Gazelle Intense Intensity

Is Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Intensity a Financial Fad?

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Dave Ramsey’s gazelle intensity can be compared to a fad diet that forces you to make extreme changes to your finances while obsessing over debt freedom.

Dave Ramsey is the host of the financial radio show The Dave Ramsey Show, and shares about how to be gazelle intense to get out of debt FAST.

The problem with this is that this behavior resembles a fad diet, and you have a strong chance of relapsing when you burnout.

You have to make sustainable changes that are long-lasting for the rest of your life. In the fitness world, we call this a “lifestyle change”.

How are you supposed to change your life if you’re making radical, extreme changes at level ?????

Gazelle Intensity Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey “followers” closely resemble the multi-level marketing kool-aid drinkers I’ve tried to distance myself from since I quit Beachbody coaching.

I know this because I was part of a Facebook group that had a handful of admins who bullied other members by shaming them for not following the almighty Dave Ramsey’s way ‘to a T’.

A couple of years ago, I left the group because the toxicity of that mindset was really bothering me.

When you’re trying to make financial changes, you need an uplifting, encouraging support group.

Hatefulness and cultish behavior was the norm when someone said something that didn’t align with Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.

Side Note: Dave Ramsey has a group on Facebook that is a great source of information and very helpful. I am referring to a group started by a couple of followers (not affiliated with Ramsey in any way).

Now, if you’ve followed me for the past few years, you know that I have recommended Dave as a financial blog to follow, and I still think he has some solid advice and tips.

But you shouldn’t look at Financial Peace University as the be-all-end-all of financial plans.

What is Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Intensity?

Dave Ramsey came up with the term Gazelle Intense after reading Proverbs 6:4–5, “Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.”

Here are some basic principals of a person who is considered gazelle intense:

  1. Selling Everything But the Kids

  2. Selling your Car and Buying a Beater

  3. Cutting the Cord and Switching Cell Phone Providers

  4. Delivering Pizzas in your Beater

  5. Opening a “Starter Emergency Fund” with $1000

  6. Cutting out All Extras from Going out to Dinner to Taking Vacations to Paying for Kids’ Extracurricular Activities

Now let’s address which of these gazelle intensity practices is unhealthy.

Selling Everything But the Kids

  • I can’t argue with this point of view. Decluttering is actually a wonderful thing that can lead to less stress and more appreciation for the things that you do have.

If you can declutter and sell some unused clothing, appliances, furniture, etc. and make some extra cash to throw at the debt, I’m all for it.

Selling your Car and Buying a Beater

Related Post: How I Sold my Upside Down Car and Bought a Great 3rd Row “Dave Car”

  • Dave recommends everyone who cannot pay off their vehicle(s) within 1.5-2 years and/or people who owe more than 50% of their annual income tied up in vehicles, to sell them and buy a beater.

What’s a beater? It’s a cheap car that you can mosey around town in…basically a ‘Point A to Point B’ vehicle.

The problem with a beater is that most vehicles you can purchase with $1000 are heaps of garbage. They are unreliable and usually an eyesore.

If you’re in a sales or management position where you have to drive to and from meeting with clients, I’d highly suggest NOT purchasing a beater. This advice doesn’t work for everyone, which is part of Dave’s problem.

There is not a one-size-fits-all financial plan, so telling everyone they should do this is ludicrous. You CAN, however, find a great, reliable used vehicle in the $8,000-$12,000 price range easily. If you currently owe more than your vehicle is worth, check out this video on How to Sell an Upside Down Car.

Cutting the Cord and Switching Cell Phone Providers

  • Would you believe that there are people who follow Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps who’ve paid off tens of thousands of dollars in debt and will go to the Facebook group of followers to ask if they should allow their spouse to get cable now that they are debt free?

We cut the cord a few years ago and saved some money but eventually went back to DirecTV. We also left Verizon for Cricket but found that the shotty service wasn’t good enough for my real estate business.

If you rely on your phone to do business, I cannot stress enough the importance of good quality cell phone service. If you sign up for Verizon, be sure to download Ebates FIRST to receive up to $75 cash back.

And If you aren’t using Ebates for your online shopping, you’re leaving money on the table.

Delivering Pizzas in your “Dave Car”

  • If you absolutely want to make extra cash, there are ways to do it that take less time and can give you more time with your family

. Donating blood plasma is one way that my husband and I give back to the community AND help our family in the process.

I wrote all about it in another post, but you can make up to $400 per person (so up to $800 per month per couple) by spending a few hours a week at your local Octapharma Plasma or other plasma donation company.

That sure beats $8 per hour delivering pizzas!

