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Money & Advice The true cost of your summer

We're all used to the expense of Christmas but have you ever really thought about the true cost of the summer for your family.

Going on a family holiday brings much needed time together to relax and recharge but estimates for the cost of an average summer holiday for a family of four ranged from £2000-3000 last year and Brexit is expected to push the cost of European holidays up further. It is of course possible to find a summer holiday for less than that but whatever you are doing and wherever you go, make sure you have planned your holiday money.

A family holiday only entertains everyone for one or two weeks though - so what about the cost of the rest of the summer holidays? In 2016, a family with two children could expect to spend on average £640 in the summer on day trips,activities and treats according to

Plus if parents are working full time, there is the cost of childcare to account for, with summer holiday clubs in England costing averages £101 with council run holiday camps and over £125 for privately run holiday camps.However in the South East parents can be looking at spending 29% more with the average cost at £142 per child, per week. Add to that the short supply of spaces in holiday childcare, with 88% of local authorities reporting insufficiant spaces available according to the Family and Childcare Trust holiday childcare survey in 2016 - this can be an expensive and stressful time.

So if you have managed to stretch the family budget to cover holidays and holiday childcare, the next hit comes with school uniforms. American Express reported in 2016 the average family with two children were expecting to pay £332 on uniform. Add to that the cost of any stationery items and now the expectation from some schools of children bringing in their own devices such as ipads.

And finally, when you've negotiated all of that - it's the turn of the sporting activites subs that are generally due in August or the beginning of September. Team sports such as football, rugby and hockey requiring annual subs are generally over £100 per junior player, so if you have more than one child, playing more than one sport, you could be looking at costs in the hundreds.

So what can you do about making the most of a limited budget?

For holidays the obvious option is to shop around - look for bargains, take late deals and be as flexible as you can with where and when you go. Flying very early or very late at night can be cheaper. Use comparison sites to check you are getting a good deal if booking online. Use loyalty club vouchers such as Tesco Clubcard for Eurotunnel or hiring cottages and apartments. Family destinations such as Disneyland Paris have offers including free half board which save a fortune on eating out when you are the parks. Compare the costs of driving against flying - a family can drive to Italy for about £300 (plus the ferry or tunnel cost) which is significantly cheaper than flying. If you take on a long drive and need overnight stays, look at family-friendly youth hostels and budget hotels for a bargain night's stay. Make your holiday a European adventure and stop off in some fun places on the way.

Save money on days out again with vouchers and deals - vouchers sometimes come home in the school bags, are often on food packaging and Tesco clubcard vouchers again are great for the bigger theme parks. If you go with a friend and their kids, see if you can buy a family ticket between you. Sometimes being a local can save you money on getting in as does buying tickets online in advance. Paying the gate price on the day is often the most expensive so try to plan trips in advance to get the best price.

Holiday childcare is also something to plan if you can. Early booking can bring discounts - sometimes booking four days gets a fifth day free. Find out if the sports clubs you use during term time are offering summer camps - these can also be discounted for term time members. Council-run holiday clubs in leisure centres can be cheaper if your child has membership - make sure you ask about discounts when booking. Also check out if you can use the childcare voucher scheme to pay for holiday camps with your chosen provider.

School uniforms often have multi-buy promotions so look out for them for the uniform items you can buy without school logos. Buy second hand where you can - school's often have second hand sales or sell off unclaimed lost property at the end of the year so keep your eyes on school newsletters and facebook sites for info on these sales. Sell any uniform you have that your kids have grown out of and is still serviceable to help with the cost of new uniform.

Sports clubs subs can sometimes be paid in instalments but if you know your club doesn't offer this, the only real option is to try to save £10 a month through the year so you have the subs ready when they ask. If the cost of subs means you can't afford for your child to play, talk to the club about it. Some clubs have hardship funds for families that can't stretch to these costs.

As always, budgetting and planning for the costs of summer will get you through but if you haven't been saving for the summer so far this year, then you can talk to us about a loan to help spread the costs. If you need to borrow, plan your borrowing and repayments now so you don't build-up a big overdraft or have to turn to payday or high-interest lenders as the cost of your summer will spiral further then. You can apply for a loan with us online today or if you would like to talk to us about a loan please call 0300 303 3188 and we'll be happy to help.

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