“Gazelle Intensity”? Or “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”?

Just in case you forgot, you’ve got less than a week to get your taxes done.  Consider yourself reminded!

For most of us 99%ers, April showers bring us back the hard earned cash we lent to Uncle Sam.  I love the delightful dilemma of what to do with a big tax check!  Some of you will use it for a well deserved vacation.  Others for some repairs or some household purchases you’ve been putting off.  If you’re like me, a big chunk will pay off some bills and debts.  Which brings me to the point of today’s blog post:

Raise your hand if you’ve tried the Dave Ramsey plan and failed.

I’d have to raise my hand multiple times.  As much as I love the simplicity of doing things Dave’s way, I’ve found I can only tolerate the Dave Ramsey plan for about 2 months.  At that point, I start to feel REALLY poor –and desperate.  I start freaking out, I throw all his principles out the window, and before I know it, I’m spending money as fast as I can find it, and I’m worse than when I started.

For years, I’ve felt ashamed of myself for what I perceived as a gross lack of self discipline.  Then last year, I had an epiphany:

Dave Ramsey doesn’t understand “gazelle intensity”.

The original idea comes from Proverbs 6:

 1 My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have [a]given a pledge for a stranger,
2 If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
3 Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the [b]hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
4 Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

If you’ve gone through Financial Peace University, or attended one of Dave’s live events.  You’re probably more than familiar with this concept, but to refresh your memory, here’s Dave explaining it for himself:

In this video, Dave says the gazelle escapes the cheetah 18 out of 19 times!  Quite a feat when you consider the cheetah reaches land speeds of  70 to 75 mph, and the fastest species of gazelle can only reach 60!  Dave gets a laugh when he credits the gazelle’s escape to “motivation”, but if you pay attention to the video, you’ll realize that even though he’s gaining ground, the cheetah eventually just slows down and gives up!  They may be the world’s fastest mammal, but the cheetah can only maintain those record speeds in short bursts.  Gazelles aren’t faster or more “intense” than cheetahs, they’re just more persistent!  Cheetahs are sprinters, but gazelles are known for running marathons!

So, all my zoological visits to Wikipedia mean this:  Sure, you can take Dave Ramsey’s tongue-in-cheek advice, but maybe, like me, his “beans and rice, rice and beans” approach isn’t going to work for you.  Maybe “Don’t step into a restaurant unless you’re working there,” won’t be as effective for you as, say, “Let’s try to only go out on Sundays.”  Maybe “Sell so much stuff that the kids think they’re next,” isn’t as effective as, “I guess we could sell some old stuff on Craigslist if you want the new iPad that bad.”  Maybe developing a long term lifestyle of living beneath your means is, in the end, more important than zapping all your debts as fast as you can.  Maybe, YOU would do better going at speeds where “getting out of debt” consumes your life for a year or more, but maybe, just maybe, slow and steady wins the race.

My apologies to Dave, but in my life, “persistence” beats “intensity” every time.

 *Image is courtesy of these guys.

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2 thoughts on ““Gazelle Intensity”? Or “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”?

  1. Rick

    I usually agree with you, Mac, but not this time. I have found just the opposite of what you experienced to be true. I only wish I had discvovered these principles when I was in my 20s or 30s. You may be the exception to the rule, but I found only when I tried to modify any of Dave Ramsey’s principles have they failed me. When I follow them I always end up where I want to go. I hope we can still be friends. After all, I agree with you that BBT is one of the funniest shows on TV, much to the consternation of a mutual acquaintance of ours…

  2. I’m less than 2 months away from being debt free. I started off slow and steady while I got my expenses under control, but once I moved in with some friends and had a lot of extra rent money back, I started throwing everything I could at it. I’m paying $800+ a month right now plus any extra money I get goes right to loans. I finished FPU about 18 months ago.

    I’ve certainly eaten better than beans and rice, but I’ve been working as hard as I can to get all my student loans paid off. I was hoping to finish by May 16, which is three years after I graduated from college, but I think I’ll miss that target by a couple of weeks.

    I didn’t sell my car or everything I owned or get 12 extra jobs, but I did watch what I spent, went without if possible, and put as much toward my loans as I could every month from my regular paycheck.

    It’s just like dieting. If you try to go all-out on a diet without proper planning, you’re going to burn out in no time and be back to where you were, or worse off. I’m a hybrid of the free spirit and nerd, and being single and living by myself for a while after college meant I had to be extra careful with my planning to get out of debt. But it’s going to be completely worth it when I make my last payment in a few weeks.

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