University fees are rising, houses are becoming unaffordable and the next generation is likely to be the first to be worse of than their parents. So what can we do, as parents, to help our children and enable them to have opportunities in the future.
My wife and myself have decided that we want to try and build a savings pot for each of our girls. We’ve done this by opening a regular savings account with Halifax which pays 4.5% interest loans. After a year the money is transferred into a Halifax children’s savings account paying 2%. We have standing orders in place to save into the regular saver account every month.
In addition to our regular savings contributions the girls grandparents will usually give money to add to the savings account for Christmas and birthdays. They think the children have enough and get enough toys as it is and they’d rather them have something to look forward to in the future.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the relatively low interest rate of 2% on the savings account. Now they’ve built up a decent sum of money and because we don’t want them to access it till they are in their late teens at the earliest I’m wondering whether the stock market would be a better place to put the money.
Whilst this is a more risky strategy, the length of time we would be looking to invest should mitigate that risk. Historically over this time period the stock market performs a lot better than savings accounts. This could enable them to have a much greater savings pot in the future.
I need to do more research on the various options and discuss with my wife, but one thing is for sure, when they grow up and become independent I want them to have the best start they could possibly have.
I’d be interested in finding out how other people are saving for their children’s future.
So over the cold, wet winter months, we’ve started taking our daughters to the cinema at the weekend for special children’s screenings of big movies. Usually a few months after they first get released.
Previously we’ve always been worried that our three year old wouldn’t have the patience to sit still through an entire movie, but at £3 a ticket it was worth trying. She and her five year old sister both really enjoyed it. So far we’ve seen Despicable me 3, the re-release of frozen, with Olaf’s christmas adventure and Paddington 2. All the films were great fun and at £12 for a family it’s a cheap morning out.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the films that they are showing and how close they have been added as a kids movie to their actual release date. I believe the current film doing the rounds is Ferdinand and that was only in the cinemas just before christmas.
The children love going as it’s a different experience for them than watching a film at home and they love getting popcorn and other treat (we usually sneak them in from the supermarket).
If you want to see what children’s films are showing at your local cinema then you can use the following links. These films are usually shown at around 10am at the weekend, but they also often have showings during school holidays.
I would definitely recommend the cinema as a great day out on a cold, wet weekend morning.
When we booked to go to Disneyland Paris for Christmas last year we were a little worried about how the children would cope with all the walking. Especially as our hotel, the Cheyenne, was a 20 minute walk from the park entrance. A double buggy was too bulky and also wouldn’t have been used much once we got back. So after some research we decided to buy a Crotec Wagon.
This turned out to be one of the best decisions we made. Not only could the girls hop in and hop out of the wagon we were also able to store all our bags with snacks, drinks, etc in the wagon as well. It was extremely easy to pull along and didn’t take any more effort than pulling a buggy. It was also invaluable on the day that my youngest wasn’t feeling well. She was able to have a proper lie down and sleep in it which enabled the rest of us to still enjoy the park. We secured the wagon by putting a bicycle lock through the wheels.
It also folds really flat so didn’t take up much space in the car at all.
Girls enjoying the view from their Crotec Wagon
There are cheaper Wagons and carts available, but the majority don’t specify they can be used for children. I think that the quality of the Crotec is really good and it has survived the battering of a 5 and 3 year old really well. We bought ours from Amazon, but I believe it’s now also available at Argos.
Looking after a 5 year old and 3 year old has been extremely hard work over the last three years. Especially as the 3 year old stopped napping at about 12 months and is like the duracell bunny. She just keeps on going, full of energy day after day. Now the eldest is at school and the youngest at pre-school three mornings a week I have a little more time. However there are so many DIY jobs that have been neglected that these are keeping me busy. Also just finding the time to do homework with the eldest is challenging when the youngest is constantly wanting to get involved.
I do feel it’s time to put some effort back into this blog though as it helps to write things down and be creative. So in the last year or two we’ve been busy doing lots of outings to Whipsnade Zoo as we have an annual pass there. We’ve also got an Merlin annual pass which has been really great and I will probably post a separate post about the different things we have done with it so far.
As well as the normal days out we have enjoyed numerous holidays. The girls went on a plane for the first time last year to an all inclusive stay in Turkey and really enjoyed it. Another firm favourite has been Center parcs vossemeren where we must have been 4 or 5 times. This is due to the fact that my parents only live about 45 minutes from their and it is a lot more family friendly than their house. It is also a lot cheaper than a center parcs in the uk even if you include the Ferry. We usually take the ferry to Calais going there and then the night ferry to Hull from either Rotterdam or Zeebrugge coming back. This splits the journey up so it’s not two full days travelling and the girls really enjoy eating dinner and sleeping on the ferry.
We have also been lucky to have found two great deals to Disneyland Paris. One was in the the summer of 2016 and the other was just before christmas last year, both times were really magical.
I’m hoping to share some tips on these days out and holidays in separate blog posts. For now it’s just good to be back writing again after such a long break.