Summer Is Coming....
Summer is coming....
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUNNNN!
We've been sent the list of things we need to buy from Annie's new school (can you believe she starts in September?!), we've gone through the wardrobes and made note of everything the kids now need as they size up (please stop growing you're costing me a fortune) and as such we are spending this month's savings on the necessary items. Freebie Friday is really gonna be working hard over summer because other than the holiday we have booked in Dorset, we're going to be finding free activities to take our kids too.
I had a think earlier in the week about the things that I remembered the most from my childhood summer holidays and pretty much all of them were free activities. I remember going down to the local river and swimming under the bridge, climbing trees and building dens in the woods, bike ride competitions with the kids on our street and Mum's homemade picnics that we took to the park. I also remember camping trips and Alton Towers, don't get me wrong, but the simple things from my childhood are what have really stuck with me and basically anything that involved time with my parents was a treasured memory.
I'm going to adopt the same philosophy this year and hope that I can create one of the best summer holidays we've had as a family so far.
If you're new here, then we've been doing 'no spend' for a few months now. This season has been particularly tight with starting a new job, launching a business and saving for some BIG things in the future, so we've been watching every penny in the hope that we can get to the new term a little more surefooted. I'd like to clarify as well that this is mainly a choice and there have been times when we haven't managed it. I bought myself a new computer because my laptop died, for instance, and the kids needed summer hats. It's not that we're not buying anything, but we're not spending money on extras wherever possible, and if we need to buy something we're looking at the cheapest option. We've also had times when we've not managed to stick to no spend due to laziness and poor organisation so in the interest of being honest about it all I think it's important to mention that.
Lee and I go to Switzerland in just over a week. I am ridiculously excited. It's our first holiday together abroad and God has majorly provided for us in enabling us to go. A friend of ours is getting married and we're spending a long weekend there but when we first looked at prices we just couldn't work out how we were going to afford it. It wasn't just that it was a lot of money, but it was that we also couldn't decide if we should spent that much money on such a short trip (the amount it is going to cost is enough for all of us to go abroad for a week). We'd decided we weren't going to go but then both listened to a talk about honouring people and felt like God was telling us to put the value of friendship above the value of money. We booked flights and prayed that God would provide for it all. Sure enough, a month or so later, an envelope fell through the door containing £500 from an anonymous donor from church with specific instructions to use the money for the two of us to go away. We didn't ask anyone for money, but we have been honest with people about where we're at, and, of course, lots of people from my church read my blog, but still, £500 is a LOT of money to just give away, and I can only assume that whoever it was felt God prompting them to do it. We are so grateful, and I can't tell you how relieved we now are knowing that we don't need to worry about anything else for the holiday.
What's great is that because we'd already paid for the flights and the car hire (the wedding takes place in Geneva and the reception is in France so a car was pretty necessary!) we're pretty positive we'll be able to use some of the money for our holiday with friends to Dorset too. A double blessing! It gives us a bit more breathing room for all the expenses that a new school term can bring, and enables us to relax a bit more about finances over summer.
I was speaking to a friend about summer holiday expenditure and she'd read that the average amount that families spend during summer is £800. That's WITHOUT taking into account an actual holiday somewhere. I'm flabbergasted. That just feels like so much money but of course I can see how that would creep up. Summer schools, activities, ice creams in the park, picnic items, meals out, shopping trips, cinema, theme parks, swimming - it all costs money and with multiple kids comes multiple expenditures! I'm kinda excited to see how little I can spend!
I've created a list of summer activities that I think I can get away with that are free. We'll have days at home too which will help, but I'm challenging myself to resist the urge to let out the budget a little for the sake of summer, and keep things free. I'm going to change up our weekly shopping to accommodate some summer treats, but still stick to budget (don't worry guys, the weekly meal plan blog is still coming but we've had a few weeks of shelf cooking so I haven't had the ability to show you what I normally buy!). My plan is to do a regular 'run down' of what we've been up to, to spark creativity in those of you also wanting to reduce the budget a little this year. Watch this space!
This could be the most challenging summer yet, but I have a feeling it's also going to be our best.
Until next time....