Managing Summer Holiday Costs
24 August 2018
If you have school-aged children the summer holidays are expensive! As we begin to start thinking about returning to school (and the cost of new uniform, shoes and stationery) many parents will be feeling the pinch. The Post Office’s Summer Spending report estimates that parents are set to spend on average £594 entertaining their children this summer.
Without the benefit of off-peak cheap flights and holiday bookings, parents have to stump up the full amount. According to Asda Money the average cost of a summer holiday for a family of four is £1,212, rising as your children hit their teens. Then there are costs such as eating out, trips to the cinema, theme parks and other activities. Childcare costs are also a significant factor, with many parents needing to find extra cash to enable them to work. Fuel costs also go up during the summer holidays; a ‘free’ day out on the beach or a ‘cheap’ camping holiday can involve hidden costs like transport to get there.
Summer Holidays For Less
To give your wallet and credit cards a break from so much activity, here are a few ideas for keeping the children entertained (cheaply) in the last weeks of summer holidays.
1. Snap up last minute deals
If you want to get away for a week or two now’s a good time to snap up a last minute deal. Booking early is usually the best tactic to find the best deals, such as discounted child places etc., but if you’re not too picky about where you go, start looking for a bargain now. Hotels and holiday rental companies are keen to ensure they make the most of the summer holidays, so if they’ve still got availability they’ll often be prepared to haggle on the price.
2. Find cheap days out
If you want to treat the kids to a visit to a theme park or other attraction you can often find half-price entry or 2for1s by buying a relatively inexpensive product. For example promotional cereal packets from well known brands often offer discounts or half-price entry. National Rail has a long running 2for1 offer where when you have a valid on-the-day ticket to the nearest station (to the attraction) you get your entry costs discounted. Even if you plan to travel by car, buying the cheapest single ticket for each member of your group can still save you money.
You may also find that your employer offers discounts on a wide variety of products and services including entertainment and days out.
3. Eat out for less
Restaurants are hungry for your custom and often offer discounts on children’s meals. ‘Kids eat for free’ is a popular deal when an adult pays for a main course and many high street restaurant chains and local independent restaurants have variations on this offer. You may have to print out a voucher to get the discount, or it might only be available on certain days, but with a little planning you can treat the whole family to a meal out.
4. Movie mornings
Instead of a night at the movies, go in the morning. Many cinema chains have discounted morning screenings of children’s films for under £3. They may not be the latest releases and might involve trading in your weekend lie in for a 10am start, but it’s a significant saving on the usual cost of going to the movies.
5. Free local activities
There are numerous free or cheap local activities run by museums, libraries and local organisations. You may also find that local shops run free in-store activities such as the small animal workshops at Pets At Home. Sports associations also run free activities like Tennis For Free, Swim Safe sessions and Junior Parkrun. Check out your local council website and parenting forums to find out what’s happening near you.
Paying Off Holiday Debts
Unfortunately for many parents there are summer holiday costs that are unavoidable. Without even paying for the fun stuff like days out and trips away you might be paying for additional childcare and have seen an increase in your day-to-day household bills. Food, energy and fuel costs can all rise when your children are at home for 6 weeks or more.
If that means that you’ve maxed your credit cards, it’s time to think about how you’re going to pay those off and manage the cost of the summer holidays. A good idea is to explore whether your employer has a credit union or affordable loan scheme. By consolidating any debts and using one of these schemes you’ll be able to reduce the amount you have to pay back in interest, making it easier to manage and helping you avoid spiralling into further debt.
If you have any tips for entertaining your children cheaply during the summer holidays and managing costs such as childcare and activities, please leave a comment on our Facebook page. We would love to hear your tips and money saving hacks!
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