‘Tis The Season To Give Something Up!

Yep. It’s that time a year again when us Catholics give up something for Lent! And in true form, I have to relate it to money so I can post about it and keep myself in check here ;) ‘Cuz if there’s one way to do it, it’s blogging about it to thousands of people who are good and will call me out if I start slipping! Though in this case, it’s gonna be harder than last year’s no cursing challenge. (Remember when I messed up 31 times and donated an extra $31 for it? Ugh.  Just imagine how much I *used* to curse in that case, though ;))

So instead of the curse jar this season, we’re gonna go old school again and bring back the no candy/chocolate/desserts “sweets” rule circa 2nd grade ;)  Which means no more mint chocolate chip ice cream (!!!), no more Dunkin’ Donuts, and especially no more beloved FREE Wendy’s Frostees!  Yikes. It may not be the most original idea in the world, but it’s the one thing I need to get better about again… I’ve let myself slip back into “I don’t care” mode and my body is finally acting on it for once, haha… my dad says it’s cuz I’m getting old, and believe him ;)

We’re gonna up the ante this time around too.  Instead of $1.00 for every mess up, we’re gonna increase it to $10.00!  Because if I can go through the entire process of scooping out ice cream, or rummaging through our cupboards for junk food and NOT remember that it’s off limits for the next 40 days, then I certainly deserve to be punished.  Especially financially – the worst kind! Haha… (okay, well that’s not entirely true, but still – shelling out money over for nothing sucks!) And at the end of the whole season, I’ll be donating the cash pile back to the good ol’ church just like last year too.  So at least someone will be rewarded for my mistakes ;)

Here are some of the other Lent give-ups we’ve done over the years:

  • 2011: Gave up cursing.  Results: Yes I failed 31 times in this, BUT I did curb it enough to get me to think for a half second more before blurting it out unlike before ;) So that’s nice. And with speech it’s a lot harder to catch yourself mid-act when the words leave your mouth so fast! haha…  I’m hoping I catch myself much faster with this new anti-junk food deal ;)
  • 2010: Can’t remember, and not documented here :(  That’s why I need to blog about it!
  • 2009: Gave up complaining. Results:  I’ve been SUPER conscious of this every since!!  It’s really improved my entire outlook, and as cheesy as it sounds I’ve become a LOT more positive in the process. Def. a great one to strive for :)
  • 2008: Gave up shopping. Results:  The best financial move I have ever made HANDS DOWN.  I had *no idea* how much extra I was spending every month by just “window shopping.”  and for the past 3 years have been incredibly better with my shopping habits.  HIGHLY recommend giving this a shot – even for just a month.  It’ll put your entire financial habits into perspective.
  • 2007: Gave up soda.  Results: Well, for years afterwards I only drank them on weekends which was a nice treat, but since working from home I’ve gone back to drinking them as I crave them (or need the caffeine to complete any of my projects).  Still a lot better than drinking them every single day like I used to, but it can def. be curbed more.

Before ’07 is all a blur.  And I had stopped going to church for a while too, which I’m glad I’m better about now.  But as you can see, these periods of giving stuff up has really affected my life for the positive!  It’s amazing how you can break bad habits over time, and replace them with much BETTER ones in the process.  I won’t say it’s always easy, but it’s totally possible.

Are any of you in the process of giving something up right now?  Any other practicing Catholics out there?  Whatever you’re working on – or doing your best to work on ;) – I wish you nothing but sweet and sexy success!  We’re all capable of some awesome accomplishments in our lives, we just gotta get started on them… and I’ve got nothing but faith in y’all!

(Tasty photo by rhonogle)

UPDATE: It’s now 2019 and I rarely eat sweets anymore :) Took me a few years, but it was because of this challenge that got me to be more *conscious* about it all! So still very much recommend trying this!

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  1. Andrea Take A Smart Step February 28, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    I gave up sugar a couple years ago, that was the hardest thing I have done! :) This year my son is doing donuts, which should be interesting. I personally am giving up yelling. Got into a really bad habit of ignoring everything I learned in love and logic class and instead was not being very nice (used love and logic right up till about 6 months ago, not sure why I stopped!). So now I am not allowed to raise my voice, which can be hard with a 7 year old male who does not listen! Yet I am surprised after how less than a week and I am right back into the swing of things for happier parenting! :) Don’t think I will go back either, much better this way.

