Easter means a lot of things to different people, from religious feasts to the more commercial side of things. No matter your beliefs and practices, when Easter bunnies and multi-colored eggs start appearing in store windows, you know that Easter is just around the corner.
The exact origins of this holiday are ancient and varied, but modern Easter traditions are an interesting mix of Christian beliefs and Pagan fertility rituals. Whether you're all about the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, or egg-painting and egg-hunts are more your speed, here are 5 budgeting tips to help you save money this Easter.
The National Confectioners Association estimates that 87% of parents in America will buy or make Easter baskets for their kids next year, so to say that candy is a big part of most households' Easter traditions is definitely an understatement. In fact, about $2.4 million is projected to be spent on candy alone this Easter season, but if you're buying Easter candy ahead of time, you are probably overpaying.
Buying your candy closer to the actual holiday, possibly even the night before or the day of, may save you substantial amounts of money that you can use for other things. Keep an eye out for coupons in your weekly circular and manufacturers coupons, and don't forget to use technology to your advantage. The Coupons App is a good option for Android users, and Grocery Smarts Coupon Shopper on iOS or GrocerySmarts.com are ideal for comparing prices to maximize your savings. If you're short on cash, you can always look for an Illinois title loan near you for last minute Easter purchases.
There are parts of our Easter traditions (like painted eggs and Easter dinner) that have a definite shelf life, but there are plenty of Easter accessories that you can reuse to save money. Maybe you already have a pair of bunny ears from an old Halloween costume that you can use to be the Easter bunny to get the kiddies in the spirit. Using baskets that will be durable enough to use from year to year and pass along to younger siblings for big families is another way to save on Easter expenses.
You can also repurpose old wrapping paper to fill your baskets with a nest of hand-made "Easter grass" for free if you have a paper shredder. Plastic eggs act as candy capsules for your little Easter egg hunters, and they can be used year after year. They even give you a built-in solution for moderate consumption if you limit your children to one or two eggs a day. Just because Lent is over doesn't mean it's time to over-indulge or over-spend, after all.
If you're looking for fun Easter DIY projects, look no further than Pinterest! There's a whole world of creativity out there - eggs don't have to be all solids or stripes. You can make your own dye at home, and using natural ingredients or even simple food coloring. Better Homes & Gardens and Country Living magazines each a whole litany of modern alternatives for this classic Easter tradition that you may want to check out.
One that stood out was the "Margarine-Marbled Egg": you simply take 1 cup of cool water, 20 drops of food coloring, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of melted margarine. Prepare the colors in their separate cups and use tongs to gently submerge eggs for 3-5 minutes for light pastels, or longer for richer colors. Use a paper town or a damp rag you don't mind staining to gently rub away any remaining margarine, and voila! You have an effortlessly awesome and unique take on an old Easter favorite.
For folks heading to church on Easter Sunday, dressing nicely might be more of a priority than fancy patterns on eggs or wrapping up a basket full of candy. If you want to dress yourself or your family in your Sunday best without breaking the bank, consider Goodwill or Salvation Army. There may even be a church-run thrift shop or rummage sale that you can take advantage of.
Kids especially may find it hard to wear the same dress clothes for very long, but these thrift stores offer very reasonable prices on gently used clothing, so you don't have to get a suit or dress a size or two bigger just to try to make it worth the price. And never underestimate the power of hand-me-downs. Just because one child has outgrown a nice dress or suit doesn't mean it's no longer of value. Keep your friends and family with little ones in mind, and they'll do the same for you.
Sometimes it feels like there's a lot of pressure to spend money on Easter in America, but the heart of most religious feast days it to simply bring people together. Be sure to make time to spend with those you care about, check your local event calendars for egg hunts and other Easter events, and be sure to take plenty of pictures.
Who are you celebrating with this Easter, and what are your favorite traditions? If you have one that wasn't listed here, you can always apply similar strategies to making sure everyone enjoys the festivities. It hardly matters how you and your friends and family spend Easter, as long as you're surrounded by the people who matter most. Have an Egg-cellent Easter and a hoppin' good Spring!