Ten tips to help you get through the summer on a budget The summer can be a stressful time our partners at PayPlan have some top tips to ensure you enjoy yourself on a budget, even during a cost-of-living crisis. Whether it’s a day out in the sun or a rainy day at home inside, with a bit of planning, you can take the financial stress out of the summer months. Build your budget Building a budget should always be the first step in working out what you can afford to do. There are various templates and products available to help you with this, but here are the key things you should include: Your household income Your regular bills Your food costs Credit cards and payment agreements Any other costs You can use our handy guide to help you work this out. Plan ahead and research what is available Depending on your financial circumstances, it may seem difficult to find options for the summer months. However, there are resources available to find local activities for you and your family. Are there any activities or clubs running at the village hall or local community centre? If you have kids, is their school offering any summer activities? Is there a park, swimming pool, or museum nearby? What exploring can you do in shared spaces? It might be too late for this summer, but you can start collecting vouchers and coupons for next summer. If your banking app offers cashback, make sure you take advantage by activating the offers right after pay day – or whenever you’re likely to spend. Check comparison websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your trip. Planning ahead on things like train tickets, holiday park tickets and theme park tickets can cut the cost significantly compared to buying on the day. Take advantage of outdoor spaces and get to know your community This option can cost nothing! Is there a park nearby? Many families are also finding joy in painting rocks and pebbles which they leave in public spaces for others to find. You may also have noticed little doors in trees when you go on a family walk. Setting up a ‘fairy garden’ or home can be a magical way to build something with your kids. All you need is some outside space and a bit of creative thinking. Your local park may also have free gym equipment to use while open water swimming, walking clubs or running clubs may come at a cheaper price than your local gym. Take advantage of what’s in the house Have you got a bag of flour that hasn’t been touched in a few months? Why not try out baking some treats or experimenting with something more exotic like making slime? If you’re working or don’t have time to supervise time in the kitchen, why not assign your kids a scavenger hunt? Or ask them to find a book on the shelf and draw a picture of their favourite part of the story? Instead of going to the cinema, snuggle up on the sofa and watch a classic adventure film as part of your own movie night with you friends and family. Take advantage of what’s in your garden Do you have a garden? Gardening can be a constructive and educational way to spend the summer months. It’s also a long-term project that has the potential to keep you busy. Camping in your garden is also super fun and you can get creative with it too! Libraries, museums and cinemas These are all great rainy day activities, and many allow you to take your own picnic and have indoor areas for this too. Lots of local museums offer free or low-cost workshops and activity sessions over the summer and the library is always free. Most libraries host book clubs or reading seminars for free. Cinemas and theatres also offer reduced rates during non-peak times. You can also get discounted rates with a family, student or senior citizen ticket. Learn a new activity With potentially more free time for you and your children, you could help them learn a new activity – whether this be a sport, a musical instrument or something artsy, there is something for everybody. During lockdown knitting became a popular hobby. If you haven’t started, there’s plenty of step-by-step videos on YouTube. You could even make blankets and clothing for your own use. Baking/cooking Baking can be relatively cheap, fun and, depending on what you want to bake, quick or time consuming! There are hundreds of websites online with tutorials, while social media apps are full of fun recipes! Supermarkets often have free magazines and recipe cards for baking on a budget. If you can’t get down to your store, their respective websites are also packed with wonderful ideas! Spend less time scrolling Don’t be tempted to trawl through your favourite online websites as you may be overwhelmed by the urge to splurge. The simple solution is to maintain the self-discipline to limit how long you spend on these sites. Be kind to yourself If you can, try and find some ‘me’ time to enjoy yourself. If you’re a parent, it’s a great way to take the pressure off providing constant entertainment for your children. While yoga, exercising and mindfulness can be done for free, there are alternative ways to relax such as enjoying a puzzle book or playing online free games on your mobile or tablet. Where to go if you need help with your finances If you’re struggling with debt repayments or need some help with working out and managing your budget, free debt advice provider PayPlan is here to help. Visit www.payplan.com/bipolaruk for more information.