School holidays can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. From your perspective as a loving parent, what could be better than spending some quality time with your amazing kids?
From a financial perspective… well, the outlook isn’t quite as good.
It’s no secret that kids are expensive, and it seems like they’re only getting more expensive as they grow up! That little girl who once was content with a pool noodle and a plate of oranges is now begging for a new fibreglass board and surf camp in Noosa. And the little boy content with a sandpit and a toy truck simply can’t live without the latest computer game.
Learning to budget effectively for your family is a key element to getting the most out of your school holidays – making unforgettable memories, without breaking the bank.
The lead up to the school holidays is probably the most important period for ensuring that the vacation period doesn’t wreak havoc on your bank balance.
With more time to yourself while the kids are at school, this is a great opportunity to lay a solid foundation for your family budget.
ASIC’s Moneysmart provides the perfect framework for any household budget, based on dividing your expenses into three categories:
Using this basic budget planner, you’ll be able to allocate some money from each pay cycle to set aside for expenses for the school holiday period. Try and forecast the sort of expenses that you’re likely to incur over the holidays – travel, rentals and holiday care are all obvious expenses, but there are also some other less obvious costs to consider.
During the school holiday period it is likely that your food costs will go up a little bit, as well as the costs involved in transport and even your utility bills. Taking as many possible factors into account will prevent you being blindsided by unexpected costs – we all know how frustrating that can be!
While every Australian state and territory is slightly different, school holidays generally occur at four intervals throughout the year, corresponding to the four teaching periods of Australian schools. Generally speaking, the four holiday periods are:
The summer holidays are the longest break in the school year, and represent the best time to get away for those big family getaways. Alternatively, the winter holidays are a popular time for winter ski trips or flying north to escape the cold.
Cutting costs during the holidays doesn’t necessarily mean cutting down on fun. There are so many great activities out there that are cheap or even free for the whole family. Ideas like taking the family on a bushwalk in one of Australia’s many amazingly beautiful natural parks, a day at the beach, or just going for a relaxed Sunday drive are all great outdoor activities that cost next to nothing.
If indoor activities are more your thing, try baking, watching a classic film, or even organising a board game tournament. The only limitation is your creativity.
As your children get older, the holidays can also be a great time to teach your kids about the value of effective budgeting and financial planning. While this might sound dry, there are a number of vital lessons to be learnt. Encouraging the kids to take on holiday jobs – no matter how big or small – is a good way to teach them these skills. And showing them how to set savings goals to make big purchases teaches kids that saving money is often rewarding, which assists with setting your kids up for financial success in the future.
If you want to really mix things up, a family vacation in Australia or abroad is a great way to relax, have fun and create some awesome memories. In order to get away on a budget, take a look at South-East Asia, Indonesia and other budget friendly destinations. To really rack up the savings, book flights and hotels in advance, using online services, rather than expensive travel agencies.
Alternatively, Australia can be a great place to save money and have fun. Find a cute little beachside town and book a holiday rental for a laid back summer, or head inland for a more leafy experience – there are just so many options!
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