7 Financial Vices to Ditch for Lent

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Whether they celebrate Lent for religious reasons or simply out of solidarity with those who do so, many people give up a luxury or a vice for a few weeks. Since studies show it takes about 3 weeks to form or break a habit, this can be a great opportunity to form good financial habits or break bad ones without having to sacrifice everything on your own. Here are 7 financial vices or luxuries to consider giving up for Lent:

Smoking

The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is around $7 or $280 during Lent if you smoke one pack a day. If you can last the full 40 days, you can probably quit smoking completely, which could be hugely beneficial to both your long-term health and richness. At the very least, you’ll be able to pay lower premiums on life, health and long-term care insurance.

Eat a lot of junk food

This does not only mean sweets, but also fast food, sodas and other sugary drinks. Although cutting out all junk food isn’t sustainable forever, you might be surprised at how much you miss it soon after you pass the initial withdrawal phase. If you manage to reduce the amount of junk food you eat in the future, you can save dollars and lose pounds.

Overeating in restaurants

This includes your morning stop at Starbucks, your lunch at work, and your drinks at the bar afterwards. Instead, try making coffee at the office, making lunch at work, and inviting friends over for a few drinks. Also spend more time in the kitchen and learn new recipes. You’ll probably eat healthier too.

shopping with plastic

Studies show that people tend to spend more money when using debit or credit cards instead of paper bills. You may find yourself spending your money more cautiously when you have to go to the ATM every time you run out of money. Even better would be to give yourself a limited “allowance” each week. You can use the “envelope” method by dividing the money into different envelopes for each expense category (food, groceries, etc.) or let you spend freely, but when the money runs out, it’s up to next week. However, anything you don’t spend can be rolled over so you can reward your frugality by allowing yourself to splurge while staying within your budget.

Pay full price

Try to only buy items that you can get a discount on. It can be a challenge, but you’ll quickly learn when and where the best deals are on offer, how to use Groupon and other services that can email you local deals, and how to clip those coupons. Browser extensions like Honey can help you find coupons when shopping online. Don’t use these deals as an excuse to buy something you wouldn’t normally buy, because you really aren’t saving.

Finally, don’t forget about good old-fashioned negotiation. You can trade yourself and/or use a invoice negotiation service to be negotiated for you in exchange for a percentage of the savings. After a while, you might wonder why you ever paid full price for anything.

Wasting time

Can you use some of your free time to earn extra money on the side? Don’t just think of traditional part-time jobs. Be creative. Do you have a talent or hobby that you can turn into a side hustle? If you did well on a standardized test like the SAT or LSAT or have specialized knowledge, you can teach a class for a test prep company or community college, lead an exercise class at a gym, or offer Private lessons.

If you have extra space in your home and live in an area that attracts a lot of tourists, you can rent space on Airbnb or Vrbo. Don’t want guests at your house? Consider babysitting instead. Other ideas include handyman and housekeeping services and website design for small businesses. The only limit is your imagination.

Store things you don’t need

Even if you don’t have time to waste, you probably have possessions that you don’t really need or even want anymore. One person’s trash can be another’s treasure, especially if it’s something that’s in great shape but you no longer use. You can hold a yard sale or list the items for sale on sites like eBay

EBAY
and Craig’s List. In the spirit of Lent, you can donate anything you don’t sell to charity. After all, you might value the extra space and less clutter in your home even more than the money you earn.

Some of these steps may seem too difficult or even impossible, but that’s what it means to give something for Lent. If it was easy, we would have done it already. But once those 40 days pass, chances are those sacrifices will turn out to be easier than they first appear and turn into permanent changes. It would be one more thing to celebrate.

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