It not only helps him stay debt-free, it also protects him.

Chris, from Debt Free Geek, labels his style of approaching debt and saving money “extreme intensity.”

That’s how he paid off $150,000 in debt, which included his mortgage, in only three and a half years.  And he shares the steps he took: First, he increased his salary by over $26,000 in a two-year span by becoming a top performer at the IT company he works at.

He and his wife worked side jobs, earning a few extra thousand a year and, he says, “If we happened across some free or unexpected money in our budget, we didn’t spend it on fun stuff. We threw it at our current debt target. We did that over and over.”

He and his wife also decreased their expenses. He calls it a barebones budget. “We lived on a fraction of our incomes,” notes Chris. “We had a newborn baby, so we bought diapers in bulk and all used baby gear. Grocery bags full of baby clothes can be as little as $3 a piece. We spent $254 on items which should have cost us $1,520.”

He even sold his vehicles. I like this part. “I sold my 2007 Audi A4 for $18,000 and used the money to buy a 2004 Honda Element for $7,000,” says Chris proudly. “Then I paid $11,000 off our mortgage.” I own an Element, too — but never an Audi.

Chris speaks about intensity like a philosophical or religious creed. It means, for financial and lifestyle purposes, changing your outlook. Almost like rebelling against the norm, and letting nothing change your mind.

He says, “Throughout this process, nothing should keep you from hitting your financial goals. There are plenty of distractions, such as friends inviting you to a second or third dinner out when your budget doesn’t allow it. These distractions should be instantly dismissed.”

Chris provides four rules that make up his “extreme intensity” philosophy.

  1. Measure:  You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Conversely, if you measure, it will improve. Keep a budget.
  2. Automate: Program as much of your savings and debt payoff as possible using automatic bank transfers.
  3. Sacrifice: Intensity amplifies results. If you want to get out of debt fast, you must make sacrifices.
  4. Increase: Boost your income as much as possible. Find side jobs, stand out at work, improve your job marketability.

I also mentioned that Chris’ intensity protects him. He works as a director of cybersecurity operations for a large financial company. In that capacity, he protects his company from cybersecurity breaches. He also understands how to protect his identity and finances from hackers.

He shares some advice with us. “I always recommend two things to protect your identity and finances,” says Chris. “Credit monitoring is a no-brainer, but second is to place a credit freeze on your credit report. This will prevent an attacker from opening an account in your name. You can have the freeze temporarily lifted using a unique PIN provided to you by each of the three credit reporting companies.”

He also says, “Never log into your financial systems from someone else’s computer, even a friend or family member. Assume all other computers are infected with a virus or key logger,” which can track everything you type.

Exercise extreme caution — and intensity.

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Article last modified on June 23, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .