5th March 2014
An individual could save £18,424.98 over their working life by abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol, chocolate bars and coffee shop coffee during Lent.
A study by AXA into the health and financial benefits of Lenten abstinence has found that exercising a sustained period of restraint from three so-called ‘vices’ of cigarettes, alcohol, and excess calories consumed through the likes of chocolate and take-away coffee, can have significant benefits for a person’s health and wealth. Within these three vices there are manifold health and financial implications, with varying levels of severity associated with each.
AXA estimates that an individual stands to save approximately £376.02 during the Lenten period by giving up these three habits for the 46-day period. Breaking this down further, those who give up smoking cigarettes will on average save themselves £220.80. Alcohol abstinence will allow a Lenten tee-totaller to pocket an average sum of £78.12. Those partial to the occasional chocolate bar will have £20.11 more in their bank accounts at the end of the period, and lovers of coffee-shop coffee stand to save £56.99. Furthermore, if repeated each year, over a working adult lifetime of 18 to 67, the average UK citizen can save themselves £18,424.98.
Andy Zanelli, head of retirement planning, AXA Wealth,comments: “Small sacrifices, even during the relatively brief 46 day period of Lent, can mean major savings – and these savings can be maximised if invested in appropriate ways, such as through an ISA rather than simply storing savings in a current account, especially at a time of low interest rates. Putting money to one side – even if it means making some sacrifices along the way – is becoming a necessity and, invested prudently, can reap rewards both now and in the future.”
In addition, drinking alcohol will not only hit the wallet, it carries with it significant health implications. Average consumption of alcohol over Lent will add 4,704 calories to an adult’s intake says AXA. These calories would take roughly 673 minutes of running to burn off. If that is not enough, on average, chocolate consumption over Lent adds a further 8,100 calories.
Dr Gary Bolger, Chief Medical Office, AXA PPP healthcare, said: “In moderation, little treats – the occasional chocolate bar or a glass of wine – are a part of everyday life and can have a big effect on our happiness and frame of mind. The flipside, however, is that over-indulgence can add up to a significant and detrimental impact on the body.
“The dangers of cigarette smoking are well known and the ideal scenario for anyone’s health is not to smoke at all, but giving up for Lent and proving to yourself that you can cope with not smoking for 46 days, is a fantastic start. There are few of us who are not tempted by the seductive power of a chocolate bar. However, over-indulgence can lead to manifold health problems. Altogether, the average UK adult will consume 12,804 calories from chocolate and alcohol during Lent. Cutting down or cutting out unhealthy habits for a 46 day period can make a difference and, better still, help give individuals confidence to stick with the positive changes they’ve made and live a healthier lifestyle for the rest of the year.”
Assumptions behind the calculations:
 Based on the assumption of a UK adult working life spanning from the age of 18 and 67 (49 years).
2 Calculation based on an annual saving of £376.02 with a five per cent growth rate and within ISA contribution limits. Growth figures do not take into account any product wrapper charges.
3 Calculation based on an annual saving of £376.02 with no growth rate.