School’s out for the summer but if you want to keep the children entertained or need extra care during the holidays due to work commitments, it may cost you a large chunk of change, depending on where you go or what you book.
Still, some parents are keen on socialising again and more than half are willing to spend more than usual on activities for their children and friends, a survey by Barclays found.
The desire to make up for lost time has left over two fifths of parents feeling the financial pressure to make sure that their children don’t miss out this year.
Are you spending time doing activities with your family this summer? Many parents feel the financial pressure to spend more than usual on activities, but savings can be made.
However, the majority – 59 per cent – revealed they want to be as savvy as possible when planning activities, so they don’t spend beyond their means.
Planned day trips include the beach (65 per cent), theme parks (43 per cent) and the zoo (42 per cent).
The pandemic still appears to be a concern with fewer parents keen on indoor activities.
Fewer than a quarter plan to use soft play venues (23 per cent) while just a quarter (25 per cent) are keen to go to arcades.
If you’re keen on cutting costs on activities and childcare this summer here are 14 tips you can follow:
1. Take advantage of discounts for camps
Some holiday clubs may still be running discounts so make your booking soon before they no longer apply.
Your children could attend summer camps like Camp Beaumont and you can get discounts if you book early
2. Apply for government support
There are three main government schemes can help you financially with childcare including 15 hours free childcare, 30 hours free childcare and tax-free childcare.
These are available nationwide but qualifying for these benefits depends on the age of your children, your personal income and working situation.
What’s more, if you’re eligible for Universal Credit you may be able to claim up to 85 per cent in childcare costs if you’re eligible.
The most you can get back each month is £646 for one child or £1,108 for two children. See gov.uk for more.
3. Childcare vouchers
Your employer may provide childcare vouchers which means you don’t have to pay tax on your childcare costs.
According to familyandchildcaretrust.org, depending on how much you spend and when you joined the scheme you could get up to £55 a week.
Not everyone can get hold of childcare vouchers as they’re being phased out due to the introduction of tax-free childcare.
4. Use the parent network
According to a moneyhelper.org.uk report, the average UK leave allowance is 28 days, but the school summer holiday is more than 30 days.
It’s also common practice for workplaces to only allow two week blocks booked off at any time, except for unusual circumstances.
Childcare costs an average £138 per week and this isn’t affordable for all parents.
Will Lenehan, financial expert at low-cost financial advice platform OpenMoney, says: ‘Lots of adults with children in school are likely to be in a similar situation so speaking to other trusted parents or family/friends about taking turns in looking after each other’s kids can help lessen the load.
Babysitting apps like Bubble could help in offering affordable childcare
5. Request flexible working
Even though things are opening up employers may still be content with allowing you to work from home while looking after the children.
If this isn’t possible, see if you can request flexible hours so that you can be at home to take care of the children some of the time.
6. Use babysitting apps
Finding a nanny or babysitter through apps like Bubble could be cheaper than booking your child into a summer holiday camp.
Find out if there are any extra costs involved – Bubble for instance charges a £5.99 fee per babysit booking, but savings can be made if you use its subscription service which allows you to book unlimited sits with zero booking fees.
Subscriptions range from £6.66 per month for six months to £8.33 for three months or £9.99 if you choose the rolling monthly plan.
Parents can save further by sharing their own promo code, which – if used by friends or family – can earn them £10 off a booking and also gives the people who’ve used the promo code and downloaded the app a £10 credit.
7. Consider annual passes
If you’re a regular at certain theme parks you may want to consider getting an annual pass to save money.
With Drayton Manor Park, for instance, you pay £340 for an annual family pass (any four people of any age and combination).
There are several perks to doing this as you don’t need to pre-book or pay for parking and you get exclusive discounts to other events such as 50 per cent off their Fireworks Spectacular.
The pass also gets you a complementary ticket to the West Midlands Safari Park.
If annual passes are too expensive, you could save money by booking ahead. Clare Francis, director of savings and investments at Barclays, says: ‘Tickets for many attractions are often cheaper if you book in advance so if you weren’t a planner before the pandemic, embrace the behaviour that you may feel had been forced upon you and enjoy the savings.’
