There's no two ways about it – kids cost a lot of money! Your family is worth every dollar you spend on them, but if you're like most parents, at some point you've wondered if there's a way to cut those expenses back a little. Whether you need to put aside a little more for bills, save for a family holiday, or set up a college fund for your kids' future, we all need to save from time to time.
One of the easiest places to make savings is the toy budget. Children's toys can quickly rack up into the hundreds of dollars, especially if your little ones want the latest, trendiest toys and games. Here are 6 ways you can cut back the toy budget without cutting back on fun:
1. Look Around The House
Children, especially young ones, don't need hundreds of dollars’ worth of expensive toys to have fun. Raid the kitchen for pans and utensils for an impromptu percussion session, or grab some empty paper towel rolls to use as horns, building blocks, telephone receivers or whatever else you can dream up. Household items cost nothing and encourage imaginative play into the bargain.
2. Opt For Gently Used Toys
Used doesn't have to mean tatty. There are lots of gently used toys out there that look next to new – you just have to keep your eyes open and see what you can find. Yard sales and thrift stores are great places to start, and you can snag some great used toys online. EBay offers a huge marketplace of used items. If you're shopping for toys on Amazon, don't just hit “buy now” - check to see if there are used items available. When you shop second hand you can grab toys that look as good as new, without paying new prices.
3. Buy New Online
If you want to buy new, or there's something you just can't find second hand, you'll often make a better saving by shopping online instead of at the store. Check out sites such as eToys or Kids Woot for discounted toys, or take advantage of loyalty purchase schemes. Keep an eye out for coupons too – printable coupons and coupon codes can save you a lot of money. Just be sure to check the shipping costs and make sure they don't push up the price of the item.
4. Try Yard and Garage Sales
You'll be amazed at what you can pick up at a yard or garage sale. One kid's trash can definitely be another kid's treasure. Go prepared to spend a bit of time sifting through the items for sale – you'll find some trash, but you're also likely to find some real treasure in the form of toys that look nearly as good as new. Check local listings or watch out for signs in your neighborhood.
5. Find Toys For Free
It sounds too good to be true, but you can find some excellent toys for free when you check out Freecycle or the free section on Craigslist. You'll often find freebies listed in good condition. The only snag is that you'll most likely have to collect, so you'll need to factor in gas costs.
6. Check for Sales and Use Coupons
If you are shopping online, most retailers offer coupons that can be applied on most items. All you have to do is look for them. Coupon search engines like Mamma are great for finding deals on your favorite brands. Get into the habit of looking for a coupon before you buy anything online! You can usually find a coupon code that can be applied to whatever toy your child wants.
Toys don't have to break the budget. By setting a spending limit ahead of time and searching carefully for savings, second-hand items, and freebies, you can keep both your kids and your bank account happy.
Disclosure: This is a guest post.