How to save money this school holidays

School holidays can be an expensive time for your family. Most people acknowledge they spend more money during school holidays than at other times of the year. Here are some ideas for cheap or free activities you could try with your kids during the school holidays.

Smart tip

Make a list of all the possible activities you could do with your kids in the school holidays and put it on a fridge as a quick reference. Then you can slowly work through it and tick   it off as you go

Before you start planning for your school holiday activities, get the kids to help you work out your budget. This is a great excuse to discuss what budgeting is and get your kids involved in working out how much activities will cost. You could set a daily or weekly spending limit and then ask your children to work out a budget for activities that are priced within that limit.


School holiday activities at home

With some planning, a modest budget and a bit of creative thinking, there are plenty of free or cheap activities you can do at home with your kids. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Plant a vegetable garden. Even if you only have a small outdoor area you can create a simple vegetable patch with your kids. If you don’t have a yard, you could plant seeds in pots and even decorate the pots. It is a good idea to choose fast growing plants so the kids can see the results quickly.
  2. Camp out. Who says you need to leave the house to go camping? Why not set up a tent in the backyard and have a night out camping. If the weather is bad you could set up your tent inside the house instead.
  3. Cooking. Plan a day of cooking or baking with your kids – you could even have a cooking competition with members of the family. This is usually a popular activity because you get to eat the results.
  4. Movie night. Borrow some movies from your local library, pop some popcorn and you’ll have an authentic cinema experience in your home. You could even move your TV outside for the night and create an outdoor cinema under the stars.
  5. Arts and crafts. Try face painting, papier-mâché, building a collage, painting or making masks or beaded jewellery. Use craft materials from around your home rather than going out to buy special items. It’s amazing what you can create from buttons and odds and sods from your kitchen drawers. Options are only limited by your creativity and imagination.
  6. Build a cubby. Who doesn’t love a pillow fort? Try building a cubby out of boxes, sheets or other things around the house. Putting sheets or blankets over a washing line or kitchen table can be a quick, fun way to make a hideout for your kids.
  7. Treasure hunt. Hide some things around the house or yard and write some clues or create a treasure map to lead your kids on an exhilarating adventure with a prize at the end.
  8. Dress ups. Let your kids lose in your cupboard and see what costumes they can come up with. It’s amazing what they can do with a few scarves, hats and coats.
  9. Playdate. Invite one or two of your child’s friends over to play for a low cost day at home. Provide paint and paper, bats and balls or dress up gear and the kids should be able to keep each other entertained.


School holiday activities at out and about

Depending on your budget and transport options, there are plenty of low cost school holiday activities away from home.

  1. Libraries. Visit your local library and attend their free story time. Libraries also run other school holiday activities like arts and craft and computer and simple electronics courses for older kids. Keep in mind you might need to reserve a space for some courses.
  2. Museums and galleries. Many local museums and galleries have free entry and offer creative and interesting school holiday programs, sometimes free or for a small fee. These programs are perfect for budding artists, archaeologists and scientists.
  3. The beach. Going to the beach, national park or river during the warmer months is a fun and free activity the whole family can enjoy. Build sandcastles, go for a swim or a bush walk – but remember the sunscreen.
  4. Go to the park. Take your kids to the local park. You can pack a picnic, walk the dog or fly a kite on a windy day. A lot of parks have playgrounds and climbing equipment as well as bike trails, cricket nets or basketball hoops you can use for free.
  5. Shopping centres. Shopping centres often host free school holiday activities that your children might enjoy, including live entertainment, plays, music or art and craft activities.


To book a free consultation to improve your budgeting, or to get your Christmas debt under control, please book online or contact us on 

Fortress Financial Solutions founder Chris Black is an award-winning financial planner based in Toowoomba who specialises in superannuation, investing, business succession, cash flow management, retirement planning and personal insurances (including life insurance, income protection, total permanent disability and trauma insurance).

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557.

Parts of this post were compiled from ASIC MoneySmart.

Information on this site may be regarded as general advice. That is, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any general advice we have given you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it. Where the information relates to a particular financial product, you should obtain and consider the relevant product disclosure statement before making any decision to purchase that financial product.

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