All over the country, people have gotten “gazelle intense” on paying off their debts. We’re not talking about servicing their debts by paying the minimums and subsequent interest due each month, but rather obliterating their debts years ahead of when the creditors want them to be paid off. My husband and I did the same and declared our own debt freedom day on September 1, 2010, roughly ten years before our student loan creditor and two years before our car loan creditor thought we should have done.
Dave Ramsey calls this attack on debt getting gazelle intense. In nature, the gazelle can outmaneuver the fastest animal on dry land: the cheetah. When you can outmaneuver something and not merely outrun it, then you will conquer it.
The typical (and very effective) ways people have paid amazing amounts of debt down early is by going on cash-only diets, cutting back to the point of slight irritation, and throwing any extra cash that comes their way towards their creditors. But today I am not looking for typical. I am looking for extreme. What are some examples of extreme ways people have gotten gazelle intense and melted their debts away?
- Participated in a Church with a Mission of Paying off its Congregation’s Debts: Mount Carmel Baptist Church in downtown Norfolk has made its mission to pay off the debts of its congregation. The money-raising occurs about once a month in what’s called a “debt liquidation revival”. The recipients of these very generous revivals are then asked to donate at least $300 in upcoming revivals to help others. Debt Stats: $318,000 debts paid off across 56 families in an undisclosed amount of time.
- Sold Body Advertisements: Two college students with $80,000 total in debt (equivalent to approximately £50,000) sold advertisements on their faces. Basically companies or individuals could buy a day on their website, upload an image, and the image would be painted on their faces for that day. At the end of the year, they also created a graphic where you can click on each day of the year to show the image that was displayed (further advertising for the companies and individuals that signed up). Bidding started at £1, and increased over the year. Their site shows they’ve pulled in £56,000! Debt Stats: £56,000 paid off in 1 year.
- Turned Their House into a Billboard: Scott and Beth Hostetler found themselves caught up in the housing crisis. So what did they do? They accepted a billboard on their house advertising the marketing company Brainiacs From Mars. In exchange, they received $2,000 per month to pay their mortgage for one year. Romeo Mendoza, the company’s founder and CEO, told Reuters that his ultimate goal is to turn 1,000 homes across the United States into giant advertisements in exchange for mortgage payments up to a year (38,000 people applied as of April 2011). Debt Stats: $12,000 paid off in six months (apparently the neighbors had mixed feelings).
- Sold Lots of Belongings: Jenny Newcomer had a chunk of student loans for a degree she was not using (either of them) still gnawing at her bank account. Over the course of 9 months, she listed approximately 10 items per week on eBay and a few on Craigslist. Debt Stats: $15,000 paid off in 9 months.
- Credit Swapped to Pay Off a Large Chunk of Mortgage: Joe took out 2 credit cards with no-fee balance transfers and paid off $38,598 of his 6% mortgage with them (this left $62,000 on his mortgage). Now the payments that he made on the $38,598 debt went 100% to the principal. After the no-interest time period was up (and before interest was accrued retroactively), he paid off the balances entirely with money he had in savings. Joe estimates he saved approximately $20,000 in interest (at 6% over 15 years). Because he was no longer paying interest on a large chunk of his mortgage, he was able to pay it all off much more quickly (note: the article states that he is completely mortgage free from doing this; however, detail is not given on how he paid off the remaining $62,000, so we won’t include that). Debt Stats: $38,598 paid off in an unspecified amount of time (though balance transfer 0% interest offers typically last between 12-18 months).
If you have a debt payoff story—extreme or otherwise—and would like to share it, please email me at frugalconfessions[@]Hotmail.com. Who knows, it may be included in an upcoming article! Either way, I love talking with readers, and I love hearing how others have gotten out of debt.
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