Ask the Readers: How Do You Save on Kids Toys?

By Ashley Jacobs on 26 June 2012 (Updated 3 July 2012) 82 comments
Photo: Ernst Vikne

Editor's Note: Congratulations to coco, scoutmaster, and Betty D for winning this week's contest!

Whether you are a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or you have a friend who has a child, chances are you have a kid in your life that you have to buy a birthday present or Christmas present for. With toy companies always coming up with the latest and greatest toys, sometimes it can be hard to score a good deal on that toy the child in your life must have. Some people will splurge to get the latest and greatest for their kids, while others opt to find ways to save money when it comes to buying toys for their child.

How do you save on kids toys? Do you use hand-me-down toys? Head to eBay or Craigslist? Only buy on sale? Find coupons? Or do you have another strategy to help you save?

Tell us how you save on kids toys and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, July 2nd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after July 2nd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Therese

We buy toys at garage sales, and I also like to make toys for my grandkids.

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Jeremy Rambo

My wife and I like to search craigslist and shop the second hand store in our town for our son.

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coco

We buy very few.

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Christie

We rarely buy toys anytime other than birthdays or holidays, and we have a spending limit of $30 per person, so if they want something more expensive, they either have to save up their own money, get it as a gift, or we find an awesome deal on it somewhere. I've never bought a whole lot of toys for our 2 children, they would rather have books or movies or games. I can only think of a few times that we have gotten them something more expensive, but usually aunts, uncles, and grandparents helped out getting something quite large. (I did that when we bought our daughter her first "real" sewing machine. She loved it!)

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Cathie

My son is a Lego kid. It's about the only thing he ever wants to play with, besides his bike and soccer ball. The way I save money on Legos is by buying them on sale, or buying the particular pieces he "needs" on ebay. Legos are not cheap. We have also purchased some at yard sales, when we've been lucky.

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Cathie

I like WB on FB.

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rm

I search out deals, buy slightly used toys, and make my own!

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Margaret Davis

As an aunt (honorary or otherwise) I find the best way to save on children's toys is to buy classic toys instead of the newest trend. For instance, for the coming Christmas, I have already purchased a few wooden dinosaur puzzles for my 4 year old nephew and a rock tumbler/jewelry making kit for my 8 year old niece. I don't have to worry about knowing the newest cartoon or kids program and am able to buy these toys on sale or at discounts. However, I must point out that I ask for "Mom" to help me make sure that the gifts are still in their zone of interest.

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MichaelM

We save by not buying them. They get enough from grandmas and grandpas and craigslist that we almost never get them toys.

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Debi

For savings on toys throughout the year, we give our kiddo an allowance so she isn't asking us to buy her stuff. We also keep an eye on Woot.com for daily deals on things that can be birthday/Christmas presents - things like art supplies or science kits. Amazon.com is our go-to site for shopping for specific items, but their prices aren't always the best. It's an easy place to start, though, and putting the items on a Wish List make it easy to check back on prices.

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Sarah G.

I usually get my child's toys from either the store when they're on sale. Also dollar aisles/stores are great when you child is young! Other places I often look for toys and books is garage sales or used kid's stores.

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OFG

Mention toys to everyone and anyone you know who has children a bit older than your own child's age. Most of our toys were hand-me-downs from a former coworker. My son loves to play with them. They didn't cost me a thing and she was happy to clean out her basement. I also received toys from family members who needed to clean out their closets. If you are afraid to come out and ask, just ask them what toys their kids enjoyed at a certain age. If they don't have any toys to share at least you'll know which ones might be worth the purchase.

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Monica

We yardsale for kids toys-- that's something that someone is always growing out of, so you can get them for cheap. We also try not to buy too many because everyone else in our family buys enough toys.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

I buy things on clearance, at yard sales, and on ebay. I also make my own felt ornament every year for my little niece.

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NJJ

I save on toys by getting them at the dollar store!

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Valerie

I liked you on Facebook

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lostAnnfound

When the kids were young we would buy used toys/books at tag sales and such. Now my siblings are going to come and "shop" through the stuff our now teens no longer use so that they can give them to their young children.

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Valerie

Garage sales and thrift stores.

I also have a wishlist on Amazon and then use camelcamelcamel.com to get notified when the price of the item decreases.

Guest's picture

I often use Retailmenot.com to search for online coupons, since I do most of my shopping online. I tend to browse Amazon.com for toys as well!

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Liked you on FB!

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Sheeba M

We have a huge church community and lots of moms and generous hearts...i always ask around...shamelessly...:)

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Betty D

If the kids are yOung enough, you can recycle the stash. My daughter was gifted so many toys. We'd put some away for a few months and bring them out as new again.

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Betty D

I liked yoU and the post on Facebook.

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Betty D

Responded on Twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/217669672554872832

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Kaye

I use a variety of methods:
1.) Buy toys that will last. I mean that are both quality products and will keep them entertained for a long time. Although they might cost more this way, you'll get a bigger bang for your buck.
2.) Snag a good sale on discount sites or Amazon deals or that I see on Slickdeals.
3.) Shop Target's semi-annual toy sale. It's coming up soon and I stock up for future birthday parties and store them in a gift closet until them. I rarely am met with a birthday party invite that I don't already have a toy in that closet for.

