Last week, Lynnae at Being Frugal asked if there was a downside to “gazelle intensity.” If you’re wondering about the term, it was coined by Dave Ramsey in an attempt to describe the passion with which we should seek to get out of debt. When a gazelle is being chased by a cheetah (debt), it’s running and jumping and bobbing and weaving and completely concentrated on its goal.
She talks about balancing that intensity in a way that keeps her family healthy. For example, she feels it’s very important to stay at home with her kids (as the child of a SAHM, I understand why) and that people come before debt. Now she’s using her home time to make money from blogging and scout for best deals, plan snowballs, and all that.
This got me thinking about our own debt reduction and the magnitude of our debt.
Even on the annual salary I would have gotten from the job I left, before taxes, our debt is about 4 times that much. With this patchwork job I hope to earn at least as much by the end of the year–I don’t really expect to bring in 100k, even before taxes.
Once Micah starts working, of course, we can attack debt faster (and I should add that he’s getting a stipend for his teaching, which helps with debt repayment and such).
But I’m expecting to be in here for the long haul. Accordingly, I’ve made a few choices which probably won’t get our debt paid off faster, but will keep us sane:
1. I left the salaried job.
Yeah, seems dumb, right? I don’t know if it was working in a cement box with no windows all day or what, but the job messed up my emotional equilibrium. Getting out of debt is excellent, but so is not crying a lot and spiraling back into depression. Debt reduction vs. sanity, sanity wins.
If it had just been a year I might have been able to stick it out. Maybe.
2. We allow ourselves a few inexpensive luxuries.
There’s a lot of rice and beans in our diet, but we also get coffee a couple times a month (though thanks lovely people who gave us gift cards, because that’s one less item in our budget for a bit!) or go out to inexpensive restaurants with friends. We even went out to a movie in the last 4 months.
I don’t know if the most “gazelle intense” people would condone this. If we were focusing on debt for just a year or 6 months and could snowball our way out in that time, we might cut back to pretty much bare bones. It’d feel so good.
I think if a person’s trying to get out of debt, they should definitely add Dave Ramsey to their reading list.
At the same time, when reducing debt you have to ask what you value. Lynnae values being able to raise her kids hands-on. They’re only going to be kids once.
I value being sane. Wanting to get out of debt is part of being sane, but so is not being completely miserable at my job because it pays more.
And we both value being free and clear of debt’s shackles as soon as possible.
Gibble at Gather Little By Little says that Gazelle Intensity isn’t for him and explains why.
What are your priorities when it comes to debt? Will your debt reduction take years? Months? If you’re already out of debt, how did you prioritize things?