You could save money on theme park outings by booking ahead and online. If you frequent a theme park then consider annual passes if they save you money
8. Take advantage of free tuition
You may not want to hear about tutoring this summer, but perhaps there are some children that may want to do a little studying to fill in any gaps for next term.
If they want to do this, the good news is that MyTutor are offering some free online tutoring sessions during the summer break.
The free lessons are ‘drop in’ sessions and will give children extra help on important topics like ‘how to tackle creative writing’ and ‘how to get the most out of sixth form/college’.
A spokesperson for MyTutor adds: ‘Some of the courses are £12 a lesson – these are sold in packs of five – £60 in total.
‘This a discount from £20 a lesson so parents will be saving £40 for their kids to have five different tutoring sessions over the holidays.
‘These will be academic lessons in specific subjects, i.e., GCSE maths, chemistry, physics.’
MyTutor will this summer offer free drop in’ sessions on important topics like ‘how to tackle creative writing’ and ‘how to get the most out of sixth form/college’
9. Use cashback sites
Check to see if you can make any savings in the process via cash-back sites.
Adam Bullock, TopCashback UK director says: ‘We work with over 5,000 brands across everything including travel, food and eating out, excursions, hotels and much more.
‘For example, members can earn a portion of what they spend back with the likes of the City Sightseeing group (up to 10.5 per cent), The Bear Grylls Adventure (up to six per cent), National Trust (up to three per cent) and even Disneyland Paris (up to £90) to name a few. It’s quick, easy to do, and could end up saving you a chunk of money.’
Go to museums, parks or other free places and take a packed lunch for the kids. You can then use the money you save to plan a big activity for the end of the summer holidays
Clare Francis, director of savings and investments, Barclays
10. Keep it local
Find out if your local council is organising any activities for families.
Sevenoaks District Council, for example, is offering free professionally led family bicycle rides at Knole Park and Brands Hatch, while Haringey Council is launching a free ‘People Need Parks’ programme which includes dance, martial arts, walking football and cycling activities.
Read up on these events before you attend as some may require you to book in advance while others allow you to just turn up on the day.
While these events are usually free a cancellation fee may apply if you pull out or don’t attend. So, make sure you’re free to go to these events before you book.
Francis adds: ‘Joining a scheme like the National Trust, English Heritage or RHS – Annual membership will probably more than pay for itself in the amount it saves you in entry and parking charges as well as increase the options of ‘free’ days out either local to home or if you’re holidaying in the UK this summer.’
Find out if your council is offering free family activities such as professionally led family bike rides
11. Try the low-cost day out challenge
If you’re keen to venture out further, you should try planning a day out where you only spend money on transport.
Francis advises: ‘Go to museums, parks or other free places and take a packed lunch for the kids. You can then use the money you save to plan a big activity for the end of the summer holidays.’
12. Attend a free online event
If you’re not keen on venturing out, councils are not the only ones offering free online events. NMITE (the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering) is offering a series of ‘Summer of Discovery’ workshops, which have been designed for younger children and students considering studying engineering.
Guests include physicist Brian Cox, who will talk about unconventional career pathways on the 22 July at 12pm, and further workshops are being offered throughout the summer.
Your children could meet Professor Brian Cox this summer through NMITE’s workships
13. Save on travel costs
You can also save on public transport costs. Lenehan says: ‘Kids can travel from £2 this summer with Trainline, so use its summer travel guide to map out a route to your nearest Blue Flag Award beach, or check out your local bus operators, which are offering discounted family day tickets over the holidays.’
14. Stock up on at home activities
Staying at home and topping up your collection of board games and activities can be a cheaper option than going out.
‘With plenty of charity shops now open again, this is a perfect time to stock up on games, puzzles and jigsaws that have been enjoyed and donated since lockdown.
‘If you have crafty kids, also have a look in your local charity shop for clothes to be used as fancy dress or sewing (if your kid/s are old enough),’ says Adam Bullock.