We were looking at buying and selling at car boot sales for last week's Finance Fridays. This week we are thinking about the summer holidays. If you have school age children the six weeks of summer can be a very expensive time. With the holidays due to start soon in Scotland and then the rest of the country it's time to getting planning how to make your money go further.
Playdates – My son loves having his best friend round to play and likewise going to his house. They've known each other for years so they know each well enough to spend the day together. When his friend is here the only cost to me for a whole day of entertainment is some lunch (usually ham sandwiches etc.) and maybe one extra at dinner if he stays longer. They play out in the garden, get Lego out and watch films together. Not bad for being at home all day.
Picnic – You can put together a fantastic spread for a picnic but it will come at a price. If you are happy with sandwiches, a bag of crisps and some fruit for lunch then stick with it. If you need to get out of the house for bit then taking your lunch to the local park can make all the difference. For days out a simple lunch will save you a lot of money rather than having to buy it out or picking up packaged lunch items.
Family Railcard – The full price of a Family Railcard is £30 for one year but you can usually find discount codes to buy one for between £24-27. We've had one for some time now and sometimes we can recoup the price of the card in just one trip. This year we've already used it for a couple of trips to Leeds, Manchester, Cleethorpes and travelcards in London. If you book your tickets at least the day before you travel you will usually get a cheaper price than simply turning up and buying them. If available you can also reserve seats which is especially good if you are coming back at rush hour time.
Another perk of having a Family Railcard and travelling by train is that there are always offers on attractions. Many of these are 2 for 1 such as entry to London Zoo and Madame Tussauds. Remember as well you are saving on fuel and any parking charges.
Free museums and exhibitions – Not all days out need to attract a hefty admission fee. Around the country there are stacks of free museums. Many of these you probably have never been to or ever heard of before! The famous ones in London include the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. In Sheffield the Weston Park Museum is great for families and is in the grounds of the park as well. The Millennium Gallery also has a range of changing and free exhibitions. When we go to York we always have to have a visit to the National Railway Museum.
Libraries – Not only can you stock up on free books for the summer but your children can keep reading during the summer education void. Mine like to take part in the summer reading challenge that is run each year. Master JibberJabber has already come home with a leaflet about it. Also look out for other activities and events that are run by your local library.
Games day – If it's not great weather out then stay in and have a games marathon. Most of us have board games which have been neglected so get them out. If you are feeling imaginative then make up your own. Snakes and ladders is a very easy one to start with. If you don't have any dice then use your smartphone and look up 'roll a die' for an instant range of dice.
Embrace the rain – It's the British summer so it's going to rain. If it's warm enough have fun in just shorts and t-shirt before coming back for some hot drinks and biscuits. If you are going to out longer get the wellies out and make the most of the day anyway.
Annual memberships – Sometimes spending a bit of money can save you in the long term. Many attractions now offer annual memberships. If it is somewhere local where you like to go a lot you could make quite a saving across the year. Organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage have places throughout England, Wales and Scotland you can visit with a family membership. Alternatively you may find a local garden or theme park better suited to your needs.
Have you thought about the summer holidays? What plans do you have?