Mum reveals 10 ways to save £500 during August to help pay for all the back-to-school essentials

A SUPER saver mum has revealed how she is able to save up to £500 during the summer to help pay for the back-to-school essentials after the holidays.  

Holly Smith, 35, an author and entrepreneur, has shared her secrets for savvy ways to save and make money so that you can do it too. 

The money saving mum is known for her saving tips, which she shares on her website Coupon Queen and Facebook group Extreme Couponing and Bargains.

She shares coupons, parenting hacks, freebies to nab as well as printables and guides on a range of topics – including money saving and money making. 

Holly, from Great Yarmouth, is mum to Mollie, ten, Bella, eight, Isaac, one, and three-month-old Bonnie. 

She said: “I’ve always been into money saving but when I had my first child, I went into overdrive. So many people asked for my money saving tips so I made a Facebook page and a supporting Facebook group. 

“This now has a combined following of three million. I dedicate my life to helping as many people as possible.”

She’s rounded up her top 10 ways to save and make money  – that will be great for helping you pay for all of those pricey back-to-school must-haves. 

SAVE MONEY ON ‘PAID ATTRACTIONS

Holly said if you’re planning to visit an attraction such as a theme Park, you can find ‘Buy One Get on Free’ tickets with a range of supermarket products. 

  • Yazoo Milkshakes – 2 for 1 Entry Alton Towers
  • Kellogg’s Products – Kids go Free with a full paying adult at Merlin Attractions
  • The Pizza Company (exclusive to Tesco) – 2 for 1 at Merlin Attractions
  • Carex – Free Entry to Merlin Attractions with a full paying adult or child

The savvy mum said: “We always use 2 for 1 vouchers for our days out; we like buying Rice Krispie Squares as they contain the voucher and we also use them as snacks on our day out!

“Some loyalty cards allow you to redeem points for discounts on days out. Tesco Clubcard is my personal favourite as you can triple the value of your vouchers towards attractions.

“I love using Tesco Clubcard points for attractions that don’t have a 2 for 1 voucher available. We use ours at our local theme park Pleasurewood Hills to get free entry.”

She also revealed a way to save money is to visit tourist centres when you’re away. If you do not have a discount voucher, go to the Tourist Information centre, Holly advised.

She said attractions tend to give the tourist centres exclusive discount vouchers and you can find discount vouchers on attraction leaflets.

She commented: “Look out for leaflets in hotels and supermarkets. We enjoy going to Tourist information centres, the staff are informed and tell you which attractions are best for families.”

Plus, if you are planning to visit an attraction more than once, you should look at the price of an annual pass, advised Holly, as she described Alton Towers annual passes as ‘amazing.’ 

She said: “They were selling annual passes for only £10 more than the price of a day ticket. Annual passes come with perks like free parking and discounts on dining and merchandise. 

“So you might be better off getting an annual pass than a day ticket. We have a local Sea-life centre. A few years ago, they were selling annual passes for £3 more than a day ticket. 

“We purchased these to use on rainy days in the summer holidays. The kids loved having somewhere to visit on the days where they couldn’t play outdoors.” 

The mum-of-four also advised that a way to save a lot of money during the school holidays is to check eBay for attraction tickets. 

Some people purchase ‘dated’ tickets so if their plans change, they sell the tickets on eBay.

Holly added: “I have managed to get 4 tickets to Legoland for £18 on eBay. People tend to buy ‘dated’ tickets as they are cheaper, but they are not flexible if you can’t attend.

“I highly recommend looking on eBay for attraction tickets to save money.”

SAVE MONEY ON FOOD 

Most people will say the best way to save money on food whilst at an attraction is to take a packed lunch or picnic, but Holly said this can be a hassle to prepare and carry around.

Instead she said parents should make the most of deals. When Holly visited Chessington World of Adventures, there was a nearby Beefeater’ with a ‘Kids Eat Free’ promotion. 

She said: “We bought two adult meals for £8 pounds each and the kids had their meals for free! If we had the equivalent in the Theme Park it would have cost us £40.’

The savvy mum said there are loads of restaurants that usually offer ‘Kids Eat Free’ deals during the holidays – it’s a great way for parents to save to help pay for school essentials. 

Restaurants include Harvester, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, La Tasca, Las Iguanas and Yo Sushi as well as supermarket Cafes such as ASDA and Morrisons.

She added: “I also have a hack for saving money on drinks at attractions. If it is a hot day, you and your kids will get really thirsty. But there’s no need to carry heavy water bottles around.

“Restaurants and quick-service food booths will give you cold tap water for free.

“If your kids don’t like the taste of water, like mine, just carry a water flavourer like Robinsons SQUASH’D in your bag. This tip has saved me £100’s on soft drinks while out and about!”

SAVE MONEY AT THE CINEMA

If you want to take your kids to the cinema but don’t want to pay full price, Holly revealed there are hacks to save money and even get tickets for free.

She saves money during the holidays by using the ‘sweet Sundays’ deal where you buy 5 packets of sweets and you get a free cinema ticket for any Sunday.

She finds bags of sweets in Home Bargains for as low as 25p and stocks up – it works out to be only £1.25 per cinema ticket.

The mum added: “Most weekends cinemas such as Vue and Odeon have kids clubs with tickets as low as £2.49 for both children and parents.

“This is a great way to keep your kids entertained on a budget but don’t forget to pack your own snacks.

“Lots of people know that if you take out an insurance policy with Compare the Market, you get 2 for 1 Cinema for an entire year. But there’s a way to get this without spending a fortune.

“Take out travel insurance for a day. Lots of members of my Facebook group have done this for as low as £1.15 and reaped the benefits for an entire year!”

FREE MUSEUMS 

Holly revealed there are free museums you can visit – and in the summer holidays, a lot of them have extra activities for children.

Museums such as the Science Museum, British Museum, National Gallery and Imperial War Museum are just a few of the free options available in London. 

The mum said you can also find free attractions in your area by searching for ‘Free Attractions Near me’ on Google.

She added: “My husband’s personal favourite is the Science Museum so we always pop in when we are in London as it’s also great for children.” 

FREE GRUFFALO TRAILS 

The mum recently shared another way to save money during the holidays to help pay for all the back-to-school essentials – and her tip went viral.

She said parents can take their kids to the Free Gruffalo Trails in the summer holidays.

She said: “Each trial is designed to lead kids through the woods with educational signs and at the end of the trail they will find a Gruffalo sculpture.

“You can find Gruffalo Trials in 14 forests and woods in the UK in places such as Cannock Chase Forest, Delamere Forest, Sherwood Pines, Wendover Woods and more.

“This is something we are doing in Thetford Forest this summer. The kids are super excited.”

SECRET TO A CHEAP UK HOLIDAY DURING THE SIX WEEKS 

When you look at Caravan Park Breaks in Term Time, they are cheap as chips, but prices soar in the holidays, said Holly. 

She admitted ‘we all know the frustration’ as she said: “As soon as you search ‘Summer Holiday Dates’ it’s not uncommon for holidays to be £700 or more.

“I save on Summer Holiday Breaks by, instead of booking a caravan at a holiday park, I just search the Touring and Camping option and take our own tent.

“You still get the perks such as entertainment passes but for a fraction of the cost!”

A four-night break at the Wild Duck Haven Holiday Park in the Summer Holidays costs £700 per family. But touring and camping is as low as £17 per night and includes entertainment passes.

Holly also used another hack – if she doesn’t fancy camping – but still saves money. She said you can book a ‘touring and camping’ pitch but stay in a local Travelodge or Premier inn (for as low as £29 a night). 

She explained: “You can then return to the holiday park each day to use the facilities. This hack will save you hundreds!

“We live near two Haven Holidays parks with Touring and Camping and use this hack for a cheap day out. We once paid £7 for a pitch and used the facilities at the park for two days. 

“The kids even won prizes in the night-time entertainment show, which were worth more than £7, so we basically had two days of entertainment for free.”

CHECK GROUPON/WOWCHER FOR CHEAP HOLIDAY PACKAGES AND DAYS OUT

Holly revealed mums can save up to £500 or more during August using the likes of Groupon and Wowcher for cheap family hotel breaks and days out.

She said: “We use Groupon to buy tickets for travelling circuses when they come to town. Every year we visit Russells International Circus and pay around £18 for our family of 4.

“It saves us money in summer as if we bought tickets on the gate, it would be £16 each.

“On average families save 40% when booking days out and family breaks on Groupon and Wowcher.”

EARN MONEY FROM RECYCLING

It’s not only saving money on food, days out and holidays in August that can help you pay for all the back-to-school essentials, you can earn money during this time too. 

Holly said people have items at home – and don’t realise they can recycle them for money. 

A good way to start is by selling ink cartridges to The Recycling Factory; the largest recycling company in the UK. 

The mum added: “Once you receive your recycling box, fill it with your cartridges and send it ‘free of charge’ to The Recycling Factory and get paid.

“I always start this saving challenge in January and use the money I saved at Christmas.”

“There are other companies such as Inkviro, TakeBack and Printer Cartridge Recycling, that will pay you for empty ink cartridges. They refill them with ink and resell at a profit. 

“Inkviro will pay up to £3.60 for an inkjet cartridge and Printer Cartridge Recycling will pay £3.

“Since working from home, I have been going through lots of ink cartridges! I save them up and recycle them every 3 months and make about £20 each time.”

Holly also suggested people sell their scrap metal – such as household tin cans to old cars – as there’s a lot of value in it. 

While she advised old electronics, like smartphones and laptops, can also be money earners. Recycle them via Money4MyTech, Musicmagpie and Sell your Laptop, to earn some cash.

SELL UNWANTED BELONGINGS

The best way to make money quickly is to sell your unwanted belongings at a car boot sale. But some mums find car boot sales stressful with young kids, revealed Holly.

If you have books that are gathering dust at home, you can declutter them and make money.

She said: “One of the best online marketplaces for selling old books is WeBuyBooks. When WeBuyBooks receives the items, they are checked, and you get paid the next day.

“Or you can make money from selling your old clothes on eBay, Shpock, Depop, Preloved, Gumtree, Vinted, Hardly Ever Worn it and Facebook Marketplace.”

“I recently sent a box of old DVDs and games to MusicMagpie, as they had a promotion where they added an extra 20% to the value of the items, and I made £56. 

“I was very happy as it matched the amount I would have made if I sold them on eBay.”

SET YOURSELF A SAVINGS CHALLENGE

Holly’s final tip to save up to £500 in summer to help pay for all the back-to-school essentials is to use a savings challenge. 

She is a ‘big fan’ of challenges and made the ‘Save £1000 in a year’ available on her blog.  

You pick an amount off the chart (which you can afford to save each week) and cross it out. At the end of the year, you will have saved £1000! 

Holly said: If you don’t want to commit to a year you can use the chart for a shorter period.

“This is my favourite money saving challenge! With the mixture of low and high amounts, you will always be able to save what you can afford! 

TOP MONEY SAVING CHALLENGES

  • Weather saving challenge – Save the amount equal to whatever the highest temperature was that week. £1 = 1C.
  • 1p challenge – save 1p a day everyday of the year, but increase the amount by 1p each day. Day one you save 1p, 2p on day two and 3p on day three. When you reach 100 days you add a £1 coin each day too and this increases to a £2 coin plus pennies at 200 days, and £3 each day on top of pennies at day 300. 
  • 20p a day challenge – Put 20p in savings, then increase the amount by 20p every day. The first week will look like this: 20p, 40p, 60p, 80p, £1, £1.20, £1.40.
  • £5 a week challenge – Put aside £5 a week and increase it by a fiver each week.
  • Round-up challenge – Every time you buy something, round up the purchase to the nearest £1 and put the difference in a savings account. Eg. You pay £2.60, so you put 40p in savings. You can use an app such as Monzo or Starling to do this. 
  • Bingo challenge – Have a bingo card with different numbers on it and tick them off when you’ve put that amount in your savings account. You have to tick them all off by the end of the month. 
  • Monday to Sunday challenge – Simply save £1 on Monday, £2 on Tuesday and so on until the weekend where you don't save on Saturday or Sunday.
  • 365 day challenge – Every Sunday put aside £1, followed by £2 on Monday, £3 on Wednesday and so on. On Saturday you’ll put away £7, and then the process repeats and you’ll put aside £1 on Sunday as the new week begins.




Previously we shared how YOU can save £5k during the school summer holidays and still stop the kids being bored.

One woman shared how even when skint she's NEVER gone without a holiday, here’s how to get away on the cheap… and you have to be shameless.

And one mum who didn’t buy any luxuries for a year and saved £25,000 shares her top five money saving tips.

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