Money Saving Tips for School Holidays

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Organising some quality family time over the school holidays can create memories that last a lifetime – but it doesn't have to break the bank.

Although activities, eating out, and holidays abroad can be expensive, there are some simple, savvy ways to keep costs down. Here, Jane Clack, a money adviser at PayPlan (a free debt advice provider) has listed nine top tips to keep kids entertained on a budget.

1. Days out - Registering with discount sites such as Groupon, Wowcher and Quidco could save you £100s on days out and experiences across the UK over the school breaks. These sites can also provide great discounts on a huge range of products, including toys and games.

2. Find free activities - Having a great time doesn't have to mean spending money! There are loads of places offering free entry, such as museums and libraries, which are also likely to offer special events for kids during school holidays. Researching local councils or the National Trust website may also give you a variety of ideas for activities to keep the kids entertained for free!

3. Plan with other parents - We all know that childcare costs can be a drain on finances over the breaks from school. Families that work together to organise days off from work separately and take it in turns to look after children will not only keep the kids happy and spread the costs of activities, but also save a fortune on childcare.

4. Save on holidays - Travelling abroad has increased in price due to the weak pound. A holiday outside of the UK already poses a real challenge for parents with school-age children, with prices shooting up during the school holidays. A stay-cation may be the answer for some, as holidays and day trips around the UK are much cheaper, easier to organise and are still exciting for the kids.

For families looking to travel abroad, there are still some opportunities to do this within a budget. Being flexible on destination and, on some occasions, being patient enough to book at the last minute can reveal some amazing deals. Some suggest that flights are typically cheaper in the middle of the night with the browser in private mode. SkyScanner and Jack's Flight Club can help with finding cheap flights, but booking package deals can also help to keep costs down.

5. Travel on the cheap - With fuel prices continuing to rise, driving around the country for days out can be too expensive for some. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to save cash. Railcards, such as the Two Together or Family and Friends, allow adults to save a third on rail fares, and kids save 60%!

For long distance travel, buying cheap bus tickets through discount operators such as Megabus or Sn-ap, can get you and your families to major cities around the UK for as little as £2 each! Most inter-city and local public transport operators should also offer group tickets with discounts. Researching ahead of your journey can save a significant amount of money, which can be saved or put towards treats or further days out!

6. Plan your meals - When the household routine is disrupted by the holidays, mealtimes can easily go to pot. While fast food might be convenient, it is expensive, so plan ahead when you do your weekly shop and make sure you buy enough for those extra meals. Having a couple of frozen pizzas on standby costs far less than buying two from the takeaway and it requires no preparation. If you want the occasional treat, sites like My Voucher Codes offer discounts on popular chain restaurants or trade up your Tesco Clubcard points and eat for free.

7. Look for local holiday clubs - Many schools, community centres and charities offer free or subsidised holiday clubs, providing a cost-effective way to keep the kids occupied. Search online to explore the options closest to you.

8. Take a trip to the cinema - It's no secret that the cinema is the ultimate rainy day activity. However, once popcorn, drinks and tickets are accounted for, the costs can mount. Fortunately, many cinemas including Odeon, Vue and Cineworld offer discounts during school holidays, with reduced rates for earlier screenings.

9. Keep the car parked - A sunny day can provide a great opportunity to break the habit of jumping in the car for every journey. Of course, there will be limits to how far you can walk or bike but venturing out on foot can save substantial amounts in petrol, as well as wear and tear on your vehicle, and also provide huge health benefits.

Arranging entertainment without going overboard on your budget will always provide a headache. However, with some forward planning and ingenuity, you can save on a range of expenses to create a memorable school holiday.

For more information about free money advice and to help manage your debt, visit www.payplan.com or freephone 0800 280 2816.

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