Over the next few weeks we are being treated to not one, not two but three bank holiday weekends. This is a great time to relax and connect with friends and family, but it could put a strain on finances and mean you have to dip into your savings account if the weekend involves eating out, going to events or visiting popular tourist attractions.
However, there are ways to reduce the pressure of spending money and that doesn’t have to mean you miss out on socialising. The saying goes that ‘the best things in life are free’, and although it might be unrealistic to not spend a penny over the holidays, there are ways to be savvy with your money.
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When we have an extra day off it’s always tempting to make the most of the holiday and book dinner at a restaurant. However, this can be a big expense, so instead think about whether you can recreate the same experience at home.
Before you do the weekly shop, plan out your meals for the week and include the bank holiday weekend. This will mean you’ll have enough food in the house to avoid the temptation of ordering takeaways or eating out. With a plan in place, you can still buy your favourite foods in the supermarket, but it’ll be at a fraction of the cost of restaurant prices. You could even try recreating your favourite takeaway dishes.
If you want to treat your family to a trip to the cinema, theatre or to a local attraction, check online to see whether there are any deals available. It might take some time, but you should be able to find a relevant discount code to make the experience cheaper. Many places will offer family discounts or first-time offers for anyone that hasn’t signed up to their newsletter. It’s a good idea to set up an email address purely for these types of offers, as then you can easily search your inbox for the latest deals.
We all have our fingers crossed for some sunny weather over the bank holiday weekend, but you shouldn’t let anything stop you from exploring the great outdoors. We have so many beautiful places on our doorstep that you can easily fill a day hiking through a forest or cycling along the coast. Don’t forget to take a picnic with food you already have at home for the ultimate no-expense day.
With petrol prices high and parking costs to consider, leaving your car at home during the bank holiday might help you to save some extra cash. Instead, utilise public transport and see how far you can travel with as little as £5.
On the bus, you can normally get day-to-go tickets which mean you can travel to as many places as you wish for one fixed price. Plus, always check to see if there are family tickets if you are travelling with your children as this will often work out cheaper. Railcards for train travel can also help you to save money in the future, so this is a worthwhile expense as you should make your money back within a few trips.
Shopping has always been a popular bank holiday activity, but this can also be a quick way to spend a lot of money without realising. Instead, set yourself a challenge of spending a certain amount and browse local charity or vintage shops to find some bargains. Shopping secondhand is normally cheaper than buying new items in retail stores, and you’ll be doing your bit for the environment as it’s more sustainable.
Going to the cinema is always a treat, but you can create a similar atmosphere at home. Invite friends and family around and get comfy on the sofa watching one of your favourite films. You could even ask your guests to each bring a film and then randomly pick one from the group to see who is the winner! Alternatively, streaming services normally offer the latest films to buy or rent and you can split the price between the group.
Cinema snacks are also a lot cheaper in the supermarket, so it doesn’t mean you have to forgo popcorn or sweets, just remember to add it to your shopping list when you do the aforementioned weekly shop.
Once you’ve had fun exploring your local area, organised a family film night and cooked your favourite meal, you might have some free time on your hands. This could be a good time to review your finances and plan for any upcoming holidays.
The first step is to set some financial goals, whether it is saving for a house deposit, creating a future retirement pot or paying off high interest debts. You can then create a financial plan, which details your current financial circumstances alongside your long-term or short-term financial goals. This plan will help you to keep track of your money and highlight potential saving opportunities. One of the most popular ways to budget is the 50/30/20 rule which involves 50% of your salary going towards essential expenses, 20% goes into a savings pot and 30% is for fun - or the next bank holiday weekend!
As a trained journalist, Lucinda has spent the past 10 years writing and editing content for regional and national titles, including The Mirror, WalesOnline and Manchester Evening News. She is now a personal finance editor and specialises in savings, helping people to make confident financial decisions so they can save for what matters most.