WITH the cost of living crisis seeing prices sharply rise, the summer holidays look set to be the most expensive yet.
To help fellow parents, savvy saver and mum-of-two Emma Stretton, 37, from Manchester has shared some top tips on how to see your money go further.
From creating games in the park, asking your friends to babysit and digging through cereal boxes for 2-for-1 deals, she has compiled a list of purse-friendly ideas for a family summer of fun.
The copywriter has previously hit the headlines for sharing tips on eating out, supermarket shopping and why you should use a credit card.
Speaking to NeedToKnow.online, Emma said: "I’m just quite tight and I don’t like wasting money so I just think of ways around having to spend it.
"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."
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Here are Emma's five tips:
Make window shopping a fun activity
First off, treat Google as your best friend and set aside some time for research.
To cut back on car usage, look for free local events, however, 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.
Or just take the children window shopping – which won't cost you a penny.
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She said: "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.
"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.
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"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 also recommends taking your kids to the local park for a picnic, putting together "adventure walks" or making it a fun challenge by telling them to find certain things among the greenery.
Bringing your kids' bikes, scooters or even a football to kick about helps to kick boredom and spend some family fun together.
She said: "There are so many parks on the doorstep that it just makes sense to pitch up and let them play.
"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 swap
Childcare costs are the bane of any parent's budgeting.
So Emma recommends asking friends with kids to “buddy up” one day a week to save money. Similarly, she suggests doing toy swaps.
Emma said: "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
With the weekly food bill soaring, Emma suggests going round the supermarket with self-scanners so you're not left shocked and out of pocket at the checkout.
Having a strict shopping list as well not only keeps an eye on the pounds but you can get your kids involved with finding things down the aisles.
And making an everyday expense an activity is like killing two birds with one stone.
With the absence of free school meals, weekly food bills are also set to rise. Emma suggests shopping at Aldi and Lidl for cheaper snack alternatives and doing your own spin on classic snacks.
Recently she made homemade sausage rolls, saving her the few quid she would have spent in Gregg's.
Use loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes and discount tickets can be a lifesaver for finding ways 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 see the bill split in half or kids even eating for free.
Emma has managed to pay for days out at Alton Towers for a fraction of the price.
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.
Emma added: "I'm a big fan of loyalty points. "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.
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"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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