- Toys can be very expensive.
- It's easy to end up over budget on buying them.
- These three techniques can help ensure you don't spend too much.
You don't have to spend a fortune on stuff to entertain your kids.
As any parent knows, kid's toys can be really expensive and buying them can add up over time. But you don't have to bust your budget or break out the credit cards just to buy things to entertain your children. In fact, I've found three great ways to save on toys for my son and daughter so I can keep my costs to a minimum.
1. We buy most toys used
The single biggest money saver for our family is that we buy almost all toys used. We have a few favorite consignment and thrift stores that we visit regularly that we know have a great selection. We also go to community garage sales and check online marketplaces for used goods -- especially if we are looking for specific items such as a scooter or dollhouse.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most children's toys do not hold their value at all so can end up paying a small fraction of the original retail price -- especially for anything we're lucky enough to find at a garage sale. We once got a full ride-on train for $20 that retailed for over $250 that just needed a battery recharge.
2. We rotate toys
There's also another trick in my arsenal that enables me to avoid having to buy new toys very often. I rotate the toys that my kids have. I have a bunch of different storage totes, each of which are filled with a set of toys. Every few weeks, I'll pack up the current toys into their bin and pull out a new one.
By rotating out toys, my kids don't get bored with them as much. Items they already own become as exciting as new ones so they constantly feel like they get to play with something novel. My son is less likely to ask for new things because of it, and when he does, I'll instead give him the option of switching out his bin.
3. We buy toys that can be used in multiple ways
Finally, the last thing that has helped us keep our toy budget reasonable is buying toys that allow my kids to indulge their creativity and use them in different ways. For example, I bought a set of very large foam blocks that have been used for fort building, a step stool, hide-and-seek, a stage, and a ton of other things.
Since the toys I try to purchase are open-ended -- rather than something like a toy cash register or a plastic piano that have limited and clearly defined functionality -- they tend to encourage my kids to use their imagination and use them in different ways. This is both great because the items do not get boring as quickly and also beneficial because I want my kids to be creative thinkers.
Each of these steps has helped us keep our spending very low each year on toys even though my son is nearly age three. And we'll be continuing this throughout their entire childhood, so we will hopefully never waste a ton of money on more toys than they truly need.
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