  2. Brian February 28, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    I’m giving up potato chips and “moist alcohol.” The chips are going to be hard, because sometimes there is nothing quite as good as freshly opened bag. The moist alcohol (refering to spirits, I learned this term when the old lady and I were looking for some lakefront property in Kentucky) won’t be nearly as hard since I don’t really crave it.

    The only time the moist alcohol is going to be tough is St. Patty’s day when I’m hanging out with my friends from Ireland. Man those guys love them some whiskey!

  3. Lisa @ Cents To Save February 28, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    I am giving up Soda! I have found since I don’t drink soda anymore, my desire to eat has decreased, which is a pleasant side effect!

  4. Emmy February 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Not Catholic, but I am Lutheran. We recognize Lent and do all sorts of things for the season. However, giving something up is optional. Some people do it, some don’t. A lot of churches are actually encouraging people to take up something too. But I go the traditional way when I feel like there is something in my life that needs to change. So this year, it’s shopping. I found this year that I did a lot of pointless shopping such as “I’m sad – let’s go to the mall!” Or “I just need ONE THING at Target. Wait? How did all of this stuff get into my cart?” or “You know, I really want my wardrobe to look more like the one I have on Pinterest. Is that really so wrong?” And then I end up wasting a ton of money on stuff I really don’t need that I could be using for other things. (Like giving to charities, or beefing up my savings account.) It’s already hard though. Yesterday I got an invitation to a jewelry party and now I can’t go. Well – I can go, but it would be hard to not spend anything.

  5. lora kathleen February 28, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    I gave up meat which is already the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Trying to make sure I get enough protein now is no easy feat for a girl who grew up in the Texas country :)

  6. Nicole February 28, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    We sure have alot in common…Catholics, love of beer, babies due in July, fondness for mint chocolate chip ice cream (my fave). Too bad we are both already married! ;-)

    Anyway, though I personally think giving up beer and wine for 40 weeks of pregnancy should be enough, I did still make a sacrifice. I have gotten in a bad habit of stopping at Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds for coffee in the mornings on the way to work or grabbing lunch out two or three times a week. I decided that was bad for my pocketbook and waistline. So….I am now drinking the free office coffee (mostly decaf because of bambino) and bringing a bagel from home, or soup/frozen meal for lunch. Even though it hasnt even been a week, I notice my debit card collecting dust, which is nice.

    In the past, I’ve given up food treats, coffee, alcohol, or shopping. I was afraid to give up any food items, as I’m sure that being pregnant, what I would find is I would crave whatever I couldnt have. And, I didnt want to give up shopping (though it was great when I did it), because I know I’m going to need to start buying baby stuff soon. So…drive thru coffees and lunch is what I decided on.

    My husband is giving up french fries and pop. I’m happy about that as he drinks 2-3 pops a day and that is SO bad for you. Only problem is, he swapped in fruit punch and lemonade. I told him there is still just as much sugar, and he really needs to stick to milk, water or crystal light. What I would have really preferred and what would have been a real sacrifice, is if he had given up his chewing tobacco. yech!

  7. Aldo D Notarandrea (unicorns, dinosaurs, & wolves oh my) February 28, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    How about this. Its not always necessary to give something up. It’s also important to ADD something new as well. Adding something can be just as life changing, if not more, than giving something up. I know that lent is about giving something up to pay your respects but engaging in an activity that helps others can be just as challenging but even more rewarding. Experiencing something new in your life can revive you & others around you. Then, you won’t have as much of an urge or as much time to engage in the types of things you’re looking to give up. Also, & i give credit to the incredibly intelligent, beautiful & wonderful Emily Hornburg aka @LoveWokeMeUp for this next part. You can go for the gold & achieve “the best of both worlds” by replacing something like Nicole suggested above, giving up McDonalds and REPLACING that with some healthy food. Wow, makes sense folks doesn’t it.

  8. Stephanie February 28, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    One week into Lent and I’m still trying to figure out what to give up! I did successfully give up all sweets once, though – when I was in kindergarten, no less!

    My problem this year is that every time I try to think of something, nothing seems challenging enough, because I’m so moderate in all my vices. I could give up alcohol, but lately I’ve been having MAYBE one drink a week. Soda? Pretty much the same as alcohol. I’m hesitant to give up all sweets, because my one small indulgence each day is what keeps me on track with eating really healthily 95% of the time. I’m pretty sure if I gave up sweet foods, I’d just end up binging on potato chips or something. I could give up meat altogether, but my diet is like 90-95% vegetarian anyway, so again, not much of a sacrifice.

