Britain's top money bloggers share clever ideas to keep youngsters busy this summer – Daily Mail

By Rachel Rickard Straus For The Mail On Sunday
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Keeping kids entertained throughout the summer holiday can be an expensive business. This year, with the price of everything from food to petrol rising, it could be particularly costly. But fear not. We’ve asked the country’s top money bloggers to share the ingenious tricks they use to keep their children entertained on a budget – or even for free.
Faith Archer, muchmorewithless.co.uk
Sign up for mystery shopping and you can get paid for taking your kids on outings.
Mystery shopping involves anonymously visiting businesses to check on things such as customer service, cleanliness and quality of the food.
I use it to cover the cost of trips I’d pay for otherwise. We’ve been to a trampoline park, ten-pin bowling and laser tag through mystery shopping service Proinsight.
Sometimes you can nab a gym membership for several months, which can work out nicely for family trips during the school holidays.
We’ve been to a trampoline park, ten-pin bowling and laser tag through mystery shopping service Proinsight
Mystery shopping is not well paid, and you have to swot up on the place you’re going to beforehand – check lots of things while you’re there, take photos and fill out questionnaires about it afterwards. But it can be worth it for a fun day out.
When reviewing bowling, for example, I was paid £15 plus a maximum of £60 towards tickets, food and drink. Make sure you don’t go over the allowance if you are trying to save money.
I applied for a mystery shop at Kaspa’s Dessert Lounge for two people, but nobody wanted to miss out, so the four of us ended up going and spending far more than the limited reimbursement.
Ruth Taylor, moneysavvymumuk.com
See if you can help your kids find a skill or interest that they can use to earn some pocket money. My son Jake, 14, has taught himself to repair mobiles by watching videos on YouTube.
He fixes phones for all our friends and family and has had several repeat customers. He can replace batteries and broken screens and even uses a soldering iron that we gave him for Christmas.
My daughter Olivia, 13, is making some pocket money watering people’s gardens
He has made hundreds of pounds so far, which he is putting towards a trip to Canada together with his grandad.
My daughter Olivia, 13, is making some pocket money watering people’s gardens. She loves being outdoors, so really enjoys it.
Given both kids have some of their own money to spend on going out during the holidays, that takes the pressure off us a bit.
Emma Stretton, emmawritesitall.com
Take your kids window-shopping for a fun afternoon out. My kids and I can easily while away an hour or so at Pets at Home looking at all the guinea pigs, rabbits and fish.
I know a lot of parents who take their kids to a local garden centre. Dobbies has free children’s gardening classes throughout the summer.
We also like a good look around Ikea. Last summer, we even took our son to the Tesla garage, although we had no plans to buy one. The kids were allowed to sit behind the wheel.
I know a lot of parents who take their kids to a local garden centre. Dobbies has free children’s gardening classes throughout the summer.
We also go to the Smyths toy store at the beginning of the summer holiday where they can find something that they like. Then, they earn rewards throughout the holidays and at the end we take them back to get what they wanted.
Al Baker, thepennypincher.co.uk
Children can eat for free at a number of cafes and restaurants over the summer holidays. For example, M&S is running a Kids Eat Free offer until August 12. You can get a free kids’ breakfast or lunch when you spend at least £5 on a single transaction in the cafe.
Children can also eat free at Morrisons cafes, when an adult buys a full-price meal costing £4.99 or more.
Yo! Sushi offers free meals for children under ten years old, from Monday to Thursday between 3pm and 5.30pm. One child eats free for every £30 spent on food by the accompanying adults, and a maximum of three children per booking can eat for free.
Free and £1 kids’ meals are also offered by Hungry Horse, Asda, Bella Italia, Beefeater, The Real Greek, Preto, Brewers Fayre, Cafe Rouge and Tesco. Check the terms and conditions before you go.
Lynn Beattie, mrsmummypenny.co.uk
Turn a day out into a treasure hunt by giving your children a list of ten items to try to spot. I give my three boys a list of things in nature such as a red kite, cow parsley, an oak tree – and they have to try to find as many as they can. It gets them noticing wildlife and keeps them engaged.
We also do geocaching, which is like a free, nationwide treasure hunt. You can download the geocaching app on your smartphone, and then while you’re out and about you can log on to find out where there is treasure hidden nearby.
You are given GPS co-ordinates of where to find the treasure and then you can enjoy tracking it down. Treasure is always hidden in a box – usually with a log book so you can leave a message for the next people to find it. If you take a trinket from the box, be sure to leave another in its place for the next seekers.
A National Trust membership has an upfront cost, but once you’ve got one it opens up countless free days out. National Trust destinations have lots of free family activities throughout the summer.
We also save a lot of money on car parking with our membership as they own a lot of the car parks at beauty spots throughout the country, including near several beautiful Cornish beaches that would cost a few pounds a day to park at otherwise.
Another top tip: we buy a National Trust for Scotland membership as it is cheaper than a National Trust membership, but still gets us free entry at most National Trust places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It costs £79.20 a year for one adult and up to six children, whereas the National Trust costs £83.40 for an adult and their children or grandchildren.
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