When the schools break up this month, parents across the country know it means things are going to get expensive – with the average family expecting to spend £640 on activities and treats over the holidays. For many, that might be too much.
Research from American Express found days out are likely to be the biggest expense, costing £232 for a family with two kids. Treat and gifts will add up to an average of £134, with pocket money totalling £100.
Camps and clubs tune in at £88, while childcare will be an additional £86.
And this doesn't include the costs of a family holiday – usually more expensive during July and August than other times of the year.
Prioritising what to spend
For many families, an extra £640 is a large amount of money to find.
A poll by the Guardian and financial charity Turn2Us found more than a third are worried about their ability to cover the costs of bills and expenses this summer.
No matter how much you want to treat your kids and keep them entertained, try to make sure you have enough money to cover your priority spending – so the costs that will keep a roof over your head and your family fed and such as food, rent or mortgage, Council Tax, gas and electricity.
Finding extra money
Of course some costs are going to be inevitable if your kids are young and you don't have the flexibility at work or family members available to look after children during the week.
You might think you're already as lean as you can be, but it's worth double checking where your money goes and where you might be able to cut back to find some extra cash. Completing a simple budget planner will help you do this.
Look for spending habits you don't think are worth the money. Are you using your pay TV or subscriptions as much in the summer? Could you switch supermarket to reduce your food spend – and perhaps make more of your own food than eat out?
Be wary of borrowing to pay for the summer
If, even after cutting back, it's going to be tight, you might be tempted to just put extra costs on your credit card, or go into your overdraft. Perhaps even consider a payday loan. With each of these you'll hit with extra interest and penalty charges, making the summer even more expensive.
Instead, you may be able to apply for an authorised overdraft, or switch bank to one with lower fees. If your credit rating is strong enough, you could consider applying for a 0% spending credit card – though make sure you have a plan in place to pay off all the money before interest starts to be charged.
Loans may be cheaper from a Credit Union, and it's also worth seeing if you can get an advance from work, or whether friends or family can lend you money. Just be sure you agree how and when you'll pay them back.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.