Coping Financially With The School Holidays
17 July 2018
If they haven’t already broken up, many children and students around the country will be looking forward to their school holidays starting at the end of this week. But for many of their parents, the long summer holidays are a challenging time.
Juggling work and childcare is no easy feat. Nor is the additional pressure on your finances – after all keeping the children entertained often costs money, whether that’s paying for extra childcare, holiday clubs or days out. As well as these costs you may also be going away for a week or two; that’s why for many working parents the summer holidays feel like six weeks of financial stress.
A survey conducted by financial assistance charity Elizabeth Finn Care found that over a third (36%) of parents are worried about the impact of the summer holidays on their ability to pay household bills and expenses, whilst over two-fifths (42%) are concerned about spending more money on food for their children during this time.
The survey also found that over a fifth (22%) of parents are worried about the additional childcare costs they may incur during the holidays and, as a result of these costs, one in six (15%) say they will have to borrow money through credit cards, overdrafts or loans over the summer.
Advice For Managing Financially During The School Holidays
While unfortunately there’s no specific support available for parents that struggle financially in the summer holidays, the following points could help lessen the burden.
1. Check you’re getting the benefits you’re entitled to
£6.5 billion of Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit is going unclaimed each year so a good starting point is to see whether you’re entitled to any benefits. Visit www.entitledto.co.uk where you can access a free, independent benefits calculator to see whether you are missing out on any extra financial help.
2. Childcare vouchers
Your employer may offer childcare vouchers, which can be used with registered child minders, holiday camps and nannies. Many people think these are only available for pre-school children but, if eligible, they can be used to cover the cost of care for children up to the age of 15.
3. Your network of free childcare
Can you call on family or friends for childcare favours? You might be able to set up a reciprocal arrangement with another family where you look after each other’s children on your days off. Some parents even share their holiday allowance with each other – each taking a week off to look after all the children, letting the other parents go to work.
4. Share childcare
Similarly you could pool resources and share a child minder or nanny. While they will charge according to the number of children, the cost will be lower than paying for their services individually.
5. Flexible or home working
Could your employer offer flexible working arrangements or allow you to work from home for a day a week? A later start and earlier finish could help reduce your childcare costs, as will a day working from home.
Inevitably, for many parents there will be additional costs that will need to be covered. If that means getting a loan or using your credit cards, it’s really important that you have a clear plan for paying the money back after the holidays as quickly as possible. After all, once the schools go back it’s only a few months before Christmas – another expensive time of year for parents.
To this end, if you do need to a financial boost, consider exploring whether your employer has a credit union or affordable loan scheme. This will help you avoid paying back more than you can afford in interest, and get your finances straight as quickly as possible.
It’s not the easiest time of year to be a working parent. But with long days, later bedtimes and hopefully lots of sunshine there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with your children after work and enjoy some low cost activities. A cycle ride with a picnic tea or a trip to the beach when everyone else is packing up to go home, create wonderful memories and will put a smile on your face when you return to work the following day.
Back to index