Is “Gazelle Intense” the Best Way to Pay Off Debt?

Being "gazelle intense" about your debt definitely works well for some people. But, is it the best way to pay off debt for everybody?

Being "gazelle intense" about your debt definitely works well for some people. But, is it the best way to pay off debt for everybody?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.

Feeling Deprived

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.

Debt Fatigue

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?


5 thoughts on “Is “Gazelle Intense” the Best Way to Pay Off Debt?

  1. I think Dave Ramsey gives people some good guidance and hardcore financial reality lessons but some of it is for those who need a cold-turkey approach to kick their over-consumerist habits and financially self-destructive lifestyle. From cash in envelopes to what you detailed above. I always take from others financial tips what will work for me/family and create my own strategy. For our debt repayment it was to push our frugal thresholds to a feeling of uncomfortable but not deprived in order to advance us forward as quickly as possible in a way that would be sustainable for the long haul. Start feeling too comfortable with the budget and debt repayment load then it’s time to challenge the frugal threshold again. .

  2. We were inspired to take on our journey out of debt by Dave Ramsey, and I think that we have been gazelle intense. We’ve made debt-payoff a top priority, and every aspect of our lives plays into it. Part of our debt-reduction strategy has involved what you might call built-in anti-burnout mechanisms. We do, way less often than before, have a meal out on occasion. I pay to get my hair done. We have gym memberships. It’s all measured and budgeted – not random and unconscious the way it used to be. As well, we don’t travel and we’ve taken on more paid work. And we’ve succeeded in paying off $102,000 in non-mortgage debt over 3 years. Ramsey does advocate for spending some money on fun even while getting out of debt. I think it all comes down to each person’s understanding of the term “gazelle intense”. In my mind, it represents an extreme change – without being over-the-top extreme.

  3. I just finished this book today. I found that his “gazelle intense” theory is to help people gain financial independence in about seven years. I personally have so much student loan debt and have a very small income that it will take me at least that long to just pay off my debt. I don’t believe that I could be as intense as I have been for that entire time. It is refreshing to know that other people are questioning a book that is almost a corner stone of financial blogging and planning right now.

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