Britain’s top money bloggers share clever ideas to keep young people busy this summer


Keeping the kids entertained throughout the summer holidays can be a costly undertaking. This year, with the price of everything from food to gasoline rising, it could be especially expensive. But don’t be afraid. We asked the country’s top financial bloggers to share the ingenious tricks they’re using to keep their kids entertained on a budget, or even for free.

Faith Archer, muchmorewithoutless.co.uk

Sign up for mystery shopping and you can get paid to take your kids on outings.

Mystery shopping involves visiting businesses anonymously to check things like customer service, cleanliness, and food quality.

I use it to cover the cost of trips I would otherwise pay. We went to a trampoline park, ten pin bowling and laser tag thanks to the Proinsight mystery shopping service.

Sometimes you can subscribe to a gym for several months, which can work well for family trips during school holidays.

We went to a trampoline park, ten pin bowling and laser tag thanks to the Proinsight mystery shopping service

Mystery shopping is not well paid and you first have to find out about the place you are going to – check a lot of things while you are there, take pictures and then fill out questionnaires about it. 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 for tickets, food and drink. Make sure you don’t go over the allowance if you’re trying to save money.

I applied for a mystery shop at Kaspa’s Dessert Lounge for two, but no one wanted to miss it, so the four of us ended up going and spending way more than the limited refund.

Ruth Taylor, moneysavvymumuk.com

See if you can help your kids find a skill or interest they can use to earn some spending money. My 14 year old son Jake taught himself how to repair mobiles by watching videos on YouTube.

He repairs the phones of 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, earns pocket money by watering people's gardens

My daughter Olivia, 13, earns pocket money by watering people’s gardens

He has earned hundreds of pounds so far, which he is spending on a trip to Canada with his grandfather.

My daughter Olivia, 13, earns pocket money by watering people’s gardens. She loves being outdoors, so she really enjoys it.

Since the two children have some of their money to spend on going out during the holidays, it takes some of the pressure off us.

Emma Stretton, emmawritesitall.com

Take your kids window shopping for a fun afternoon. My kids and I can easily spend about an hour at Pets at Home looking at all the guinea pigs, rabbits, and fish.

I know many parents who take their children to a local garden center.  Dobbies offers free gardening classes for kids throughout the summer.

I know many parents who take their children to a local garden center. Dobbies offers free gardening classes for kids throughout the summer.

We like to look around Ikea as well. Last summer, we even took our son to the Tesla garage, even though we hadn’t planned on buying one. Children were allowed to sit behind the wheel.

I know many parents who take their children to a local garden center. Dobbies offers free gardening classes for kids throughout the summer.

We also go to Smyths toy store at the start of summer vacation where they can find something they like. Then they earn rewards throughout the holiday and at the end we bring them back to get what they wanted.

Al Baker, thepennypincher.co.uk

Children can eat for free in many cafes and restaurants during the summer holidays. For example, M&S has a Kids Eat Free offer until August 12. You can get free breakfast or lunch for kids when you spend at least £5 on a single transaction in the cafe.

Children can also eat free at Morrisons cafes, when an adult purchases a full-price meal costing £4.99 or more.

Yo! Sushi offers free meals for children under ten, Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. One child eats free for every £30 spent on food by accompanying adults, and a maximum of three children per booking can eat free.

Free and £1 meals for kids 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 into a scavenger hunt by giving your kids a list of ten things to try and find. I give my three boys a list of things in the wild like a red kite, cow parsley, an oak tree – and they have to try to find as many as they can. This gets them to notice the wildlife and keeps them engaged.

We also do geocaching, which is like a nationwide free scavenger hunt. You can download the geocaching app on your smartphone, then while you’re on the go, you can log in to find out where treasure is hiding nearby.

You are given the GPS coordinates of where to find the treasure and then you can have fun finding it. The treasure is always hidden in a box – usually with a logbook so you can leave a message for the next people to find it. If you take a jewel from the box, be sure to leave another one in its place for the next searchers.

A National Trust membership has an initial cost, but once you have one it unlocks countless free days. National Trust destinations offer many free family activities throughout the summer.

We also save a lot of money on parking with our members as they have plenty of car parks in beauty spots across the country, including close to several beautiful Cornish beaches which would otherwise cost a few pounds a day to park.

Another tip: we buy a National Trust for Scotland membership as it is cheaper than a National Trust membership, but still gives us free entry to most National Trust places in England, Wales and North Ireland. It costs £79.20 a year for an adult and up to six children, while the National Trust costs £83.40 for an adult and their children or grandchildren.


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