School holidays needn’t squeeze your budget!

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With nearly a month of school holidays still left to go, a local charity is hoping to help stop families from overspending.

The Ballymoney Christians Against Poverty debt centre says it sees too many families dipping into the red while children are off school. Now they want to remind families of the free or low-cost activities that can be enjoyed instead of putting family finances at risk.

Ballymoney Centre Manager Beth Thompson said: “Outdoor options are more obvious when the weather is good but parents need to have a good game plan if it’s wet. It’s a really good idea to have some fun, cheap ideas up your sleeve.”

Many local councils have activities on offer for children in parks, libraries and sports centres while most museums are free and may have special summer events on offer.

Beth said: “Ask yourself are there any free festivals or free sporting events locally? Do your research and make a plan. Decide how much you can afford each week and create a ‘treats fund’ - however small - and talk about it with your children. Involve them in how you will spend it – they will appreciate what happens so much more and it’s a great lesson for them. Older children may even earn some money to put into the pot by washing the family car or selling some old books or toys at a car boot.”

Christians Against Poverty has a wealth of knowledge in helping families overcome spiralling debts and encouraging them to live to a budget. To find out more, visit www.capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.

CAP’S TOP TIPS:

* Looking for a fun day out that won’t break the bank? Pack your own lunch, and travel with Translink on a ‘Family & Friends Ticket’ available all day, every day, for bus and rail until 31st August. The ticket (£22) offers unlimited travel for up to 2 adults + 4 children (minimum 1 adult + 1 child) on ANY scheduled bus or rail. Make a day of it and visit the ever fascinating and educational Ulster Museum in Belfast with FREE entry!

* Recycling old magazines? Put them to good use with craft supplies, perfect for a rainy day. The kids can get creative making their own story books and collages of their summer adventures!

* ‘Heart of the Glens Festival’ begins Saturday 6 th and runs until 14 th August - one of the most successful community festivals in Northern Ireland, the programme of events is as varied and entertaining as ever with something for all the family.

* Why not visit Drumaheglis Marina and go on a nature trail while you’re there!

* School may be out for summer, but if you want to teach your kids how to manage money and have a clear out in time for back to school, why not fill up

the car and head along to St. Patrick’s Parish Car Boot – which is every fourth Saturday of the month! Or just show up to hunt for a bargain yourself!

* Get baking! It doesn’t have to be expensive. Cakes, flapjacks, biscuits – they are all fairly easy and will brighten up a dull afternoon. If you don’t want to put the oven on, find a recipe online for a ‘fridge cake’.

* If you go down to the woods today… become a nature detective! Check out the Trim Trail at the Riverside Park, and find lots of FREE work sheets, ideas and

venues to discover from the Woodland Trust via www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/

* If the rain comes out, stay in and enjoy a ‘Movie Day’! Recreate a cinema in your living room with popcorn and fizzy pop, and put on a Family Movie.

* End the summer in style at the International Airshow in Portrush for a FREE Family Day out - 3rd - 4th September!