Frugal Friday Tips: Toys for Cheap

by Ryan Yates on March 30, 2012

Best . . . Toy . . . Ever?

Being a parent of a 3-year-old boy is wonderful! He has so much fun discovering new things each day, and I am having a blast discovering things right along with him.

Even getting new toys (and playing with them) brings me back to my youth. I still get a sense of that magical feeling when we walk into a toy store. But have you priced those things lately? If I wasn’t more careful, I could get in serious financial trouble (can you say Best Buy?) if I overextended my financial reach at the toy store.

But fortunately, I’ve stuck to my guns and followed some simple rules to finding great toys for dirt cheap.

USED Doesn’t Have to be a Four-Letter Word

I live in a town where the predominant mentality about everything is “Newer Is Better”, hands down, no discussion. Luckily, I haven’t been brainwashed by the mob.

Used or discounted toys are pretty easy to find on Ebay, but I don’t really like to pay the shipping charges. There are literally thousands of great used toys all around town if you know where to look. Check out your local Craigslist to get a head start on the hunt, browse the garage sales, and don’t forget the resale shops.

In the past two weeks, I’ve been able to find a box of 350 Lego Duplo blocks for $10 and approximately 400 wooden blocks for $15. Those wooden building blocks can get way too expensive! Just don’t forget to disinfect before your kids play with the used toys.

Facebook Hand-Me-Downs

Your first child pretty much loses out on the hand-me-downs since there’s no older siblings running around the house. But that doesn’t mean they need brand new ‘everything’.

We have many friends and family members who have older kids than our son, and they’re part of the hundreds of millions of people on Facebook. A simple status update requesting a few different hand-me-down toys that people are looking to get rid of usually returns one or two great finds.

If you overuse this status update, people might turn a blind eye to it. But a few times a year won’t aggravate anyone.

Coupons and Discounts

If you’re planning on buying new, hunt around for the best deal before you fork over your cash. After all, only suckers pay retail, right? Just make sure the coupons don’t lure you into spending more than what you’ve planned.

Although I try to be frugal when it comes to toys for my son, there are times when newer is better. Some toys are no good when they’re used. They might be worn out, or have important pieces missing, or on the verge of breaking.

That’s when I decide to buy new. But not without hunting for coupons, waiting for sales, and searching for discounts at online retailers and resellers.

And whatever you do, please avoid buying new toys on opening weekend or paying triple the value to someone trying to make a buck online during the first week of the toy’s existence. The same toys will be available a couple of weeks down the road and there’s more of a chance to find them at a discount. (you could theoretically use this strategy for Apple products too, but that’s another post)

Photo By Valerie Everett

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