    Maybe I’ll just make more of an effort to get to church each Sunday this Lent, since I’ve only been once so far this year, and that was for my uncle’s funeral. I’m having trouble getting into the changes they made, every time I go, I mess up the new words and say the old ones instead. Why couldn’t they have just brought back more Latin to the Mass instead? That would have been awesome. ;-)

  9. Laura Brown February 28, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Here’s one for you – I am giving up “bad for you” food. Mostly, this means junk food like ice cream, pizza, fast food, desserts (for the most part), etc. I even had the will power to sit and drink WATER while AT Pizza Hut with my husband. The salad bar was nasty looking, and he scarfed down cheesy garlic bread and pizza, while I just sat with him and drank water. How’s that for dedication? :)

  10. daydream kate February 28, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Well, I’m a Lutheran, but will still do Lent. I am giving up any extra spending. Partly because my budget is currently in the crapper, but also because it will be a bit of a challenge. That means no coffee on the way to work, no break-time smoothies, no thrifting, no eating out and no browsing Etsy. I am sticking to real needs.

    I had never heard of the penalty donation though…interesting twist. I was also thinking of rubberbanding a big note around my wallet that says “It’s Lent, dummy!”, just to remind me.

    I will come clean though — I am planning in one dinner out. I already bought a hotel room and lift tickets for my husbands birthday, which was before Lent. But then he got sick, and we had to move it to this weekend. So I did set a dollar amount, and I am still giving him his awesome birthday. I hope that doesn’t defeat the purpose because his last two birthdays were not so great.

  11. BrokeElizabeth February 28, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    I’m not Catholic or Lutheran, but I am trying to limit my Facebook habit to about 10 minutes a day. I have so much free time now, I don’t know what to do with myself….

  12. Nick February 28, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    I’m Greek and we don’t generally give up things (at least I don’t think we do… maybe we should…). But we’re supposed to “fast” for 40 days, which involves giving up meat and dairy. Every year I convince myself that I’m going to do it. And every year, I either forget when it starts (like this year) or slip up pretty early in the process (usually by lunch time on the first day) or both. Maybe this year will be the year I rock it (if it started, maybe I rockit startinggg……. NOW!

  13. Nicole February 28, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Nick…I’m Greek too, though raised catholic. My dad’s whole family is Greek Orthodox, and yes, they fast big time…sometimes during daylight they have nothing.
    Anyway, I dont think you are late starting, as Greek Orthodox Easter is different than Western Easter this year. I think it’s a week later.

  14. AverageJoe February 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    I like giving up sugar, but I’ve decided on your Lent “give up” from a few years ago. I’ve given up complaining.

    I wanted to give up complaining about complaining, but my spouse said that I needed something real.

    Now I’m trying not to complain about her complaining about my bad lent complaining about complaining idea.

  15. Sarah February 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    So have been thinking of what I want to do for Lent. I think a no yelling, cursing, and complaining jar might just fit the bill. I don’ t really like the concept of giving of things unless they have a direct negative impact on life. Im not overweight and I dont drink much so food and spirits wouldnt work for me. Also I want to actually go to Mass each Sunday. So far two out of two. Maybe even slip in a weekday mass, I can walk from church to work in 5 mins.

  16. Young Professional Finances February 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    These are all great challenges. I think it’s a great idea to try to give up bad habits for a month – the last few years I’ve given up various things for Lent. I’m not doing anything this year but just trying to be more conscious of both spending and eating junk food.

  17. Kathy February 28, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    A few years ago I decided to ‘give’ instead of ‘give up somthing’ for Lent. What I will do is pay for the next car’s food order when I’m in a drive thru. Or, I’ll do a good deed/reandom act of kindness for someone without them knowing it. Sometimes that act of kindness is just to avoid complaining.

    My co-worker always ‘has to know’ what I give up & when I started doing this several years ago I simply informed her that it’s between me & God.

    It really works for me and it’s anonymous.

  18. Cathy February 28, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    This Lent I’m being Catholic vegetarian. I’m giving up meat, but fish, dairy, eggs, etc. are OK. In the past I’ve given up caffeine, alcohol, and sweets. Caffeine was probably the hardest because I’m an accountant and our busiest time of year is always around Lent.

  19. Jennifer G. February 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Similar to BrokeElizabeth, I’m only checking Facebook once a day. I have a desk job and a smartphone, so the temptation is always there. But I waste soooo much time mindlessly checking Facebook. I don’t even really care that much about it; it’s just something to do.

  20. ShesPrettyFrugal February 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    I’m giving up wine during this season of Lent. Working on finding another way to unwind in the evenings. I’m thinking working out should be good (and a way to finally complete a round of P90X)!

