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Saving money and increasing income

Saving money on school summer holiday activities

It can be tricky to keep the kids happy over the summer holidays, especially with the cost of living crisis making the task even harder.

Some ‘free’ days out can start to cost a lot once you add in parking, food and the little extras children ask for. These turn a cheap day out into a worry for your bank balance.

If you're worried about how to keep the kids entertained for less, here’s a bumper list of fun things to do over the summer with kids of all ages.

Have you claimed Child Benefit?

Child Benefit can be claimed by parents or guardians with a child:

  • Under 16 in their household or
  • Under 20 if they stay in approved education or training

You can get:

  • £1,331 per year for a first child
  • £881 for any other child

These rates are as of April 2024.

You can now claim fully online. The money should arrive within three days.

Local events and activities

Check your local council for free events

Most local councils and tourist information sites have listings of fun and free things to do in the local area. Take a look and see if you can fill the calendar with activities this summer. There may be some hidden gems on your doorstep that you’ve not heard about.


Take your children to the local library as it’s a great way to get them learning new skills and away from screens. It’s always worth asking the library if they’re running any book clubs or events for kids. They often have games and DVDs that can be borrowed for free, as well as books.

Look at online reviews for things to do in your area. When you read the reviews from other visitors make sure they don’t mention any hidden charges.

Days out

Parks, canals, nature reserves and woods

Getting out and exploring your local park, canal or wood can be a great family day out.

Exercise is good for your mental health and you may even have some exciting wildlife encounters.

Children can get bored of long walks, but there’s lots you can do in the wild like bird watching, geocaching (a worldwide treasure hunt) or foraging for blackberries and other wild edible plants, as long as you can recognise them. Some woodlands and parks have trails laid out especially for children to collect objects.

Find a park or nature reserve near you

National Trust or English Heritage membership

While it may seem expensive, it can be paid in instalments and the cost covers a couple of trips as a family. It gives you free access and parking to a huge range of areas of outstanding beauty, historic buildings and castles across the UK that provide great days out for kids and people of all ages.

Make sure you’re committed to using it before you buy though. Check there are interesting properties where you live or where you’re going on holiday to get your value for money.

If you’re a member of the National Trust for Scotland you can use your card to visit Trust properties across the UK, and the membership is cheaper.

City farms and animal sanctuaries

If you’re animal lovers on a small budget, a visit to a city farm or open day at an animal sanctuary can be a great experience for all ages.

For example, Devon’s Donkey Sanctuary cares for sick and neglected donkeys and is free to visit. There’s also Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital outside Aylesbury, which has a nursery area where you can watch staff hand-rearing the orphaned birds and small animals.

There are plenty of urban farms throughout the UK. You can find a list of them on the Social Farms & Gardens website.

Museums and galleries

There are hundreds of fascinating museums and art galleries across the country. Many are free or ask for a small donation. Museums are a great way to teach children about history, industry, nature, fashion, science and the universe. You might even learn something yourself too!

Short term loans

Are you thinking of taking out credit to tide you over for the summer holidays?


Buy now pay laterpayday loans and doorstep loans can be convenient, if you need money fast. However, these types of loan are an expensive way of borrowing and can leave you worse off financially. Before signing up, you should make sure you can afford to repay the full amount including the interest. You also need to think about what might happen if you fall behind with payments.


Relying on short term, high interest credit to pay for essentials is a sign that you need help. If you’re struggling with money, find out how we can help you.


There are cheaper ways of borrowing, including arranged overdrafts and credit unions. If you're on a low income and need emergency help with money, you may be able to get support from a trust fund or your local council.

Things to do when it’s raining

British summers don’t have a great track record, so if it’s chucking it down outside, stay in and make your own fun instead.

Learn a new language

Lessons can be costly but there’s a wealth of free information available on the web. This tip is for older children and may take a while to get the hang of, but it could be the start of a new hobby. You could even learn together.

Try the BBC online language centre, or a free app like Duolingo.

Get the board games out

Everyone has a collection of old board games like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit at the back of a cupboard. Dig them out and invite friends round to join in. You can also get kids involved to make homemade snacks so it’s an even more fun and cost-free day.

If board games are too ‘old school’ for them, why not have an Xbox, Nintendo or PlayStation tournament instead?

Get cooking

Teaching kids to cook is a great life skill. Let them pick what food they want to cook, see what you have in the cupboards and do your own version of Ready, Steady, Cook!

Childcare over the summer holidays

Summer schools

Talk to your child’s school. They may have extra activities planned for children over the school break or could help you find something local that’s fun and educational for the kids to take part in.

Share childcare with other parents

Talk to other parents. Many other mums and dads will be looking to save money over the school break. See if they have any activities planned that you and your children could get involved in. There are mobile phone apps that can help you connect with other local parents.

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