with your grief and emotions.  

5. A Health Emergency

If someone in your family experiences a large medical emergency then you might want to consider pausing your debt snowball.  You’ll need time to focus on how you will pay the medical bills.  Hospitals are usually very flexible and will usually let you pay off your bill over time without any added interest.  

6. Major Car Repairs

In my dream world, cars would never break or need to be repaired.  Of course, my dream world also includes ice cream without the calories and a barista who prepares coffee for me every day.  Did I mention that I wouldn’t have to pay the barista?  Needless to say, car mechanics will always have a job because vehicles will continue to break.  Sometimes repairs include a hefty price tag and it might be more than you have in your emergency fund or sinking fund.

We once had to have my husband’s transmission rebuilt in his car.  It forced us to pause our debt snowball, empty our savings account, and make the decision to put more money into his vehicle.  Family and friends told us to sell the car and just buy a new one.  Did I mention that this happened a mere 5 months before we were scheduled to be debt free?  Um, no thank you.  We said NO to the shiny new car and fixed the one that we had.

Reasons You Shouldn’t Pause Your Debt Snowball

1. Big Vacations

Taking vacations while you are on your debt snowball can be very controversial.  People in the debt free community have strong opinions about this one.  I fall in the “don’t take big vacations” camp while you’re working to pay off debt.  Ultimately you’ve got to ask yourself if you want that big trip more than being debt free because that’s essentially what you are choosing.  If you choose to spend $4,000 on a week-long vacation, then you are delaying your debt free goal by an extra $4,000.  To me, it’s not worth it!  Instead, consider taking a vacation to visit family that way your costs stay low and you don’t delay your journey to financial peace!

2. New Furniture

New furniture is not an emergency and should not force you to stop your debt snowball.  It’s definitely a want and not a need.  Even if your sofa is uncomfortable, your kids have drawn all over it, and you just want a new one so much.  You should not pause your debt snowball for new furniture.  If you choose to buy new furniture, you are simply pushing your debt free date back!  Ask yourself if that new sofa is worth it.

3. Expensive Home Upgrades

When you’re working to become debt free, expensive home upgrades should be put on hold.  If you’re dying to replace those kitchen cabinets, then consider DIYing something less expensive until you are no longer paying any loans.  Any large home upgrades will most likely put you in more debt!

4. Large Purchases You Don’t Need

Guys, being an adult is hard sometimes.  Especially when you have to be an adult in a world where everyone tells you that you deserve everything you have ever wanted.  Because we don’t deserve everything that we’ve ever wanted.  It’s completely unrealistic.  So when you are considering making a large purchase, ask yourself if it’s something that you want or something that you need.  In most cases, it’s probably something that you want and you are trying to justify that you need it.

Yes, life will happen.  And yes, you might have to pause your debt snowball.  It’s important to know when it’s time to put your snowball on hold and when you should keep going!