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12 tips to help you save money this summer

09 June 2022

Summer can be an expensive time, with lots of socialising, days out, and, if you're a grandparent, probably some childcare duties too. Find out how to make your money go the extra mile this summer.

Basket of clean towels and washing online in the garden
Let the sun and warm summer breeze do the drying for you and not only will you save money, but the UV rays will also kill bacteria.

1. Make your own ice-lollies

It's the little things that can add up – so be prepared when children demand lollies or grandchildren come to stay by making a batch of fresh fruit juice lollies instead of buying expensive ice creams.

Detachable lolly moulds can be filled with fruit juice, pureed fruits, coconut water or yoghurt; you could even get creative by making two colour lollies using a combination of fruits and juices.

For a host of ice cream and sorbet recipes, have a look at our fabulous ice cream, sorbet and lolly recipe hub

2. Check your fridge and freezer

If you're going to make some lollies, it's a timely reminder to check your fridge and freezer. Regularly defrost them, as just a few centimetres of frost will make them work harder than they need to.

While you're at it, check your fridge temperature. A fridge should operate at between 0 to 5 degrees celsius. Just a few degrees colder than necessary can increase energy consumption by up to 25%.

3. Eat light

Choose lighter summer food such as salad vegetables and fruit. As they're seasonal, they should be plentiful and cheaper, especially at your local market or in the weekly offers at low-cost supermarkets. Some of these vegetables, such as sweet peppers and runner beans, can even be sliced and then frozen for future use.

If you opt for salads, you don't need to use a stove, hob or oven and that will save energy too. Look online for "no cook recipes" – there are some delicious meal ideas which will give you lots of inspiration.

When you're making a cooked dish you could also do some batch cooking to either make meals for the freezer (freezable stainless steel or Pyrex containers are available to make this even easier) or to prep extra food to enjoy cold the next day as intentional leftovers. For example, extra pasta or chicken fillets can be used in salads. This allows you to buy certain ingredients in larger quantities without creating food waste.

For inspiration, try one of these salad recipes

4. Pack a picnic

Summer is a great time for family get togethers and days out, but buying lunch at some attractions can give many people financial indigestion.

Make a picnic part of the fun – ask everyone to bring along something interesting (and to avoid everyone bringing sausage rolls or pork pies), set out a rug and have a feast. 

Try one of these easy, tasty picnic recipes, including ideas for savoury and sweet food options.

5. Get a deal on train travel

For longer journeys, enjoy longer daylight hours by switching travel times to off-peak, when the fares are cheaper. Booking in advance will also save you money - but be sure to check cancellation policies as often the best deals don't allow refunds.

It isn't just students that are entitled to cheaper travel, if you're a regular traveller look at railcards such as the Two Together railcard if you're a couple and the Senior Railcard if you're 60+.

During summer holidays it isn't unusual to see some really great offers for children, so keep an eye out if you're planning a trip with the grandkids. Many attractions will even give you a discount if you've come by train as part of the National Rail Days Out 2 for 1 offer.

Use the Trainline's Best Fare Finder to help you get the best price on your trip.

6. Ditch bottled water

In summer months you should definitely drink more water – but now is the time to get out of the habit of buying costly bottles and adding to the mounds of plastic already clogging up landfill.

Buy a sturdy water bottle or even a water filter, fill it with tap water and keep it in the fridge for a continuous supply of refreshing cool water.

You could even save on sugary squashes by adding your own fruit to flavour the water; invest in a fruit infuser bottle and add cucumber and mint for a refreshing treat, or lemon and ginger for something a little zingy.  

Hate still water? Sodastream is there for you. The staple of the 1970s is back big time with a sleek, modern design and it'll instantly carbonate your tap or filtered water. The longer you press the button the fizzier it'll become so the added bonus is you can get an amount of fizz that's perfect for your own taste. Models are available from £60-£100 so whether it's worth it or not depends on your use. If you regularly buy products such as sparkling elderflower or other soft drinks you could end up breaking even quite quickly if you switch to cordials and carbonated tap water. 

