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9 ways to save money during the May bank holidays

Make the most of the long weekend without putting pressure on your finances.

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Father and sons walking along the coastline in the UK
There are plenty of fun and free activities that the whole family can enjoy.

May is the perfect month to spend quality time with friends and family as there are two bank holidays in the calendar. 

However, it’s not all fun and games, as the long weekends can come with a lot of added expense. This can then put pressure on our finances and force us to delve into our savings accounts. 

To avoid this financial stress, we’ve compiled a handy list of things you can do to try and reduce the cost of the bank holiday weekend.

1. Set a budget 

It might sound simple, but the easiest way to stay on track with your money is to set a budget. You might already have a budget for your monthly expenses, so use this as a starting point for the weekend budget. Once you’ve decided on how much you are willing to spend, you can start planning activities accordingly. 

Plus, to make sure that you stick to your budget, you could withdraw the amount in cash and avoid using your debit card.

2. Plan ahead 

In terms of budgeting, planning should always play a key role. Yes, being spontaneous is fun, but it can quickly derail your budget. Instead, think ahead to the weekend and detail exactly what you will be doing - from travel to food expenses. Then work out how much each element will cost and whether there will be an opportunity to save money.

For example, if you’re planning to meet your friends for a walk in the park, suggest taking food for a picnic, as this will avoid the temptation of eating at an expensive restaurant.

3. Look for deals

And with a plan in place, you’ll know exactly what activities will require dipping into your budget. This will also give you the information to start researching available deals. Some attractions will offer bank holiday discounts or restaurants might have special offers for set menus. Try signing up to newsletters to get deals straight to your inbox. 

4. Use cashback offers when spending

If you are spending some money over the bank holiday weekend, then make sure you are utilising any available cashback offers. Some banks are now promoting cashback for certain purchases, so check to see if any of your spending could qualify. This little boost of cashback will soon add up.

5. Try DIY activities 

Activities can be a significant expense, so instead get creative and try making your own entertainment. This could be hosting a games or film night at home or organising a scavenger hunt around your local area.  

6. Make the most of local

Speaking of exploring your local area - don’t forget about the amazing things you can do on your doorstep. We are lucky to live near areas of natural beauty, so whether you choose to go for a walk through a forest or a quick dip in the sea, these are fun and free activities that the whole family can enjoy. 

7. Reduce travel expenses

However, if some of these free outdoor activities are a bit further away then you might need to allow for travel expenses. The good news is there are still ways to reduce the cost. For example, try car sharing and split the petrol and parking costs, or explore group train discounts. You can currently save a third off a train ticket price if you are a group of three to nine and travelling together off-peak. 

8. Host a potluck event 

Another way to save money is to host a potluck event. Invite family and friends for a party at your house but encourage everyone to bring something. This could be a dish or a drink and it will massively reduce the cost. It’s also a nice way to try your loved ones cooking and enjoy a variety of food and drink. 

9. Challenge yourself to no-spend days

Finally, another way to save money this bank holiday is to challenge yourself to a no-spend weekend. This will encourage you to explore free activities and make the most of the food you already have in the cupboard. If you stick to no-spending, you’ll be rewarded with some significant savings. 

You can then take the money you were going to spend and put it into a savings account for the future. There are currently savings accounts offering more than 5%, so you can earn extra interest on your savings too. 

See the top-paying instant access, notice and fixed rate savings accounts on the market today

About Lucinda O'Brien

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.

View Lucinda O'Brien's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.