To help fellow parents, savvy saver and mum-of-two Emma Stretton has shared her tips on how to save money and make it go further.
From creating games in the park, asking your friends to babysit and digging through cereal boxes for 2-for-1 deals, the 37-year-old has compiled a list of purse-friendly ideas for a family summer of fun.
From Manchester, the copywriter has previously hit the headlines for sharing tips on eating out, supermarket shopping and why you should use a credit card.
‘I’m just quite tight and I don’t like wasting money so I just think of ways around having to spend it,’ Emma told NeedToKnow.online.
‘I’m also motivated by teaching my children you don’t have to spend money to have fun and that doing things together is more valuable.’
Below are Emma’s top five tips.
Make window shopping a fun activity
Emma advises parents to take kids window shopping.
‘This is possibly a little bit shameless but I have been known to spend an hour in Pets At Home letting them look at the guinea pigs, rabbits and fish,’ she says.
‘IKEA is also a big favourite for me and for them. Last summer we took our son to the Tesla garage at the Trafford Centre with no intention of buying a Tesla.
‘But it was great to let the kids sit behind the wheel.
‘Dobbie’s Garden Centre do Little Seedlings clubs, free gardening classes for kids, and so I’ve signed them up for a morning doing that this year, too.’
Emma adds to treat Google as your best friend and set aside some time for research.
To cut back on car usage, look for free local events but if you can afford to and are willing to fork out for fuel, try dedicated sites like Days Out With The Kids to find fun things to do that won’t break the bank.
Go on adventure walks
Emma also recommends taking your kids to the local park for a picnic, putting together ‘adventure walks’ and making it a fun challenge by telling them to find certain things among the greenery.
‘There are so many parks on the doorstep that it just makes sense to pitch up and let them play,’ she explains.
‘Find new ones near you so they don’t get bored and take a picnic so you aren’t spending on shop bought lunches.
‘We also do adventure walks where I’ll make a list of things to look out for like conkers or snails and they’ll go off hunting for them. The library is a forgotten gem. When the boys were little, we did rhyme time for free once a week.
‘Then as they got older we would go and find new books or just play on the wooden train.
‘The bonus is that once at home they can sit and read their library books for another activity.’
Buddy up and do toy swaps
Many parents know the burden of childcare costs, so Emma recommends asking friends with kids to ‘buddy up’ one day a week to save money.
Toy swaps are also another money-saving idea.
Emma notes: ‘I’ve found children get bored of toys easily.
‘We’ll have a day in the holidays where they have to decide what to give to charity.
‘I can guarantee they will suddenly love all their toys and start playing with them. You can also arrange toy swaps with friends to freshen up what you have.’
Shop smart and cook fake favourites
The weekly food shop is becoming more expensive every week and it can quickly get out of hand.
Emma suggests using self-scanners in supermarkets so you’re not left shocked or over budget at the checkout.
Having a strict shopping list not only keeps an eye on the pounds but you can get your kids involved with finding things down the aisles.
Shopping at Aldi and Lidl for cheaper snack alternatives and doing your own spin on classic snacks are good ideas also.
Recently, Emma made homemade sausage rolls, saving her the pounds she would have spent in Greggs.
Use loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes and discount tickets can really help to treat the children without having to spend a lot of money.
Many deals usually require an adult meal to be purchased but it can half the cost and even give kids free meals.
Emma has managed to pay for days out at Alton Towers for a fraction of the price through loyalty schemes.
She also links her Sainsbury’s Nectar Card to her bank account so every time she spends, the points clock up.
Additionally, it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for 2-for-1-ticket deals on the front of cereal boxes.
‘I’m a big fan of loyalty points,’ Emma says. ‘Even McDonald’s has a reward scheme on the app where you can get free coffees or food.
‘My bank pays me money every month as part of a reward account and I save my Boots and Nectar points every year so that by Christmas I can buy a few gifts at no extra cost.
‘You can get most reward cards as an app on your phone now so you don’t even have to carry cards around.
‘Never say no to a loyalty scheme.’
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