7. Save water where possible

If you need to run the hot tap for a while before the warm water comes though, don't let it swirl away down the drain – keep a few large empty milk bottles to hand under the sink, and collect the cold water to throw on the plants or lawn.

You can also use bath water to keep the flowers from getting too thirsty, or investing in a rainwater butt will help too – and as lots of plants thrive if they're given rainwater instead of tap water, you might be rewarded with more vibrant blooms.

If you haven't already got one a Hippo bag in the toilet cistern will reduce the amount of water you're flushing down the loo.

Get great ideas for saving money, plus information on your consumer rights, pensions, tax and much more in our Money section.

8. Leave the car at home

Most car journeys are within two miles of where we live, so why not get the bike out in warm, dry weather?

If the route is safe make it a rule to use your bike when the journey is two miles or less, or even walk. Your bank account, your body and the environment will thank you for it.

Would an electric bike be right for me?

9. Dry laundry outside

If you have the space to hang out wet washing outside, let the sun and warm summer breeze do the drying for you. As well as saving you electricity the sun's ultraviolet rays will kill bacteria on your clothes, sheets and towels. If you don't have a rotary line and don't want one taking up space you can find retractable lines that can be attached to a wall and stretched out to a shed, fence or post, then wound back in again when not in use.

If you don’t have access to an outside area, try using your dryer on a lower heat setting, partially drying your shirts before letting them air-dry the rest of the way, or putting them on a laundry airer by an open window. Alternatively, heated air drying pods are available online or from Lakeland. These will have an initial outlay but long-term use considerably less energy than a tumble dryer.

10. Plan ahead for future home and garden projects

When summer starts winding down be on the lookout for end-of-season sales.

Landscape plants, tools, and other outdoor project materials tend to go on sale as people begin to look towards autumn and spending less time outside. Also keep your eyes peeled for savings on outdoor furniture and lighting.

Perennial plants well past their best can be bought at bargain prices throughout summer as garden centres try to offload them to make space for new stock. With some TLC these plants can often come back better than ever next year.

5 ways to liven up your patio

11. Bag a bargain holiday

If you're booking a holiday over summer there isn't much getting around the fact that you'll be paying peak prices, so it's always better to book outside of school holidays, if you can. If you're forced to book during peak July and August dates then try and be flexible with your plans - for example flying at night is often cheaper than flying during the day. And did you know it's usually cheaper to fly on a Tuesday than any other day?

It's always worth checking for last-minute deals, if a package holiday happens to have some spaces left chances are you'll get a bargain compared to having to be restricted by set dates - that's especially great news if it's an all-inclusive as you won't be racking up those extra meal and drink costs.

It pays to look at where you might be planning a holiday to. Cities like Paris, Barcelona and Benidorm will break the bank a little more than other places. Some of the cheapest cities in Europe are Sofia in Bulgaria, Krakow in Poland, Bucharest in Romania, Porto in Portugal and Belgrade in Serbia. These cities are full of exciting and historic sites but cost around €35-€50 a day, compared to Paris' recommended daily budget of €150-€200.

12. Be savvy with your travel money

Whether you're planning on paying by card or cash don't get ripped off. Don't leave buying your cash til the last minute where you might end up paying over the odds at the airport, shop around well in advance for the best deal, being sure to allow for any currency ordered online to arrive by post.

If you're paying by plastic watch our for exchange rate, commission and charges building up. Check the additional charges for your credit and debit card before you leave and ideally look for a card that doesn't levy additional charges on foreign currency transactions.

If you don't want a new credit card, or you aren't eligible for one, a prepaid currency card might be the answer. Revolut, for example, lets you load up money in different currencies using an app, and you can track exchange rates to make sure you transfer money over when the rates are good. The card can be used everywhere MasterCard is accepted. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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