Great Savings Tip #87 – Kid’s Toys


Think twice before buying new toys.


Save money on kids toys. Creating a rich environment for your kids doesn’t have to mean you spend an arm and a leg on every new toy that comes along.  It’s not about things, it’s about time.


Play on a big toy.

If you have a park nearby, some of the best time the kids will spend is free for the asking.

I helped raise two boys.  As my kids grew up they wanted what most of their friends wanted—every new video game console that came along, the latest DVD or the latest trading cards, and yet as I look back much of their time was spent without toys.  Some of the greatest fun as kids (and as adults, for that matter) comes from imagining or creating things out of things we already have at our disposal, or of spending time doing something together.


Let’s Do Something


Kids love to build forts.

When was the last time you built a pillow and blanket fort?

I remember making blanket and pillow forts with the kids.  The dining room table was usually a great starting point as it was easy to throw a large blanket over the top and then stack pillows around as walls or to create a tunnel to enter the “fort”.  This particular past time could take hours and there were often rules that were invented to make the game different each time.  I didn’t always participate (I didn’t have the time), but whenever I did, the kids were usually thrilled to have my attention and would beg me to come inside and tell them a story.  I’d make those up regularly off the top of my head and they loved every minute of it.  Plus, they would often lead me along if I got stuck on what should happen next.


The Great Outdoors


I love beach rocks.

Nature provides a treasure chest of kid’s toys. Just look around.

Pry your kids from the TV, video games or their cell phone whenever you can.  When my boys were younger, we lived near a beach.  That was a terrific source of fun.  Rocks, sticks, seashells, ground glass, driftwood, seaweed, tiny crabs and sand are the perfect toys of nature.  The boys loved building castles in the sand.  What kid doesn’t?  They loved exploring.  The beach we lived near was more rocky than sandy, but it had lots and lots of driftwood.  I can’t tell you how many driftwood forts we built or improved on.


Use The Things You’ve Already Got


One of my earliest memories is of time I spent with my grandmother.  I remember pulling open one of the lowest drawers in her kitchen.  My grandmother did lots of home canning and that drawer contained all her excess canning rings.  I’m sure there were a few dozen, but as a kid it seemed like hundreds. Now, if you aren’t familiar with canning, the rings are the part of the cap that screws to the jar and is used to hold the “lid” in place.  In any case, I’d spend hours crawling around on the floor and playing with those rings.  I’d spin them, stack them, roll them, or slide as many as I could up my arms.


My grandfather was also very handy around the house and had created a set of home made blocks.  He took leftover scraps from his various projects and took the time to sand them down so we didn’t end up with stickers.  My sister and I loved them.  We’d play for hours.


Playing card games is fun.

Cards are very inexpensive and there are so many games to play.

Crafts and Games


Mom, also used to keep us busy with lots of craft projects—everything from finger painting, to coloring, to sculpting with clay, tile-making, weaving, and so on.  It wasn’t hard to keep us happy, since we loved making things.


Another thing we loved a lot was gathering around the kitchen table to play cards.  There were all kinds of games like Crazy Eights, Shanghai Rummy, War, Spoons, Pig, Nerts, Cribbage, Pinochle and many more.  Or sometimes, we pull out a board game like Monopoly.  Either way, it was always fun.


Keeping Up With Expectation


All parents want the best for their kids.  It’s only natural.  However, the thing we often forget or maybe just can’t see when we are shopping to buy toys is how fast kids outgrow them.  You can spend a lot of money for young kid’s toys and they may be good for only a few weeks or few months before they tire of them.


Parents wanting to get ahead of the game might do better to find used toys that are still in good shape or toys that have a longer lasting appeal.  They might also consider what toys they would play with if given the chance.  After all, the time you spend with your kids is going to be a fleeting experience so you might as well get the most out of it by doing something you enjoy.  I always loved Legos myself so when my boys were old enough I was happy to get caught up adding to “our” collection.  We spent hours together building all sorts of cool things—time I still look back on fondly.


Where To Find Toys


Before buying new toys consider trying to find good used toys or trying to get a better deal.  Here are 6 ideas for finding less expensive toys:

1)  Auction sites like ebay

2)  Charity events like rummage sales

3)  Garage and estate sales

4)  Online classifieds like  Thrifty Nickel and Craigslist.

5)  A toy swap with friends or family

6)  A hand me down from friends or family


Everyone Wins


Keeping your child’s imagination engaged is a truly rewarding experience.  Finding things to do that are fun and don’t cost a lot of money is easy, especially if you let your kid’s use their imagination.  Not only will you end up saving, you’ll teach your kids how to be a better parent in the process.


To see a list of all our Great Savings Tips click here.



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