Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day by food aficionados, is followed by Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. During this 40-day period millions fast and cut luxuries and bad habits out of their lives. Even if you’re not religious, the tradition is a great opportunity to test your will power, enjoy a healthier lifestyle and maybe even save some money in the process. Here are five things you could give up for Lent to enjoy a healthy boost to your savings.
Although quitting smoking is difficult, you should consider the many benefits. Not only is it better for your health but you could also save a huge amount of money. A pack of 20 cigarettes costs on average £9.911, meaning a saving of £237.842 after just 40 days. In a year without smoking, you would be an astonishing £2,170.292 better off. Imagine what you could do with this small fortune!
1: The Independent, Nov 2017 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cost-of-cigarettes-budget-2017-philip-hammond-a8065566.html
2: Figures based on assumptions average UK man smokes 12 cigarettes/day - ONS, June 2017 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2016
Another way to do your health and your finances some good might be to give up alcohol. Take wine as an example. The average 75cl bottle of wine costs £5.563, so assuming you drink 1 bottle a week, you’ll save around £27.8 after 40 days. Halt your wine consumption for a whole year, and you could save £289.12. It might not seem a lot to you, but that money could buy you a Kindle or flights for a short weekend in Amsterdam.
3: According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association: The Guardian, June 2017 - https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/01/chateau-brexit-average-price-of-bottle-of-wine-reaches-record-high
A recent survey reports that 22 million4 takeaway meals are being consumed every week in the UK. The research also states that young people (18-24) are seven times more likely to have takeaway food at least once a week compared with the over 65s. If you’re one of them, Lent could be the perfect excuse to trade your takeaways for home-made meals. In addition to the health benefits, giving up takeaways could help you save money. For instance, a medium pizza costs around £15.775. Let’s say you have one a week, that’s a £78.85 saving over Lent, or £820.04 over the year. Quitting takeaway meals doesn’t mean stopping eating pizza, of course - you could have a little fun and make your own Margherita pizza for approximately £2.966.
4 : Mirror, March 2017 - https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/number-takeaways-ready-meals-brits-9952952
5: Figure based on Domino’s UK prices: https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/5524677/heres-how-much-your-favourite-pizza-costs-per-square-inch/
6: Figure calculated on basis ingredients are bought in Tesco and are Tesco-branded - http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/
Known for your shopaholic tendencies? Lent could be the perfect time to cut your shopping habits. According to the Great British Wardrobe Report, UK women spend on average £747 per month on clothes, whilst men on average allocate £1007 to complete their wardrobe. By giving up shopping for 40 days you could save £97.32 if you’re a woman and £131.51 if you’re a man. Another thing women could quit during lent is make up. Knowing that women spend on average £5.888 per week on beauty products, you could be £29.4 better off over Lent, and almost £306 over the year!
7: Telegraph, March 2017 - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/news//do-spend-1042-clothes-year-new-research-reveals-average-brits/
8: Grazia, April 2017 – figure calculated on basis women spend £306 per year https://graziadaily.co.uk/beauty-hair/makeup/much-woman-spend-makeup-lifetime/
Everybody likes a night out with friends, but restaurants, pubs and clubs can be very expensive. We’ve all had nights when we went out, spent money as if there was no tomorrow and woke up hungover and regretting our lavishness. 40 days without a night out could provide a welcome break for your finances. A report found that Brits spend on average £589 or over on a night out, including food, drinks, entry fees, and transport. Dates are no cheaper, as a recent study found UK couples spend on average £12710 between them per date. Although you could save some money by stopping yourself from going out, there’s no need to give up on socialising altogether. Inviting your friends over could cost considerably less and be just as enjoyable.
10: Esquire, March 2017 - https://www.esquire.com/uk/life/sex-relationships/news/a13839/average-date-costs-uk/
Let’s go further and imagine you give up all the above things, you could potentially save a large amount of money over 40 days, and even more after a year. Let’s assume you’re a woman who smokes, drinks wine every week, eats pizza every Friday, regularly buys clothes and make up, and goes out with friends once a month. You would save £529.21 over Lent and an impressive £5,169.45 for the year! And before you spend this sum on anything, you could consider putting some in your emergency fund for those unexpected expenses or if you are willing to take an element of risk and are looking for long-term growth, you could invest this extra money for future projects.
Please remember that the value of your investments can go down as well as up and you could get back less than invested.
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The comments and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and should not be taken as financial advice from Wealthify.