Gazelle Intense: Month Two

“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.”

This is what I wrote one month ago at our one-month update. At the end of month two, we weren’t as frugal as we were in month one. We paid cash for everything but it left our savings account smaller than it had been.

Along with our previously stated extra expenses, we had even more extra expenses. I wrote earlier about the upcoming summer expenses that we were having to deal with for July, August and September. Here they are:

  • Hay for the horses, which we buy on an annual basis (paid in cash in July)
  • New tires for two of our vehicles
  • A furnace repair that is not urgent but needs to be done
  • Krav Maga classes for the kids, which is a huge priority for us

I didn’t include school curriculum in that list ($800), or an unexpected car repair that we had this month costing $300. Plus, after going gazelle intense in July, that left us pretty short on groceries and toiletries. Here’s what we spent in August:

Our Second Gazelle Intense Month


We spent $442.20 on groceries in August for our family of six. Lower than our average this year of $473.89 (pre-challenge average) but still higher than I wanted it to be.


Our pre-challenge gasoline average expenditure is $135.60. I spent $159.24 in gas for August. The main cause for the increase is that we’ve got to get oldest daughter’s driving hours in so she can get her drivers license in October. She’ll turn seventeen this month, so it’s time for us to get moving in this area.


I did spend $19.15 on entertainment this last month. $9.50 for a “date” for me and Rick – we hit a local Taco John’s before a trip to Menard’s. I also spent $9.65 on a date to Arby’s for oldest daughter and I – teenage emotional breakdown was the reason; money well spent.


We spent $157.50 on toiletries last month. No splurges here; all necessities such as toilet paper, contact solution, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, etc. $77.05 is our monthly average for toiletries so this is a really high number, but we ran out of everything at once in August, so it couldn’t be avoided. Note that we’re buying frugal in all toiletry areas: shampoo, conditioner, female needs, etc. Just the basics with no frills or name brands.

The Results

Our extra expenses were a huge challenge this month, but Rick worked some overtime that was available and I got a fair amount of freelance work, so we were able to pay it all in cash. although we did take $200 out of savings.

The Challenges

The $800 curriculum bill and $300 unexpected car repair bill were definitely the big challenges this month. We also had to get the propane tank filled, to the tune of $200. Also, as I talked about last month, Rick had a summer vacation week in August and we spent $236.85, below our budget of $250. This is our only “vacation” expenditure for the year. No trips or other splurges.

Month Three

Month three is going to be a challenge. The new tires we need for the vehicles will cost upwards of $1200 if we can find them on sale. The furnace repair and Krav Maga classes for the kids are going to have to be a wait-and-see thing, as I had only budgeted $900 for the tires. Luckily the furnace repair of $700 isn’t important at this point (per the technician) but it will need to be done eventually. The Krav classes are a high priority to me, but so is living within our means, getting out of debt and keeping our savings account afloat. If they need to wait, then they need to wait.

Sometimes gazelle intense sucks. Having to make choices about things that are high on the priority list is not fun. But the end result, I’m sure, will be worth all of the efforts and sacrifices we’re putting in. It may not seem like it now, but I’m certain it will when we’re walking on paid for grass. 🙂

How did you do on your August financial goals? 

18 comments on “Gazelle Intense: Month Two

  1. Laurie you’re amazing! How you manage to feed 6 people so well yet so inexpensively is an inspiration! I think you’d be a YouTube sensation. I know I’d subscribe. Hubby says he wishes we were there. You’d save a bundle on furnace repair labor. What does the tech say is wrong with your furnace and is it gas or oil? As usual, if anyone mentions a furnace in conversation or in ink, that’s his prime focus. You can take the boy out of the furnace room …

    1. You’re so sweet, my friend. 🙂 It’s a computer board thing for our propane/electric combo furnace. It switches from one to the other based on the temp but we are having to switch it manually. Again, not an imminent repair but one that will need to be done if/when we sell, which I hope will be soon, but God’s timing not mine. 🙂

  2. Love Taco John’s & Menard’s (two things I miss from the years I lived in South Dakota):

    We need to get two sets of new tires for our vehicles before winter as well. It’s one of the reasons I’m deciding to sell one the vehicles that needs them (besides the fact that a Mustang isn’t an ideal family car).

    We had some unexpected for August as well as we moved into our house and had several last minute expenses that we paid cash for instead of bundling into the loan (boo interest). We are delaying a couple other house purchases until the next month or two to make up the difference.

    I hope that is the end of unexpected expenses for you. That is a lot to swallow for the summer months.

  3. That’s a lot of challenges you’ve got, but I know you can get it done. Our August expenses were just under budget which is great considering it was the month for our quarterly real estate taxes (no joke here in NJ where they’re the highest in the US).

  4. Hopefully you can have another few months of warm weather, so that you can continue to push off the furnace repair. It’s funny, I briefly thought, “How does she know the furnace is broken” before I remembered that all Minnesotans are in tune with their furnaces year round.

    I hope you manage to find some extra work to offset one more month of high expenses.

  5. Good luck Laurie. I’m sure you’ll make it work. Having the whole family on board too will make it easier, and I know you’ve said in the past they have all been willing to do their part. We had a few unexpected things pop up in August too, we need to get back to saving more.

  6. You guys are doing great considering how many extra expenses hit you all at once! Only taking $200 out of savings is amazing. You’re definitely meeting your challenge head-on!

    We had new tires, the propane bill, and a home maintenance issue recently as well. Thankfully, we refinanced our mortgage, so we didn’t have that payment in August. We really should have put the extra toward principal balance on the mortgage, but we used it for the extra expenses instead.

    In Iowa, the teens can drive on their own at 16, so we officially have a driver now! So far, so good…

  7. Ah Laurie, I feel your pain! It is HARD when you’re giving it your all and you feel like you’re barely treading water. That old, “Is it worth it?” rears its ugly head. The GREAT news is that you have continued to pay outiright for everything. You HAD the savings to accomplish this goal, and I have no doubt you’ll replenish them once these high-expense months are over. All the best in month #3, my friend. #1 & #2 have been tough-won victories, but victories nonetheless : )

  8. Wow, August was a little rough for some of us! Although we didn’t have any real unexpected expenses, we did invest almost $6,000 in new windows and door walls last month. Add to that the new furnace/air conditioning units in June and we are pushing $17,000 in fixer upper update expenses since early spring. Good job on having the savings to stretch the tight spots! And I am trilled to know that there is another couple who might consider a trip to Menards a date night!

  9. August and September are not shaping up to be good months. We had a big car repair and now are doing some patch-up on our RV, and this is going to wipe out our repair fund completely. Ugh.

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