Paying Off Debt? It’s Okay to Be a Tortoise and Pay It Down Slowly

Mike is on a mission to pay down his debt as quickly as possible.  He works a full-time job and then in the evening, he teaches community college classes from 7 to 10 p.m.  On weekends and after class, he’s grading papers and creating lesson plans.  He has 3 kids, but he rarely gets to spend time with them because he’s so busy generating extra money. He tells himself the sacrifice will all be worthwhile when the debt is gone.

Do you want to know a secret?  Not everyone is cut out to be gazelle intense when paying down their debt.

Yes, I said it.  I know, such a sentiment is practically sacrilege among personal finance bloggers, but it’s true.  Sometimes gazelle intensity just doesn’t work.  Sometimes it’s better to be like the tortoise and keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race.

When You Might Not Want to Be Gazelle Intense

1.  If you have young children.

Your children are only young once, and they grow up so quickly!  They need you.  Yes, their lives financially will be better if you as a family have no debt, but their lives may not be better emotionally.  Your child likely won’t understand that you missed most of his soccer games because you were working your second job.

2.  If you experience health issues.

Being gazelle intense requires working many hours a week.  Often, the first thing to go so you can have more time to work is sleep.  After awhile, that catches up with you.  I was gazelle intense our first year of debt repayment, and my health suffered.  I’m still trying to recover from that period of time.

3.  If you find the sacrifice too much.

To get out of debt permanently, you need to change your behavior and your mindset.  However, some people treat getting out of debt like a fad diet.  They make the sacrifices for 6 months or a year to wipe out debt, and then once it’s gone, they go right back to their old ways and run up debt again.  These people would do better to get out of debt slowly, changing their behavior slowly over several years so once they’re debt free, they won’t go back in debt.

4.  If you can find a 0% interest rate.

There are several credit card companies that offer 0% balance transfers as a way of getting you to transfer your debt to them. Often times you don’t have to pay the money back for 12 to 18 months. If you can qualify for one of these offers, it might make good sense because when you take into account the rate of inflation, you’re essentially earning free money.

Paying Down Debt Slowly Still Makes You Debt Free

Whether you’re gazelle intense or as slow as the tortoise, as long as you’re not accruing new debt, you will eventually be debt free.  Yes, being debt free faster is optimal for your financial health, but sometimes for your emotional and physical health as well as the health of your family relationships, getting out of debt slowly and steadily is the best option.


3 Responses to Paying Off Debt? It’s Okay to Be a Tortoise and Pay It Down Slowly

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