In an ideal world, parents would not need to buy toys for their kids, as Santa would leave them a great selection every December 25th. Unfortunately, although Santa does do a great job, most parents tend to supplement with extra educational toys throughout the year.
The right kinds of toys help kids to learn new skills and stimulate their brain development. In days gone by, most kids had few – if any – toys. Instead, they used their imagination, hand-me-downs, and anything they could find in the home or outside. Today we are lucky enough to have a wealth of educational, stimulating and fun toys to choose from. Kids can build things using construction toys, make pretend meals in a play kitchen, or practice their ABCs with the aid of books, games and electronic devices.
The problem for parents is that buying good quality, educational toys is expensive. Many families are living on a low income, so buying expensive toys is not a realistic option. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can save money on great educational toys and ensure your kids are able to learn through play – and here’s how.
Finding Cheap Toys Online
1. Try Amazon Warehouse
Amazon Warehouse is just like regular Amazon in that customer service and returns are the same, but what makes it better for finding cheap toys and for parents on a budget, is that prices are a lot lower. Toys sold through Amazon Warehouse are returns, warehouse damaged, used or refurbished. This may put you off, but each item is graded so you can make a reasonable judgement on whether it will be suitable – and if you are not satisfied with the quality when it arrives, you can return it to Amazon hassle-free.
2. Buying Second Hand
Never turn your nose up at buying second-hand cheap toys. Good quality toys are long lasting and tend not to wear out. Toys often fall out of favor very quickly with younger children, so when they move on to a new toy, the old one is thrown in a cupboard and forgotten – just like in Toy Story.
If you are looking for used educational toys, check out eBay, craigslist or Gumtree. Garage sales can also be great for bargains. Kids rarely care if a bicycle is second-hand or their new building block set was previously owned by a neighbor’s kid. As long as it works and it is clean, it is new and exciting to them and that is all that counts.
3. Smart Buying
Buy smart and save yourself a fortune. Post-Christmas sales are an excellent time to pick up cut-price toys and heavily discounted electrical goods such as e-learning toys. Black Friday and other seasonal sales are also great for parents shopping on a budget but be sure to get in early or you will miss the best deals.
4. Online Coupons
Online coupon deals are a great way to save money when buying toys for your kids. Sign up for websites like Frugaa and RetailMeNot and you can search for coupon codes to use at some of the best toy retailers. With the right coupon codes in your virtual shopping cart, you can enjoy free shipping or money off promos. The more you spend, the more you can save.
5. Price Comparison
Don’t forget to compare prices before you buy, particularly if you are looking for a popular item for your child. Most people compare the cost of travel or financial products without giving it a second thought, but how often do you compare the price of Lego or a kids’ trampoline before you spend your hard-earned cash?
6. Make Sure You Buy Quality
Quality toys last longer, which means you can hand them down to younger siblings, cousins, or friends’ kids. In return, they can do the same for you, so encourage friends and relatives to invest in quality educational toys – and make sure you do the same.
7. Ask Friends and Relatives to Buy Toys
If money is tight, but you desperately want some new toys for your child, ask family and friends to buy them for Christmas, birthdays, or any other special day. Most relatives and friends don’t have a clue what to buy kids, so a few hints from you will probably be more than welcome. You could even send them some links to a few different educational toys you have read about online and let them make the final decision.
The trick with buying toys is never to give a child too many to play with at any one time. Faced with lots of cool toys, kids are soon overwhelmed and the majority of toys are discarded very quickly. As soon as your child is old enough, encourage them to save up for toys they really want. This valuable lesson is one that all kids should learn from a young age.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, Rafael Souza ®.