The Financial Celebration of Lent

For those of you who don’t know I am a Church going kind of guy, and the Christian season of Lent, means different things to a lot of different parts of Christianity (i.e. many different views of how it should be observed). The one I like is that Lent is a time for reflection and improvement of yourself, and with that in mind, given Lent starts today, here is (yet another) chance for you to start trying to make your financial life better.

Remember that Lent is celebrated over 40 days starting today (Ash Wednesday) ending on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). For those with an arithmetic bend on things, you will notice that is more than 40 days, but that is because you treat Sundays as a “day off”, but let us not get hung up on that one.



You have a chance to start for a short period to change your financial life (for the better, please). What kind of things?

  • Decide to pay off a number of debts, or maybe just one, but by the end of the period, it will be paid off, and it will be done. Make easy goals to begin with, you can challenge yourself as you get better at things (i.e. don’t attempt to run a marathon first thing, maybe start with trying to go 1K?)
  • Live on ca$h only for those days, no credit cards, and try not to use debit either. See if this is something you can do, or whether it is just too much for you to deal with.
  • Rebalance and research all your investment vehicles. Is it time to start becoming a Couch Potato investor? Good time to start.
  • Maybe add a fitness aspect to this, so that you are ready for your retirement. Maybe it’s time to review whether you should be using an RRSP for this, or maybe your TFSA?
  • Are you being charitable enough? Lent would be a great time to start giving of yourself more, and it does not need to be monetary, you may have talents that community groups need.

Lent is here, let us all give a cheer?!?


Fiscal Fasting

Now we have reached the Christian tradition of Lent, and for those who are religious, or just gluttons for punishment,  are looking for things to take up (or give up) for this time of the year.

Allow me to suggest “Fiscal Fasting” , which is a delightfully obtuse switcheroo on the Lenten tradition of Fasting. Good Christians (in the day) might take up fasting to emulate Christ’s 40 days in the desert by giving up Meat or the like, I am not suggesting that (although I could do with giving up say Snacks and specifically potato chips for Lent) with this concept.

Fiscal Fasting would be simply denying discretionary spending for a week (to start). Can you live the same $20 you had in your pocket Monday all the way until next Sunday?

No, I am not suggesting that you do not pay bills that MUST be paid in that time frame (e.g. Mortgage Payment, Rent, Electrical Bill, etc.,), I am suggesting cutting out spending on things like eating out, buying clothes, etc., . No this does not mean that you should have an orgy of spending the day before and “coast” for a week either. If you wish to cheat that kind of defeats the purpose of this idea.

Maybe the best thing to do is:

  • Automate your bill payments so they don’t end up in arrears (be like that woman they found who kept paying her bills 6 years after her death).
  • Plan how you aren’t going to spend money, or how you will avoid buying crap you don’t need (or worse can’t afford)
  • Take $20 out of the bank

Start on Sunday, if by Saturday you still have that $20 bill you win, and should try again for another week. How long can you keep that bill intact ?


Lent: Remember Sunday is an Off Day

Hey, those ain’t my rules, that’s what our minister told us. If you actually count the days in Lent from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, you get more than 40 days, so the story I get is that on Sunday you get a break from your Lenten vows. Now I usually forget this one, and if you are doing financial stuff, maybe it’s not a good day to go “off the wagon” as it were, but if you are giving up chocolate or coffee, enjoy a little today, but get back to your vows ASAP on Monday!

My alcohol free Lent has started, but it is not going to be easy that is for sure. Oh well, if it was easy, what’s the point in doing it.

If you are putting away your credit cards for Lent, drop me a line with your progress, I am very interested in hearing from you.


Happy Lent

This Lent must be quite serious, because the Catholics are giving up a Pope for it! OK, bad form on that one, but I just could not resist.



No I am not talking about lent as in, “I lent Michael James $10 either”, (more likely that sentence is backwards) I mean Big “L” Lent, as in the Christian Religious tradition.

Not sure of the fun things you could do for Lent? I have done this a few times, but for those new readers here are a couple of really simple things you can try for 40 days and see if it helps and if you can do it (Lent is great as a Test Period for Financial habit change):

Make Cash King (or Queen): Simply put away ALL your cards (including your debit cards) and use cash, until Good Friday this year (March 29th this year). I don’t buy the whole, “Debit is just like cash”, no it isn’t, it allows you to spend without knowing how much you have left, so use cash, it is a much better barometer for your spending habits.

Find a killable debt, and kill it! Simple enough, but it can’t be a massive debt, because you can’t really get it done in this short period of time, but if you have a credit card debt that can be dealt with in less than 2 months, do it! When you are done, celebrate, by going and killing another debt!

You can give up something as a penance type gesture, like giving up coffee (if you buy it somewhere expensive), however, check with your loved ones first to make sure they are OK with that. I quit coffee one Lent and was a complete son of a bitch (more so than usual if that is possible) and Mrs. C8j forced me to start drinking it for her sanity. If you are paying $6 a day on coffee, you could save up to about $300 right there, could make for a fun time somewhere. If you bring your lunches you’ll save even more money.

Scare the hell out of your wife and suggest you go to Church every Sunday during Lent (if you are not Church going folk), it’s fun to add that kind of tom-foolery during Lent as well.




Lenten Finances, Leaping and Random Thoughts

Lent began this week with a flurry of pancakes, and then many posts about finances and doing financial penance for you money transgressions, funny how I can take something religious and turn it into a money issue. As you can tell I take every chance possible to suggest that NOW is a good time to start thinking about your finances and planning (you didn’t notice that?).

Greece and Europe continue to lay the track for the financial roller coaster the stock markets are going through. One day WAY up and the next hurtling back down to the ground, frankly, I am getting sick of the whole thing (like they used to say about Space Mountain, “… big deal you spin around for 4 minutes and then you want to throw up).

The exciting part about next week is that all those folks who were born on February 29th get to have a genuine Birthday, and we all get to enjoy an extra day for RRSP frenzy buying too. I wonder if there are other weird traditions out there for February 29th? Drink from the other side of the cup? Sleep on the other side of the bed? Change banks?  Maybe I’ll eat my cereal with a fork?

Weekly Recap

Yes a very heavily Lenten laden week, but still a few other important tax points to watch out for as well:

And thanks to those who added me on Twitter I am now over 1000 folks who follow me, holy cow! Check out my facebook page as well (but no I won’t be buying Facebook stock because of this either).

Links for the Week

This week there have been a lot more giveaways this week, and with our Greek friends causing more financial grief, there was a lot to write about:

Other Bookkeeping

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An odd Leap Year Quote

Never play leap frog with a Unicorn

– Anonymous (on Leap Day either)


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