Enjoy a low-cost Easter break

By Cassandra Mason

Easter can have hidden costs. Photo/Thinkstock
Easter can have hidden costs. Photo/Thinkstock

Unlike Christmas, Easter isn't widely considered a holiday that breaks the bank. But the price of hosting visiting relatives and making the weekend "special'' can add up. Cassandra Mason looks at the hidden costs of Easter and how to avoid them.

Easter isn't nearly as big a deal as Christmas, but the expectation it will be celebrated still burdens some families with extra costs, says New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox. "Any holiday weekends or celebrations do put a bit of pressure on families," she adds.

"This year with the short week the following week, lots of people are taking a week-and-a-half to two-week break.

"Even if you haven't got a lot of money to spend on Easter presents and you get something fairly small for the kids, or haven't got money to go away, you could have family come and stay with you."

Without realising, well-meaning family members can "eat you out of house and home", Fox says.

"That's often an issue for people we see. Especially people who are struggling every week and here's a special time when they'd like to do something special for the children because [they] usually can't afford to. That's quite a pressure for people."

Most money at Easter is spent on food, outings, presents and having extra people at the house.

Celebrating or taking a trip away can also interrupt work and childcare arrangements - adding more to the bill, Fox says.

What can you do to reduce the Easter bill?
Kids love making things, and are often just as happy spending time playing with their families as they are being lavished with gifts and chocolate, says Fox.

"Do you spend $50 taking the four kids to the movies or do you go to the park? It's those kinds of things."

Being honest with family members and asking for a little help when you're hosting can also make a huge difference.

"Say, 'Hey, we'd love to have you come and stay but could you contribute a bit for the food?"'

Don't be afraid of offending your guests, as most are more than happy to do their bit, she says.

"If you're upfront and honest, often they just haven't thought about it."

Public holiday surcharges
Because business owners have to pay their staff time-and-a-half and time off in lieu on Good Friday and Easter Monday, they are legally allowed to charge customers a surcharge - usually 15 per cent.

Staff costs make up at least 30 per cent of running a restaurant, meaning costs are significantly higher on public holidays.

Surcharges are becoming less common among restaurants wanting to look after their regulars.

Cost-cutting tips

-Ask guests to chip in with food costs

-Opt for free activities like a trip to the park instead of costly outings

-If you're going to have Easter eggs, buy them cheaply in bulk, or bake biscuits instead

-Print out free Easter colouring pages from kidspot.co.nz

-Watch out for holiday surcharges or eat at home on public holidays

Source: KidSpot/NZ Family Budgeting Service

- Rotorua Daily Post

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