As part of Lent, I am reflecting on my previous writings a little more, and this little chestnut was from 5 years ago, however, I have done some editing as well.
Mardi Gras was on Tuesday, so that means that Lent begins today and this is a perfect opportunity for folks to start something new with their Personal Finances (and their spiritual life, if they wish as well). Easter is a time for new beginnings or restarting something you need to resume, however, most people view Lent as a time to “find something to give up”. That is one way of viewing your Lenten journey, but another way is to look for something to Enrich your life for the 40 days of Lent (leading up to Good Friday and Easter).
Financial Lenten Journey
What areas of your personal finances could use either Enrichment or Better still a sacrifice that might help your financial well being? There are some very simple ones that I think about every year (and have done a few of them):
The Latte withdrawal penance.Cut out buying coffee for the 40 days of Lent and put that money aside, to either save, give to charity or pay down your debt. Keep track of this and see how much money you might be saving here, it’s worthwhile finding out where this discretionary money is going.
Read 4 Personal Finance books over the 40 days to enrich your understanding of your personal finances or your investing adventures. Building up your expertise over Lent is a good thing.
Brown bag it for 40 days, give up buying lunch at work, and bring your lunch instead. Another way to find out where your discretionary spending is going.
Take the bus to work for Lent. Leave the car at home, buy a bus pass and take the Bus to work. Yes gas is cheaper right now, but not driving might have other benefits for you (less stress, more exercise, etc.,).
Live on cash for 40 days and get rid of your credit cards. Freeze them in your freezer, lock them in your safety deposit box, or cut them up, but live on CASH only (no debit either) and see if you can do it, does it change your spending habits?
Think about these or suggest others, I am open to suggestions myself.
If you aren’t a regular Church goer you are missing an amazing opportunity to unclutter your house, the Church Bazaar (and maybe the Spring Garage Sale).
A minister once said to me, “Many folks think that the middle step between your house and the curb, for junk, is the Church”, which is very true. People constantly drop the oddest things at the Church thinking that we might be able to use it:
Hopefully not this crap
Tractor feed printers and paper
Computers from the 1980’s
Old lamps and chairs
Old coffee makers
The one time the Church does want your junk is for the Bazaar (if your Church Bazaar has a White Elephant or Kids section). Mrs. C8j diligently cleaned out the garage (so I could use her Do You Store Your Tires) and we found a few useful bicycles that the Church would love to try to sell for some extra money.
The danger of the Church Bazaar is that if you attend it, you could end up buying more stuff and re-cluttering your house, so the Bazaar does have a dark side to it as well. For those of you who keep saying things like, “I could make money selling that on Kajiji or Ebay”, dream on, very few do, and more end up with basements full of junk. Besides, why would I buy your junk on-line when I could go to a Church Bazaar and get it cheap?
The funniest thing is when I have worked at a White Elephant table, and folks show up and want to haggle over prices. The conversation goes something like, “I’ll give you $2 for it”, and my response of “OK”, seems to upset them a great deal.
Today is the beginning of Lent (in the Christian religion) a time of atonement for sins, a time of penance, and a time of reflection and growth. A few years ago I put out a Lenten financial Challenge, and a few folks joined in with my attempts to fix my financial ship, but every year we should think about Lent in finances, and how we can use this time to better our life.
This year I won’t call you folks out, you can do what you wish for Lent in finances, but I will try a few things to see if I can make my financial world better.
Lent in Finances Ideas
Do you need some ideas for what you might want to try? Remember Lent is a short(er) period of time, so you can experiment during this time, knowing that it will end in about 1.5 months or so. Some of my traditional suggestions are:
Use cash instead of Debit and Credit cards. Making Cash King, means you are limiting how much spending you can do at any one time, and you might just realize how much you are spending by doing this. If you take out $100 from the bank for the week, and suddenly realize you are out by Wednesday you are more likely to look back on what you are spending your money.
Cut out buying lunch or coffee for the time (or cut out eating out in general). It could be another interesting exercise to give you a better feeling about how much you are actually spending in these areas.
Look at your monthly bills (especially your utilities, Internet, telephone and cable), can you lower them by less usage? Can you lower them by calling and asking for a discount? If this makes you uncomfortable, fight your tendency to back down and go ask for a discount.
Do you need a smart phone? Must you have full cable? Maybe turn them off for Lent and see if you can live without them? If you can, now is a good time to try it.
Any other good ideas for Lenten savings, or financial exercises?