  21. KimmyQ February 28, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    One year, my sister gave up saying “unkind/judge-y” things about people, and she did well until the Winter Olympics started and the whole thing fell apart.

  22. brooklyn money February 28, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Booze! I can’t believe I am doing it. I miss my beloved vino already.

  23. Camille February 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    This lent, I’m trying to give up the internet after 9pm. The idea is that 9:30p should be my bed time (10p at the latest), and with all the gaming/facebooking/tv-watching I do during my normal downtime, 10pm always comes way too fast and I’m always saying “I didn’t finish what I wanted to do online!”

    Well, I haven’t been dedicating myself to it very well… at all… but I’m hoping it will help me boost my productivity because time is money and I’d like a little more of both!

  24. George February 28, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I’m giving up facebook, and doubled down by scheduling my profile for deletion. I’ve come to see it as a waste of time and I’m hoping that this leads to my finally ending of the habit. I did, however, revive my google+ account, since not that many people are on it anyway and I still get my little web profile.

    I’m also trying to give up cursing as well, but I tend to curse a lot. I mean it’s practically woven in my speech…so it’s been hard.

  25. Brent Pittman February 28, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Not Catholic either, but been practicing Lent for several years. A lot of protestants are starting to practice Lent. This year coffee and almost 1 week in and I’m still alive.

  26. J. Money February 28, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    GREAT ones, guys! That’s a lot of self-improving going on, keep it up! :)

    @Andrea Take A Smart Step – GOOD!!!! That’s a most wonderful idea to take on, I love it :) And I hear your son and the doughnuts – I forgot to eat my last two sitting on top of my fridge before jumping into this!!! Haha… it’s a good thing I now get penalized $10 or I’d have already messed up!
    @Brian – Moist alcohol? Just when I thought I knew my beverages ;) Will def. be hard on St. Patty’s, esp if you’re going out and about!
    @Lisa @ Cents To Save – Well that’s good! :)
    @Emmy – It’s a damn good challenge for yourself, though, that’s for sure :) That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my adult life – and now it’s a treat when I go shopping!
    @lora kathleen – Wow, no kidding. That’s incredible!
    @Nicole – HAH! That’s like when I gave up McDonalds for 4 years, but ended up just going to Wendy’s instead ;) It seems your husband and I have a lot in common just like you and me! Haha… you guys are cool though – I like how you say “pop.”
    @Aldo D Notarandrea (unicorns, dinosaurs, & wolves oh my) – Agreed good sir! Adding something, or changing habits for the better, are all great things to do too – regardless of Lent or any other reasons to prompt us to change :) If you can add something positive to society, I say more power to ya! (And good additions there in your name field, haha… hope things are well, bro)
    @Stephanie – I know, right??? I keep on messing up those words too, it’s frustrating! :) But yeah – going to church every week sounds like an excellent idea for sure. Maybe you can extend it by a week or two if it makes you feel better waiting a week too, haha… we can mess up our words together :)
    @Laura Brown – WOW. I couldn’t even do that for FOUR days! :) Esp pizza??? Whew. Good for you, girl.
    @daydream kate – “It’s Lent, dummy!” – HAH! I like that :) And def. a good goal for sure – it’s still my all-time best one I’ve ever done before, so hopefully it STICKS once Lent’s over too. Hope your husband has a great birthday!
    @BrokeElizabeth – Haha, that’s awesome. I thought you were gonna say limit it to “10 check-ins” a day, haha… some people are hardcore about Facebook!
    @Nick – DO IT! Do it! DO IT! Try for one week and see what happens – baby steps :)
    @Nicole – Oooh cool! Two Greeks up in here! Shall I break out the ouzo? ;)
    @AverageJoe – Haha.. you joke, but you should def. try it out ;) Though I’ll warn you that once you get good at it (aka around week 3), you’ll REALLY start getting annoyed at how much everyone ELSE is complaining around you! It’s really amazing how much we as humans do that. And even though it’s been a cple years now since I myself gave it up, I’m still hovering around the 80% non-complaining area. It’s a good one!
    @Sarah – Ooooh there you go! I haven’t been to a mid-week mass in forever, I forgot about Ash Wednesday :( A no cursing/yelling/complaining time period would be great – give it a shot!
    @Young Professional Finances – That’s great that it’s on your mind year-long over just a certain time period, keep it up :)
    @Kathy – I LIKE IT!!!! A LOT!!! Oh man, I’m totally stealing that idea for next year :) GOOD ONE!!!
    @Cathy – Oh yeah!! That would def. be hard. But I don’t think I could do meat. Even on Fridays is tough – esp when you go out to dinners/etc. You can do it though! :)
    @Jennifer G. – GOOD one!! Let me know how it goes!
    @ShesPrettyFrugal – Haha, there you go :) Are you allowed to drink beer/liquor in its place?
    @KimmyQ – Hahahahaaaha… that’s a great one while it lasts ;) I’m surprised she gave it up so fast though!
    @brooklyn money – That’s the toughest one out there! Besides maybe coffee! Hope you can do it! :)
    @Camille – Good one! I think it’s a fantastic habit to get into if you can :)
    @George – I’m right there with you on the deletion of FB, at least for my “real” account. I’m just waiting for them to force me to use Timeline and then it’s bye-bye we go! I do understand the beauty of it all though, esp. if you like keeping up with people from all over your life, but I rarely get on there anyways and never get much out of people’s updates… would be harder if I wasted a lot of time on it though, so good job if you can pull it off :)
    @Brent Pittman – I can’t believe it!! Do you FEEL any different, or everything is life as normal? I think I’d go into withdrawal, haha…

