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Lent – Giving up is good for you… and your wallet

Whether it’s for faith or for charity, many people try to give up a vice during Lent. Can the extra savings help you stay motivated?

We all know we should cut back on certain foods, drinks and other things that are bad for us (smokers I’m looking you), but getting the motivation to keep going, let alone start, can be a huge block.

But I’m a big believer in ferreting out sources of hidden cash and seeing what you can do with it as a way to help you work through your cocoa or caffeine withdrawals.

So I’ve crunched some numbers using our Cut back calculator to show you what you stand to save.

For each of these vices I’ve worked out how much you’d save cutting it out for 40 days, and again if you stopped buying them for an entire year.



Dairy Milk was the biggest selling chocolate bar in the UK last year. A quick look online shows a standard 45g bar sells for 60p in most supermarkets.

Over 40 days that’s £26.

Struggling with food shopping? In a year this chocolate habit adds up to £219, roughly the same amount as the average spends at the supermarket in a whole month.


According to cost of living comparison site Acombo, the average cost of a cappuccino in the UK is £2.38. If you have one every working day during Lent in 2015, that’s 32 days and a total of £76.16.

Saving for a new computer? Over a whole year, with 254 working days, you’ll spend £602.14 on your daily cuppa, enough for a decent desktop PC or laptop.


Nearly one fifth of us go to the pub for a drink at least once a week, according to Mintel.  

With the Good Pub Guide listing the average price of a pint in the UK at £3.31, cutting back on just two beers a week over the 40 days will net you more than £33.

Planning a summer holiday? If you ditched rather than downed two less pints a week over a whole year it’d total £343.20. That’s the cost of a return flight to New York.


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that men smoke an average of 13 cigarettes a day, and women smoke 11. Let’s take 12 as a middle ground.

A pack of 20 cigarettes costs on average £8. That works out as 40p per smoke.

So someone giving up smoking for 40 days would spend £192 less.

Worried about a lack of savings? Over a year, a 12 a day smoking habit totals up to a massive £1,752. Our research last year found that 71% of us faced high unexpected costs each year. Average amounts included £1,341 for car repairs and £248 for vet bills. So quitting would go a long way to funding your emergency savings.

With cigarettes being addictive and possibly the hardest to quit, the money saved could be a real motivator. But you might need some extra help. The NHS Smokefree site has tips and support. 

What are you planning to give up for Lent? How much do you think you could save?

What do you think?

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  • Debbie / 27 February 2015

    Doesn't help hardworking conscientious families, who rarely go to the pub, don't smoke , take lunches to work , never go out for coffee and don't eat much chocolate !!!!!
    We've already cut out the unnecessary and struggle to manage on our earnings. What's needed is fair pay for a hard days work x

  • Alison Jacobs / 24 February 2015

    That's really not what Lent is supposed to be about.