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Ash Wednesday is here, which for hundreds of millions of people, means the start of an annual ritual of giving something up for Lent. For some it will be something as small as soda or something difficult like eliminating curse words. But others will pay homage to Jesus' 40 day journey through the desert by giving up material goods or other non-necessities. Looking to give up something that you normally desire? These 5 ideas will help you live cheaper and improve your household's bottom line. Truly devoted? Give them all up and prosper.
Cable: What could be better for you and more of a sacrifice than giving up your cable. Not merely unplugging the TV but calling up the cable company to stop your service. With the Winter Olympics and March Madness, this is truly a sacrifice that few will likely entertain this time of year. Even a better reason to show your faith if you are a die hard sports fan. If you have Satellite, you won't save the money due to contracts, but you can still unplug the TV. With the money you save, find a good charity to give the money to. With all the money flowing to Haiti, many charities will have a hard time making ends meet this year.
Eating Out: Dining at home for over a month straight might be tough for the foodies or those actively dating, but your devotion will have duel benefits. Not only will you save a ton of money, upwards of $300 to $500, but you'll find yourself at least 5 pounds lighter. Most restaurants focus on flavor first which usually means tons of butter, sugar, and salt. Three key ingredients that keep you from losing weight. When you cook your own food, you are far more concious of ingredients. Your food bill will plummet faster than your waistline and you'll be happier come Easter time.
Sugar and Corn Syrup: While giving up soda can be a noble effort for those that are addicted, eliminating sugar and high fructose corn syrup altogether will have far more pronounced effects on your wallet and your health. Obesity is a national epidemic and if you have kids, your sugar-free example may be emulated far beyond the 40 days by your kids. Make it a game by reading every label and eliminating any item that has sugar or corn syrup in the first 5 ingredients. You may be shocked at how many foods you eliminate. Most pasta sauces, juices, cereals, and nearly every thing that you drink won't make the cut. You'll likely have greater and more consistent energy throughout the day. Your grocery bill may go up since lower quality products tend to incorporate these two ingredients, but the savings over the long term with better health will far outweigh the short term costs.