How to save up to £168 with the 40-day Lent money saving challenge

PANCAKE Day signals the start of Lent – traditionally a time for giving something up.

And cutting back on everyday items like fizzy drinks and chocolate could make you as much as £168 better off.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday the day after Shrove Tuesday (more commonly called Pancake Day) – and lasts until Easter.

Many people give up something over this 40 day period, like chocolate or alcohol.

While many do this for religious reasons, turning it into a savings challenge could add money to your nest egg just in time for Easter.

Setting yourself a challenge like this is a great way to get in the habit of setting money aside – and there are loads to choose from.

Here's how much you could save through the 40-day Lent saving challenge.

How much you save will depend how much you usually consume. So if you drink a lots of fizzy pop for instance but give it up, the more you'll save.

You can work out how much you'll save on each – we've given you some examples below – and you can set your own goal.

However much you manage to save, make sure you find the best place to stash your cash.

Although interest rates are low right now, it's still worth finding the best rate to make the most of your money.

Where to put your savings

NOW isn’t a great time for savers as interest rates are at record low meaning you won’t make much money on your cash.

The Bank of England has even hinted that it could take the base rate – what banks and lenders use to set their own interest rates – below zero.

This could see banks and building societies charge savers a fee to hold their cash. We've put together a guide on how to protect your finances if this happens.

For now, here are some examples of the top paying accounts available today:

Easy access – You won't be charged for withdrawing cash from an easy-access account but typically interest rates are lower to reflect this. The top paying account today is 0.5% with Marcus, Tandem and Nationwide.

Notice savings – Good for those who know they'll need to access their cash but not sure when, say for example if you're saving for a house deposit. You will be able to withdraw your money but you have to give set notice first, say 120 days. The top rate today is 0.58% on an account with OakNorth Bank.

Fixed-rate – These typically offer better rates but you'll have to lock away your cash for the agreed term or face paying a penalty to withdraw it early. Here are some examples of the top-rates: 

– One-year fixed – 0.65% with Union Bank of India
– Two-year fixed – 0.8% with Union Bank of India
– Five-year fixed – 1.25% with Shawbrook Bank

Cash Isa – These are tax-free savings accounts, meaning you get to keep all of the interest earned on savings set aside in a year. This year, the rate is set at £20,000. Like savings accounts, there are a number of different types available, such as fixed-rates and easy access. Here are some examples of the top-rates: 

– Easy-access – 0.5% with Cynergy
– One-year fixed – 0.51% with Charter Savings Bank 
– Two-year fixed – 0.62% with Close Brothers
– Five-year fixed – 1.15% with UBL UK

NS&I Premium Bonds – Instead of being paid interest, Premium Bond savers purchase bonds worth £1 each, which are entered into a monthly cash prize draw. Prizes vary from £25 to £1million but the odds of winning have recently been dramatically reduced, meaning you also run a high risk of earning nothing. 

Clare Francis, director of savings and investments at Barclays, said: “Many of us see Lent as a great time to commit to a goal, put our will power 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, even if it’s only a pound at a time!

"Over the course of the 40 days you may be surprised at how much you save and it’s a nice challenge to flex your savings muscles and also your willpower.”

The folk at Barclays have worked out how much you'd save on average from giving up 10 common favourites – but you could stand to save even more.

Fizzy drinks – £14.40

Brits guzzle an estimated six cans a week of fizzy drinks.

That means going without over the 40 days of Lent could leave you £14.40 better off.

If your fizzy drinks fix is more than this each week – like this woman who knocks back six litres a day – you'll be quid's in for more.

Crisps – £22

We're a nation of crisp lovers and apparently Pringles, Walkers and Doritos are our faves.

Giving the snack up for the next six weeks could add a nice few quid to your savings.

Instead of a bag a day, at around 55p a pop, you'd have saved £22.

Coffee – £30

Two takeaway flat whites a week comes in at £5 a week – that's £30 in total over Lent.

If your coffee consumption is higher, you can prepare to put away even more.

When The Sun Money team tried out a selection of saving challenges, giving up takeaway coffees added up to a saving of £40 in a month.

Beer – £30

Here's one that might be easier to give up while pubs are closed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Going by government guidelines that say 14 units a week is the recommended amount for men and women each week, that would be a six-pack of beer.

Costing around £5 a week, that adds up to a saving of £30 by Easter.

Chocolate and sweets – £31

Giving up chocolate is a common one for Lent and could lead to a pretty sweet £31 in your pocket.

If you eat a choc bar a day to put you in a good mood and a bag of sweets each week, you could put away £31 by the end of Lent.

You'll be able to enjoy some Easter eggs after and you could even save more by getting two for free from Iceland – here's how.

Wine – £72

With those government regulations, it's two bottles a week you're allowed to knock back.

You'll be better off after 40 days without as people report better skin and sleep when they don't drink alcohol.

But at £6 per bottle on average, give it up and you'll also be better of to the tune of £72.

Money saving challenges

Here’s some of our favourite money saving challenges to h

Here's a rundown of some of the most popular schemes:

  • 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.

Meat – £87

Going meat-free is increasingly popular, with people swapping it out for plant alternatives as part of flexitarian diets and even ditching it altogether for veganuary.

The average Brit apparently spends £757 a year on pork, chicken and beef.

That means if you gave it up for 40 days, you could cut £87 off your food bill and put it towards savings instead – though you'll want to factor in the cost of those veggie alternatives too.

Takeaways – £96

It's so easy to tap your phone for food these days,but give it up and there could be substantial savings.

In lockdown Brits are spending an estimated £64 a month on takeaways, which have been a saviour for many stuck at home.

If you can bear to go without this little luxury, you could save £96 by Easter Sunday.

You could still save money too by switching take out meals for these supermarket meal deals which costs just £5.

Impulse buys – £128

Another one that's become part of life in lockdown, impulse purchases can quickly add up.

Stop shopping for things you really don't need (7ft inflatable elephant anyone?) and you'll see the savings stack up.

According to a recent survey pandemic spending on stuff we don't need costs us £771 – do without and you could save £128.

Cigarettes and vaping – £168

Smoking or vaping is a tough one to give up, but the rewards can be huge.

Not least is the cost involved, which based on buying two packs of cigarettes a week, or vaping costs of £8 per week, adds up to £168 saving if you go without for 40 days.

Check out these 8 money-saving tips from Martin Lewis that could save you £9,243.

Don't have the willpower to save? Try out these money-saving apps which can help you save money without you even noticing.

Here are 50 ways to save money, including tips from experts.

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