Getting gazelle intense on your debt payoff will help you to pay off your debt years earlier than your creditors want you to.

couple in kitchen, woman on counter, toasting each other smiling with text overlay "debt inspiration: gazelle intense stories"All over the country, people have gotten “gazelle intense” when paying off their debts, thanks to Dave Ramsey.

We’re not talking about servicing their debts by paying the minimums due each month — that will get you out of debt, but not very quickly.

Rather, we're talking about people obliterating their debts YEARS ahead of when the creditors want them to be paid off.

I would know, as my husband and I did the gazelle intense debt payoff method, and declared our own debt freedom day from $25,000 in debt 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.

This method worked so well for us, that I want to really dive into what gazelle intense means, gazelle intensity ideas to inspire you, and how to sustain motivation throughout your own debt payoff journey (because let's be real — it can be hard to stay the course!).

Gazelle Intense Meaning

First of all, what exactly does it mean to be “Gazelle Intense”?

Dave Ramsey calls an attack on your 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. It's going to the extreme in order to pay your debt down as quickly as possible.

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?

Gazelle Intensity Ideas

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Teacher Lives with Sister to Pay Off $33,000 in Debt: Kyle figured out that he had to get gazelle intense after making the automatic minimum payments for six years and not making a dent in his student loans. So, he put his food budget per month down to a crazy $100, and moved into his sister's basement to really kick his debt repayment into  high gear. He also earned extra money by a side job (teaching driver's ed). The combination of decreasing his living expenses and earning extra money enabled him to pay off the $33,000 in 18 months (he sent in $1,000-$1,500 per month).

How to Stay Gazelle Intense

Getting started with your gazelle intense debt payoff is often easier than staying the course. That's because whenever you start something new and exciting, you have greater enthusiasm to do it.

And the end is really exciting, too — after all, the prize is near!

But what about the middle parts, when you grow a bit tired of living extreme frugality, and you're wondering if you'll ever get there, or if it's really worth the efforts.

Here are ways for how to stay gazelle intense when you want to give up:

  • Use a Progress Map for Visual Gratification: Get your free 10-swirl map from Amy at Map Your Progress. In a debt-free nutshell — while Amy was in $26,000 of credit card debt payoff mode, she decided to keep herself motivated by creating a visual swirly map of her progress. Each swirl was worth $100, so every time she sent in a payment, she would get to color in the corresponding amount on her progress map. In the end, she created a work of art…and a debt-free life! Not to mention she now runs a biz based off of her progress-mapping creations. Here are other debt payoff visual ideas.
  • Build in Rewards for Mini-Milestones: You're going to be in this gazelle intense journey for awhile. So, instead of waiting until you meet your entire goal at the end to celebrate, build in mini-milestone rewards. For example, every $5,000 paid in debt, you treat you + your family to a meal out. This will keep the long journey ahead more fresh — who doesn't like to be rewarded?
  • Fill Your Mind with Gazelle Intense Stories: Don't underestimate the power of filling your head with inspiring stories and finding community among others who are also working the gazelle intense debt payoff method. When you feel down and out, search for Gazelle Intense blogs, talk to people in Facebook Groups who are paying down debt, and just keep going.
6 replies
  1. Bryce @ Save and Conquer
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I think I already mentioned in a comment on another post that we paid off our house in 9 years. Here are some details. House was bought for $350k with 40% down, so $210k mortgage. First loan was 7%, 30 year fixed. Required payments were $1,397, but we paid $1,500 per month. We refinance twice to get down to 5%, 15 year fixed. We increased our payments to $2,000 per month. Required payments after second refi were only $1,265. When mortgage got down to near $50k we paid it off from savings. There wasn’t much of a mortgage interest deduction at that point.

    Reply
    • Amanda L Grossman
      Amanda L Grossman says:

      Nice Bryce!

      I was very surprised last year that we had no interest write-off on our taxes…we had to take the standard deduction. I’m thinking that might be greater motivation to pay our mortgage early, but we aren’t decided yet. We still have 14 years on it.

      Reply
  2. Marissa@Financetriggers
    [email protected] says:

    Wow those are extreme, indeed. I remember watching a show on TLC before about “The Worst Tattoos” and there was a guy who accepted an ad during the campaign season and now regrets it. He now has the Mitt Romney campaign logo on his right temple.

    Reply
    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      Oh wow. I would never tattoo something on my body for an advertisement! At least these guys only painted it on their faces…I wonder how much he got paid?

      Reply

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