The solemn observance of Lent is associated with several Christian denominations -- but you don't have to be religious to improve your life and spare your wallet by abstaining from vices for six weeks. Cutting out guilty pleasures and secret weaknesses can save big over the traditional 40-day period of sacrifice. Here are some things to consider cutting out, with the biggest savings at the end.
BREAD: JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR MONEY
Many diets call for reducing, or even eliminating carbs. Whether you’re trying to stick with a diet or a principled sacrifice, a loaf of white bread cost an average $1.32 in the last month of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Leave a loaf off the shopping list for each of six weeks and save nearly $8.
STREAMING MEDIA -- AND MONEY
A standard Netflix subscription costs $11 a month. Go six weeks without a binge and save almost $16.50 (and have lots of time for other things).
CUTTING OUT CANDY
According to the online statistics company Statista, 37.33 million people have eaten one serving of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the last month. Some 16.25 million have eaten between three and four servings while 14.22 million have eaten five or more. An eight-pack of snack-size cups goes for around $2. Forgo eating two a night and save $20 over 40 days.
CHOCOLATE: COCOA WILL COST YOU
Chocolate is probably one of the most common -- and difficult -- things to try to sacrifice. A 4.4-ounce Hershey's bar costs about $1.60. Abstain from having three a week for six weeks and come out more than $28 richer.
ICE CREAM: DAIRY SCARY
TIME TO SKIP THE DOUGHNUTS
A regular doughnut costs about $1 at chains such as Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme. If having one on the way to work is part of the grind, skip it and save $30 in 40 days.
DO WITHOUT DAIRY
As of December, a pound of cheddar cheese averaged $4.95, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Presuming you eat a block each week, that's nearly $30 for six weeks that could be saved -- and plenty of fats and sodium avoided.
SAVE ON SODA
A 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola can cost around $1.80. Liter-a-day drinkers can save about $36 by switching to healthier -- and cheaper -- water for 40 days.
THE PRICE OF PIZZA
RED MEAT, GREEN MONEY
There's a reason steak is considered a luxury: Red meat is expensive. Have it three times a week -- such as a pound of shoulder tender chuck for about $5 -- and that’s about $15 every seven days. Stretched out over six weeks, staying away means savings of around $90.
TUNE OUT OF TV
Presuming you didn't bundle internet and telephone service, the average cable TV bill is $72.60 per month. Find a way to put a cable subscription on hold for a month and a half and you'll end the year $108.90 richer.
The average cost of a six-pack of Coors Light or Bud Light is $5.79, according to the University of Puget Sound in Washington. Drinking half a six-pack every night after work costs $116 over 40 days, which is how much will be saved by renouncing the habit for that time.
ENERGIZE YOUR WALLET
They get you buzzing, but energy drinks aren't cheap. A single 16-ounce Red Bull runs $3.49 at Target. Skipping a daily blast saves nearly $140 if you go without over the course of 40 days.
For coffee lovers, giving up a morning joe might feel like losing a loved one, but the sacrifice comes with an upside. Since the average cost of a cup of coffee is $3.50 going 40 days and 40 nights without a caffeine jumpstart saves a cool $140.
DROP ONLINE SHOPPING
In 2016, the average consumer spent $1,634 shopping online. That's roughly $4.50 per day. If your tendencies match those of the average American, and could manage to curtail your online shopping habit for 40 days, you'd save about $180 during the period of self-sacrifice.
SUPERSIZE YOUR SAVINGS
The average cost of a value meal at McDonald's is around $5.50. If you drove through the Golden Arches, or any comparable fast-food joint, once every four days, you'd spend $55 over the course of 40 days. If you ate a value meal every day, you'd shell out $220. The real value, it seems, might be to abstain.
CIGARETTE MONEY UP IN SMOKE
Even most smokers will tell you that there are few upsides to one of the deadliest habits on Earth -- not the least of which is money gone up in smoke. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.16. Presuming you smoke a pack a day, that's $246.40 saved over the 40-day period of abstention.
AWAY WITH WINE
The average price of a bottle of red wine is $15.66, according to the online wine community Vivino. Rounding it out to an even $16 and presuming two glasses a night (half of a standard 750ml bottle), that's $320 to save or spend over 40 days. After Lent is over, however, wine lovers might consider some of these great-tasting reds under $20.
MASSAGES: RICHLY RELAXING
Unless it's for medical purposes, a massage is truly a luxury -- one that can cost you about $60 an hour on average. If you get one, one-hour massage each week, you're coughing up $360 over the course of 40 days that you could have pocketed had you abstained.