Ah… Lent! Most people know it is the bit that comes after the indulgence of Pancake Day, when you’re supposed to give up something for a period of 40 days.
Traditionally, rich foods are given up, but these days, because it’s becoming less of a religious festival, anything goes. So, why not have a go at our lent money saving challenge?
To get you started, here are few simple ideas. Choose one and really commit to giving it a go – it is only 40 days after all!
Pay with cash
If you’re partial to using your credit card when you shouldn’t, for that extra pair of jeans, or meal out for the family, just because you have it nestled in your purse, why not do something about it. Stop yourself from overspending with these three simple steps:
1. Pay off everything that needs to be paid on Pancake Day
2. Estimate how much money you’ll need and put it to one side
3. Get rid of your card for the whole 40 days – give it to your other half, brother, mother – whoever you can trust to not give it back to you. Or be extreme by sealing it in a plastic tub with some water and popping it in the freezer.
Don’t buy any take-out food – at all
Another ‘extreme’ idea, that’s especially useful if you are partial to buying your brekkie on the way to work and popping out at lunch for a sandwich and crisps. Whilst these are not that costly when taken individually, add the cost over the month and it really starts to build up. Think about it – a bacon butty and coffee from Greggs is £2.00 and a Boots Meal Deal is £3.29 – that’s £5.29 on food that you could just as easily prepare at home and take with you. And, honestly, you’ll enjoy it much more when you’ve made it yourself.
And it may not stop there. Once you get home, do you order takeaway? If you do, you’re in good company, as some people are spending as much as £218 per month on takeaways. Just take a minute to imagine what else you could be spending that money on. Or, if you’re really good, you could put it away for a rainy day.
Now, we realise that choosing an alternative mode of transport to get to work may not be possible for some of you. If your commute is really long or you’re suffering from ill health, it may not be practical. But, for those that can, there are other ways to get to work. Why not try walking? It has numerous benefits, apart from saving you a packet, which include:
1. Saving on bus fares, train, tram or petrol and parking costs – this is a major expense for many people, with the average rail commuter spending from £72 right up to £118 per month. All that lovely lolly could be in your pocket.
2. Keeping you fit – it’s been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illness, it helps with type two diabetes and has been shown to help protect against cancers. And you don’t have to walk massively long distances to see the benefits. Just15 minutes per day of brisk walking has been shown to increase your life-expectancy by up to 3 years!
3. Improving your psychology – research has shown that walking can, amongst other things, lessen feelings of stress and anxiety, improve sleep and increase cognitive performance – which basically means it helps you think better.
Or you could invest in a bike and switch to cycling forever! Lent is a great time to try out cycling to work, as forty days should be long enough for you to decide whether you like it or not. And, if your company is part of cyclescheme.co.uk, you’ll be able to save up to 50% of the cost of your bike. As you would imagine, there are lots and lots of benefits to cycling to work, you can read about them on the sustrans website. If you can’t walk or bike it, all is not lost. You can still save money by lift sharing instead.
So, now you’ve got three ways in which you can throw yourself into the spirit of Lent, which will you choose?
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.