Gazelle Intense: Month One

If you’re a regular reader, you might remember that one month ago today I issued a badassity challenge to my family. For July, August and September, we’re going gazelle intense with our budget. We’ve got several big expenses coming up the next few months, and I want to be able to pay them in cash even on our tight budget. Despite our debt payoff progress, our DTI (debt-to-income ratio) is still pretty high so this is a challenge, but I’m convinced we can get it done.

Our First Month

Being gazelle intense was not without its challenges. First I’ll share the breakdown of how we did, and then I’ll share our challenges.


Our average monthly grocery bill for our family of six for the first six months of the year is $473.89. In July, for the challenge, we spent $382.60.


The average gasoline bill for my truck for the first six months of the year was $135.60. In July I spent $142.73. While this may seem like a fail, it’s actually a success. Our budget for gas for me monthly is $150, and our gas expenditures always go up in the summer due to increased gatherings, etc.

For instance, let’s take a look at our previous three years of July gas usage:

  • July 2015: $277.51
  • July 2014: 180.65
  • July 2013: $289.01

So, the fact that I came in under budget for the month – and way under budget compared to our usual July numbers – is a huge success, in my humble opinion. πŸ™‚


True to our goal, we spent ZERO on entertainment this month. No eating out. No movies. No trips to the ice cream shop.

We spent lots of time at the local beach and just hanging out at home. We really do love eating out, but restaurant purchases can really add up quickly for a big family, and all of us agreed as we drove past a popular local upscale burger place after church yesterday that we were glad we didn’t spend any of our money on restaurants this month.The results were worth the sacrifice.

The Results

Because of our ultra frugal spending, we were able to pay cash for our $678 hay purchase this month – YAY!!!! Β It felt good writing that check knowing that we had the money in the bank for our first big summer expenditure.


Our challenge with debt payoff continues to be unexpected/unplanned for expenses, and of course we have them each month. It’s not that we can’t pay cash for them, it’s just that in my world where I have a perfect budget each month, they really get in the way. For instance, we spent nearly $90 on new brakes for my truck this month. Rick installed them himself so we saved a ton of cash there, but when you’re living on a tight budget ninety bucks is a big chunk of cash.

We also had to spend $46 to replace our refrigerator handle that broke. Β $46!!! Β I shopped around to get the lowest price and free shipping and that was it. For a piece of plastic!

Nothing major, obviously, but that’s money that I didn’t want to spend and hadn’t planned on spending, which always annoys me. I think I just need to accept the fact that each month will likely have some unexpected expenses during the month. In that vein, I put a $100 “misc” spot in our budget for August. πŸ™‚

Month Two

For month two of our gazelle intense challenge we’ll proceed status quo: keep a lid on grocery and gas expenditures, no entertainment expenditures. Rick does have a summer vacation week coming up off of work; usually we budget in $500-$700 for doing things around town during the summer – we’re keeping that but lowering it down to $250 in the name of gazelle intensity. Some might think that we should cut it altogether, but since we’re not taking any kind of annual vacation and we really want to take advantage of doing some of this stuff with our growing-up-way-too-quickly children, we’re keeping the summer fun budget but just cutting it by a half to two-thirds. We feel this is a good balance for our family.

How did you do on your July budget? What are your current financial goals and how are you doing at achieving them?Β 


*Photo credit: Joseph Echeverria


12 comments on “Gazelle Intense: Month One

  1. Thanks for the update–it is motivating to read about other people’s gazelle intensity! We recently met a big debt payoff goal so we loosened the reins a bit in July and caught up on stuff like carpet cleaning and stocking some household supplies, and attended a family wedding, and an annual conference. But all in all we did great as we increased our monthly investing substantially.

  2. That’s great, Laurie! Your grocery expenses were really low! It’s so great that your entire family is on board with cutting back. Thanks for the update on your progress!

    Personal Capital reports our spending was $970 less than last month. This is good, but we have been traveling, so we are using the extra for that. We are refinancing our mortgage at the beginning of August, meaning no house payment for August or September. My temptation is to use this money to catch up on travel expenses, but I’m still on the fence.

    1. I love it that your whole family agreed that “we were glad we didn’t spend any of our money on restaurants this month.” You don’t know how rare and valuable a thing it is to have a 6-person family (including teenagers no less) in unified support for something that might be considered “deprivation.” You clearly absorbed those annoying unexpected expenses – because you covered the big planned expense with cash! Victory! I REALLY appreciate the way that you point out that a ding of $90 here and $46 there can be very significant on a tight budget. Not everyone gets that. A+ for month #1, Laurie!

      1. Homeschooling helps so much with that unity – at least for us. We get lots of time to talk about the pros and cons of things and don’t have too much competition as they look and see what 2,000 other kids are getting to do. πŸ˜‰

  3. We had several unexpected expenses this last month as well and had to get a new defrost timer for our fridge. Thankfully they were just small expenses like yours (less than $100), but they add up. Especially when the summer is our slow time for earning income and are delaying purchases already.

  4. Your grocery budget is A PLUS MAZING !!! Please come to my house and show me how you do it. There are only 2 of us now, and we can still barely keep it below $200/week!

    You should really think about giving seminars or something on living frugally. Maybe it’s your calling. πŸ™‚

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