Popular finance guru, Dave Ramsey, coined the term “gazelle intense” as a way to go about paying off your debt. Ramsey’s point was that you shouldn’t be spending money on anything other than the absolute bare necessities when you are in debt. He pulled the inspiration for the phrase from Proverbs 6:4–5, which says, “Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.”
If you approach your debt with “gazelle intensity” you will not be spending money on things like haircuts, entertainment for yourself and your family, or even expensive grocery items. In fact, Ramsey is often heard suggesting that you feast on things like rice and beans instead of meats and other more expensive food items. That way you can put every penny you find in your budget toward debt.
While I think this approach, and those who can successfully stick to it, is commendable, I know it’s not the best approach for everyone – myself included. I’ve found that being strict with my budget, but not over-the-top, is the best way to pay off debt for me. Here’s why.
I’ve cut out lots of expenses. I no longer get my hair colored, only cut. I don’t go out with friends as often as I used to, and I severely cut down on clothing and accessories purchases. But I haven’t cut these things from my budget entirely. I know that if I cut off my shopping and entertainment entirely I would eventually go on a crazy shopping spree because of feeling deprived.
Have you ever suffered from debt fatigue? Debt fatigue usually sets in when you’ve been extremely frugal for a long period of time in an effort to get your debt paid off. You begin to lose sight of your goals and why you decided to be more frugal in the first place. Debt fatigue is a nasty condition and it can lead to huge setbacks in your journey to getting out of debt because you lose focus.
There are several ways to combat debt fatigue, but my favorite method is to prevent fatigue in the first place. You can do this by taking a balanced approach to budgeting and debt payoff rather than being “gazelle intense.” This means putting money in your budget for fun things every month, like a meal out with friends, or an occasional day trip to escape the daily grind.
Even though I’m not “gazelle intense” I’m still making progress at getting my debt paid off. In fact, I’ve paid off 3 credit cards this year and we’ve still got a good 5 months left in 2015. Part of this is because of cutting things from my budget, but it’s also because I’ve found ways to increase my income and put that extra money toward debt.
Being “gazelle intense” is not the only approach nor is it always the best way to pay off debt. While it might work for some people, it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Sorry Dave Ramsey!
Are you “gazelle intense” in paying off your debt or do you take a more balanced approach?