2 Main Ways to Pay Down Debt: The Siege and the Assault

October 16, 2013

debt siegeIf you have debt, chances are that one of your financial goals is to get rid of it. Debt can be overwhelming, especially since you pay so much in interest that it reduces the effectiveness of your payments. As a result, it can become disheartening as you try to pay it all off.

A plan can help your efforts, though. When you have a plan to reduce your debt, you have a direction and a purpose. That can make a big difference. Map out what you want to accomplish, and as you follow your plan, you will see your debt begin to disappear.

Two approaches you can take to paying down your debt are the debt siege and the debt assault.

The Debt Siege

A siege is all about wearing down your opponent. It may take a little bit of time, but eventually, if you keep at it, you are likely to be victorious. The debt siege works the same way. You wear down your debt over time.

With the debt siege, you figure out how much money you can put toward paying down your debt, and then pay that money each month until your debt is gone. You will need to figure out how much money you can put toward your debts each month in order for this to work. Here are the steps to follow as you prepare for your debt siege:

  1. Look at your income.
  2. List your expenses.
  3. Figure out which expenses can be cut (hint: the average household wastes 10% to 15% of its income).
  4. Decide how much extra money is available to put toward your debt each month.

Once you know how much money you can put toward your debt every month, budget that in. This becomes a non-negotiable expense. You pay off your debt before you spend money on “fun” items. If you want to speed up the effectiveness of the debt siege, you can do so by looking for ways to earn more money with a side hustle, or through a part-time job.

The Debt Assault

If you think that the debt siege technique is going to take too long, you might consider the debt assault! This method of debt reduction involves taking a very aggressive approach toward paying down your debt and it requires more sacrifice up front.

In the debt assault, you decide when you want to have your debt paid off by. You choose a realistic date, based on how large your debt load is. You can even make a stretch goal if you want. There are stories of people who have paid of tens of thousands of dollars of debt in less than two years.

Once you figure out when you want your debt paid off by, it’s time to go to work on your goal. The debt assault requires that you do whatever it takesΒ to reduce your debt in the specified amount of time. Sell most of your stuff (and maybe even your house). Get a second job. Cut out every unnecessary expenditures. Reuse as much as you can.

The debt assault can be one of the fastest ways to pay off debt because you pull no punches. You make paying down your debt top priority, and then sacrifice until you have no more debt. The process can be more painful – at first – than the gentler debt siege, but if you can stick with it for between one and three years, the results are amazing. Plus, the faster you pay off debt, the less you pay, over time, in interest.

Which Should You Choose?

Consider your situation and decide what method of debt reduction would work best for you. For many people, making a big change and attacking debt head on to get rid of it as soon as possible is preferable. In some cases (especially if you have children or other obligations) the debt assault in its most extreme form may not be practical. The debt siege is easier to handle, and doesn’t require major lifestyle adjustments. Either of these methods can be tweaked to fit your circumstances.

Which debt elimination method will you choose? Explain in the comments!

This article was originally published October 9th, 2012.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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4 Responses to 2 Main Ways to Pay Down Debt: The Siege and the Assault

  • Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions

    I love this post! I tried the siege we were paying down $0-$400/month. It was not making a dent in our $200k student loans. Then we tried the assault, and paid $1200 the first month, $6,000 the next month, and $4,000 the month after that. It was love at first payment!

  • Brad Chaffee

    When we paid off our debt we used the debt full-blown assault. πŸ™‚

    Rip that debt off like a bandaid! Nice and quick! πŸ˜€

  • Andi

    I’m definitely on the siege path right now. As much as I would love to do an all out assault on my debt… my life is full right now. A good full. My plan will get me debt free in 10 years or (hopefully)less, but for now I don’t want to trade in the time with Sig. O or weekends spent playing with Nieces and Nephews just to speed that along. I do on the occasion launch the mini assault here or there, just to see how much head way I can make in a month or so.


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