child padding in the sea

I know that children are expensive, so I hope other parents will appreciate some of my favourite money tips.

These past sixteen months during the COVID-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on everyone.

financial wellbeing hexagon imageMany have suffered financial hardship by losing their jobs and struggling to find work, using up their savings or applying for benefits. On the other hand, some have been able to save some extra cash with less expenditure. It is very tempting to start spending now that the retail shops are open, but it’s important to keep an eye on your spending. Combined with the holiday season, especially for those with kids, this could be a very pricey time!

Savings

It’s always good to try to have a little pot of money for a rainy day. You never know when you’ll need something for the car, the kids or that unexpected purchase. Nudge offers resources to help you tailor your financial planning. They recommend a 50/30/20 rule. You divide your income into needs (like rent, mortgage or bills – 50%), wants (treats – 30%), and savings (including saving for your pension, and paying off debts – 20%).

There are several online budget calculators – try your bank or building society, or MoneyHelper (run by the government) to find one that suits you.

children playing by a tree
Stanley Park in Gosport – see www.gosport.gov.uk/stanleypark

Parents’ summer holiday woes

As a parent, I appreciate that the school holidays can bring mixed emotions. Balancing child-care with the various summer camps to entertain the children, and the added expense of feeding ever-hungry munchkins, can be all-consuming. But there are ways to keep the children entertained over summer holidays without breaking the bank.

Many of us are looking at staycations, if we’ve not been able to go abroad. However, these are proving to be quite expensive with demand soaring. Remember kids like the simplest of day trips for the most fun.

If you are going away here are some tips:

  • Fill up on the cheapest fuel, or book train tickets well in advance to get cheaper fares.
  • Bring your own food.
  • Set a spending budget.
  • Check out the free or reduced-price attractions – there are many voucher schemes like kids pass and 2 for 1 deals on cereal boxes.
  • Bring some garden games like a bucket and spade and a football.
  • Download some fact sheets about bugs and flowers.
  • Outdoor messy play – grab the biodegradable glitter and glue.
  • Local councils have been offering free events – check out yours for what’s on.
  • If relevant there are deals on the Meerkat app which include food and days out.
child and bicycle by canal
Feeding the ducks at Rickmansworth aquadrome

Free kids’ meals

Some places offering free or £1 meals for children:

  • Morrison’s – free kid’s meal with an adult meal
  • Asda – free kid’s meal when an adult spends £3.50
  • Tesco – kids eat free with an adult spending £1
  • Marks & Spencer – kids eat free when an adult spends £3.50
  • Bella Italia – kids eat free with any paying adult (not on Saturdays)
  • Hungry Horse Pubs – free kids breakfast 8am – midday with an adult meal
  • Farmhouse Inn – two kids’ meals for £1 per paying adult
  • Sizzling Pub & Grill – kids eat for £1 with any adult meal 3-7pm Mon-Fri

Don’t be ashamed to ask if you need help

Paul Farmer, head of mental health charity Mind, points out: “For some, money pressures can trigger mental health problems like depression or anxiety.” Also, mental health issues can make it harder to earn and manage money.

But it’s never too late to get help and start to take control.

Main photograph: Sadie dipping her toes in the sea at Hill Head beach, Fareham

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