You would be hard pushed to know that the last few weeks have been summer given the rather disastrous weather, but for many families, the school holidays are evident not only from the kids being home all day, but the knock-on effect to their finances. While it’s lovely to spend extra time with friends and family, July and August can be expensive and keeping costs low can be a struggle. While in winter we may see our essential bills rise with extra heating and food, summer often takes a toll on our disposable income because of the extra social activities and childcare costs. You wouldn’t be blamed for feeling a little anxious as the school holidays approach.

So, what can you do to help minimise spending during the summer? We’ve put together a few money saving tips, ideas for free days out and ways to maximise your usual spending. You might need to compromise for a few weeks to make sure you stay on budget, but you should be able to avoid overspending and financial difficulty.

Money Saving by Budgeting

You’ll probably have a rough idea of your usual spending and how much disposable income you have after paying your priority bills and essential costs. But when you know you have a few weeks or months of increased expenditure coming up, you should proactively adjust your budget to accommodate the change in spending.

Reduced Spending

It’s important to think about the payments that will be reducing over the holidays as well as the payments that will be increasing, as this will help you to manage the balance sheet more effectively. For example, if you take a few weeks off work during the school holidays, you won’t have the same travel costs. If you commute into London for example, you could save maybe £75 a week. Although this is a temporary change, it’s one that can make a huge difference to your overall finances. Consider repurposing the money you are saving from reduced expenses and directly put it towards childcare, days out, and holiday money, instead of losing it among your general day to day spending.

Increased expenditure

As well as factoring in the decrease in certain expenses, you will need to consider the increase in other areas. For example, your kids aren’t having school lunches anymore, so you have extra food costs to think about. If you have playdates and days out planned, you’ll also need to consider the spending money required there too. Your finances will fluctuate during the school holidays but with careful budgeting you can use this to your advantage.

Invisible spending

When you’re reviewing your budget, you may also want to look at how your invisible spending affects your finances. Invisible spending often receives little consideration, but it can massively affect your budget and make money management more difficult, as you have a whole chunk of your income unaccounted for.

Emergency Expenses

If you have a payment or bill which is urgent cash loans can be a way to manage the temporary shortfall in your cashflow, as long as you know you can afford the repayments, and that paying the loan back won’t make next month’s finances suffer. Borrowing is only a sensible way to accommodate unexpected payments when it doesn’t put you in financial difficulty.

children playing with leaves

Ideas for cheap days out

  • Free museums: most cities have free museums which will keep your children entertained for hours. They can be a great day out even if you don’t have kids. You might need to buy a train or bus ticket, but there are often discounts available if you travel outside of rush hour and it can still be much cheaper than alternative days out.
  • Picnic play dates: this is a simple idea but very cost-effective. Organise a picnic with some other families and take a football or a cricket set. It’s an easy way to spend the day without spending a lot of cash. Consider sharing the food responsibilities to even out the cost and preparation.
  • Weekend with the grandparents: if you’re fortunate enough to still have your parents around, why not drop the kids off for a long weekend? It feels like a holiday for your children and gives you some much needed peace. Plus, you can scale back on food and activity costs for a few days.

Maximise your Spending

A good way to maximise your daily spending is to have a savings fund ready for emergencies and unexpected payments. This way, you won’t affect your usual budget when faced with a surprise expense, meaning you can maintain your cashflow with minimal impact. Another benefit to having savings for emergencies is that you won’t need to borrow money now and so you can save twice by not repaying interest.

If you haven’t got a good savings pot already, start as soon as possible – even if it means putting just £20 away for a rainy day. It might not be so easy over summer as other expenses rise, but as your general expenditure starts to fall again, consider saving the difference – you won’t miss it as you’ll have become accustomed to that level of spending during the school holidays anyway.

July and August can be expensive months. Sometimes, it’s because we go out more, go on holiday or just generally have a more active social life. Sometimes it’s because we have to pay for childcare or kids’ lunches which are covered by the school during term time. Whatever it is that makes your finances a little trickier to manage over summer, there are ways to minimise the impact and maximise your income. It might take a little work at first, but you’ll soon become adept at managing money and it’ll feel like second nature.