Tips for saving money on toys as suggested by the ThriftyFun community.
The best money saving tip I have is - don't bring your kids to the toy store with you.
I find some GREAT toys at flea markets and yard sales. Some need washing or sterilizing to be safe. But they make handy gifts as well. I've never bought a toy for more than $3
I agree about keeping kids out of toy sections. Our 2-year old son is a calm and quiet old soul, but put him near the toy section in Target and he goes ballistic! I love to see him so excited and exploring, but every time it's a task to pull him away from the "cars"!
Try http://www.craigslist.com for your neighborhood classifieds. There is also nothing wrong with finding some great, clean and barely-used toys at yard sales. My mother buys my son cars at yard sales, and they're fine. She disinfects them before letting him have them. You can find some very nice items that others are selling, and save tons of cash.
By Lisa B
The local library here in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada has a toy lending group. I know lots of moms who have used the program. Check with your local library, to see if they have a program like that in your area. It is a wonderful way for the kids to play with a variety of toys, educational, durable and they learn to respect the toys because they are borrowed. They learn to share, because the toys have to go back after a week or two for another child to borrow.
You can borrow the same toy back again later, which is nice too. Moms volunteer their time to come in to wash toys and keep the center open certain times of the week. A great way of not having to spend the money on toys, yet be able to provide their kids with quality educational toys and games.
I go to our local thrift store for toys for my daughter. I've gotten a Little Tikes table and chair set for $3, a Disney princess ride-on toy for $1, a baby doll high chair and walker for just $1, and a Little Tikes wheelbarrow for $2. All they need is a little cleaning and they're good as new. So what if they're a little used, it beats spending so much for them at Wal-Mart or Toys R' Us!
Garage sales are great places for toys. You can even find some of the vintage stuff. Please be aware though that some toys (modern) that were made in China have been put on recall list for lead. Do your homework before giving toys to children. Thrift stores are another wonderful treasure trove for the bargain hunter.
This may be sort of a backhanded way to save money on toys but I find that a lot of the cheaper toys out there are not worth the money. There are some standouts, like Playmobile (which is also not manufactured in China). I try to shop at my local toy store rather than a big box store or Toys R Us. Although the toys might cost a little bit more, they are also more particular about what they carry. I also try to minimize the amount of toys that I buy and pack up old toys before holidays so we can cycle through them after they are tired with their old stuff.
Thrift stores and garage sales can be a good place to get bargains and missing pieces of sets but there is something special about that brand new toy. I really try to get games and collections because I feel like they have more longevity for the kids.
We have 2 wonderful grandsons who are 5 years apart in age and we buy durable good quality toys , especially for the oldest one. When he outgrows his interest in them they are carefully packed away in the attic, after a good cleaning, to rest there until our youngest is old enough to play with them.
They sometimes require a bit of touch up painting but are always a big hit and can enjoy a second go around with another little boy. Because our boys have been taught how to play correctly with their toys and not abuse them they can often be sold, or donated to a worthy cause ,after the youngest is done with them. Don't get me wrong our little guy gets some new toys also , but really enjoys the toys that come from ," the uptairs tore". The other treat is that we get to see both of our boys enjoying these toys without having to find the money in the budget to buy twice as many toys. Like all grandparents, we love to spoil our grandchildren with lots of love.
I buy toys from outlet stores. I bought a desk that has a lamp, crayon and marker holder, a easel, storage compartment on the sides, a chair and a slide drawer for $1.99. All it was missing was the drawer handle. I went to several different stores just to see what kind of bargin I got. The cheapest place I found that sold that exact same desk was for $35.00. I buy alot of the toys from the outlet stores and alot of the time there is nothing wrong or missing with the product.
I bought a packet of wooden clothes pins from the craft store. Some were used for dolls where the face were drawn on using a Sharpie, the arms are pipe cleaners and the dress was a scrap of cloth tied at the "waist" with scraps/ribbons or yarn. The home was a shoebox and the decor drawn in or made from old egg cartons. My girls had hours and hours of fun making villages. Old buttons were used as "plates" and the "food" was bits of clay. The girls stuck the dolls in their pockets to play with in the car.
The one rule: imagination only: no pre-fabricated toys.
My girls are now ladies (30 and 28) and both have recently remarked how much fun they had making those villages and later writing a "soap opera" based on what may have transpired in the Casa de Clothes Pins.
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