Each year around this time, people start to ask me what I’m giving up for Lent. It’s a standard question for a Catholic gal living in a heavily Catholic part of the country. Unfortunately, I rarely have a good answer for them. Over the last several years I’ve given up:

  • Alcohol. I did this twice… however, it was during my two pregnancies, so I was already giving up alcohol (and soft cheeses, which was truly the bigger sacrifice). Needless to say, it wasn’t a big deal – in fact, it kinda felt like cheating.
  • Facebook. People thought the idea of a Facebook fast for Lent was pretty cool, but as soon as Lent’s 40 days were over, I immediately hopped back on the site and continued as I always had – stalking old boyfriends, remarking that my babies were prettier than all my pseudo-friends’ babies, etc. Again, not exactly what the Catholic Church had in mind, I’m sure.
  • Chai tea lattes from Starbucks – I have a serious addiction. Of all my attempts at giving something up for Lent, this was by far the biggest fail.
  • I quit heavy gambling on http://www.888casino.com/ though I don’t mind the occasional bet.

This year, though, I’m taking a different approach. Instead of giving up something tangible, I decided to focus on bad habits… bad financial habits. We all have them, whether it’s constantly dipping into your emergency fun to pay for unnecessarily expenditures or not taking advantage of tax breaks. Since Lent is only 40 days long, I’m narrowing my list down to 3 nasty habits I’d like to break – God willing!

  1. Wasting electricity. My family is bad about this. My kids are known to leave their nightlights on all day long; my husband often fails to turn off the lights when he leaves the room; and I’m horrible about flicking off the TV when I’m no longer paying attention. Not only is this a wasteful habit for the environment, it’s a wasteful habit for our pocketbooks, too. Now that daylight saving time is here, it should – theoretically – be easier to cut costs by keeping the lights off until later in the evening.
  2. One-click purchases. When I first discovered that places like Amazon had one-click purchase options, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I simply uploaded my credit card information one time, and then all future purchases could happen almost instantaneously. Now, it’s simply an excuse to shop mindlessly; I often forget about these purchases (a book on Amazon; a new piece of artwork on Etsy) until they show up on my credit card bill. OUCH. I’ve turned off the one-click option for these sites, which will (hopefully) force me to think twice before buying something.
  3. Skimping on my charitable donations. Lent isn’t just about giving things up; it’s also about going the extra mile to share the joy and generosity of God with others. I often forget this, which is why the 3rd bad financial habit I’m giving up is really more like starting a new positive habit. I’m pledging to up my weekly donation to my church by 50%. I figure with all the money I’ll be saving by breaking my first two bad habits, I’ll have the extra cash to give back to my church and community.

What are you giving up for Lent? Do you have any bad financial habits that need to be broken?

Libby Balke

Libby Balke