How to Use Gazelle Intensity to Get Rid of Your Debt for Good

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Gazelle Intensity

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Have you ever had one of those days at work when things are so bad that all you can think about is ignoring your bag lunch and buying something delicious instead?

And then, just as you’re ready to treat yourself, you remember: I have debt.

You go back to your bag lunch and remind yourself that the real treat is sticking to your budget and getting yourself out of debt once and for all. The resolve you just showed is called “gazelle intensity.”

Gazelle intensity is a strategy many find useful in paying off debt fast. Read on to see if gazelle intensity may be your best way to pay off debt.

What is gazelle intensity?

Gazelle intensity is a term coined by Dave Ramsey in his book, The Total Money Makeover. In describing gazelle intensity, Ramsey more or less tells his readers to make debt an absolute emergency until it’s paid off. Here’s how he describes it:

“…the way you get out of debt is you run like a gazelle with a cheetah chasing you. You go crazy. Intense! So gazelle intense it’s as if you’re about to be eaten. You run!”

According to Ramsey, applying this kind of life or death intensity to your finances is key for paying off debt fast.

“That’s what gazelle intensity is – running for your life. That is the formula for getting out of debt. It’s not as much math as it is just going bananas.”

If you think it’s time to go bananas with your debt payoff, here are a few tips to help you reframe your mindset and start living with gazelle intensity.

Paying off debt fast with gazelle intensity

1. Strip down your budget

First of all, if you want to implement gazelle intensity, you have to strip everything you don’t need from your budget. That means cutting cable, removing your entertainment budget, and so on.

If there’s anything in your current budget that is be categorized as a nice-to-have, it has to go. You can’t be gazelle intense if you’re spending money on things you don’t need.

2. Find ways to do things for free

The next step to going gazelle intense is to find free or cheap ways to do things you would normally have to pay for. Think packing lunches, making coffee at home, even making your homemade cleaning products like detergent and shampoo. Gazelle intensity could even go so far as cutting your hair.

To be successful with this step, you have to rethink the services and things you’re paying for. Nothing is sacred in this category.

3. Drastically decrease your cost of living

Once you’ve reduced your expenses as much as possible, try to reduce them some more. For example, you could take on roommates to cut your rent in half or move in with family for free (or almost free).

Take a look at your non-credit card debt load. If you have a car loan, is it possible to sell your car, pay the loan off, and buy a car that you can afford in cash instead? That monthly payment you save can go straight to other debt.

It’s the same with your house. Would you be willing to sell your home and downsize to lower your mortgage payment – and energy costs? You don’t have to go this far if it doesn’t make sense for you to do so, but it’s an option many gazelle intense believers might consider.

4. Battle back against feelings of deprivation or fatigue

To stay gazelle intense, you’ll need to find ways to battle back against feelings of deprivation or debt fatigue. After all, maintaining this level of discipline for as long as it takes to pay off your debt requires serious willpower and determination.

One way to boost your morale is to sell any belongings you can part with and apply that money to your debt. Making a large extra payment always feels good and can reduce your overall time in debt. You could try achieving the same thing by applying your tax refund to your debt.

If you don’t have anything to sell and aren’t getting a tax refund, keep yourself motivated by celebrating all of your wins along the way. Create a visual chart to color in when you make a debt payment, share your success each month with an accountability partner, or simply remember to cheer yourself on every time you make a payment.

5. Don’t look up until you’re debt-free

With gazelle intensity, there are no breaks and there are no monetary celebrations. You have to keep going until you hit that beautiful amount: ZERO. Don’t look up, don’t spend extra money, keep on going until you’re debt-free. That’s gazelle intense.

Is gazelle intensity the best way to pay off debt?

Now that you know how to use gazelle intensity for paying off debt fast, the question is:

Could gazelle intensity be the best way to pay off debt for you?

It depends on who you ask. Some find this to be the only way while others deem it too restrictive and unrealistic. To help you decide if you should use gazelle intensity for paying off debt, here are some stories of people who’ve had success with it.

Carrie paid off $14,000 in 14 months

When writer and freelancer coach Carrie was just starting out in her debt repayment journey, she owed a combined $14,000 on two credit cards and an auto loan. She didn’t go gazelle intense the whole time, but when she did she saw major progress:

“I gained momentum as I saw my debt decrease and I revised my initial goal to July 2012 [from the original goal of December 21, 2012] – which took some serious motivation and sacrifice to hit.”

To do this, Carrie lived on only two-thirds of her income and took major steps to increase her income through freelancing on top of her full-time job. It paid off – she was finished in just over one year.

Matt paid off $15,000 in 10 months

Sports marketer and finance blogger Matt knew he wanted to pay off his student loans but didn’t get aggressive until he’d been paying them down for more than two years. Before that point, he and his now wife were more focused on building savings and paying for their wedding and honeymoon, while also dealing with inconsistent employment.

But when they decided to kick their pace up a notch, they used gazelle intensity to do it:

“Viewing our debt with this level of seriousness was paramount for us to speed up the process. I’m a huge believer that motivation is the single biggest key to paying off debt quickly. You have to make it your number one focus in your budget to start seeing the most progress.” (The Financial Diet)

It must have worked because they took their balance from $27,000 to $12,000 in just ten months. That’s less than a year to pay off more than half of their remaining balance!

Kyle paid off $33,000 in 18 months

Then there’s teacher and finance blogger Kyle, whose debt payoff journey we recently wrote about. Kyle went really gazelle intense to get rid of his $33,000 in student loans.

Kyle moved into his sister’s basement so he could save on rent, he took on side gigs like teaching driver’s education, and he even managed to cut his food budget to a minuscule $100 per month. He also lived with roommates for a time.

These changes may seem pretty extreme, but they enabled him to eliminate his student loans in just 18 months. Now he applies his new habit to goals such as saving for a home and paying cash for a car, wedding, and honeymoon. He even has a fully funded emergency account to keep him from using credit when something unexpected comes up.

Are you next?

The question of whether or not gazelle intensity is the best way to pay off debt doesn’t have a right or wrong answer. To engage in this type of debt payoff strategy requires such diligence that, if you’re not ready for it, you might end up burning out and going backward on your goals.

But that’s not to say you can’t borrow from the ideas of gazelle intensity and apply the ones you think you can sustain.

However, if you want your debt gone quickly and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, gazelle intensity could be your speed. Just make sure it’s something you can commit to. Then outline your plan, follow the steps above, and start outmaneuvering your debt like a gazelle can outmaneuver a cheetah.

You never know, your debt payoff story could be the next one on this list!

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2019!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.240% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.75% APR to 14.60% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.75% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.50% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.79% – 20.89% (6.79% – 20.89% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at

**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.

7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

5.75% – 16.24%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

7.46% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.99% – 35.89%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

5.99% – 24.99%2$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

5.99% – 29.99%3$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

6.79% – 20.89%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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