Summer savings: our tips to stretch your budget to the end of the holidays

The summer can be an expensive time for all of us, but much more so if you have children. The Family and Childcare Trust have found that the average family spends £125 per week on childcare during the six-week holidays. That’s double what they spend on food and drink!

As the Trust put it, ‘the increased cost of childcare during the school holidays can throw off carefully managed budgets.’ And even if you don’t have to pay for childcare, the extra costs of feeding and entertaining your children at home can still drive up your bills.

Almost no-one manages their budget as carefully as our customers, and we know it’s important to you to keep your finances under control. So if the summer holidays have thrown you off a little this year, check out our tips to help you get your budget back on track.

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Check if you’re entitled to help with the costs of childcare


Even if you don’t need help during term-time, you may be eligible for help with childcare for summer holiday activities. This could include vouchers for holiday clubs or a childminder. There’s a calculator on our website to help you work out if you’re eligible for different kinds of financial help. And you can find more information about the various options at childcarechoices.gov.uk. There’s a directory of childminders who accept childcare vouchers there too.

If you’re not entitled to help from the government or your employer, look for holiday clubs that offer discounts for early booking, or discounts for two or more children.

Will you be relying on nans, grandads, aunties or other relatives for childcare this summer? If so, you’re not alone! Thousands of families in the UK do the same. Look into ‘specified adult childcare credits’ to make sure the relative taking care of your child is getting the National Insurance credits they’re entitled to.

Look for vouchers to cut the cost of days out


Don’t pay full price for a day out with the kids! There are so many discounts out there. Check the bottom of our regular newsletter for money off on days out in the UK. They all come from moneysavingheroes.co.uk. You can find loads more discount codes or great deals on their website. Their offers on parking and transport can also help cut the cost of a day out.

Other great websites to check include Wowcher and Groupon for vouchers, and cashback sites like Quidco and TopCashBack.

You can also find paper vouchers (retro!) in the newspaper, on food and drinks packaging, at local tourist offices if there’s one near you, and sometimes just in the post. And if you have a supermarket rewards card, keep an eye out for any offers you can get with your points.

Find free or low-cost stuff to do in your local area


Fancy keeping your child occupied and encouraging them to keep up their reading over the summer? It might sound too good to be true, but the Summer Reading Challenge is very real!

Your kids can take part online. But if you’re lucky enough to have a local library nearby, drop in! Many libraries offer fantastic free activities like book readings, playgroups, craft clubs, Lego Clubs and more. They’re often also a great source of information about where you can find free swimming, free sports coaching, family-friendly events, and other free or low-cost activities in your town or city.

And don’t forget about free museums! There are hundreds of engaging, interactive free museums throughout the UK. Many also offer a place to eat a packed lunch. That’s a huge saving on one of the biggest costs of a day out.

Going away? Use price comparison sites to save


We’re always reminding you to check if you could get a better deal. It’s no different during the summer! Don’t book a flight or a hotel without checking price comparison websites like Skyscanner (for flights), Trivago (for hotels) or Kayak (for both).

Use the opportunity to talk about money


We’ve written here before about the benefits of including your children in family conversations about finances. Summer is a great opportunity to do this - you could:

  • Give each child a daily budget for snacks, treats and activities. If you have older children and you think they’re ready, you could give them the cash so they get the experience of managing their own money.
  • If you’re going to a different country, you could involve your children in ordering money in the currency you’ll need. That way they get some budgeting practice and begin to understand that money works differently in different countries.
  • Encourage children to earn pocket money by helping out around the house.

Remember - summer will be over before you know it!


It’s the last thing the kids want to be thinking about, but don’t forget to budget for their school uniform! If you live in Scotland and you’re on a low income, you might be entitled to help with the costs of uniforms. Check using our benefit calculator. Elsewhere, get down to the supermarket for their great uniform deals before they’re all gone.


Thanks for reading, and have a great summer. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

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