How Do We Afford It? – School Holidays On A Budget

This is a question I get asked on a regular basis. How do we afford to go out so much?  You’d be suprised to learn just how tight our budget is, especially now that I’m on maternity leave and my income has been halved.  So how do we afford it?  There are a few tricks that anyone can benefit from to cut costs on days out and eating out.  This is how we manage school holidays on a budget.

Let’s take May half term 2019 as an example.  Below is a day by day breakdown of what we did and how we afforded it.

Saturday – Football training for Cody at the local park with his team (Cost = £1).  We then drove to a big Sainsburys store to buy a disposable bbq, food items and crate of beer.  (Cost = I didn’t keep track but everything we bought was on offer plus we had 20% staff discount AND a Nectar card voucher for £9 off our shop so we actually spent very little).  Afternoon playing in the garden and having a bbq.

Sunday – This was Daddy’s birthday so for lunch I prepared a party style buffet.  Pizzas, crisps and dip, sausage rolls, quiche,  etc. (Cost =  again I didn’t count this up but we basically used up what was already in the fridge/freezer plus a couple of bits from Sainsburys).  Unfortunately minutes after we sat down and started eating Cody threw up over the entire spread so it all had to go in the bin.  Cue the rest of the day being spent at home looking after sick note (Cost = nothing).

Monday – Cody was much better by this time so we had a delicious cooked breakfast at home then relaxed and played at home for the rest of the day to make sure he was fully recovered.  (Cost = nothing).

Tuesday – We packed up a picnic using what we had in the cupboards at home and filled the kids water bottles before heading to Rushmere Country Park (Cost = £3 to park all day plus fuel to get there).   We had a lovely time exploring the forest and managed to avoid the ice cream hut and cafe by taking our own picnic.  Great way to keep costs low on a day out.

Sculpture trail at Rushmere Country Park

Wednesday – Met up with friends at Wallingford Castle Gardens.  Parked in a nearby car park with 2 hours free parking and entry to the gardens is free (Cost = £0, just fuel to get there).  After a couple of hours exploring the gardens the heavens opened and we headed home for a chilled afternoon indoors.

Thursday – Visit 4 Kingdoms Adventure Park.  (Cost = £10.95.  We had purchased a half price voucher from the Jack FM website back at Christmas using some money the kids were given as a gift from a relative.  The voucher cost £19.95 for a family of 4 entry instead of the usual price of £39.95.  We then paid £10.95 on the day for one extra child, Asa was free as he’s under 2).  Once inside 4 Kingdoms everything is included in the price so no having to pay extra for the go karts or tractor ride etc.  Again we took a picnic so didn’t need to use the cafe.

Paddle boats at 4 Kingdoms

Friday – Went to see the new Aladdin movie at our local Cineworld cinema (Cost = £1.40  We had won a competition last month for 4 cinema tickets and a medium popcorn and drink.  We also had a £10 Cineworld voucher Daddy won in a raffle at Christmas.  This covered the cost of our tickets except £1.40 booking fee).  We took extra snacks from home and bought 2x 1 litre bottles of water to share from Poundland ).

Saturday – Football tournament for Cody (Cost = £4 entry fee.  We also chose to purchase professional photos of him as it was his first ever tournament which cost £22).  Took a picnic and drinks from home rather than buying food from the burger van.  Afternoon spent on a boat ride up the river (Cost = free.  My parents own the boat!)

Cody on the boat

Sunday – See Wallace and Gromit Musical Marvels show with live orchestra in Reading. (Cost = £0).  We were gifted the tickets free of charge in return for advertising the show on the blog.  I don’t get paid for anything on the blog but we do sometimes get free tickets for things which makes my hard work worthwhile!  I realise this is a bit of a unique one due to me being a blogger but you could ask friends/relatives for tickets to a show as birthday/Xmas gifts or look out for discounts to cut the ticket costs down.  Sign up to local theatre mailing lists to get exclusive offers.  I often get emails from Cornerstone in Didcot with discount codes for cheaper tickets to family shows.

So you see, it may look like we spend a lot on days out and eating but actually we don’t.  You can save money on days out by:

*looking for discount vouchers or booking online in advance

*asking for entry tickets to places for Christmas/birthday gifts instead of toys

*use Tesco clubcard vouchers (I always save ours up for the summer holidays)

*use Nectar points for cinema tickets

*enter competitions/raffles to win vouchers

*visit places where entry is free and take a picnic!  You can find a list of free places to visit in the South here:

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