Lent is now underway - an important tradition for many Christians, when people give up something during the period between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (this year, the period runs from Wednesday, February 22 to Thursday, April 5). Usually, people choose a particular minor vice to avoid during the season, like smoking or desserts.
Besides just being a religious tradition, however, Lent can also be a great way to get healthy, live better and even save money. Here are some common habits that people give up, and the amount they can save:
Giving up smoking for Lent could be the first step towards quitting the deadly habit. Data shows about 45,000 Canadians die every year because of tobacco-related illness.
It's also an expensive habit.
A pack of Marlboro cigarettes will cost you about $5.97, according to Numbeo.com. A pack-a-day smoker might not be able to completely give up the habit, but cutting pack could be an option. The smoker that's not quite as heavy could try to kick the habit altogether.
Estimated savings for someone that gives up a half pack of cigarettes for Lent would be $119.40.
Bottled water ($101.60)
Approximately 50 billion bottles of water are consumed every year in the U.S. and around 200 billion bottles are consumed around the world. The costs will start to add up and data indicates there is no significant health advantage.
You can also help the Earth by giving up bottled water for Lent. Environmental concerns are also present as, only 20 percent of the bottles used for water in the U.S. are recycled.
The average cost of a bottle of water is $1.27. So if you drink two a day and turn to the taps for Lent, you'll save $101.60 for Lent.
Enjoying a ballgame or a family get-together with a few beers now and then is one thing - but many Americans drink a whole lot more than occasionally. Americans drink an average of 22 gallons of beer per year, according to the Census Bureau's Profile America report.
Giving up beer could certainly be a good thing for your health as well as your safety. Reports show that 20 percent of drivers involved in fatal car accidents were legally drunk
A six-pack of Budweiser will run about $6.99. So if you give up three beers per night for Lent, you're savings would add up to $139.80.
Do you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or while watching TV at night? You're not alone. The Census Bureau reported that Americans drink an average of about 2.5 gallons of wine every year.
Some even say there are health benefits. Wine may help your heart and reduce risk of various illnesses, according to studies.
Regardless, drinking wine can be a costly habit, especially if you have expensive taste. Reports say the most commonly sold bottles of wine are in the $9 to $12 range. If you usually drink two bottles of wine per week in that price range and decide to give that up for Lent, you're savings would total $120.
Eating out ($234.85)
We all love to eat out. It's easy and quick and a nice way to get together with family and friends, without having to cook and clean.
It can also be a burden on your budget. On a typical day, American restaurant sales total about $1.7 billion.
That also means you can save a bundle by giving up restaurants for Lent. Americans eat out on average of four to five times per week and a good chunk of that is inexpensive fast-food. But let's say you sit down at a restaurant twice a week.
Data shows a three-course mean for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost you about $20.55 per person. If you normally eat out twice a week but decide to give it up for Lent, you'll save about $234.85.
The health issues of drinking soda have been widely publicized in recent years — too much sugar, too much caffeine and too much risk of being obese.
The average American reportedly consumes 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened beverages every year. Health officials say a child's obesity risk increases about 60 percent with every additional daily serving of soda.
Lent may be a good time to cut back or eliminate soda from your diet. It could also save you some money. A can of Coke or Pepsi out of the vending machine at work probably costs about 75 cents. If you drink two cans a day in a five-day work week and give that up for Lent, you'll save about $42.83.
Each year Americans spend almost $20 billion on ice cream and other frozen desserts, according to a National Geographic report. We love desserts, but they're not often good for our health.
About 33.8 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese and approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged two to 19 years are obese, according to data released last summer by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lent can be a great time to shed a few pounds - and bulk up your wallet. If you chose to give up desserts, the savings can add up quickly.
A 1.5-quart container of Perry's ice cream costs about $4.79. If you go through a container per week and give it up for Lent, you'll save about $27.30.
by RTT Staff Writer
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