Lent: A Time for Growth

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SPARKS, Nev. -- Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time of penance, spiritual growth and conversion. People of all faiths can participate, but what can giving up things like sweets, fast food, or gambling do for you? The true meaning of Lent is revealed.

Bad habits be gone! Christians and non-Christians alike fast for 40 days or abstain from vices and guilty pleasures.

"All of this is to atone for our sins. We're all sinners," Father Norman King of Immaculate Conception said.

One Sparks resident said she was giving up soda, while another said they were giving up salty foods.

No pain no gain, the idea is to test your limits and grow from your sacrifices, if nothing else, help you develop good self-discipline.

"It wouldn't hurt anybody to fast a little bit, maybe lose a little bit of unwanted pounds and emerge at Easter all the slimmer and more attractive," Fr. King said.

If you decide to participate this year, you can sacrifice a few luxuries that will save you a bundle.

Beer and liquor can do serious damage to your health and finances. According to the Bureau of Labor, Americans spend one percent of their income on buying alcohol, that's $1 per $100 earned.

Giving up a large coffee for 6 weeks can help you save about $600. Ash Wednesday can mark the beginning of the end to our ashy cigarette fixation. Now, is a good time as any to kick the smoking habit. A pack-a-day smoker can save up to $240 a month, according to the American Heart Association.

Lent doesn't necessarily mean you have to give something up, but you can also give something back. Service is common, something as simple as giving someone a compliment every day