PANCAKE Day signals the start of Lent – the six-week period leading up to Easter.
The religious holiday is traditionally a chance for households to give something up as a sign of sacrifice and a test of self-discipline.
Most people normally use the 40-day window to ditch chocolate, alcohol or meat.
But you can turn Lent into a savings challenge too, giving your bank account a well-needed boost ahead of Easter.
Naomi Willis, co-founder of the Skint Dad website, shared three such savings challenges which could help you claw back hundreds of pounds combined.
Ditch eating out and takeaways – save £145
Ditch those Friday night takeaways or fast food orders after a stressful day and cook all meals yourself.
Naomi said the simple switch could save you £145, based on ordering two takeaways a week costing £12 each.
She added: “It’s a great chance to get creative in the kitchen. Plus, cooking together can be a fun family activity.”
Cancel streaming services – save £28
It might feel like a tough ask cancelling any TV or music subscriptions permanently, especially with a young family.
But giving them up for 40 days is more manageable and you might realise you can go without after a short pause.
And with platforms like Amazon Prime hiking prices in recent weeks, it could be a good time to think of different ways to entertain yourself.
Ditch Amazon Prime, and Netflix and Disney+ standard memberships and you’d save £28 over 40 days.
Naomi said: “You’re generally not tied into a long contract, so subscription services are really easy to cancel to get a quick win back into your bank account.
“You could spend your time with a games night, explore local parks, or have a movie night at home with films you already have.
“If you get bored of your selection, you can rent cheap DVDs from your local library or try swapping with your friends and neighbours.”
Walk or cycle more – save £180
If you can, cycling or walking instead of driving is a quick way to save money and stay fit.
Naomi said do this for Lent and you could pocket around £180, based on a family spending £30 a week on petrol for their car.
Money saving challenges
HERE are some popular money-saving challenges you can use:
- Weather saving challenge – Save the amount equal to whatever the highest temperature was that week. £1 = 1C.
- 1p challenge – save 1p a day for everyday of the year, but it increase the amount by 1p each day. So day one you save 1p, 2p on day two and 3p on day three. When you reach 100 days you start adding a £1 coin each day too, while this increases to a £2 coin each day plus pennies at 200 days, and £3 each day on top of pennies at day 300.
- 20p a day challenge – Start by putting 20p in savings, then increase the amount by 20p every day. For example, the first week will look like this: 20p, 40p, 60p, 80p, £1, £1.20, £1.40.
- £5 a week challenge – Like the 20p challenge, put aside £5 a week and increase it by a fiver each week. Eg £5, £10, £15, £20
- Round-up challenge – Every time you buy something, round up the purchase to the nearest £1 and put the difference in a savings account. Eg. You pay £2.60, so you put 40p in savings. You can use an app such as Monzo or Starling to do this.
- Bingo challenge – Here you have a bingo card with different numbers on it and you tick them off when you’ve put that amount in your savings account. It can be ad hoc but you have to tick them all off by the end of the month.
- Monday to Sunday challenge – With this challenge, you simply save £1 on Monday, £2 on Tuesday and so on until the weekend where you don’t save on Saturday or Sunday.
- 365 day challenge – Every Sunday you put aside £1, followed by £2 on Monday, £3 on Wednesday and so on. On Saturday you’ll put away £7, and then the process repeats and you’ll put aside £1 on Sunday as the new week begins.
If you’re staying fit enough to cancel a gym membership, you could save a few extra quid over the 40 days as well.
With rail fares expected to go up by 4.9% from March 2, there’s an extra reason to cut back on using public transport.
How else to save money this Lent
It’s not just cutting back on subscription services, transport or eating out that’ll save you money this Lent.
Barclays previously revealed to The Sun nine other areas you can cut back on costs.
Clare Francis, director of savings and investments at the bank, said: “Many of us see Lent as a great time to commit to a goal, put our willpower to the test or kick a certain habit.
“Putting away the money you would have otherwise spent is an easy way to boost your savings.”
Here are just a few of the extra ways you can save money this Lent, according to the bank.
Fizzy drinks – £24
Brits guzzle an estimated six cans of fizzy drink a week, meaning going without over the 40 days of Lent could see you save £24.
That’s based on buying single Coca-Colas from Asda, which is selling three for £2 at the time of writing.
Crisps – £40
Your daily bag of Walkers cheese and onion crisps is another unnecessary cost you could do without.
Ditch a £1 pack a day for 40 days and you’d save yourself £40 in total, without much of a sacrifice.
Cigarettes and vaping – £180
Now might be the best time to kick that smoking habit, and saving £180 just over Lent.
That’s based on two packs of 20 cigarettes costing £30 from Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Ditch two vapes a week and you’d save £32.
Where to put your savings
There are plenty of places you can put any savings made from Lent, starting with an easy-access savings account.
The accounts are designed to have minimal restrictions and you’re usually not charged for withdrawing from them at any time.
According to Moneyfacts, Leeds Building Society is currently offering the most competitive easy access savings account, at 5.10%.
Next is Paragon at 5.05%, then Coventry Building Society at 5.03%.
Another option for savings is a fixed-rate savings account.
These typically offer the best interest rates but you can’t access the cash inside an agreed time frame otherwise you’re hit with a penalty.
Currently, the best fixed-rate bonds on the market are with Allica Bank, offering 5.20% on a 12-month term, and Investec, which is offering a one-year bond at 5.15%.
You can also add any savings into an ISA, notice savings account and more.
Websites like MoneySavingExpert.com let you compare all the best savings accounts and which one might work best for you.
It’s worth checking out price comparison sites such as GoCompare, MoneySupermarket and Moneyfacts too.
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