Are you struggling to keep the kids entertained this summer? Research shows that parents will spend upward of £1,300 on entertaining their children this summer holiday, with 54% of parents worried about how to occupy their little ones.* With the cost-of-living crisis hitting families harder than ever this summer, people are looking for ways to be savvy with their spending. 

We asked Lara Joanna Jarvis, who won ‘Online Financial Influencer of the Year’ at our British Bank Awards to take over our blog to share eight ways to keep the kids entertained on a budget. Keep on reading for money-saving ideas from the award-winning influencer and mum of two.

Budgeting for the holidays

Budgeting for the holidays can seem overwhelming and difficult. Putting a system in place for this is really beneficial to stop any overspending. Apps like  MoneyhubSnoop or Emma can help you organise your finances to help reduce overspending.

Tracking down deals in advance can help with last minute spending – being organised is key when it comes to budgeting. Lots of restaurants, theme parks and cinemas do 2-for-1 deals, and signing up to websites like Taste Card which give large discounts on dining and days out can pay for themselves in as little as two visits.

While we’re in the midst of the summer holidays, it’s probably a very odd time to be talking about Christmas, but there are just five months to go! That could be just five pay cheques, five chances to be able to set some money aside. So, it’s key to plan for this now so that you can be in a good position when it comes to paying for it. Budgeting for future events can take away the stress and overwhelm, so it’s never too early!

Sinking funds

Using apps such as Plum and Chip are a great way to automatically save a few pounds here and there every week for “Sinking Funds”. These are pots of money specifically for particular events such as Christmas & the summer holidays, but also for things like your MOT, a holiday shopping spree or funds to support your winter fuel bill. The money comes out of your account automatically and into the pots you’ve set aside so you can either have some guilt-free spending, or guaranteed funds for non-negotiables.

Claim your freebies

Lots of places are offering free meals this summer which can really help reduce costs. Head to Morrisons where kids eat free when you pay for an adult meal as well as free refills on drinks, all day every day. At Bella Italia kids eat for £1 with every adult’s meal 4-6pm Mon-Thurs and at Dobbies kids can eat and drink for free with each adult meal purchased.

Downtime doesn’t harm

Before we begin listing ideas, let’s just put it out there that not every day of the holidays has to be a wild adventure which will break the bank. Just like us adults, kids need downtime too. So don’t feel guilty if they might have a bit too much TV one day or reach for their devices one too many times. The simple times spent together at home are the ones that often are the best. So, take the pressure off yourself to be busy every day!

With that being said, let’s get into some great ideas for keeping your little ones occupied this summer!

Eight ways to keep the kids entertained on a budget

Have a YES day

This is a sure-fire hit with kids! Let them know that they can choose how the day will play out, and when they ask for things to do such as chocolate pancakes for breakfast or doing mum’s make up for the day that the answer will be yes! It doesn’t have to be costly but giving them the reins can make for a fun day!

Check out places like Hobbycraft and Pets At Home for free workshops

Often, they open their doors for free workshops throughout the week which makes for a fun morning out for kids of all ages.

Go on a sunset adventure

Some days it will be too hot to spend lots of time outside, and not to mention having to manage around work commitments. So why not get the kids in their PJs, pack some blankets and head to the coast for a twilight adventure. If it’s outside of the norm they will delight in this extra special treat. Get a flask of hot chocolate and some popcorn and watch the sunset over the ocean together.

Visit A PYO

For the price of just a punnet of fresh fruit, you can enjoy a family trip out in the fresh air. Picking raspberries or other seasonal produce is a lovely way to spend a few hours together on a budget this summer.

Set off to an unknown destination

Lots of train lines will run 2 for 1 tickets over the summer, plus there’s 50% off for 5 – 15 year olds, as well as under 4’s going free, so why not pack up some sandwiches and jump on a train to somewhere totally new for an adventure this summer!

Free days out with the National Garden Scheme

A lovely option for families to spend time in nature, the National Garden Scheme often runs free days where non-members can explore their gardens around the country.

Camp in the garden

There’s something so exciting about making a camp in the garden, pitch your tent, adorn with fairy lights and fill it with cushions and blankets for a fun nighttime activity or even pitch up during the day! No tent – no problem! Grab a couple of old bedsheets and some pegs and you’re sorted!

Use local resources

Libraries run summer reading challenges which are completely free and include fun activities, so take a walk to your local library and join in, not only is it free but it’s great to help inspire children to read over the summer holidays.

We hope these ideas will entertain your children on a budget this summer. To find out more affordable and budget-friendly ideas for your family head over to Lara’s website or find her on YouTube and Instagram.

You can also find more money-saving tips on the Smart Money People social media channels: