Frugal winter school holidays

We finished our winter school holidays here in Western Australia a couple of weeks ago. These are difficult holidays to keep children entertained as the weather prohibits lazy days by the pool / at the beach / in the park. I’d set myself an ambitious target to spend only $50 for the two weeks and sat down with Mstr FF to plan what we could do. He decided on playdates with friends, a movie and a few days at home paying games and building Lego.

This is how it panned out:

Day 1 – regular swimming lesson and a visit from Pops. Spending = $0.

Day 2 – our monthly trip to the zoo using our annual passes. As ever, we took our own lunch, snacks and drinks and as it was the weekend we didn’t have to pay for parking. Spending = $0

Day 3 – our first playdate, which we hosted. Mstr FF set up some Lego to build and, as it was a lovely sunny day, the kids spent some time outside jumping on the trampoline. We made some choc-chip cookies and set out fruit and water as snacks. Spending = $0.

Day 4 – we took a trip to the library to borrow some books for the holidays. Mstr FF loves to read and brings home books everyday from school, so we wanted to make sure he had enough reading material to keep him going. Books are hugely expensive so we find the library is a great resource to provide a fresh stock of reading material. There was an event on with a children’s author / illustrator doing a talk. Mstr FF wasn’t interested, but what a great, free, school holiday event. Spending = $0.

Day 5 – the budget started to unravel today. Mstr FF received some money from his Nanna to spend during the holidays. We went to a local shopping centre to look for Lego. This took longer than I thought (it was a big decision, apparently!) and before I knew it I had two hungry kids and no snacks on me. Frugal fail. We popped to a cafe and bought a drink, cake and jelly – I chose the cheapest café and cheapest menu items. Spending = $9.50.

Day 6 – we stayed at home and played board games. The weather was awful and we suffered a bit of cabin fever, not helped as Mstr FF is a sore loser and Miss FF was not at her happiest. But, it was free! Spending = $0.

Day 7 – we had planned on a playdate at a nearby skate park. With homemade snacks this would have been another frugal day, but alas the weather remained awful and we agreed to meet at a playcentre. This proved a costly alternative, but the boy had a great time with his pals. Spending = $16.40 ($12.90 entrance + $3.50 snack as we weren’t allowed to take outside food in).

Day 8 – a trip to the cinema provided our single biggest expenditure of the holidays. I saved almost 50% off the normal price by buying the tickets via the RACWA (breakdown service/insurance provider) members website. And we didn’t buy drinks, snacks or souvenirs at hiked up cinema prices. Spending = $32.64 (normal price $58).

Day 9 – my Nanna came over for lunch and I cooked a lovely but very cheap meal of vegetable bake, homemade garlic bread and apple cake with cream. The menu was designed around what ingredients we already had, and there was enough for leftovers the following day – result! Spending = $0.

Day 10 – another trip to the library as Mstr FF had finished all his books and needed some new ones. Spending = $0.

Day 11 – we had pancakes for breakfast and as it was a warm and sunny day (finally!) we went to the local park for some scooter fun. We ran into a friend from school and the boys played for hours while the mums chatted. Spending = $0.

Day 12 – a pretty boring day full of errands, gift buying and grocery shopping. Spending = $0. (School holiday spending was $0, the gifts and groceries obviously cost money!)


We’re Lego-ing crazy!


Day 13 – we had a great day out at a tourist park we had never visited before (Whiteman Park for any WA locals). There were walking trails, playgrounds, a transport museum and a Lego village display and building area. All for free! There were other attractions which cost money, but we didn’t go to them. We made a gold coin donation to the Lego event and I bought a cup of tea as I’d had a pretty bad night’s sleep and needed the caffeine boost. Spending = $6.

Day 14 – had a lazy day at home and built (more) Lego. Spending = $0. Sanity left = 0.

Day 15 – a big frugal fail today. We popped to the shops to buy a plant for my cousin’s housewarming. Somehow this resulted in a trip to a San Churro café. We’ve never been before and probably won’t again. I know they are hugely popular but I just didn’t like it; it was busy, overpriced and unappetising. We had a buy-one-get-one-free voucher which thankfully reduced the price. Spending = $20.50.

Day 16 – the final day of holidays was spent with family as it was my Nana’s birthday and my cousins housewarming party. Spending = $0.

Total spending- $83.04

We were over budget, definitely, but overall I’m pleased that the first time I’ve set a frugal limit we managed to amuse ourselves for free on so many days. The trip to San Churro was the real budget breaker, which was annoying as it wasn’t even enjoyable. We are lucky that there are many free things to do in Perth and with a bit more planning I’m sure we can do more interesting things than we managed this holidays! I think next time I’ll also plan more playdates – they are so much fun and, depending on the event, can be frugal.


What are your tips for frugal school holidays? What activities do you recommend?

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