Chocolate bunnies, ham dinners, fresh flowers and all of that Easter finery are pulling billions of dollars out of the pockets of Americans each year. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend about $18 billion a year on Easter Celebration.
In fact, Easter spending has been on the rise in recent years — up 15 percent from $15.9 billion in 2014 to $18.4 billion today. The top categories for spending include candy, food, gifts, greeting cards and clothing, according to the retail foundation.
We covered frugal Easter spending last year, sharing tips for cutting the costs on those egg hunts and church clothes. But you can go even further with your frugal celebrations by simply remembering the reason for the season — whether that’s religious or just a celebration of spring — and being present with your loved ones.
Here are three ways to reflect on the season — and your financial health.
Enjoy the great outdoors
It costs you nothing to get outside and appreciate the natural world. And spring might just be the perfect time to explore. Walk through your neighborhood or find a new trail at a local park where you can take in the birds singing, the flowers blooming and the blue skies overhead.
A one-off walk can help clear your mind and work off those Easter celebration treats. But regular walking can not only shave pounds and brighten your mood, but save you money by reducing your healthcare costs. According to a report from the American Heart Association, people who exercised regularly — even just 30 minutes of walking five days a week — saved on average more than $2,500 a year in annual healthcare costs.
For many, Easter is celebrated with their community — at home or at church. Easter morning services are packed with worshippers who sing and honor the season together. Families gather together for Easter meals and egg hunts.
The holiday, however, also presents an opportunity to help those who might not have a community. Invite your elderly neighbor over for a simple and affordable Easter celebration brunch. Or, instead of an egg hunt, work with your kids on simple ways to give back. Points of Light offers lots of ideas for kid-friendly volunteer service projects.
And, don’t forget: Your monetary and in-kind contributions and donations to charities could cut a little bit off your tax bill. So be sure to collect receipts for any donations you make. According to the Internal Revenue Service’s 2014 Statistics of Income, which is the most recent, more than 22 million individual taxpayers reported a total of $43.6 billion in deductions in non-cash charitable contributions. That’s a lot of donated furniture, clothes and household items.
Easter is a time for new beginnings. It’s an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. That might include soul searching about faith or family or career. It also is an opportunity to take a look at your finances.
How are you doing so far? Are you meeting your savings goals? Are you paying off your debt? Are you on a solid track toward financial health?
If you are, it’s time to celebrate your hard work (and stay on course). If not, maybe it’s time for a new financial beginning.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt. For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.