Instagram mum on ways to save money during school summer holidays

The school summer holidays can be one of the most expensive times of the year.

Children are constantly looking for entertainment during the six-week break and parents often end up splurging out on activities, food and outings.

To help parents save money this summer and still maximise quality time with children, CashLady.com has partnered with Instagram mum Emma Stretton, who shares her expert advice on how to have fun with the kids without breaking the bank.

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The mum-of-two said: “I’m super lucky in that the summer holidays are actually pretty easy for me. My husband is a teacher so I don’t have to worry about where the kids are going to go for six long weeks. It does mean though, that all three of them are at home and need entertaining every day. These are some of the tried and tested things we do to save money over the school summer holidays.”

Here are Emma’s top tips:

Picnics

“Picnics are literally my favourite thing in the world. Pitching up at a nice park or beauty spot and just enjoying a few sandwiches easily passes a couple of hours with the kids.

“The boys will take their bikes, scooters or a football and entertain themselves for a bit. Our picnic blanket is a piece of gingham fabric I bought from the bargain bin at a fabric store too, which is a cheap and easy option for those looking to save a few pennies.”

Snacks

“If the cost of feeding two kids wasn’t bad enough already, my food bill has shot up in the last few months. Without free school meals each day, it goes up even more in summer. I tend to buy snacks at budget supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl and have found a few cheap ways to make fun stuff. My kids’ all-time favourite snack is peanut butter and jam in a rolled-up wrap. They would live off them and it costs peanuts!

“We also make homemade sausage rolls using veggie sausage meat and tortilla wraps. Flatten the ‘sausage’ meat all over the wrap, roll it, cut it into pieces and bake for about 20 minutes. It’s loads cheaper than Greggs. Pesto pasta is another super cheap meal, and pitta pizzas are also a big win in our house.”

Parks

“Obvious? Yes! But my kids love a park, especially a new one they haven’t been to before. The summer holidays are an excellent time to explore new parks or places they can run around in. Even a trip through the woods is an adventure for them.

“Sometimes I’ll draw a nature or ‘treasure’ map that they can follow on our walk as well. Just Google local parks and make use of them all summer long – they’re free!”

Free museums

“There are quite a few free museums near us. Again, just get on Google and look for free things to do near you. Daysoutwiththekids.co.uk is a great website with loads of fun things to do across the UK.”

Shopping

“I know the food shop isn’t the height of excitement but it does kill time and is a good activity for when it rains. I normally do it online but in the summer holidays, my husband takes a list to the shops and gets the boys to read it and shout when they spot what we need.

“Some shops have those hand-held scanners you carry around with you. The kids love scanning the items and fighting over who gets to hold the scanner next. Making an everyday expense into an activity for the kids kills two birds with one stone.”

Restaurant deals

“Lots of places will do ‘kids eat free’ offers over the holidays. Usually, it’s when you buy an adult meal. Have a look for places near you that are running similar offers.”

Loyalty schemes

“My bank account is linked to my Sainsbury’s Nectar card so I earn points every time I spend. I can then use these to get discounts or vouchers for big days out like Alton Towers. I would also always look for 2 for 1 deals on things like cereal before I ever booked a big attraction.

“We get £5 cinema tickets from our bank account which are great for rainy days and we’re signed up to Subway rewards and Mcdonald’s rewards so we get free food every now and then. Never spend before checking whether you can get a discount or better deal first.”

Do you have any money-saving tips for families? Let us know in the comments below

Buddy up

“If there are days when my husband can’t be with the kids, we try to ask friends or family rather than pay for holiday clubs. One of my friends does a summer swap every year where she has her friend’s kids one day and then her friend does it another day. So they can both go to work without forking out a fortune on childcare.

“We also still pay £10 a month into childcare vouchers so that come the summer holidays, we’ve accrued enough to put the boys in for a couple of days. Most school holiday clubs will take them so it’s worth checking if you have any left that you didn’t use up when your kids were in pre-school.”

Commenting on the tips, CashLady.com’s personal finance expert, Dan Whittaker, said: “The summer holidays are easily one of the best and brightest times of year to spend quality time with your children. However, it’s also one of the most expensive, with the costs of entertainment, meals and childcare increasing enormously.

“Emma’s tips demonstrate tried and tested ways to save money over the summer break, whilst still having fun and adventures with her kids. The advice goes to show that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have the most fun in the sun.”

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