Benefits in Lent

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent – the period of time leading up to Easter Sunday. It symbolises the 40 days and nights Jesus spent alone in the desert after his baptism and before his ministry. For this reason, people give up something, or change their behaviour during Lent. In order to reflect on the meaning of Easter.  Traditionally, people give up chocolate. Some more original ideas I have seen are: giving up Facebook and giving up haircuts.

The pastor at my church (crazy) Dan proposed something more radical – living on benefits for 6 weeks. In effect, giving up money. That means living on job seekers allowance, which for me is £63.40 a week. I’ll be starting on Sunday 21 February for 6 weeks, ending on Easter Sunday!

Why?

  • Money for the poor in Greenwich – the money saved from living on benefits will go towards a poor council estate in Greenwich.
  • Reflect on how fortunate we are – we are in the top 1% income bracket of the the world. We should feel like we have enough
  • Deep religious reasons  – which I don’t know about – yet.
  • baked beans
Beans on Toast for 6 weeks (photo by Becky E)

Ground rules

  • Rent and council tax are excluded – because that would be paid for if you are on benefits. It would also wipe out my budget many times over.
  • Travelcards for work is excluded – because you wouldn’t have need for a travelcard if you weren’t working.
  • All other expenses are fair game – water, electricity, television, food, beer and widgets. All of them have to be covered by £63.40 a week.

Are we being annoying goody two-shoe Christians?

Absolutely not. However, I realise that there are criticisms and issues which I be discussing in future blog posts.

Track my progress

As an accountant, I’ll be maintaining an online spreadsheet of my budget and actual spending. Benefits in Lent Link.

I’ve estimated that I have to slash my weekly spend in half. I’ll be blogging about my experience. It’s going to be a struggle. But I will enjoy producing the spreadsheet, doing variance analysis and fancy pie charts.

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