Much as we look forward to our summer breaks, it can turn out to be an expensive and stressful time for families. If you both work and don’t have family around who can help, you will probably need to consider a holiday club or something similar to fill in some of the time. This can soon tot up with holiday clubs at around £20 a day and summer camps at around £200 for the week.
Most parents will take their annual holiday around this time, taking care of a couple of weeks of the time. Arguably, a staycation can save a few pennies and keep the hassle to a minimum and, if you have booked one for this summer, you are probably feeling quite smug right now, given the heat wave sweeping the country.
You may be able to get together with a few other parents to share the load. It will mean that you have more children to look after when you are at home, however they may well entertain one another and at least it can take care of another week or two.
If you are at home for the duration, or for the days when entertaining the children becomes your responsibility, there are plenty of ways to do this and keep the cost down. You can also add plenty of educational content, at limited extra cost. There are plenty of free museums and art galleries around the country and this information is easily accessed on the internet, including how you can get 2 for 1 offers with the likes of National Rail and National Express. Stick to the super off peak rail times and keep travelling costs to a minimum.
Also, you may want to keep an eye on Twitter for free events taking place locally. This can be a great source of information, it is often way ahead of local magazines and will save you trawling through loads of different websites. Local holiday homes and businesses are often good sources of what to do in a given area.
Meanwhile, as we are all about helping you to be canny with your financial planning, what about helping your children to do the same and make it fun at the same time? You could try the following:
1) Start a fruit and vegetable garden
A lot of schools are doing this these days in order to help children re-connect with the source of their food. Each child could be allocated a patch of garden or large pot and be given a selection of seeds and/or plants. It is best to stick to things they like to eat and that grow quickly, so it maintains their interest. You could donate to the holiday budget what you would have paid the supermarket for the produce (less the cost of the seed if you wish to keep them focussed on pure profit!) This will give your children a responsibility and challenge during the holidays and would be educational too. Hopefully, you will get some lovely fresh a nutritious veggies and fruit into the bargain.
2) Do a Car Boot Sale and bring out their inner Alan Sugar (eek!)
Get the children to dig out all their old toys they don’t want any more and head off to the boot sale with them to raise some funds for a day out of their choice. This will help them to appreciate that the funds for a day out need to come from somewhere, clear their bedrooms of some clutter and give them an opportunity to interact with other members of the public and show off their budding sales techniques…a kind of “Apprentice meets toy cupboard”. Most children will find this fun and you potentially save the cost of two days out! Another good game along the market trader side of things is to give your children a set allowance to buy a thing or two at a boot sale and help them to sell it on Ebay. The one who makes the most money wins and gets to choose a day out, wins a prize or keeps their gains; whichever you choose.
3) Take advantage of their competitive spirit and trick them into making their own picnic
You could spend one day cooking all sorts of picnic food with the children and the next day go for the picnic. It should save you some money on the picnic and be fun and educational for the children. Even just some rocky road, lemonade and egg mayo mix for sandwiches could do the trick.
4) Put on a show
Why not have a “charity” show in aid of a fine day out? The children could think of a theme for a play and put this on for paying or donating members of the family and friends. You could help them with set design, writing and costumes, so, if your child is more of a creative soul rather than a budding financial adviser or market trader, they have their chance to shine and raise some holiday funds too.
5) Make them Chancellor of the holiday budget – so if the money runs out, it’s their fault!
You may want to consider setting an overall budget for the activities during the holiday. You can act as a kind of Trustee and final arbiter, whilst the children can allocate funds according to their choice. Any funds, gained along the way from activities can be added to the pot. You can decide what to do with any leftover money, perhaps pop it into a Junior ISA for them (“boring!” I hear the children say), or give them an extra treat for budgeting so well.
Hopefully this may give you some ideas for the holidays and go some way to preventing the expectation that the funds for doing fun things are never ending; taking some of the pressure off you to constantly provide. They should gain some understanding of the decisions that need to be taken in order to budget sensibly. My stepdaughter once said on being told that there wasn’t enough money to do something that “all we had to do was go to that hole in the wall and go and get some”. If only it were that easy!
Alternatively, if you think it all sounds far too much like hard work, then just drop the children over to Toastie Towers and we will look after them for you.