Grandmother and child

27 July 2015

Budgeting for summer holidays

Summer school holidays; six weeks of sunshine (hopefully) and a chance to spend some good quality time with the family. But with that can come expensive days out that leave a significant hole in our savings when September comes around. Here, Principality Building Society’s Savings Product Manager Kate Murray discusses her top tips for a fun-filled summer holiday that doesn’t break the bank.

It's that time of year again; summer holidays. Schools have finished for the academic year, which means six weeks of fun-filled, jam-packed activities to keep your children entertained. While the holidays come around every year, sometimes they can be a real surprise on our bank balance, with many of us often spending more than we’d like to as we try and keep the kids entertained day in day out. In fact, summer holidays can prove an expensive few weeks for us all. A survey conducted by Travelodge discovered that the average British family spends £1461.39* over the six weeks – a staggering amount for most. While the summer holidays are a fantastic opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones, it’s easy to leave a serious dent in months of hard-earned savings if you’re not careful, especially with those back to school costs coming around quickly. 

The especially savvy savers among us will have budgeted leading up to the summer break, leaving an allowance for the six weeks to be spent on activities, meals out or trips away. However, if you haven’t outlined a budget for your family yet then don’t panic. Take some time now to work out how much you can sensibly afford to spend over the entire school holiday period as making sure you stick to that amount will mean no nasty surprises come September.

In order to keep those outgoings as low as possible, there are some easy ways of balancing fun and budgeting over the summer holidays. We’re blessed here in Wales with beautiful beaches, parks, museums, castles and plenty of cultural hotspots, many of which are available to enjoy without charge. Rhossili, Margam Country Park, Dyffryn Gardens, and the National Waterfront Museum – the list is endless. Take a look on for inspiration on free days out across Wales along with any scheduled events taking place across the summer. 

While taking advantage of these free events across the summer holidays will keep costs to a minimum, there are also ways of reducing the costs of the more expensive activities too. Aquariums, theme parks, cinema trips, or afternoons at the leisure centre; all perfect summer holiday activities but equally those that carry an expensive price tag. Using discount websites to buy tickets for attractions or restaurants will significantly help to cut your costs. Voucher code websites will have the latest offers at various locations across Wales and further afield that can help you save some extra pennies. Equally, buying tickets for days out through cashback can also save you some precious pennies over this costly period.  

Sometimes the struggle over the summer holiday isn’t necessarily about keeping costs down, but keeping the children entertained for a full six weeks. Of course, it isn’t always feasible to visit an attraction or museum everyday – even if they are free. There are many online forums that give top tips and advice on activities in the home that will keep children equally as entertained. Take for instance, a hub with tonnes of useful information for parents. The ‘Activities’ section is full of brilliant suggestions from games, crafts, cooking ideas and so on, designed to keep the kids busy and costs low. 

Alongside the free day trips or stay-at-home activities, there are plenty of other tricks that can help you stay within your budget this summer. Although sometimes small, it is these little money savers that can ultimately add up to a lot over a six week period. For instance, simply making a packed lunch to take with you on a day out, or thinking of some creative crafting afternoons is an easy win when it comes to keeping outgoings down. As you might already do on the normal school run, why not team up with other mums and car pool throughout the summer to any day out activities planned? Or even better, take advantage of the warmer weather and cycle to the local amenities with the kids. 

Summer holidays are one of the best times of the year for relaxing and getting out and about with the family, and getting the balance right when it comes to your spending is crucial. Planning your summer budgets doesn’t have to be a headache and will protect you from any unexpected costs that may occur along the way – helping to alleviate any stress from over-spending in the long run. Sensible spending and money-saving strategies are the key to a happy summer holiday.

Published: 27/07/2015