It's half term this week, and for many parents that means finding enough activities to keep your children entertained for the week, while also not breaking the bank with expensive trips out.

But one mum has explained that she never spends more than £200 when her children are home from school for the holidays, and not only will her budget see her through this week's half term, but she'll also be sticking to the same budget for their entire six-week summer holiday.

Maddy Alexander-Grout, 39, was previously in £40,000 worth of debt before turning her financial fortunes around by carefully planning how she spends every penny, and she now uses her savvy money skills to budget her kids' holidays.

The consumer money specialist, who is mum to Harriet, four, and Ben, seven, says many of her days out with her children will include free activities at parks and museums, while other trips will be pre-planned in order to get the best deals.

She said: "We will do toy swaps with other parents in the local area, which stops the kids from getting bored. You can swap with one parent one week and another parent the next and it gives them a constant sense of novelty.

"We also make the most of things in the house like cardboard, which kids can have a lot of fun with if you're willing to be creative. I made a garage for mine from old boxes. Other things are parks and museums. We also go to a lot of car boot sales.

"I don't tell the children that we can't afford things, as I want them to grow up with a good attitude towards money. Instead, we talk about what we'd like to do together in the summer and budget accordingly."

Maddy also insisted she does take her children on bigger trips that do cost money, but she always tries to book tickets in advance to save cash.

And the savvy mum even still takes her family on holidays away from home, but she budgets well in advance and makes sure to put some money aside each month so that when the trip rolls around, she has plenty of cash saved up.

She added: "I've budgeted £200 for the activities this summer - as we only do two or three which are paid. We're going to Legoland this year. We also have a summer holiday planned, which I budgeted for well in advance. I put away £85 a month and saved £1,020. We haven't decided on the location yet but it will be the Isle of White or Cornwall.

"My biggest piece of advice to parents for the summer holidays is to plan ahead. Even if you put £20 a week away now, it will mean that you're in a much better position financially when it does come around."

What's more, Maddy makes use of her own app, named Mad About Money, to get herself and her children discounts on things like cinema tickets. The app also encourages open discussions about finances.

"We get reduced cinema tickets through my Mad About Money App, which costs £1 a month to join and also gets you money off your shopping," she said, "You can also get a year's free membership if you recommend it to other people."

And giving her advice to other parents looking to save cash, she said: "My advice to any parents who are tempted to get into debt this summer is that kids don't care how much money you're spending on them. The most important thing is that you spend time with them and make memories.

"Even if you can't afford the cinema, it's important to think outside the box. You can tell your children that they will get to see the film when it's out on Netflix and make a cinema experience at home with popcorn, which is a lot less expensive to make yourself."

Maddy's top five money-saving tips for the holidays:

  1. Budget, as if "you don't know how much money you have, you could overspend".
  2. Make sure you are "always" prepared and "take everything you may need with you so you don't have to buy it".
  3. She warned, "don't go into debt just to create memories".
  4. Plan ahead by making "a list of everything you want to do and cost it out".
  5. She also advised parents to "manage" expectations and "don't do things just because the kids ask".

Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

2023-05-30T12:36:20Z dg43tfdfdgfd