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Queen of free: Don’t let bunny hop away with money

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I love holidays. In fact, I used to look up weird holidays just for the opportunity to celebrate. National Ice Cream Day? Scoop me up a double dip. Manatee Appreciation Day? Let’s look for pictures of these amazing animals on the Internet. Batman Day? Where’s my cape?

Easter means so much more to me than all of the above. From going to church to a ham dinner to hunting for eggs, our family enjoys many of the traditions surrounding my favorite holiday. But, like other holidays, Easter can be a drain on your budget if you don’t remain intentional and engaged in your spending. Here are a few ways to keep your hard-earned cash from hopping down the bunny trail.

Reusable baskets

When our girls were small, we invested in some nice Easter baskets. I actually bought them on clearance the year before, but they were still a bit sturdier and pricier than your typical plastic bucket. These metal baskets have been used for 10 and six years, respectively.

We store them in the same place in our hall closet; and each year, they become a treasured possession all over again.

Resist the urge to buy a different basket every year. Even if it means you spend more in up front costs, you’ll save over the long haul.

Skip the grass

Oh that green crinkly cellophane that you find under your couch and stuck to the carpet six months later. I know it’s oh-so-festive, but it’s also literally something you will throw away almost immediately.

Opt for materials you might already have on hand like wrapping or tissue paper, construction or craft paper or even shredded comics.

Keep track of decor

Plastic eggs, centerpieces, placemats and more all can be used again next year. Find a good plastic tub and label it well so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for next Easter.

Avoid dollar store

There are so many adorable gift-y items that seem perfect additions for an Easter basket. However, most of these items will be tossed aside in a week’s time.

Spend a little bit more and buy something that will last.

Cute bunny yo-yos don’t really mean as much in May. We focus on outdoor toys like bubbles, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk and books.

Keep meal simple

It’s easy to get carried away with a big brunch or Easter dinner.

Try not to fall into the too-many-side dishes or desserts trap.

Focus in on a main dish, a fruit, a veggie, a bread and a dessert. Or if you’re gathering with extended family, ask others to pitch in and share the expense of an Easter spread.

Look for events

A number of churches and civic organizations in the area host annual Easter events.

From religious services to chances for kids to fill their baskets with plastic eggs, candy, prizes and more, there’s so much fun to be had, and most of it is free.

Check out www.indywithkids.com for a comprehensive list of egg hunts (including Greenwood’s Craig Park hunt on April 12 and Franklin’s Province Park hunt on April 13).

The Daily Journal will also have a great listing of places of worship for the special weekend.

Hit the clearance

The best time to shop for next Easter is the Monday after this Easter.

Candy, dresses, home decor, egg coloring kits, baskets, plastic eggs and even that dreaded grass will all be 50 percent or more off a day after Easter.

You can enjoy pastel-wrapped chocolate any day of the year.

If you do purchase items for next Easter, again be sure to store them well labeled.

You don’t want all of your bargaining to go waste.

I hope you enjoy my favorite holiday this year and keep from falling into spending traps that will strip the true joy of the season.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net

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