The $1000 Emergency Fund

Gazelle Intensity sabotaging financial goals

  • Do you own a home? What’s your homeowners’ insurance deductible? Do you have a deductible for your medical costs? How much is that? Did you know that when my furnace needed replaced it cost $3,180 to replace it?

And that’s an affordable price for a furnace. $1,000 won’t get you very far in terms of an emergency bailout. If you’re a single person with no kids and don’t own your home, $1,000 is probably enough.

Dave’s rationalization for the small emergency fund is that you have no choice but to be gazelle intense.

And if murphy comes a knockin’, you’ll have no choice but to be creative and somehow come up with the cash to handle the emergency. I’m sorry, but a magical unicorn isn’t going to appear with the funds you need to pay the deductible for your roof replacement after a major storm. I’ll tell you exactly what the majority of people do. They turn to a credit card or a loan to handle the problem because they weren’t adequately prepared to handle an emergency. Sorry, Dave, but you’re wrong here.

Cutting out All Extras from Going out to Dinner to Taking Vacations to Paying for Kids’ Extra-curricular Activities

– Budgeting is crucial to any financial plan. You have to reward yourself for the wins.

And you know your family better than anyone else…including Dave, myself, or any other financial planner. By depriving yourself of the small rewards, like a night out to dinner or an affordable Airbnb vacation, you’re setting yourself up for a relapse when you’ve paid off all of your debt and you want to take a $10,000 Beaches vacation because you’ve “done so well and worked so hard”.

We found this Airbnb beachfront property for $130 per night, and I don’t know about you, but I NEED the time away with my family to recharge and reconnect. It’s vital to our happiness.

And don’t even get me started on the extra-curricular activities. The benefits to keeping your kids involved in sports and the arts include growing their self-confidence, skills, camaraderie, team-building.

And if they stand a chance at college scholarships, they need to be actively improving their arts, agility, strength, etc. You don’t have to pay for the most expensive summer programs, but don’t withhold your kids from things they’re passionate about because of money.

Find a way to make it happen….without using credit cards or taking out a second mortgage.

Last year was a pretty expensive year for sports for my family, but it wasn’t due to expensive sign up fees or my son playing travel ball. He actually broke his wrist playing football and needed two separate surgeries totaling $60,000 to fix it. 

Thankfully, we did follow Dave Ramsey’s advice and signed up for Christian Healthcare Ministries, and we only had to pay $1300 out of pocket on both surgeries combined! 

Gazelle Intensity Leads to Burnout


Being gazelle intense means focusing all of your energy and resources towards your goal of paying off debt.

I am 100% all about paying off your debt and pushing towards financial freedom. But when it means Moms and Dads getting 2-3 jobs, resulting in lost time with the family, marital problems, and stress, I’m not on board.

Call me a sloth, but I’d rather avoid the crash that is almost certain when you make extreme changes all at once.

Fad diets usually don’t end well, and neither do fad financial plans.

We are all in this together…trying to do the best we can to make better financial decisions, make more money, and spend more time doing the things that we love with the people we love!

7 thoughts on “Is Dave Ramsey’s Gazelle Intensity a Financial Fad?”

  1. Pingback: Financial Behavior Matters: Why We Repeat the Same Spending Patterns

  2. It is refreshing reading this. I consider myself a follower of Dave Ramsey and david bach and I squish them together to work for me. Like you said, there is no way I’m sticking to a plan if I have to work non stop for 2 years to pay off debt.

    1. Thank you for saying that, Lauren! I always worry about putting something so opinionated out there. This is in no way bashing Dave Ramsey or his principles, but I think it’s so important to find what works for you! Thanks for commenting!

  3. I just started Total Money Makeover in the last two weeks, as well as watching some of Dave Ramsey’s vids, out of the thousands available from his show on youtube. One I watched, he actually DID tell folks to set aside money for family entertainment and time away bc people need it and to put it in the miscellaneous category on the budget. He never, from what I’ve watched /read so far tells folks to not spend time out with the family at all. I think this is from folks taking it to an extreme BEYOND what he’s actually stated. I don’t know what everyone else does, but we put in the budget for our kids’ activities so they don’t have to miss out completely or as much as we do, while trying to get right with our debt. They may not be able to do tons MORE but that’s okay. I think too many folks probably take this man, like so many other public figures, out of context.

    1. I think he has some great ideas, and some of it just doesn’t work for certain people. For instance, $1000 baby emergency fund might work if you’re a single person with no kids and don’t own your home, but most true emergencies exceed $1k, resulting in the need to charge it on a credit card or borrow the funds. You’re right, though…some people take it to the extreme, and that’s my point. That’s when it becomes unhealthy.

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