For thousands of years, people have celebrated Easter by attending church services and gathering with friends and family. But for parents, Easter can be another holiday filled with one-off expenses that cut into the household budget. Between the baskets, dinner, and fancy clothes the average expenditure per person is expected to be $170. That cost is even tougher to absorb this year, when record inflation is already squeezing people’s budgets…
With more than 51% of consumers planning in-person celebrations, we spoke with finance experts to learn how to save money on Easter expenses.
Creating a last-minute Easter shopping budget
Any financial expert will tell you that the first step to saving money and avoiding debt on any holiday expenses is to set a budget. You need to know what you plan to spend, so you can cover it with cash.
Ideally, you build your budget well ahead of time so you can set aside money each week or each paycheck—we cover that for Easter 2023 below. But with Easter less than 10 days away, you don’t really have time for that as a last-minute shopper.
Instead, you should draft out everything you want to buy or still need to buy, then go online and start getting prices written down. Once you see what it will cost you, compare it to your free cash flow and make sure you can cover everything with cash. If not, the cost cutting measures below can help you reduce your Easter bill.
Cutting down on Easter spending
Look to buy things that you’ve already planned for in your normal budget to make Easter extra special. Even “cheap” Easter baskets can run you $10 – $65 depending on what’s inside. Take the initiative and make your own baskets. At the dollar store, you can find everything you need from candy to Easter grass.
Gigi Lehman, Editor of Living on the Cheap, recommends instead of Easter baskets, “a new piece of sports equipment for their baseball games or art supplies for their lessons. These are things you probably have in your budget already, so make them a special Easter gift instead. Add a few pieces of candy for a festive touch but spend the bulk of your money on new items you were planning to buy anyway.”
She also recommends ways to not spend any money at all.
“Draw up homemade gift certificates for extra TV or video game time, a get-out-of-chores day, or stay-up-late night. For teens, maybe extra time with the car or an extended curfew for a night. You might find that these types of Easter treats are wildly more popular than toys and sweets.”
According to a survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, 80% of Americans will celebrate Easter this year, spending a total of $20.8 billion which is slightly down from last year’s projected spending of $21.6 billion. And 88% of that is planned to be spent on food with each person spending an average of $53.61.
So, what can you do to cut down on your big holiday dinner gatherings? A potluck dinner is a great way to dish out responsibilities to those attending.
Scott Nelson, CEO of Money Nerd Limited, has a couple of tips for cheap dinner ideas, “look to buy and freeze food ahead of time or you could ask everyone (if the extended family is invited) to contribute something themselves. This is fun and takes a little pressure off you.”
For those of you who are looking to have a bit of fun during your celebrations, there are inexpensive and great family bonding activities available. One of the best ways to find what’s going on in the community is by looking at church signs and flyers.
US Insurance Agents personal finance expert and mom of five, Melanie Musson, thinks that planning family moments can be special and affordable. “Often churches host an Easter egg hunt, a family fun day, or a dinner to celebrate Easter and welcome the community with no charge.” Or for something more robust, “you can try fishing, hiking, or even just walking around your neighborhood as a family.”
Every parent loves to buy their children new clothes for those pictures with the Easter bunny, but there are a few ways you can lower the costs.
“Join your local Facebook Buy Nothing Group,” explains Kari Lorz certified financial instructor and founder of Money for the Mamas, “which is a gift economy where you ask in the group for something you need, and your neighbors see if they can help you. You can easily ask for things like an Easter Sunday outfit, and I can 99% guarantee someone has it to share.”
Brittany Kline, a co-founder of The Savvy Couple, echoes Kari’s sentiment. “We dress our daughters up in clothes they already have that match the Easter theme, like light pink or pastels. This way we don’t spend money buying Easter-specific outfits that will only be worn once and will grow out of by the time Easter comes around next year.”
Dying eggs with your kids can be a fun way to enjoy the holidays together. And you can take an inexpensive and creative approach with your own arts and crafts.
Editor of Sewing from Home, Jane Kallinger, has a unique spin on the age-old tradition. “One way to entertain your kids on a budget this Easter is by having them do some crafting. For example, kids can make Easter eggs out of paper or cloth, or they can make baskets out of popsicle sticks or cardboard. Additionally, kids can make Easter decorations out of various materials, such as paper, cloth, and construction paper. You can find tutorials for free online or in magazines if you need a little inspiration.”
Getting the jump on saving money for Easter 2023 or your next big holiday spend
Figuring out a holiday budget at the last minute can be an overwhelming task. it’s best to start as early as possible.
Kari Lorz also recommends getting the jump on Easter saving by starting right after Valentine’s Day. “Once Valentine’s Day is over, I start our Easter sinking fund. Plan out how much you want to spend, say $75 for Easter stuff. Then divide that by the number of weeks you must save. So, for this year, there were nice weeks between Valentine’s Day & Easter. So, $75 divided by 9 weeks equals $8.33 a week to save (play it safe and round up to $10 a week).
Remember that Easter should be a time for memories
At the end of the day, remember what you are paying for. Kari says, “One of the best ways I’ve found to combat these one-off expenses is to remind myself that what I’m paying for is memories.” Though you don’t want to put yourself in debt, if you’re anything like Kari, you’ll hold on to those memories forever!