Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published March 16th 2012
Lent: A Beginner's Guide
Lent is a time when Christians practice self-denial in preparation for Holy Week, giving up at least one luxury for the duration. Some give up all material goods beyond the bare essentials, living in sackcloth and eating bowls of plain rice, while others content themselves with skipping their morning bagel. It lasts for forty-six days, beginning on Ash Wednesday - the 22nd of February, this year - and ending at Easter.
There's no right or wrong way to do it, and whatever your faith, it's a good excuse to test your self-control - or see if your daily latte has turned into a full-blown caffeine addiction. Not only will you save money, you might just reap some unexpected (non-spiritual) benefits along the way. Want to know how to save money, gain a reputation for being socially-conscious, and become a classy city dweller all at the same time? Read on to find out.
Give Up Driving
Don't stop reading just yet. Yes, giving up the car is a Big Deal, worthy of capitals, but think about it - what's more impressive than abstaining from your primary form of transportation? At the very least, your friends will think you're strong-willed.
Unless you give up a car like this. Then they'll think you're crazy.
Public transport in Sydney is everywhere, much cheaper, and - if you're happy to spring for a ferry ride - a great way to get another perspective on this city's famous harbour. You could even dust off that fixed-gear bicycle you bought during your hipster days and get some exercise - by Easter, you'll have the kind of calves people worship.
Stop Eating Meat
Is there a better way to gain some instant karma than going vegetarian for a brief period? Really, there's no downside to this one. You'll save money, probably eat a little healthier, and, when Easter rolls around, imagine how good that long-awaited steak will taste. Sydney might not be renowned for its vegetarian restaurants, but there's still options on the table. Try the trendy Had To Happen on Walker St, or wait in line for Big Brekky in Petersham.
If this makes you hungry, you're either a vegetarian already or a rabbit.
Use this time to get decadent: experiment with foods you've never tried before, from countries you can't locate on a map. Thailand and Africa offer some really good vegetarian dishes, for instance. And if you're really dying for some good old animal flesh, nobody's going to know if you make a midnight fast-food run.
Take A Break From Beer
Giving up beer for a month sounds very impressive - to the untrained and un-suspicious listener, it sounds like you're abstaining from alcohol of all kinds. Fortunately, you've left yourself a loophole you could jam a camel through: mead, wine, and hard liquor are still totally allowed. Why not develop a taste for fine scotch? You'll develop into a more cultured person - or, at the very least, more pretentious - and, besides, the wine scene in Sydney is excellent.
Sip it slowly and always claim there's 'delicate pomegranate notes'.
We've all been warned as teenagers that peer pressure is a mighty force that can cause us to do unbelievable things - huffing bags of paint, cramming our legs into jeans about the width of a cigarette - so why not harness it for a positive purpose, like losing a few pounds or saving a few pennies? Certainly we could all use a little more self-denial in our lives. And, after all, it's only until Easter.