Let’s face it – toys are expensive, but they help to stimulate, educate, and occupy our busy kids when we need to get things done. Not to mention, kids get bored with the same toys or grow out of them over time, things break or wear out, and pieces get lost!
If you are a parent on a budget, or simply a mom or dad that prefers to save money whenever possible, consider the following 4 ways to save big bucks on toys. Keep your kids and your bank account happy when you take advantage of these cost effective shopping habits.
Buy second hand
Younger kids hardly ever understand the concept of ‘brand new’ so if you have the opportunity, take advantage of the astronomical savings that often come with buying gently used toys. Check out local consignment stores (Once Upon A Child has locations nationwide), annual consignment sales (like Little Feet Repeats, Duck, Duck, Goose, WeeRuns, or whichever option is nearest you), social media resale pages, and even yard sales.
Another option to consider is to host a monthly or seasonal toy swap with your area mom friends. Keep in mind, if kids are attached to their stuff, this type of exchange might be a little tricky, but ultimately, swapping and sharing among your closest friends is a great way for your kids to experience a wide variety of toys on a regular basis.
When collecting used toys, be sure you pick items that are easy to clean and sanitize. Used toys might save you a lot of money, but they do come with a risk for germs and dirt.
Rent your toys
Technology has afforded us a plethora of conveniences, but one of the most innovative platforms for families these days is the ability to rent toys for a designated amount of time, and then send them back to a distributing company in exchange for something different. For a monthly rate, kids get the chance to try out new items often, and parents don’t have to worry about accumulating too many things. Monthly boxes of toys are delivered right to your door, so perhaps the most attractive aspect of renting toys is avoiding the inevitable breakdown at the toy store checkout line. Toy rental companies thoroughly clean and sanitize all items upon their return.
For babies and young toddlers, consider toy rental companies like Spark Box or Baby Plays. Both of these companies offer age appropriate toys for little ones up to the age of 4 and functional gear that can later be purchased at a discount price if your child has become attached.
If you are the parent or loved one of older toddlers and/or kids up to the age of 12, Pley offers an unbeatable monthly rental of Lego sets for only $9.99 per month. With a pre-paid shipping label included, parents never have to fork out additional money to ship the kits back. Best of all, they don’t charge for a broken or lost piece! Pley’s website offers a user-friendly interface so parents and kids can browse and pick their next set according to age and/or theme.
With over 250 different sets to choose from, your kids can enjoy this membership for years! Be sure to check them out if you would like to save big bucks on Legos!
Choose your toys wisely
If you want to make the most of your investments, be sure to make wise decisions about which toys you purchase. That fragile, poorly crafted dollhouse is unlikely to withstand the test of time when it comes to an unintentionally destructive toddler. That race car with the flimsy side mirrors and thin plastic is not going to last very long, so unless you have intentions of replacing your toys soon after you buy them, it’s usually best to spend just a little extra for a toy that will last longer.
Shop at the right time
Lastly, if you would like to buy new toys, but hate paying full price, be strategic about the timing of your purchases. According to consumer statistics, most retailers offer incredible savings a month to two months before and directly following the holidays. Late December and the month of January may not be an ideal time to spend more money, nor is it ever a time when kids truly need more stuff, but it never hurts to buy a few extra things, store them in a closet, and pull them out on a rainy day.
Trends suggest that retail stores have a tendency to mark hot toys up a bit in the early weeks of December. If you plan on buying for the holidays and want to get the best price, be sure to get your toys checked off the list no later than Black Friday.
When shopping for toys throughout the rest of the year, be sure to avoid the 2-3 weeks directly before a holiday. Even if it’s not a typical toy-giving celebration, true savings are usually hard to come by when consumers are willing to spend more money. Wait until the holiday is over for your best bet at a good deal.
We understand that raising kids is an expensive endeavor, but supplying them with toys should not break the bank – especially with so many alternative options available that will certainly save you time and money!
About the author: Melissa King, a Savings.com DealPro, lives in Savannah, GA and writes the Savannah Savvy Shopper weekly column for the Savannah Morning News. She enjoys ‘Paying It Forward’ in her community. Check her out on her blog at ThisMommySavesMoney.com.