40 Day Frugal Lent Challenge

40-Day Frugal Lent Challenge

When it comes to saving money, I’m always up for a challenge. In this case, it is the 40-day Frugal Lent Challenge. The other day I stumbled upon the blog 99to1percent and I found an article with a great idea that I really liked. They took a very old religious tradition and gave it a financial twist. Tina and Max at 99to1percent had the clever idea to use Lent as motivation to give up some luxury items as a way to save more money for retirement and pay down mortgage debt.

My Third Challenge in 2018

If you follow my blog you know that I have already committed to the Spend Nothing 2018 Challenge at Countdown to Tranquility blog. Also, I am almost halfway through the challenge I created, The February Plank Challenge. If you are curious what that was all about click here. With two challenges under my belt, I think I have room for one more.

What is Lent anyway?

Now, I have to be honest. I had to google Lent. I mean, I have heard of Lent before but I didn’t really know the details.  That sounds terrible, I know. But just being real. Here is what I learned about Lent.

Lent starts on Wednesday, February 14th and ends 40 days later on Thursday, March 29th. The 40 days does not include Sundays. The word Lent comes from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning Spring. The 40 days represents the sacrifice of Christ’s journey into the desert before the crucifixion.  Many Christians commit to fasting or giving up luxuries for the 40 days in a form of self-sacrifice.  In the Fire community, we commit to being frugal.

What luxuries are we giving up?

After I decided to join the Frugal Lent Challenge, I realized that due to The Spend Nothing 2018 Challenge I had ceased buying “luxury” items beginning in January. Also, I really don’t spend much on myself, to begin with. I am content with most things that I have and generally only buy items I need. So the next logical place to hunt for luxury items on the chopping block was the family budget. More specifically my wife.

After some role-playing in my head and careful word selection, I was ready to give my wife the elevator pitch. It went something like this.

Me: “Hey honey, what do you think about giving up a couple of your cherished monthly luxuries for 40 days for a frugal Lent challenge?”

Wife: “Uh, No! I’m good. I like my things.”

I left the topic alone until the next day, which in hindsight was probably pretty smart. The following day she seemed much more agreeable to negotiations. After some debate, she decided to give up wine and iTunes song purchases. This will equal approximately $100 for the 40 days. Definitely not life-shattering savings but not small potatoes either. With these savings, I will send an extra $100 to the mortgage payment at the end of March.

Sometimes the savings are more than they seem

Now I want to run you through an exercise to show you the power of saving money and the effect it can have on your path to financial independence. Because that $100 sent to the mortgage is much more than it seems.

So let us find out how much that $100 will save our family in interest over the remaining 13 years of mortgage payments. Our current interest rate on our mortgage is 3.375%.

3.375% / 12 months = .28125% interest charged per month.

.0028125 * $100 = .2813 cents saved per month on interest by sending $100 to the mortgage.

.2813 cents * 156 months left on the mortgage = $43.88 in guaranteed return on investment.

So you can see that our $100 dollar savings sent to the mortgage are really worth $143.88. Pretty powerful to think that money saved today could really be worth so much more money in the future. 43.88% more to be exact!

Okay, so what are you going to sacrifice?

Now you are probably thinking that it is unfair for my wife to have to give up her luxury items and I don’t have to go without. Well, if I don’t have any luxuries to sacrifice then I can create a good habit for forty days.

When all else fails, go to cash

The habit I want to create for 40 days is a cash-only food budget. Our family is no different from many busy American families. We don’t plan meals well. We often run to the grocery store at 5 pm looking for something to cook for dinner that night.  This is a problem for two reasons. First, every time you step foot in a grocery store you open yourself up to impulse purchases. Second, the purchases we do make, go to a credit card or a debit card.

There is no cognitive association between spending with a credit card and a budget. It is well-known that just by using a credit card or debit card people tend to spend more. Whereas if you have $40 cash left in your wallet or purse for groceries you can’t really go over the $40. At that point, you start putting items back on the shelf.

I plan to have a $200 per week cash grocery budget. To help me stretch my grocery budget I found this article about bi-weekly trips to the grocery store. This will help to reduce the impact of impulse purchases and force our family to cook more from our pantry. You can read more about the bi-weekly shopping idea here.


Here is a list of the other financial blogs that are participating in the Frugal Lent Challenge. Be sure to check them out for a ton of great ways to save money. 

What luxuries are you willing to part with for 40 days?

Have a Look at these 4 other Fugal Lent articles for ways to save during Lent

There it is, our family’s first ever frugal Lent challenge. Thank you again to Tina and Max at the blog 99to1percent. You can read their Lent Challenge article by clicking here.

If you like this article and want to receive my future articles delivered directly into your inbox, be sure to subscribe on the homepage. Also if you found this article helpful go ahead and share it with your friends on social media. Thank you.





5 thoughts on “40 Day Frugal Lent Challenge

    1. My wife is often a reluctant participant in my crazy financial schemes. She is a good sport though. Thanks again for the opportunity to join the challenge. I am inspired by the creativity of financial blogs like yours to motivate ordinary people to do great things. Thank you 99to1percent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *