Sunday, September 23, 2012

toys on the cheap

This is a crazy busy time of year for us.  It starts of with Zach's bday in mid September, which seems to kick off a series of bday parties for us, and then of course Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Lots of gift giving occasions foh sho. Being *cheap* I refuse to pay full price whenever I can possibly avoid it. Kids go through toys and clothes so very fast it doesn't make sense to shell out big bucks for either.  There will be a post in the very near future about how to save money on clothes, this one is about toys.  
I'll start with the most obvious approach, shop.the.clearance.  Those fabulous little red stickers at Target are like little homing beacons to me.  Here's a tip you may not have thought of though.  Always check out the clearance, whether or not you have a fast-approaching gift-giving holiday.  I swing buy and check it out every time I'm in Target.  If I find something the boys might like, or one of their friends for that matter, I snag it and put it away in a closet until the next bday, bday party, or gift exchange.  I love being able to whip out something from the closet that is an awesome gift I know I got for like 70% off. PLUS that means I'm not making a last second trip to Target on the way to the party for a gift.
Now if you're not set on always buying new toys, there are tons of other options.  My rule of thumb is to new toys are for gifts for other people, but I'm totally fine with used toys for my boys.  That's probably the Southern deb in me though, I'd find it tacky to be gifted a used toy.  I know, I know, not very green of me :/.  For my boys I hit up any and every source for used toys and even other stuff we might need.  

Garage sales are awesome for that!  I'd recommend scoping out the most fancy pants neighborhood in your area and hitting those garage sales STAT.  Those people buy *nice* toys and get rid of them on the regular.  Not to mention their clothes are always the most pricey, you'll be grinning ear to ear when you score Gymboree clothes with the tags still on for $1 each.  I digress, this is not about the clothes, this is about the toys.  Maybe you're like "hollah! I'm all about the cheap toys" OR maybe you're like " that is nasty, used toys are full of germs and other nastiness!".  I'm a little of both frankly, so my solution is to scrub those bad boys down with some diluted bleach or other germ/nasty killing stuff before the boys play with them.  
Garage sales aren't the only places to score these goodies either.  Check your local consignment shop, or even google for secondhand stores near you.  Besides places like Goodwill, there might be stores that specialize in used kids stuff in your area.  In my area there is Kid-to-Kid, they buy and sell used kids stuff.  I'm getting ready to take a load of stuff up there to sell very soon, all the baby stuff that Gavin is already done with *sniff*. 
If you're looking for something specific, Craigslist is also a fabulous place to score used stuff on the cheap.  Some people will sell awesome new, or like-new stuff for crazy low prices.  Again, just clean the stuff thoroughly first and you're good to go.  A little elbow grease is definitely worth the insane savings.
One place you may not have thought of to score awesome stuff is Facebook groups.  I didn't think about it until recently, but a girl from one of my playgroups sent out a link to a group page and I have already scored some awesome stuff :).  Look for "used kid stuff" groups or something like that, ask the moms in your groups or peruse Facebook yourself.  People put up what they want to sell and everybody jumps on it.  I scored 2 brand new bean bag chairs for the playroom for $10 each.  And I happened upon a group where a lady that owns an online toy store is trying to get rid of some extra inventory in time for the holidays.  I scored brand new baby toys for $5 each that on Amazon retail for $16.
There is no reason to bust your budget on new toys, you can be cheap, green, or both!  What's your best tip to save money on toys?

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