Parents to spend £468 entertaining their children this summer

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With the summer holidays looming, parents across the UK are expecting to spend £468 on entertaining their children, according to the Post Office Money annual Parents’ Summer Spending report.

The costs associated with the summer break have decreased by 14 per cent compared with last year – although remain almost a fifth (17 per cent) higher than in 2012, when Post Office Money first conducted the research. With a third (33 per cent) of parents admitting they spent more than expected last summer, the anticipated fall in costs this year may suggest that many plan to keep a closer eye on their spending over the coming weeks.

With the recent heatwave sweeping the country many parents will already have kicked off their summer spending; 27 per cent of parents spend more as a result of good weather, as they look to make the most of the sunshine.

When it comes to entertaining, two in five (40 per cent) parents expect to spend the most money visiting attractions, while 37 per cent of parents say family meals out will be their biggest cost. Just over a quarter (28 per cent) expect to spend the most money on treats for their children, with 22 per cent stating a holiday abroad will be their biggest expense.

There are also additional costs, aside from entertaining their children, which bump up the overall cost for mum and dads. Parents expect to spend an average of £43 on other people’s children in addition to their own, as well as expecting to pay £78 on childcare and £97 on fuel – pushing the total potential summer expenditure to £686.

While their children will be excitedly counting down the days until summer, many parents are busy planning how they’ll cover the increased cost of summer, with over half (52 per cent) worried about how they will afford the summer costs – 41 per cent also feel under pressure to compete with other parents’ spending.

Owen Woodley, Managing Director at Post Office Money, said: “There can be many hidden costs over the summer months and while two in five parents we spoke to have the cash to cover these additional costs, many do not. 13% of parents told us they are planning on dipping into their savings, 9% will draw on their credit card and some families are even saying they’re likely to miss bill payments or even take a mortgage holiday to help manage this overspend.

“Planning in advance to find the best ways to cover any shortfall now can help relieve financial pressure and avoid negative financial implications further down the line.”

Some ‘savvy’ parents would even consider making little sacrifices now to help fund this summer’s spend – with 26 per cent saying they would consider sacrificing buying new clothes and 21 per cent prepared to give up going out during the evenings and at weekends. Some parents would also consider sacrificing saving during the summer period (22 per cent).

Owen Woodley continues: “If parents do plan to use credit, they should review their credit services to ensure they have the best value product to suit their needs. Avoid going into an unapproved overdraft to avoid unnecessary fees and penalty charges and review if your credit card offers the most competitive rate of interest. Some credit cards offer 0% interest rates, allowing you to spread the costs over a number of months, without incurring interest on the balance until the interest free period ends. These cards can also provide balance transfer facilities where you can transfer existing credit balances to another card that charges less interest. By using the next couple of weeks to consider the different options available to them, families can help relieve themselves of the worries connected with their upcoming summer spending.”

Post Office Money’s top five tips to prepare for the costs of summer:

- Plan ahead – outlining your intended weekly spend during the summer months can help you stick to your outlined budget and avoid any unanticipated overspend.

- Where you spot a shortfall and are likely to need to rely on credit, make sure you have the right credit product for your needs. Don’t risk going into an unapproved overdraft.

- If you’re going to use a credit card – do you have a 0% card so you have longer to repay and are not caught out with interest charges.

- Track down deals online in advance, e.g. 2 for 1 offers can be found for theme parks, the cinema, family days out and restaurants.

- If travelling by train you can keep the costs down if you book tickets in advance and avoid travelling at peak times.

Post Office Money offers the Matched Credit Card, which gives customers 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 30 months and is currently joint first in the best-buy tables for cards offering both interest-free purchase and balance transfer periods.