There is just one month to go until primary schools are out for summer and that can add up to a hugely expensive time for working families.
In homes where both parents are employed full-time, childcare costs rocket during July and August.
Your little ones are no longer stuck in a classroom for large chunks of the day and that means you have to keep them entertained for hours on end, come hail, rain or shine.
Whether you opt for summer camps, a babysitter or taking unpaid leave from work, your bank balance is going to suffer until they return to school in September.
But help is at hand for financially-stretched parents thanks to these top tips from money expert Paul Merriman from askpaul.ie — a busy dad himself of 3.
Compile a weekly budget, starting today, and note down every single unnecessary thing that you spend money on during typical day, from cappucinos to takeaways.
“You will be amazed at how much money you fritter away on inessential purchases,” says Paul.
Extra outgoings such as a cleaner or dog walker can be axed for the summer. Yes, it’s more work for you but now you’ll be able to afford that badminton camp for the kids.
Ditto with the gym – you’ll be burning up the calories on a long walk every evening (with or without a dog!) so cancel the €40 a month direct debit until September.
DO A CHILD SWAP
No, we’re not advocating that you sell your child to the highest bidder — but you can certainly put them out on loan for a week or two.
A simple message on your classroom Whatsapp group — “I’m happy to look after your child for a week if you’ll return the favour” — will give you an instant “free” week (or more!) of childcare during the summer.
Let’s say two sets of parents respond to your plea, each with one child.
Sure, you’ll have to look after two extra kids for one week but it’s often a case of the more the merrier with playdates — they’ll entertain themselves.
And each family will return the favour and look after your precious child for a week a piece. That’s half of August sorted!
MIND A PET
Can’t stand the idea of looking after other’s people kids but swoon over anything with four legs? Then why not offer to look after a dog (or two) during the summer? Stick a notice up in your local vet’s office — you can expect to earn about 20 to 30 euro per day if you host a pooch in your own home.
CLEAR OUT AND CLEAN UP
Now is the perfect time to spring clean your house and clear out the attic.
You’ll be amazed at the amount of unopened or unused birthday and Christmas presents you’ll find stashed away.
Perhaps you have a painting you dislike, gym equipment or golf clubs you’ve never used, tins of paint going to waste?
Round up every single unwanted item in your house and head to your local car boot sale, pronto. Or for more expensive items, list them on websites like donedeal.ie and sell them off.
YOU'VE GOT TALENT
You can also earn easy extra money by making use of your skills. Do you play an instrument, speak another language fluently or enjoy gardening?
Advertise your expertise on gumtree.ie and see the cash flow in.
CLICK FOR CASH
Taking part in online surveys can boost your earnings but be warned, some of these sites pay in gift cards rather than hard cash.
BECOME A SPY!
Okay, so it’s not quite an audition for the new James Bond movie, and you won’t get to smooch Daniel Craig, but have you ever thought about becoming a secret shopper?
You will get paid to go “undercover” in various businesses and test out their customer service — the work is all part-time so you can squeeze it in at the weekends or evenings, check out http://customerperceptions.ie and www.catalystmarketresearch.ie
RENT A ROOM
Registering with Airbnb is free and easy, plus you’re in control of availability, pricing and check-in times. You’re also covered in the event of any accident or damage. But you will have to pay tax on any earnings.
If you have a spare room, the rent-a-room scheme is one of the few ways to earn without paying tax, you up to €14,000 a year.
If you live near a major employer or university, get your ‘Room to Let’ on their noticeboard.
CLAIM TAX BACK
Get onto revenue.ie (my account) and claim your tax back on the family’s medical/dental expenses from last year; you can even go back up to four years, if not already claimed, but you must keep receipts!
Take control of your finances, make your money work smarter, harder and go further. Put the right steps in place to meet your financial objectives no matter what stage of your life you are in