im a cheetah not a gazelle

January 31st, 2008

I’m a Cheetah Not a Gazelle

As frequent readers of the blog know, I kind of fell into the Dave Ramsey world of terminology by accident. I haven’t read any of Ramsey’s books, and have only looked briefly at his definitions and methods as they’ve come up for me in my own life. I’ve heard the term “Gazelle Intensity” a fair number of times, but I’d never looked up its official meaning. How it was explained to me was basically that a gazelle has to be very focused and intense to escape becoming a cheetah’s meal. Well, I am all about the focus and intensity (honestly, I’ve been told in taekwondo on numerous occasions by various instructors that they’d like to be able to bottle my passion and focus and spray it on some other students). So I thought I’d write a post about gazelle intensity and what its done for me and if I think just being focused and intense about it is enough to get out of debt.

But, hold on a minute. For when I went to look up a reference to link to about gazelle intensity, that’s not exactly what Ramsey’s definition of is.

According to Ramsey, gazelle intensity is a role play exercise. The gazelle has to be smarter, not faster, than the cheetah to escape it. In Ramsey’s world, you are the gazelle, and the credit card company is the cheetah. To escape the cheetah, you must be smarter than it. Just as the gazelle has to bob and weave to avoid the cheetah’s single minded straight line attack (apparently, a cheetah is only super-fast when running in a straight line), we must bob and weave and stay on our toes like a gazelle with never-ending intensity to avoid the credit card’s evil single-minded attack via numerous offers and specials and rewards.

Well, that’s nice, but I am so not a gazelle. My strategy is more ignore than avoid, and in fact, I’ve not only opened a new credit card in the past year to take advantage of one of those offers of 0% interest (both on a purchase and to transfer my remaining balance), I carry my cards around with me in my wallet. How’s that for lack of avoidance? I will admit though that I greatly enjoyed picking up some credit card applications that had come in the mail and shouting CHEETAH! and shoving them in the shredder. I think my spouse thinks I am a little loony. But cheetah yell or not, I was going to shred them anyway.

My spouse pointed out to me that I’m not a gazelle, I am a cheetah. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the “credit card company” cheetah that finds the weak and preys on them like in Ramsey’s scenario.  My debt is my gazelle, and I am aimed right at it.  The cheetah has single minded focus and runs right at the target. That is me. I aim, I go, I run and run and run (well, I actually hate running, but in my brain…) and hit it hard with a hammer. The debt is what keeps bobbing and weaving, throwing roadblocks up and then losing traction and giving me a break.

It is still ahead of me right now, but I am catching up. It can bob and weave but it can’t hide forever.


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17 Responses to “I’m a Cheetah Not a Gazelle”

  1. I’ll be posting a response to this on my blog cuz this will get long-winded!

  2. Next time I shred a credit card offer, I’m going to yell “CHEETAH!!!!” Sounds like fun! :)

  3. Shouting cheetah is fun :)

    Be aware though that your spouse may look at you like you are quite loony. :)

  4. Have to be careful here in the south, CHEETAH, sounds more like CHEATER ;-)

  5. I agree with glblguy when he says in the south, CHEETAH, sounds more like CHEATER …. for me that is precisely the point. Those credit card companies are Cheaters! Their applications and special offers are cheating. I too will yell ‘Cheetah’ the next time I get those offers and I’ll be thinking of you, paidtwice.

  6. heh, my spouse already knows I’m loony for soooooo many other reasons ;)

  7. I love your Cheetah yell!!! Made me laugh so hard.

    I think the cheetah metaphor is appropriate for you or other PF bloggers…your debt is definitely bobbing and weaving. And you’ll kill it yet. :)

  8. The cheetah has single minded focus and runs right at the target.

    I LOVE this analogy so much. I’m more a sloth at this point, so slow that I’m going backwards… :-/

  9. I’ve never read anything about Dave Ramsey or listened to him speak so I didn’t know anything about the gazelle/cheetah analogy before reading your post and Debt Free Revolutions response. However, I like your analogy better! :) I like thinking I’m the aggressor going after my debt. And you’re right – yelling cheetah sure is fun!!!

  10. @Cynthia and anyone else – Dave Ramsey is really awesome. He’s entertaining to listen to and really cuts to the chase. You can listen to him online free, or download an MP3 and listen to it by visiting

    He provides 1 hour of his 3 hour show online for free.

  11. Gibble, Way to whip out that link! And today (Friday) is the absolute BEST day for people to listen: It’s when Dave takes the “I’m DEBT FREE!” calls :) from all the gazelles who have escaped.


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