As the weather warms up, we start to think about holidays. Or rather the cost of having a holiday. Taking the kids out of school during term time to go on holiday is a highly contentious issue and it’s something, personally, I would not do without a very good reason.
I’m not sure a fortnight in a theme park counts as a valuable life experience, which is often the justification put forward, although walking around Alton Towers wearing one of their transparent rain ponchos in a summer deluge probably does. I’ve not recovered from the last time.
So we parents have to grit our teeth and pay premium prices for holidays whilst trying to cut our cloth accordingly and hoping that nothing else comes along to add to the expense.
We’re very fond of a staycation. The UK is a beautiful country and, hands up, I haven’t quite summoned up the courage to travel abroad with our two yet. That day is fast approaching though as soon as I sort their passports out.
We try to budget carefully and make endless lists, not only of things to pack but potential expenses. We prefer self-catering where possible because it’s great to have a base to relax in plus you don’t have the cost of eating out every single night. There’s a limit to the number of chicken nuggets and chips I can face in 7 days, although Ieuan can be prevailed upon to eat something green now and again.
Readers of this blog will know I’m a big fan of Skint Dad‘s Penny Challenge which helps you build a pot for Christmas by saving a little each day (1p on day 1, £1.30 on day 130 and so on). By following this system you can save around £677 per year but that’s for the festive season and it still leaves the challenge of budgeting for July and August.
Added to which the MOT on my beloved Skoda Roomster is due, along with an annual service and possibly new tyres. If you’re going to be doing a lot of driving this summer you may need to get your car checked over to see if it’s safe for all those summer trips.
Our garden wall is about to cave in thanks to rain and subsidence and we have a list of DIY projects as long as your arm since the house was built in 1929 and is beginning to show its age.
The Husband has been promising (or is it threatening) to convert the garage into a gym to put in a treadmill or a rowing machine. And Ieuan is very enthused by the idea of having a punch bag and space to practise his Tae Kwon-Do.
None of this would be possible without knocking the existing garage down and starting from scratch which not be an inexpensive construction project!
Our approach to spending on the house is to squirrel away whatever cash we can in an ISA, use these funds to pay for the construction project (or whatever) and then start saving again.
A sensible approach is to talk to your bank, of course, or your credit card providers to see if existing credit card debt can be amalgamated or transferred with a balance transfer deal and hopefully a lower interest rate.
Most of us know, by now, the way to cut expenditure and raise a bit of cash. You know the kind of thing:-
* having a declutter and selling items on eBay, Craigslist, Gumtree or your local car boot sale
* reducing unnecessary daily expenditure (yes you know you shouldn’t be buying expensive coffees and should be taking your own lunch but it’s so difficult to get into the groove, isn’t it?)
* menu planning and budgeting for your food
* using comparison websites to check you are getting the best deals on your utilities, mobile and insurance deals
But how many of us actually do these things, even though we know we should. When the bills stack up we seem to be struck down by a kind of financial inertia!
Incidentally, you can find plenty more ideas in my half-yearly budget post.
Sometimes though, money is needed urgently and a payday loan from a provider such as Cash Lady may fill the gap. Prioritising the repayment of the loan is key however.
And once over the financial hump, so to speak, the best approach is to start saving for next year’s major expenses now.
Easier said than done, but well worth the effort in terms of the stress control!
How do you budget for your summer holidays?