Tips for a frugal summer

How was your weekend? I spent part of mine with our god-daughter Phoebe and her sister Clara. We held a barbecue in our back garden for some friends and the kids enjoyed running free, picking the blueberries and ‘helping’ uncle DJ in the green house. It was great to have some children out the back having fun and making some noise (if not just to revenge ourselves on some of our neighbours…). Their mum Vicky apologised for it (true, there was a fair amount of wrestling, horse-play and cat-chasing going on!) but they were very well-behaved really and I thought it felt good to see them out enjoying themselves in the sun. I was also impressed that they were so keen on their fruit and vegetables, eating strawberries and satsumas all afternoon and not once asking for chocolate. What a healthy pair!Being around the children got me thinking, though, about the coming summer holidays and the costs that are so often incurred during this period. Keeping kids amused during the six weeks holidays isn’t cheap and, if you’re going on holiday too, there are so many charges that can catch you out.I know that everybody who uses the frugal life blog is pretty money savvy and many of you have some great ideas of your own, so I want to get your input on this. How would you suggest saving money over the summer? Get in touch with your ideas and tips and I’ll put together a list of the best ones.In the meantime, here are a few of my own ideas for staying frugal over the summer months:- Take advantage of the good weather and your back garden or local outside spaces as much as you can (investigate Love Parks Week events next week in your area) but have a few affordable ideas up your sleeve in case the weather turns bad. Visit friends’ houses, swap computer games or DVDs with them if your children have played/seen all your own or check out your local cinema’s kids club on a wet afternoon.- Visit your library. Many libraries run free or affordable events for children and adults to attend, along with the Summer Reading Challenge. This year’s challenge has a fun space travel theme. Also see local council websites and publications to find out if they are putting on other classes, subsidised sports lessons or workshops for kids.- Check out churches in your community. Some organise daily clubs for kids over the summer holidays and you don’t usually have to be a churchgoer to join in the fun.- It might be too late to organise for this year, but consider getting the kids volunteering over the school holidays if they are old enough. Volunteering can be fun as well as rewarding and good experience. Charity Mencap, for example, runs schemes in the summer enabling teenagers to volunteer with handicapped children. Investigate local charities to see if they operate similar schemes. Don’t forget to get the kids to help you out around the house, too!- If you’re going on a day out, take your own food and drink with you if you can. Paying out for expensive kiosk food can ruin a good trip out. Find out in advance, too, about parking charges if possible and, if you’ve got room in your car, travel with friends and share the petrol costs. Look out for online voucher codes on reputable sites to see if you can get any good deals on days out around the UK.- Look out for the best deals on sun cream. Don’t be hung up on buying a brand name and if there are two for one deals, consider doubling up with a friend or neighbour if you won’t use up the cream before its expiry date. Invest in a big floppy hat, cover up and avoid the midday sun to protect your skin and save on reapplying the sun cream.- Before you head off on holiday, whether abroad or in the UK, put together a rough daily budget to ensure you aren’t out of pocket by the time you get home. If you’re staying in a holiday apartment, take advantage of the fact by stocking up at the local supermarket and having a few cheap meals in.- If you’re going abroad, you might be able to save on excursions too by booking them with local agents at the resort instead of booking them in advance in the UK. Ask friends and work colleagues if they have any leftover currency you can buy from them.Got any good ideas for saving money during the summer? Leave a message and let me know.  

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6 Responses to Tips for a frugal summer

  1. Kerri says:

    We have an annual summer event on the moor in our town called Timbertown. Its held over 4 days over the Aug bank holiday weekend where kids from 6-11 spend the 4 days planning, building and decorating a \’town\’ made of wood usually based on some theme, then on day 4 they burn it all to the ground with a massive bonfire. Its been going since 1984 (I have photos of me there as a kid!) and whilst its not free at £20 a child.

  2. Kerri says:

    Grrrr… I hate this new MSN rule about post lengths…. to add to the above; It\’s great to get kids outside, working together and not molly coddled by red tape and safety scissors.

  3. Piper says:

    Wow. That sounds brilliant, Kerri. I wish we\’d done stuff like that in our town when I was growing up!

  4. Vix says:

    It was a lovely weekend! The girls certainly enjoyed seeing you too (it was almost 3 days before Phoebe stopped going on about the egg that Marmalade was brewing!) More summer tips don\’t forget freebie things like pavement painting (tub of water, few brushes and a patio!), treasure hunts around the garden and house, collecting things in the parks to do art projects with. I will be employing all these sanity savers to survive the coming weeks!

  5. piper says:

    Great ideas, Vix. Love to Phoebe & Clara. It\’s amazing how fascinating everybody finds chickens!

  6. Christine says:

    Vix sounds my sort of mother with the use of free basics for fun. But children need space to sit and giggle in a corner. An old comfy sofa just on the edge of parents\’ hearing can keep younger ones happy for ages if they have a pile of toys that they are pretending to play with. Too much supervision and parental involvement can quite spoil their days. They get some adult giving orders every school day.

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