Survive school holidays on a budget
Keeping the kids amused throughout school holidays is no mean feat - and it can clean out your wallet, too. But entertaining your children doesn't have to be about forking out for endless tickets - the beach or a day at the park are always foolproof options, but with a little planning and some new ideas, you can avoid the dreaded "Mum! I'm bored".
The holidays might be great for the kids, but with all the extra action involved, parents can suffer from "holiday fatigue", so stick to one activity per day - and mix it up so some days can be enjoyed at home. Try these tips for surviving the next school break without breaking the budget
Take the family on a minibreak: You don't need to spend a bomb on a fancy resort to enjoy some family time away, if money is a little tight think about a camping holiday or renting a place with another family so that you can share the cost. It goes without saying planning and saving ahead is key, but to get focused, use a savings calculator to see how much you'll need to set aside each week in time for that escape.
Movie night at home: Sure, it's tempting to bring the kids to a cinema just so you can zone out for a couple of hours, but tickets costing around $70 for two adults and two children - plus the hard-to-avoid and overpriced snacks, a family flick isn't cheap. Let your kids choose a DVD (even if you have to sit through Frozen yet again), make your own popcorn and enjoy an evening in.
Get cooking: Try a cooking lesson at home - invite a couple of your children's friends around (their parents can return the favour another day) and bake cupcakes or make mini pizzas. Be warned though, there'll be a clean-up involved.
Holiday at home: Be a tourist in your own city - explore the sights or take a picnic lunch to the botanical garden - you'll see your hometown in a new light.
Get your hands dirty: Start a garden project together, such as planting flowers or a herb garden. Collect empty strawberry punnets, fill with potting mix and sprinkle with seeds to create a mini greenhouse. Teach your kids to water the seeds gently every day and they can watch the seedlings grow.
If you can't take time off from work: If you're working full-time, it's not always possible to be available during school holidays. If family or friends can't be enlisted to help, then you'll have to arrange a nanny, enrol in a school holiday program or choose vacation care. To avoid a dip in your disposable income during these times, revise your budget to factor in the cost. A budget calculator can make the task easier.
Do you have any school holiday budgeting tips you'd like to share? Leave a comment below.