Ten ways to save money as a family this Lent!
It’s Pancake Day; GET IN! Lemon, sugar, maple syrup… The mouth waters.
…But what many of us forget is that after Pancake Day comes Lent. In fact, the origin of Pancake Day was to enable families to use up all the goodies in their homes before beginning their traditional 40 day Lent fast.
Giving up something for Lent may be something that you don’t usually do, but perhaps it’s time to give it a try this year? Most people will predictably try to give up chocolate or alcohol or cigarettes – some with more success than others! But another option could be to try and do various things to save money this Lent.
You could get the whole family involved and work together to save money: money that you could then use for a summer holiday or other special treat.
So what are some of the ways that you could do this? Try our ten tips below:
- No new clothes
Many of us buy far more clothes than we actually need. Oxfam’s Second Hand September campaign in 2019 saw more than 62,000 people pledge not to buy any new clothes for that month, and an estimated 1500 tonnes of carbon footprint was saved. You can save money as well as carbon footprint during Lent by deciding not to buy any new clothes, and taking the opportunity to rediscover many existing items that you had forgotten about.
- One night in for every night out
Going out for a night can end up being very expensive. So why not try to do things a bit differently during Lent? For every night you go out, take the opportunity to have a night in the next time round. So if you go out for a drink or meal with friends one weekend, host a get-together at your place the following weekend and get everyone to bring drinks and food. You will all save money and have just as much fun.
- No takeaways
Everyone loves a takeaway, and as an occasional treat they’re great. But we can easily fall into the habit of relying on takeaways and spending far too much money on them. So just for Lent why not agree not to have any takeaways at all? If you’re too busy or tired to cook a full meal then just make something really simple instead: a jacket potato, omelette or beans on toast. Then put aside what you would have spent on a takeaway. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the money mounts up!
- Plan your food shopping
Apart from mortgage or rent, food shopping is probably the biggest monthly expense for most families. But there are many ways that you can save money on food shopping: we looked at some of these in our article How to eat well for less. One of the key things to do is to plan your week’s menus so that you only buy what you need and don’t waste money on buying food that you then end up throwing away.
Lent is a really good time to develop new habits, so why not set yourself a target amount of money to save on your food shopping over the next 6 weeks? Hopefully by the end of Lent you will have got into the habit of spending less and will be able to save more money on food each month.
- Take home-made food and drink to work and school
Buying that coffee on the way to work can easily become part of your daily routine, but when you add it up it’s horrifying to find you could be spending about £40 a month! If you saved that money instead for a year, that’s almost £500 for your holiday fund. So get a travel mug and take coffee in from home instead.
During Lent also look at other little ways that you can cut back on your daily food and drink. Instead of buying lunch at work or using processed food for kids’ lunchboxes, make your own sandwiches or be creative with leftovers. Yes it’s a bit more effort but you can probably save twice as much money as you’ve already saved on coffee!
- Save energ
Lent comes at the time of year when spring is on its way. Mornings and evenings are getting lighter and hopefully the weather is becoming more settled. So it’s an ideal time to try and save energy in the home. We looked at this topic in detail in our article How to save energy in the home.
Lent is a good time to establish new habits so why not choose three things that you want everyone in the family to do this Lent to save money on energy? For example:
- Switch off lights when you leave a room.
- Instead of turning the heating up, put on another layer of clothing.
- Spend less time in the shower – maybe have a family challenge to see who is the fastest?!
- Only use your basic tariff for phone and TV
It is all too easy to get in the habit of using over and above your basic tariff for phone and TV each month. So for example you go over your phone or data allowance and have to pay extra. Or you watch several on-demand movies then wonder why your bill has shot up.
So for Lent try just using what you’ve got. Stick to the basics and find other ways of doing anything extra. Rather than spending hours texting on your phone or browsing the Internet, arrange more face-to-face get-togethers with friends. Instead of renting endless on-demand movies why not start watching DVDs: either having movie nights with family and friends or swapping them round between you to watch whenever you want.
Find new sources of communication and entertainment that don’t cost more money. And if you realise that your current tariffs actually aren’t enough for your needs then it is likely to be cheaper to change your tariff or package rather than continually going over it and being charged extra.
- Personal grooming
We can end up spending a small fortune on personal grooming without realising. Whether it’s paying to get your hair or nails done, beauty salon treatments or just topping up grooming and cosmetics collections, it can quickly add up.
During Lent why not try to do things differently? That doesn’t mean not taking care of yourself, but trying to save money as you do. Many colleges have their own beauty salon where students will perform treatments (fully supervised) for very competitive prices. Most hairdressers also offer lower prices for trainees, or may be looking for models who are willing to help trainees practice on them in return for a free hairdo.
Also consider whether there are any friends who have some relevant experience and may be able to give you a hair or beauty treatment, and perhaps you can do the same for them? And if you do team up with friends then instead of all buying lots of different hair and beauty products why not save money where possible by buying them between you and sharing them round?
Try to reduce the use of your car during Lent. Not only will this save money on fuel, it’s also good for the environment. Rather than driving everywhere, see if you can walk or cycle or take public transport instead. Or might it be possible to set up a car share arrangement either for your commute to work or the school run?
When you do use the car, try to combine several errands into one journey rather than doing lots of small journeys throughout the day, so that you just use the car once instead of continually.
- Live within your means
There is one very valuable change that you can make for you and your family during Lent. It links to all the above money saving ideas but is probably the most important for your family’s financial health.
It is simply this: live within your means.
So for the whole 40 days of Lent try not to use your credit cards at all. Only buy things if you have the money to pay for them now. Everything else can wait. It is so easy to get into the habit of handing over a credit card whenever you want to buy something that you can’t really afford. But all that happens is your credit card debt gets higher and higher, and becomes more difficult to pay off. Many people find that they then need to take out a loan to pay off the credit card balance, otherwise it is only the interest on that balance that they are actually managing to repay.
Why not put your credit cards in a safe place and agree as a family that they will only be used in case of genuine emergency? All other essential spending needs to be made with real money – cash or debit card. Anything else that you want to buy will have to wait until you have enough money to get it. This probably sounds very harsh at the moment, but if you stick to this mindset during Lent you will find it quite liberating: and will soon start to save money.
We hope that the above tips help you and your family to save money this Lent, and that it’s a brand new start for your finances as a family.
Remember to check back here soon for more lifestyle and money saving tips from Loans 2 Go.