40 Days to a Better You: a Challenge for Lent

I challenge you to join me. Join me in a 40-day challenge and you’re guaranteed to be financially stronger. 

(Although this was intended for lent, you can use this challenge year round!)

Lent

“I’m super pumped for Lent!”

… said no one ever.

Now, if you don’t know what Lent is, that sentiment may not make sense. Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays—more on that later) from Ash Wednesday (tomorrow) until Easter Sunday where Christians repent (i.e. feel sorry for and turn away from wrongdoing) and fast (i.e. hold off from doing something) in preparation for Easter.

Not every Christian observes it (I only started in my 30s), but the 40 days commemorate the time Jesus fasted and was tempted in the desert. So if fasting for a super long time is what we honor, no wonder no one gets enthused about it. You’re not supposed to.

Here’s the thing, though. We only think of the discomfort and sacrifice of Lent. For example, you might be thinking of giving up chocolate, Facebook, or your favorite TV show. By itself, this is a nice thought, but in truth… it isn’t very productive.

Here’s how to make it better.

Lent is not only about the “putting off.” Just as importantly, Lent is about the “putting on.” We forget this part. The power of sacrifice happens when you shift your focus away from what you’ve sacrificed and onto something else. Take the case of fasting from food for a day. The hunger you feel is meant to remind you of either your hunger for God or your spiritual fulfillment.

Your sacrifice creates a void. How do you fill it?

The 40-Day Challenge

If done thoughtfully and with purpose, Lent can also help set you up for financial strength. Here are some options:

  1. Food: Put off eating out; take on packing lunch. The average American spends $53 on lunch a week, or $7.57 a day. A lot of that cost comes from eating out. What if you cut it to $3 dollars a day, or $21 a week? Now, $3 a day sounds really tight, but it’s possible when you buy in bulk and avoid buying a drink. I’ve been able to keep to this budget since the beginning of the year, so I know it can be done. The $4.57 a day savings adds up to $183 over the 40 days.
  2. Media: Put off your media consumption; take on reading or creating. The average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. What if you cut out premium channels, Netflix, or cable altogether during this period? When I cut my cable down to basic, my bill went from $130 to $90, saving me $40 a month, every month. Or you can reduce your phone data plan. What will you do with all that time you get back? How about taking on reading 2 books, or taking a course on Coursera or EdX. Or, if you’re thinking about blogging, an affiliate marketing course (read my review of one here).
  3. Vice: Put off smoking, alcohol, or coffee; take on exercise. It says online that a “tall” cup of coffee at Starbucks is $1.85 (Because I don’t drink coffee, I had to look it up!). So over 40 days, that amounts to $74. A six pack of beer is about $6 to $15 depending on how “craft” you want it. As for cigarettes, it costs an average of $7.32 for a pack. So say you’re a pack a week drinker or smoker, that’s $44 to $90 over Lent.

In this Lent challenge (and how Lent is typically observed), Sunday is a break from your fast. Now, some of these are hard to pick back up for just one day. No one is going to turn on cable again then turn it off in 1 day. So perhaps you can treat yourself to a movie in the theatre at the end of the 40 days instead, or rent a movie on iTunes every Sunday. Rentals cost between $1-$6.

Here’s what I’m going to do: Since I’ve already cut down my lunch to $20 a week, I’m going to cut it down even further during these 40 days to $10 a week. I’m going to do this by packing more lunches and limit my going out to 1, maybe 2 times a week if I go to the food cart. I usually eat at my desk anyway, but instead of working through lunch, I’m going to take on reading through the book of Proverbs as my “spiritual food.”

If you join me in this challenge, you will save money. And you’ll probably take on better habits as well.

What to Do With This Money?

Some give this extra money to the needy or their church. If you have credit card bills you can’t pay off in one month, I suggest you use:

  • 50% of this extra money to pay down your credit card bill
  • 25% to building your emergency savings
  • 25% to giving

Since I pay my credit card bill each month, and since I have emergency savings, I’m going to give it all to the homeless ministry that partners with my church. This $10 weekly savings amounts to $60.

But what’s more important than the money you save is who you’ll be come Easter.

In other words…

Participating in Lent can not only change your spiritual orientation, but also your finances. And not only your finances, but your habits. Do something for 40 days, and you might realize it’s just part of what you do the rest of the year. You might realize that your life hasn’t diminished, but flourished during this time. It can set the stage for greater things.

What did Jesus do after his 40 days? Embark on a 3-year journey that changed the world.

This is a time to improve yourself, your finances, and the lives of people around you. So… are you up for the challenge?


Want to achieve more the rest of the year?

I hope you will enjoy this 40 day challenge.  Now, what do you do the rest of the year?  Imagine the possibilities!  What if you could invest in or partner with a group that works to restore the world?  Even better, what if you could create a machine generating enough income to not only improve your life but that of many others?  Think about all the lives that will be improved because of your investment!

Download my FREE 17-page Guide to Achieving Your Goals and you’ll get tips on how to clarify your goals, create a plan, map the future, and help get past times when you feel discouraged.  (You can preview it here.)  Start achieving your goals today!

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2 Comments

  • Joleisa February 28, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I’m up for it! Great post again! Thanks

    Reply
    • JT February 28, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks Joleisa! Looking forward to hearing how it goes!

      Reply

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