You don't have to break the bank during school holidays to keep the kids entertained - here's how.
Estimate your costs before you buy
Before you promise a special holiday or day out with the kids, estimate how much you're likely to spend. If you're thinking of taking them out to lunch and a movie, break down all the costs to check if you can afford it:- Lunch for yourself and three kids will set you back at least $30, even if it's fast food.
- Four movie tickets will cost $50-plus: don't forget to account for the popcorn, choc-tops and soft drinks the kids will convince you to buy.
- Factor in the cost of parking or public transport.
The same goes for holidays. Before you rush to book a trip to the snowfields, make sure you've worked out the real cost. It's not just accommodation and lift tickets:- You've got to travel to the slopes, so factor in petrol or fares.
- Ski hire and lessons
- Lunches on the mountain once you're there.
I'm not saying you should keep your kids at home all holidays just to save money, but you need to keep track of your spending. If you blindly swipe your credit card all holidays, you'll get a nasty surprise when the next bill arrives!
Set a budget
Before your kids break up from school, fix a holiday budget.
Look at your income and your regular expenses and work out how much you can afford to spend on fun activities. You don't want to be paying off horse rides, shopping trips and movies all next term!
There's no doubt it's more expensive to entertain kids during winter holidays than it is in the summer, when you've got great weather for the beach and other free outdoor activities.
Try and account for this when you work out your budget. Then once you've set the budget, decide on the activities you can afford to do.
TIP: Try letting each child pick one activity for the family. If you've got lots of kids, forget democracy and just choose a few things to do that you think will entertain everyone - without breaking the bank.
Best low-cost holiday activities
Use your imagination to plan fun but low-cost activities!
Get the kids to head outdoors and enjoy a sunny winter's day. Take a picnic, hit the bike paths or go on some new bush walks.
On a rainy day, have a movie afternoon at home. Rent some DVDs, put on some popcorn and invite the kids' friends over.
You could also play board games or teach them card games.Borrow some books or check out storytelling and other library activities, and see what events the council is running.