Today is Shrove Tuesday, which means after you’ve had your fill of pancakes, Lent officially starts tomorrow.
While Lent started as a religious holiday – with Christians traditionally giving up things to imitate the Biblical struggles Jesus faced when he was in the wilderness for 40 days and had to fast – in modern times, people commonly use the period to challenge themselves to give up things like alcohol, swearing or even social media, sometimes for charity.
This year Lent runs from February 14 to March 29 and during that six week period you could make some serious savings by giving up one or more things in the classic tradition.
Writing in The Mirror, money-saving blogger Ricky Willis had numerous tips for saving money during the 40 day period.
Here are five of the best.
Buying food is one of the biggest expenses for families every month so dropping branded foods for the supermarket value brands for 40 days could save you a sizeable chunk of money.
According to the MSE Downshift challenge, if you spend £100 a week on food shopping on average, by cutting out branded items you could potentially save £93 over the course of 40 days. That works out at more than £800 if you kept it up over the course of a year.
You could use Shrove Tuesday to clear out your fridge and cupboards of the big name brands and try the supermarket own makes instead. Remember, the branding doesn’t necessarily add any more flavour!
This is perhaps the most controversial one on this list. After all, we might struggle without a mid-afternoon sugar boost.
However, based on 60p for a bar of chocolate you could save £24 over the course of a month if you stopped snacking for 40 days.
That means cutting out a bar of a chocolate every day for a full year could save you more than £200. It’d probably be better for your waistline too.
Buying regular lattes and frappuccinos from high street coffee brands like Starbucks, Costa and Caffè Nero is one of the biggest expenditures for people in the UK today.
While it might give you a solid caffeine boost every morning, it’s not so great for your wallet.
With a standard medium specialist hot drink at Starbucks usually coming in at around £3.25 a cup, giving up your morning coffee for Lent could save you £97.50.
That’s almost £800 over the course of a year. You could buy your own coffeemaker for less than that!
Giving up smoking is one of the classics during Lent.
Not only are there substantial health benefits of quitting cigarettes but it’s also a solid way of saving money.
If you smoke 10 cigarettes per day, kicking the habit for the 40 days of Lent could save you around £160 alone. And that’s around £1,500 a year if you can use Lent as a platform to quit for good.
Another big cost is those weekly trips to the pub with friends or regular meals out at restaurants with your partner.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop socialising altogether, of course, but having more nights in during Lent could see you save hundreds. It’s estimated that the average night out in London costs £100 and it’s probably not much cheaper across the rest of the UK at this point.
So over the course of six weeks, you could save up to £600 just by having your mates round to your flat instead of hitting the town for food and drink.