Beautiful cake, right?
I didn’t make it.
Earlier this week I shared some ofthis year. I know many families are financially tight and buying anything that isn’t food or shelter simply isn’t an option. I’ll be starting a series next week of budgeting and stockpiling, but I wanted to give some thoughts on how celebrating Easter, or any holiday for that matter, can be done while spending very little, if anything at all!
1. Educate Yourself
Sales happen all year long. Clothing gets moved along as the seasons change, brands change packaging, the sizes of items change. Pay attention to the prices you pay and watch for sales. This may sound redundant, but so many of us have to pay whatever the shelf says because we need it now. If we pay attention to the sales and wait until then to buy it, instead of paying what it costs right now, we could be saving quite a bit of money throughout the year.
2. Think and Plan Ahead
Easter happens every year. Christmas happens every year. Your anniversary and spouse’s birthday happens the same day, every year. Why do we act like they sneaked up on us?
In addition to educating yourself on what items actually cost, thinking and planning ahead will help to lower your bottom line. Watch the clearance section when holidays are over. Look at the back-to-school ads, and then later, clearance sections if you’re gift-giving to school-age kids. Sales on random items at random stores will happen. I’m not saying you should become a sales ad nazi, but spending a few minutes each week just looking at the ad will open your eyes to possible gifts for occasions that will inevitably happen. Buying crayons during a back to school sale for 10¢ instead of buying them now for $2.42 is a much wiser decision. Buying a Hot Wheels car that happens to be on sale that week for 50¢ is wiser than spending $1.07 later, especially when you have a 4-year-old son that loves Hot Wheels (who also has 4-year-old friends that love Hot Wheels too… birthday gift anyone?). Thinking and planning ahead will not only help alleviate your budget, but your stress level too!
Before you run out and buy anything, ask friends and family if they have what you need and if you can borrow it! I’ve borrowed dresses, shoes, tank-tops, high-chairs, swings, bread pans, Bundt pans, hand mixers, serving platters, roasting pans… We only cook one turkey in our family and if my parents are coming over to our house to eat, that roasting pan does no good sitting on a shelf in their kitchen!
Visit your local library for entertainment. Books and DVDs are available to be checked out; magazines are available for inspiration!
They don’t qualify for “borrowing,” but Craigslist and Freecycle allow people to post items for free. Before you go to the store, check these sites to see if someone is cleaning out their cabinets. Their “clutter” could be just what you’re looking for!
4. Make Your Own
If it’s possible, make your own. Thrifty Décor Chick has amazing ideas for decorating your home without spending a lot (if any!) of money. Decorating cookies? Make your own sugar cookie dough instead of buying it. Want some resurrection eggs too? TeachKidstheBible has an easy version here.
5. Consider Dual Purposes
Instead of purchasing a red tablecloth with green Christmas trees on it, buy the clearanced solid red tablecloth that can be re-used for Valentine’s Day, birthdays and other events. Thanksgiving yields yellows that can be used in the summer; Halloween will provide orange; St. Patrick’s Day will provide green… catch my drift? White is available year-round and can be layered to help soften bold colors. If you’re buying disposable plates and napkins, choose solid colors or those with simple patterns (polka dots, stripes, et.). Blue and white striped napkins and yellow polka dotted plates on a red tablecloth would be perfect for a “primary color” birthday party, or any summer gathering (even Easter!).
If you must buy something, buy something that has meaning and that can be re-used over and over again. Instead of that decorative egg baking pan, how about a round pan that can be used for other occasions too? Make the cake Easter-specific by trimming the cake into an oval shape, add a jelly bean trim and frosting in various pale colors and patterns. Or make a spring-themed cake like the one above! Choose the sturdy plastic eggs that can be re-used for several years over the lower-quality thin eggs that will more than likely break when stepped on during the first hunt. Choose an activity that can be done over and over again (like resurrection eggs) instead of something that can only be done once. You’ll be building memories and traditions at the same time!
What have you done, or plan to do, to help keep Easter expenses down?
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