There are all sorts of financial pressures we face during the summer months, from covering the cost of holidays and keeping the kids entertained, to childcare bills if you aren't going away.
Regardless of whether or not you are spending your holidays at home or abroad, there are lots of things you can do to cut costs and save money. Here are our 10 top tips for slashing your summer bills... .
Book outings online in advance
If you are planning on a trip to a theme park or zoo this summer, buy your tickets before you go online. Many attractions offer substantial discounts if you book in advance. For example, book an adult or family ticket online for Alton Towers and you'll save over 20% on the on-the-day price, and you'll be guaranteed entry for your chosen day. You can buy an adult ticket online from £31.68, saving you £9.12 on the on the door price, with tickets for a family of four starting from £101.76, a saving of £32.64 compared to if you bought tickets on the day.
Consider annual memberships
If you regularly visit the same attractions, then check out whether it might be more cost effective to buy an annual pass which will allow you to get in as many times as you want during the year. For example, if you sign up for National Trust membership and pay by Direct Debit, you pay £37.88 for the year compared to the usual price of £50.50. Admission to some National Trust attractions costs over £10, so you'd only need to go four times in a year to more than cover the cost of your membership.
Take your own refreshments
Buying food and drink on days out can substantially bump up the cost of your summer bills, so take a packed lunch rather than buying overpriced refreshments at cafes. Most theme parks and other attractions have places where you can eat a picnic, and it'll probably save you at least £20 or £30 if you are a family of four - plus your own food may well be nicer than what you can buy there!
Make use of vouchers and codes
Before heading off for a day out or restaurant meal this summer, check to see if there are any vouchers or codes which help you cut costs. Moneysupermarket.com's vouchers channel is packed full of offers on holidays and travel, eating out and family days out, so there's bound to be a bargain to suit you. Current deals include
'buy one get one for £1' at Brasserie Gerard, kids go free at Lakes Aquarium and 20% off tickets to Cadbury World.
Take a look at
MoneySupermarket.com's voucher channel for more great 'Family Days Out' deals. Cut car hire costs
If you're going abroad and will need your own transport while you are there, don't leave it until you arrive at your destination to find a hire car. Not only might they be booked up, but you are unlikely to find the most competitive deal. Instead, use travelsupermarket.com to find the best offers as costs can vary widely depending from company to company. Give the car a thorough once over before you drive it away too. Taking some photos of it can be useful, especially if the car hire company later maintains it has been damaged while in your care and tries to charge you for repairs.
Don't pay more than you need to for cash withdrawals abroad
With typical cash withdrawal fees of 2.75% for both debit and credit cards, Sainsbury's Finance estimates that holidaymakers spent an extra £391 million accessing their own money while overseas in the last year. This equates to £41 per year for a typical customer withdrawing on both their debit and
credit card. A pre-paid card can be a much cheaper option - and you don't need a good credit score to apply. CaxtonFX's pre-paid Global card and Sainsbury's Travel Money pre-paid currency cards, for example, don't charge any ATM fees when you use them abroad. Use childcare vouchers
Research conducted by childcare voucher provider Computershare Voucher Services (CVS) found that 56 per cent of parents are unaware they could use childcare vouchers to help with the cost of summer holiday fun, including holiday sports courses and adventure camps such as PGL and Camp Beaumont. Working parents can exchange up to £243 a month of their salary for childcare vouchers before tax is deducted, allowing them to save up to £933 per parent each year on childcare costs.
Grab a last minute getaways
If you haven't booked a summer holiday yet, then you may well be able to pick up a last minute bargain. Check out TravelSupermarket.com to find low cost deals. When we looked we found a
3-star week room-only break to Spain leaving in August from just £160 per person, as well as a 3 -star self-catering deal to Greece again departing in August from just £207 per person for a week. Reduce mobile bills
Call and data roaming charges soar when you head overseas, and, while costs for using your phone in Europe have been capped, if you are travelling outside the EU this summer, it can cost as much as £2 a minute to call the UK. That means just one 20 minute call could set you back £20. Speak to your network provider before you jet off to ensure you are aware of how much calls, texts and internet use will set you back, and find out whether there is a cheaper international tariff available which you can sign up to temporarily.
Don't pay more than you need to for insurance
You'll need travel insurance whether you are holidaying in the UK or abroad in case you have to cancel your trip, you suffer a medical emergency, or your belongings are stolen while you're away. But taking it out at the same time as you book your holiday could prove a costly mistake, so don't just accept the policy offered by your travel agent. Instead compare costs on
MoneySupermarket.com - we found single trip cover for an adult going to Greece for a fortnight for just £603, with £5m medical expenses cover, £500 cancellation cover and £500 baggage cover.
Remember that if you are likely to be taking say two or three holidays over the next 12 months,
an annual travel policy is likely to work out cheaper than several single trip policies in the long run - especially if one of those holidays is long-haul.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
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