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Five weeks to the summer holidays...

(21 Posts)
GrownUpNow Sun 19-Jun-11 09:09:30

Which is an expensive time for entertaining the children. Of course I am doing lots of free stuff, but I am also trying to do a couple of days out which will cost me money.

So I am doing:

A trip to a local theme park
A BBQ
A visit to the local soft play
A weekend away camping and at the seaside

To afford all of this I need to do five weeks of minimal spending to try to save up some money. So I have set myself a penny pinching challenge, which means spending only from a very small weekly budget of £20 for food and toiletries, and not spending on anything unnecessary. This cuts my normal budget by two thirds, allowing me to save £200.

So here's to anyone saving up for the summer holidays. Please join me and offer your tips and moral support.

Curiousmama Sun 19-Jun-11 16:14:23

£20 on food and toiletries? How will you manage that? How many dcs do you have?

twinklypearls Sun 19-Jun-11 16:19:41

I would cut the visit to the theme park personally.

cece Sun 19-Jun-11 16:21:17

If money is that tight then I would definitely lose the theme park trip and the soft play. Or you can use Teco vouchers to get into some of these places...

GrownUpNow Sun 19-Jun-11 16:46:51

It's just me and a five and three year old. DS gets free school dinners, and is away every other weekend and one night a week, so it is almost just me and DD half of the time, and she hardly eats.

Part of the reason I am doing it is because I have full store cupboards, freezers and fridges. I won't need to do the usual monthly shop and rather than luxuries or takeaways, I'm going to bake or do budget priced stuff. It's doable, it's me that will be going without to be honest, and my waistband and wallet could do with it. The only toiletries I don't have extra in store cupboard is shampoo and conditioner, which I may need to replace in a few weeks time. Other than that I have plenty of meat, fish, milk and bread in the freezer, buy my fruit and veg fresh and that's all it's going to cost really.

I also have a £20 purse float, for activities and expenses, so I should be fine on £40 a week. I budget heavily most of the time anyway, I'm just trimming my food budget down to minimum so that I can treat my children a bit.

Mum has offered to pay towards the camping and seaside trip, which I am sharing with another single parent to half the costs. I will look for a special offer to reduce the theme park visit costs, even just getting a lift there with another family will reduce it by £10 from travel costs, I suppose it isn't necessary because we'll be going to something similar with the local children's centre, but I would like to do something for them for a change. Soft play shouldn't be too expensive, and nearly everything else planned should be minimal costs, basically nothing to packed lunches cost.

GrownUpNow Sun 19-Jun-11 16:57:11

Also, if I sell my DD's pram and barely used BumGenius nappies I could make a wee bit more money. In fact, I have loads of clothes that could be ebayed from her being little. Any that doesn't get spent in the holidays will go to my DDs nursery fees as she starts in September and I don't have a job lined up yet.

I've relabelled two of my savings accounts to Summer Holidays and Nursery Fees, as these are the most important things to save for over the next few months.

I quite enjoy being really thrifty.

Last night I made a further six portions of roasted red pepper and tomato pasta sauce to freeze, cost about 50p a portion and I have ten in the freezer. I made cheese sauce for freezing, to use up milk that was on dates, that was about £1.00 per portion. I chopped up chicken and bacon for freezing to do four meals for £1.50 per portion. Today I am making vegetable soup to use up potatoes that are turning, that can be frozen too. I have a 5kg bag of rice and a 3kg bag of pasta. I have menu planned and I am cutting down on snacking outside of meals.

bamboostalks Sun 19-Jun-11 17:01:26

You sound mega organised!

GrownUpNow Sun 19-Jun-11 17:28:59

LOL, it's a by-product of living on very minimal amounts of money. My natural state is either extreme organisation or complete chaos. So these five weeks will be my organised month and then the summer holidays will likely be a mish mash of mess.

GrownUpNow Sun 19-Jun-11 17:46:34

Ooh, for puddings get vanilla ice cream for 99p, a strawberry sauce for 99p, a big pack of mini marshmallows for 99p and then some sprinkles for about 50p. In a mini bowl they get a scoop of ice cream topped with sauce and sprinkles and marshmallows. I tend to find them in Home Bargains, and the ice cream from the supermarket.

My two love it, they help to make it and it's really special for them and lasts all month usually. Alternated with fruit and yoghurt, and a victoria sponge, you can do puddings all week for very little money. Saves on buying sweeties at the shop.

This is the plan this week anyway. I'm thinking of trying something with banana, honey and ice cream too, using up ripe bananas and honey.

mumblechum1 Sun 19-Jun-11 17:55:38

Don't do the theme park. You always end up spending a couple of hundred quid which would cover 4 days doing something else.

GrownUpNow Sun 19-Jun-11 18:38:04

It's the first thing I'll drop if money is tight, we're already on a completely funded trip to Twin Lakes I think, it'll be confirmed when I have my planning session with my family support worker next week. I can do the trip to the park for mostly free actually as it's got free stuff too (Wicksteed Park), we'll see if there are any special offers, if I can do it for £50 then I'll be happy with that.

GypsyMoth Mon 20-Jun-11 13:25:45

look into geocaching....its free and you might enjoy it!!

oh,and come back and post with christmas tips nearer the time!! you sound good at this.

i'm also a lone parent and enjoy this kind of thing too

GrownUpNow Mon 20-Jun-11 16:16:18

I do Christmas based on the FLYlady system. In fact I am almost ready to start buying presents for the kids this year as I put money away every month and I've almost saved theirs up already. It means I can spread buying and get special offers.

