Learning How to be Gazelle Intense Without Going Crazy

From Lindsey at Finding Contentment in the Suburbs:

I have an idea that many of you newer "frugalites" or "frugal zealots" out there have a romantic love affair with being debt-free. After all, for most of us, it is the supreme zenith of the quest before us---to be completely, utterly, totally debt-free (including the mortgage!). Just hearing the phrase "debt-free" makes us shudder with excitement. It's almost a rush. Almost.

Okay, I have to admit it- I am a new "frugalite." I am in love with the idea of being completely debt free. No car payment, no house payment- I dream of the day! I love to stare at the numbers in my little spreadsheet and imagine what it would feel like not to have those payments.

It's been about 3 months since I started listening to Dave Ramsey, and I am not even close to as "gazelle intense" as Lindsey. If we were, we would rent, sell our car now, and we wouldn't go out to eat EVER. That seems like almost too much to handle at once, but it would be so great for paying off our debt. We are working on finding a balance between being gazelle intense and still staying sane. We aren't quite there yet though!

Since we started trying to be debt-free and on a strict budget, I have noticed that we have cycles of super-frugality at our house. We don't really go anywhere or spend any money for about 2-3 weeks, then we will have a weekend where we go and do and spend $100 on shopping and eating out. Then there's much guilt (only on my part, my spouse doesn't do the guilt thing) and we go ultra frugal. And the cycle repeats. It's bad. I feel the "need" after a couple of weeks for a new shirt or a nice date. It's like the binging of personal finance.

I still haven't figured out quite how to manage this cycle, but it seems to help when I make sure to include a small portion of our budget for blow money. And I consistently listen to good ol' Dave to keep my motivation and focus on not spending. It also seems that reading other blogs like I've Paid for this Twice Already and The Simple Dollar encourages me to save instead of spend.

Lindsey was right- I am seeing that becoming debt free is definitely intense and very hard work. I just hope I can become as intense as she has been so I can go on and enjoy life without payments.


paidtwice said...

Thanks for the mention! I have my own problems with gazelle intenseness lol. You can do it! Keep up the good work :)

Marsha said...

I totally know what you mean about the cycle of no spending followed by binge shopping.

What about the idea of planned binges with a dollar limit? Or maybe planning to "binge" at the dollar store?

I definitely think that being too extreme on deprivation (of any substance or activity) sets us up for binging. JMO. :)

Mandy said...

Marsha, those seem like great ideas! I should set aside money that allows me to buy something- I think then I will not want it so bad since I can have it... :) I will have to try it!