Nine in ten parents cutting back on spending to get through October half term

October half term is now in full swing for families across the country, but it seems nine in ten parents are cutting back on spending to get through it.

According to new research, almost two in three (62%) parents are stressed about childcare during October half term – amid the rising cost of living.

So much so that 43% have asked, or plan to ask, family and friends for help with childcare to save money this half term.

The new findings, from Comparethemarket’s latest Household Financial Confidence Tracker, also highlighted the cost of childcare during the holidays is causing stress for the majority of families in the UK.

To try and get through the week, lots of parents are looking for ways to save money on family activities with 66% planning to do free outdoor activities, and 39% choosing to only eat out at venues with discounts or deals.

To keep costs low, more than 71% of parents plan to save money by eating out less this half term, while 50% will reduce spending on day trips, and 54% are thinking of cutting back on trips to the cinema and theatre, as well as sports and music events.

For those looking for low-cost activity inspiration, Comparethemarket has partnered with Gemma Bird, also known as Money Mum, to find tips and tricks to save cash.

Gemma has come up with a few things to try – including researching activities beforehand.

She says: ‘If you’re planning a family day out, one of the best things to do is prepare in advance.

‘You could save money by looking online beforehand and finding out a bit more about the place you’re visiting – whether that’s finding cheaper parking, comparing ticket prices for public transport at different local stations, or having lunch boxes prepped the night before to avoid spending money on eating out.’

Gemma adds that, if want to dine out, see which stores and restaurants offer free or discounted meals for children, so you don’t need to spend more than you need. 

Also it’s worth seeing if you can set up childminding rotations with other parents.

Gemma continues: ‘If you’re able to, it can be useful to team up with fellow parents to help look after each other’s children and save on childcare costs. You could set up house rotations, choosing suitable days to look after each other’s children and splitting the cost of any food or entertainment.’

Also remember that some families are eligible for the government’s tax-free childcare scheme.

It’s also worth checking with your local council to see if they run a funded play scheme.

Gemma’s tips for managing money and childcare costs over half term:

1. Search online for free days out, attractions or events in your area.

2. Create a house rotation with fellow parents.

3. Use parking apps – these apps could save you a significant amount of money by finding alternative and cheaper parking near to the spot you’re visiting.

4. Plan ahead – the night before, prep food and sandwiches. This can save you time in the morning and could help you spend less money when you’re out and about.

5. Invest in a good backpack – you can pack more drinks and snacks for your children if your backpack is generous in size and sturdy.

6. Make use of discounted or free children’s meals.

7. If using public transport for long journeys, check the prices from all your local stations.

8. Check if your local council runs a government funded holiday activity programme.

9. Visualisation budget techniques – for days out or a planned activity, put the amount you think you will approximately spend into an envelope to help you visualise how much things will cost and help you budget accordingly. It’s always easier to visually keep tabs on cash and how much you are spending compared to card and contactless.

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