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Raising a family can be expensive, particularly where childcare costs are concerned. With the Easter holidays in full swing, many working parents are finding it a struggle to cover the additional costs of childcare during the holiday fortnight, raising concerns over how they will cope during the six-week summer break.
Below are some tips from Creditfix, one of the UK’s largest personal insolvency practices, on how to plan and budget ahead to ensure you have convenient, affordable arrangements in place to make the summer holidays easier.
As with anything, if you start saving regular amounts as early as possible, the nest egg you build up will take the sting out of the tail when it comes to footing those expensive childcare bills during the holidays.
Shop around to find a savings account with the best return, then set up a standing order or direct debit to instantly transfer cash after each payday. Try and work out the rough costs of childcare that you will need to cover, and aim to put away equal instalments to reach this target, so you are not hit with a sudden large, unmanageable bill come the summer holidays.
Many organisations offer holiday clubs during the summer break, and some are not as expensive as you might think. Take a look at local churches, leisure centres and sports clubs, many of which will run clubs or camps during the summer holiday, with convenient drop off and pick up times, your local council should run subsidised clubs like this for your older children. For those who are younger, look out for new schemes coming in later this year, including tax-free childcare and the extension of free childcare for three and four year olds [you will need to check your eligibility and availability at local childcare providers as not all will be able to offer this. Unlike the current 15 free hours, you will be able to use the 30 hours over the whole year, including holidays, although doing so will reduce the free hours per week from 30 to 22.6 hours per week]. For every eight pounds paid into a tax-free childcare account, the government says it will add two. Also check whether your qualify for tax credits [check www.turn2us.org.uk].
Whether it’s the grandparents, an auntie or uncle, if you have family that could help over the summer holidays, don’t be too shy to ask. They may enjoy being able to spend some additional quality time with your children, and you can always buy them a large bunch of flowers or box of chocolates to say thank you, which will earn you serious brownie points whilst still costing less than traditional childcare.
If you still have some holiday entitlement at work and have friends with children of a similar age, you could consider whether you are each able to take some annual leave at different times and look after each other’s children. You could both benefit from double the childcare cover for the time you take off.
If you are really struggling, why not have a discussion with your employer? You might find that they wouldn’t object to you working from home a few days here and there [if this is possible in your job] and some businesses run schemes where you can ‘buy’ extra days of annual leave and spread the cost throughout the rest of the year.
However you plan to cover the childcare requirements of the holidays, we hope these tips give you some ideas on how to manage the costs and make the summer break what it should be: a stress-free time for you and your children.