Just as your bank statement is recovering from the onslaught of Christmas spending, along come the summer holidays. A joyous time to be with your children, frolic in the Great British weather and generally behave like a child, but this time of year does come with at least one weighty adult responsibility – money management.

It’s all too easy to give in to demands for days out, ice-creams and gift shop trinkets, and before you know it you’ve spent this month’s wages and maxed out your credit card.

Money worries can really sour the season for grown-ups. We want to say ‘yes’ to everything, get into the carefree spirit and enjoy every moment. But if you don’t have a clue how much you can afford to spend on fun, and haven’t agreed a plan beforehand, that lingering concern about your financial situation, nagging away in the back of your mind can be a real mood-killer. Here we take a look at how planning ahead can save you stress and money in the long run.

The Summer Holidays

#1 Write Down Potential Costs

Write a list of all the different additional costs you wouldn’t normally incur, but will have in the summer holidays. These may be additional childcare costs, pocket money, increased food costs if your children normally have free school meals, and trips out.

#2 Fun Going Cheap

Now write a list of fun things you can do that will cost little or no money.

Ideas can include:

– Local events

– Family-friendly sessions at the library

– Meeting up with other parents

– Days out promotions, like those often found on cereal boxes or in national newspapers

– Theme park tickets bought with loyalty points

– Low cost matinee showings at the cinema.

If you can fill as much of the Summer Holidays with these low cost activities as possible, you will be less likely to find yourself paying full price for an expensive spur-of-the-moment day out.

#3 Set Budget Boundaries

Decide how much additional spending you can afford over the six weeks, and get really clear about what this money is for. For example, if you already have a grocery budget, then packing a picnic can come out of that, but chips and ice creams would need to come out of the “summer holidays fund”.

If your children already receive a monthly allowance or pocket money, they could use that to buy their own treats or souvenirs, which will help you stretch the budget a little further.

The important thing is that you set a level of spending you can afford, and that everyone in the family is aware of – and respects – the boundaries.

It’s important that the whole family understands that money isn’t limitless. That way you can jointly make informed decisions such as ‘if we go swimming today, we cannot buy a take-away tomorrow’.

Although budget-setting can sound like a joy-killer, in reality once you and your family are comfortable with your budget boundaries, it frees you up to enjoy a summer of fun, without being over-shadowed by money worries.

By Harry Price

Harry Price lives on the south coast with his wife and 3 dogs.  They all enjoy long coastal walks especially on a wet and windy day.