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Avoiding debt in the school holidays

Many schools have finished for the summer and parents are staring down the barrel of six to eight weeks of childcare, entertainment and spending.

Some parents will be forced to take unpaid time off work. Others will have to spend more on childcare or summer camps, while some will feel pressured to spend lavishly on holidays.

The summer break can be an expensive time for parents. And if you are living on a finely balanced budget, small extra expenses can be enough to push you into the red, forcing you into unsustainable borrowing.

In this blog posts we look at what you can do to look after and entertain your kids on a budget this summer.

Childcare

With a growth in the number of single-parent and dual income households, it is harder for one parent staying home over the summer to look after the kids. And with sky high childcare costs, looking after your children for the extended summer break can feel like a juggling act.

Where possible, employers have a duty to be flexible with parents. This can mean letting parents work from home, or work flexible hours, but employers can refuse time off if they don’t have enough people to cover your absence. By cooperating with other parents at your workplace you should be able to work together to cover each other, particularly if you are having a particularly stressful day or week.

Many mums and dads often turn to grandparents to pitch in with childcare duties over the summer. This free childcare model helps children learn from older generations of their family and can be fun for them.

Some grandparents caring for grandchildren under the age of 12 can qualify for a National Insurance credit to top up their retirement income.

Entertainment

Mums and dads can quickly run out of patience with children’s desire to be entertained for six weeks or more. And those magic words of ‘I’m bored’ might be enough to drive you to insanity.

To keep your entertainment costs down, make sure you collect information on lots of fun local activities that you can do to keep kids entertained on a budget. Get information from local swimming pools, cinemas, museums, libraries and kids groups. These places always have lots going on and many of the activities are free.

If your kids are yearning some adventure, or if you just want to prise them away from their screens for half a day then the Great British outdoors is your best friend. From nature walks in your local parks, to bike rides around the countryside, even paddling pools and water guns in the back garden – the outdoors will be the setting of some of your kids’ most authentic memories.

Holidays

Going away over summer is one of the big things that can tip your current account balance from the black into the red.

Package holiday prices increase astronomically over the school holidays, with 300% increases not uncommon when compared with term-time holidays.

Schools and councils have cracked down on parents taking their children out of school except under ‘exceptional circumstances’. A £60 fine per child is the minimum you can expect to get away with for taking your children on holiday in term time.

With the exchange rate high as well, many parents will choose to go on holiday in the UK instead, or to skip the summer family holiday altogether. But with children exposed to friends’ lavish holiday selfies on social media, the pressure to spend can be disheartening.

Parenting experts teach mums and dads to empathise with these complaints, but also teach children to express gratitude and appreciation for what they do have. And remember, your love and attention is worth more than any five-star hotel.

If you are struggling with personal debt this summer and want to be on the road to being debt-free by next August, speak to a member of our debt advice team today. We can clearly explain all the options that are open to you. Call: 0800 611 8888 or visit www.umbrella.uk