Having the kids home for a whole week can be a great opportunity for some quality family time, but it can take up a lot of patience – and a lot of money.
A few tips that could help you save money over the half-term holiday.
Pool your skills
What can you do to entertain kids? What about your friends / family / neighbours with children? Everyone has something different to offer, whether it’s great baking skills, a big living-room, a job at a crisp factory (and access to cheap crisps!), a 42″ TV, a great collection of DVDs, skill making balloon animals…
So get together and figure out how to pool your skills. Could you organise a ‘home cinema’ event, a children’s party, an arts & crafts afternoon? The more creative ideas you can come up with between you, the more you can entertain the kids without eating into your bank account.
The person who feels they have the least to offer could give their time. If they take charge of the gathering, it could give the rest of you a bit of time off.
Don’t take them shopping
Kids wouldn’t be kids if they didn’t “want” whatever they lay their eyes on, and that can make a quick trip to the shops far more expensive than it needs to be.
And toy shops aren’t the only problem. Over in the US, the Federal Trade Commission reported in December that ‘pester power’ was the reason 75% of parents bought a food product for the first time – and that ‘in-store advertising campaigns using child-targeted, character-based themes outperformed those using mom-targeted themes’.
So – is there someone you’d trust to leave them with when you go shopping? If you have friends / family / neighbours with their own children, a carefully drawn-up rota could save you all a fortune.
Enjoy free local events
Find a ‘what’s on’ website for your local area and check out the free / cheap events you could take your kids on.
Give them a treat – but let them earn it
With a full week at home, your kids will probably feel at least one treat is in order – and if you can afford it, why not?
Rather than slowly splashing the cash all week, you could save your whole ‘treat budget’ for something more impressive towards the end. They’ll have something to look forward to – and that’s always a good way to ensure good (or at least better) behaviour.
Once the week’s over and the kids are back at school, ask yourself how well it’s gone – and how you could make things easier on yourself for the next holiday.
You could keep your eyes open for cheap / free activities.
You could look for arts & crafts kits in bargain shops.
You could try to build up a small ‘holiday savings pot’.
If you’re not sure how you could squeeze anything else out of a stretched monthly budget, you’ll find some useful budgeting information from The Debt Advisory Centre on this page. A few cutbacks here and there could be enough to help you put a bit aside for special events, like birthdays, Christmas – and half-term holidays.