  27. TeacHer February 28, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    I’m not Catholic, but I’m always interested to see what those who ARE Catholic are giving up :) One of my co-workers gave up texting. I think he’s already regretting it.

    BTW – It was great to meet you at the Turbo Tax event! DC blogger HH needs to happen!

  28. Melissa February 28, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    I didn’t bother giving up anything for Lent, mostly because I just didn’t think about it. BUT I am in the middle of a shopping ban that will be ending in about a week, and that (coincidentally) will have lasted exactly 40 days when I’m done. So I like to think of it as doing Lent early this year. And then maybe when I finish, I’ll reward myself with some chocolate bunnies. :)

  29. Money Infant February 29, 2012 at 5:00 AM

    Your dad is likely right. My body seems to reset itself 10 pounds heavier for every decade after my 30th birthday. So, you have that to look forward to :)

    Ah, mint chocolate chip ice cream (the Breyers white kind) and Wendy’s! If you aren’t going to be eating them please feel free to send them to me because we sure as heck can’t get them here. And while you’re at it can you add in a large pizza (east coast style), some real potato chips and a burger from 5 Guys? I can see now that my first trip back to the States is gonna add 20 pounds back to my waistline.

    Seriously though good luck on the Lenten observance. It will be good for your health if you succeed and good for your wallet too at $10 per screw up.

  30. Good Cents Savings February 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Wow – no sweets is intense! And since you didn’t say just “candy” or “cookies” you can’t justify falling off the wagon with some other sweet treat. Sorry…don’t mean to be rubbing it in…good luck & stay strong! :)

    I am not a Catholic (though I’m married to one) but I do like the idea of testing my resolve and creating better habits by focusing on one thing to give up. I am very drawn to the giving up complaining and shopping ideas – I’ll have to try one of those soon.

  31. J. Money February 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    @TeacHer – HAH! That is CRAZY hard to do – I’d regret it too! haha… (and very random). It was a joy hanging out with you as well the other week! Very nice to put your real life face to the blog :) If I can ever help out with anything, give a shout!
    @Melissa – Awesome!! Good for you, that’s hard to do :) But very VERY important in my books. Now just don’t send me a picture of you eating that damn tasty bunny!! :)
    @Money Infant – Thanks man, so far so good! Though I was tempted once and considered paying the $10, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it ;) So it’s good I upped the ante or I’d have already messed up! (And also – you should start your own 5 Guys there, haha… would be awesome!)
    @Good Cents Savings – I know, I did that on purpose ;) And it SUCKS come dessert time too cuz I can only eat healthy!! haha… which is actually also kinda cool – I’ve started eating plumbs again which I love – but def. not the same… we’ll see if I can pull it off.

  32. Sarah March 1, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Up to $21 in the jar already :( At least it will go to a good cause.

  33. Babs March 1, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    You definitely want to hang in there on the no-cursing idea now that you have a little J$ on the way. I finally stopped cursing the day my precious 5-yr old boy used the F-word in kindergarten and I had to admit he’d gotten it from me. Ouch!

  34. J. Money March 2, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    @Sarah – Wowwww, haha… that was fast! Are you catching yourself more now though? I bet it subsides as the weeks go by. The first couple are the hardest, then you get good ;) I’m glad you’re being honest with yourself!
    @Babs – HAH! I will certainly put that note in my pocket for the future :)