Christians around the world mark the Lenten season — a pivotal part of the liturgical calendar — with prayer and fasting. Many Catholics and Protestants typically sacrifice common comforts from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday, just before Easter.
No matter what your religious beliefs, taking a “time out” from little luxuries can seriously help your bottom line. Here are everyday luxuries burning a hole in your paycheck.
1. Your Daily Latte
But first, pray. You’ll certainly ask to be blessed with energy if you forgo your daily coffee run, but you don’t necessarily need to give up coffee altogether. If you’re too hooked on caffeine, make your own latte at home or give the free coffee at work a shot.
If you usually buy one Venti drink at Starbucks, you’ll save roughly $4 a day. A $12.95 bag of your favorite blend, however, will quash your craving and caffeinate you for weeks.
If you’re a moderate or social drinker, give up alcohol for Lent. Sip on some sparkling water or soda or order a refreshing, and much cheaper, mocktail if you’re out on the town with friends.
From an expensive martini on the weekend to the roughly $15 bottle of wine that normally gets you through the workweek, staying dry will help keep your wallet full. And if you just can’t bear to cut out booze, you can still save money with one of these top-rated wines under $20.
3. Cable TV Packages
If March Madness is your jam and you aren’t willing to give up cable altogether, temporarily suspend subscriptions to channels such as Showtime or HBO. If you have major FOMO when it comes to a favorite show, remember that most premium cable channels allow you to watch original series on demand, so you won’t be behind for long.
Most cable companies allow you to easily add or remove $15 packages as you please. If your main concern with this lack of luxury is a potential social media spoiler, now you have a reason to stay off Facebook, too.
4. Bus or Subway Fares
Lent falls during the start of early spring, so you can enjoy fresh air and warmer temperatures by walking or biking to the office. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get in shape for the summer.
Save roughly $2.75 on each leg of your commute by giving up a short bus or subway ride.
5. Dining Out
From Sunday brunches to dinners with friends, give up eating out for the Lenten season. If you’re worried about your social life, eat before you meet up with friends or opt to host a dinner party. Not only is this a great opportunity for you to save money, but you can also work on your cooking skills at the same time.
Many restaurant menu items are roughly $15, so skipping two meals a week will bring some extra balance to your budget.
If you’re a self-proclaimed shopaholic, take a hiatus from retail spending. Temporarily delete all shopping apps and emails to avoid temptation. Take the time to donate old clothes to those in need and fall in love with your wardrobe all over again without spending a dime.
If you buy a $79 shirt or dress twice a month, you stand to save money and possibly curb your addiction for the long term.
7. Beauty Treatments
Skip beauty treatments without compromising personal hygiene. Paint your own nails, pluck your eyebrows or try one of these 10 DIY beauty products at home.
After a few weeks, you might discover you’re overpaying for services you can easily do yourself. If not, that post-Easter pedicure will be even more of a treat.
From the daily brownie you grab at your office cafeteria to the candy bar that always finds its way onto the conveyor belt at the market, giving up sweets will save you both cash and calories. Unfortunately, you’ll face an additional hurdle if you give up sugar — Girl Scout cookie season is in full swing during Lent.
It’s nearly impossible to say no to those adorable Girl Scouts staked out in front your grocery store, but you can always buy one $5 box — instead of five — and save it until Lent is over.
9. Green Juices
If you’re a health nut, you’re probably a sucker for fresh, cold-pressed juices from a local hotspot. Bust out the blender and make your own juice instead. A bag full of fresh veggies will allow you to juice for an entire week.
While consuming juiced veggies is undoubtedly a healthy habit, a one-day cleanse can cost you $49.
10. Exercise Classes
Gather some friends and start a running club or put on a challenging workout DVD in the comfort of your living room. Skipping just one cycling or yoga class can save you upwards of $20.
11. Downloading Music and Books
Sure, we all love the latest T. Swift tune but rely on radio stations’ affinity over playing music during the Lenten season to satiate your musical cravings. Instead of downloading a newly released book, crack open one of your favorite novels or head to the local library.
Every song you download costs roughly $1.29, so if you’re a big music buff, the savings will add up quickly. Similarly, books cost around $10 to download.
12. Gift Giving
If you’re attending a baby shower or birthday party, make a thoughtful gift instead of forking over cash for a store-bought item. From knitting a blanket to creating a scrapbook, your friend or family member will likely appreciate your efforts more than a gift card.
While it’s acceptable to spend as little as $25 on acquaintances, shower attendees are generally expected to spend about $100 on close friends and family. However, the right handmade gift will be a sentimental surprise the recipient will cherish for years to come.
13. Gourmet Grocery Runs
Yes, there’s a fancy cheese section. And an olive bar. Let’s not even mention the freshly caught wild fish and ready-made dinners. But this is a great opportunity to cut ties with your gourmet grocery store and shop at a more mainstream market — possibly even after Lent is over.
There’s obviously a reason why you’re willing to pay more here, but much as you love it, $19.99 for a pound of high-end gouda is a little excessive.
14. Going to the Movies
If you usually enjoy a weekly date night at the movies with your significant other, try a no-cost activity, such as a competitive game night or movie marathon at home. Take turns with the planning and surprise each other with your creativity.
Waiting a few weeks to see the latest $14 blockbuster might be hard, but you’ll also avoid the crowds. Admit it: You always get a headache from taking that last seat in the first row anyway.
15. Babysitting or Doggie Day Care
Excluding care while you’re working, opt to bring your child (or fur child) with you on weekend outings. Plan special family-friendly activities, such as an afternoon picnic at the beach or a day at an amusement park with your season passes.
Not only will you save roughly $15 an hour on a babysitter, but it will also be a time of free bonding, which is priceless.