Today I am experimenting with breakfast bars as I am trying to cut milk out of my DD's diet and soy milk is not popular with her so far, so we shall see how they come out before I share the recipe. If it's successful it's enough to make 30 bars, so about a weeks worth in one go there.

Dinner is pasta with tomato sauce topped with cheese. It's about a third of a small bag of pasta, so 20p, with my own homemade tomato sauce which I make in batches and freeze, a 30p portion, cheese for 40p and then a bag of steamfresh veggies for 25p. So all in all, £1.15 to feed me and DD tonight with plenty of veg, protein and fats from the cheese and carbs from the pasta. I'd say balanced enough.

We did cereal for breakfast, with strawberries and grapes, sandwiches for lunch with fruit (apples) and biscuits (smart price custard creams), my guesstimate is about £2.50. So food today was about £3.65. All from storecupboard and fridge though, so no spends today.

kitty1 Mon 20-Jun-11 16:49:23

what are breakfast bars?, have you got a link for a recipe.

GrownUpNow Mon 20-Jun-11 16:58:46

breakfast bar

This is the basis of the recipe I am working on, I'm adapting it to suit my ingredients. I have a dried fruit and nut mix rather than all the individual stuff.

GrownUpNow Mon 20-Jun-11 18:43:30

I would say from putting it in the oven, the servings is overestimated (or we are greedy) because I'd cut it into about 16.

GrownUpNow Tue 21-Jun-11 18:51:16

Also, be wary of overcooking, it gets tougher to chew. Next time I am going to do more honey and margarine I think, and bake for a bit less.

Made a quick sponge cake today, two eggs 30p, 120g sugar 20p, 120g butter 50p and 120g flour 10p. I did it in a square silicone tray and just cut it in half, sandwiched with some jam and then halved again and froze one, put the other in the fridge. It's good as a nibble or in a lunch box.

Had another no spend day today. Breakfast bars and fruit for breakfast, soup and rolls from the freezer for lunch and chicken fajita wraps for dinner with steamed veg as a side. All from store cupboard and freezer.

Got some random veggies about to go over, so going to make a lentil and vegetable soup for freezing so as to avoid any waste. Getting a chest freezer is one of the best investments I ever made. Just over a hundred pounds well spent. I can keep loads in it and plenty of room for freezing the homemade stuff.

Got enough fruit to do another couple of days I think, bananas apples strawberries and a handful of grapes, but will get some more tomorrow as I have the opportunity to get to Aldi. This will be the test of my spending willpower.

GrownUpNow Tue 21-Jun-11 18:59:40

Oh, and I am very excited today as I booked our four day weekend holiday at the seaside, my share is £40 for the caravan, spending money and a contribution to petrol as I am sharing with another single parent. Since my mum has offered to give me some money towards the trip, I am really not too worried about affording it at all, feeling very lucky and glad that I can treat my two kids, especially DD who had to watch her brother's dad take him away on holiday and didn't understand why she couldn't go too.

GypsyMoth Wed 22-Jun-11 09:33:34

i love no spend days!!

i'm going to poundland today to stock up on branded toothbrushes and toothpaste. and to buy a few stationary items for going back to school in september.

will give those bars a go i think,got a new oven arriving on friday and want to do some baking over the weekend. none of what i make ever gets into the freezer! 5 dc,3 of them are teens,hallow legged and with mates in tow.

my lot love cheese and bacon wedges.....like scones with bacon added,and herbs
chocolate muffins
coffee and walnut cake.....walnuts are expensive i find!
lemon cookies

dd is 17 on sun,so a cake for her too. she's asked for a strawberry cake,so a trip to lidl for cream and strawberries and no doubt a few extras

i love being organised,but cant get too much in for back to school as they are bound to grow,so starting a christmas list. since i became a lone parent i have limited it to one main present and just 5 smaller presents for their stocking. works well! with 5 of them,the packaging on christmas day got ridiculous! so looking for bargains now. i prefer quality named stuff to cheap copies.

GrownUpNow Wed 22-Jun-11 14:25:14

I will have to try some of those scones, they sound nice. Was thinking about savoury muffins for breakfast next week, I have a lot of the ingredients and I am running low on my cereal, so I could save a little that way.

School uniforms arrived today, just the basic trousers and polo shirts for both, and then a couple of skirts and dressed for DD. Tried it all on her this afternoon and there is room for plenty of growth, but they would fit her if she had to start now (with a couple of trouser turnups for her short little legs). So all I need for her really is a school jacket (I'll get the £15 school waterproof fleece) and shoes (at the end of the holidays), and a few jumpers for DS, plus the same coat and shoes. I'll save his school jumpers as they are still in good quality and DD can use them the year after this. Thrifty as ever.

I will probably use a similar system for Christmas presents as you do, they get too much otherwise, I'd rather have less and do more together as a family, if that makes sense. Getting isn't what's important, it's the whole experience for me.

GrownUpNow Wed 22-Jun-11 15:03:33

Can I just say to anyone struggling, check out your local children's centre if you can, because they've saved my summer with all the help and assistance they offer.

In the first week alone we're going to the seaside for a day for free, and doing a BBQ at a local park for £3.00. Two of my must haves ticked off, plus the amazing support that is always offered when out and about.

Anything they haven't put on, they are supporting me with transport and a worker to assist. I'm probably a special case as I have health problems that affect mobility and energy levels, but it doesn't hurt to see what is available to you, and the more support the children's centres get the better.

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