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Michaela Raygoza

I look on CL, clearance items or wait until gift giving times and let relatives know what the kids have been asking for. We have been teaching our 4yr old son & 2 yr old daughter that getting new toys is a special event & to appreciate/play with the toys they have. My son also has realized that if he donates his used/no longer playing with toys to my yard sales that he can get one new toy (within reason).

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Happy Love

Consignment shops, garage sales, thrift stores, sales + coupons. And when the kids are old enough, they'll have an allowance to prioritize and buy their own "I wants".

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Kandace

Clearance and buying ahead if there are crazy low prices. Using swagbucks giftcards to buy from Amazon.

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Ellen B

yard sales are a great source for inexpensive toys

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Ellen B

I follow on facebook

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keith

I load up on black friday. I check the various deal sites across the web whenever something pops up that my son may like or something he collects I purchase and save it for the next holiday coming up. We also go to garage sales now. Get alot of toys about 95% off retail, half of them are brand new in package, but it may be last year's toy.

Guest's picture
scoutmaster

I store all my toy deals that i've bought from yard sales, happy meals, thrift stores, dollar stores etc... in a large rubermaid container. That way every time my kids receive birthday party invites, relative parties, Holliday parties etc...i have a gift already. This saves me from having fried nerves trying to find a present at the last minute and most important...i save up to 90% off retail. i use sunday funnies when i run out of wrapping papper, decorated with new happy meal toys, etc...I stock up on after Christmas sales for the entire year of gift giveing!!!

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Twizend

We use hand me downs from friends, yard sales, and 'freecycle' online to find toys for our kids. I also am a big fan of shopping ALL YEAR ROUND for gifts or their birthdays and the holidays....great finds on the clearance rack at Walmart in Jan/Feb especially. If I shop for toys, be they new or used, at great prices all year round, by the time the Holidays roll around we're just about done, only needing to fill in their up-to-the-minute biggest 'wants'. Shopping year round and not being too fussy about some 'new' toys being used helps us really cut down on the expense of toys for our kids.

Also, our kids have been raised to not expect something at the store most of the times we're there. Having kids who KNOW there's no use whining and pleading for a new toy everytime we set foot in a store helps immensly!

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viv

craigslist, garage sales, ebay, and friends whose kids are older than ours who are looking to declutter!

Guest's picture

Get toys at Goodwill! Clean and sanitize before gifting.

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Grace

We have a fantastic Goodwill here that alway has great kids' books. Last week I scored a pile of like-new Dr. Seuss books, which are now in my presents drawer. Five books for a good used copy is a great deal.

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Grace

I Liked your FB update.

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DeeDee

I stopped buying toys for the kids years ago and give cash instead. The real young ones don't know the difference because they receive so many toys from others and the older ones like cash anyway.

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Lynda

i don't have kids. but we do help recycle toys between my nephews and my friends' kids.

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Lynda

i like wisebread on facebook

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Kandace

like on facebook (kandace on-fb)

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Christie

Liked and commented on Facebook. :)

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Kathryn

I am a single mom and I would buy used toys in good condition at garage sales, thrift stores and E-Bay and explain to may son when he was young that they didn't have a box as they were "damaged in transit due to a reindeer accident" and he was lucky to receive them at all. One time I was able to buy 5 1:24 model cars in pristine condition from a collector for what I would have paid for 1 model car retail; it was one of my son's favorite Christmas's.

Guest's picture

The best way to save on kids toys here in the UK is to shop at the regular sales run by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). This is where parents come to sell what they no longer need and the prices are incredible. The stuff is really good quality, and many parents choose to take a stall and sell their kids unwanted toys and clothes - a great way to free up cash and space for new purchases.

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Amanda

We get durable, sharable toys with wide appeal (video games, Legos) for our kids to play together. We spend less by not getting specialized toys for each of them, while they all still have plenty to play with.

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Amanda

Long-time Facebook fan.

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Kelly Elswick

We buy during sales, after season clearance and use coupons!

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Kelly Elswick

Liked on FB :)

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ELANE GLESSNER

Craigslist can't be beat. It's not worth it to make one trip for 1 toy, so I look for the scenario where one household posts several listings. I then ask if I can purchase a whole lot of them at a discounted rate. Most households happily oblige. =)

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steph

i shop on ebay and daily deal sites!

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steph

i like on facebook

Guest's picture

We're in-between parents...the oldest is a teenager, so we wait for sales (and save up) for the digital things he wants. The youngest is 9 months. So far, we've just kept his toys simple & to a minimum.

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Sara N

Hand-me-downs and ebay!

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Tom

We rely heavily on hand me down toys...especially.the big ones like power wheels and bikes from friends and family.

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Guest

We buy them at large department stores during special sales. There are plenty of discount stores that offer a wide variety of toys. It's a good idea to look for durable, educational toys that don't require batteries.

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Jae

For my own child and others, 90% of the time, I buy them books. For $20 I can buy a mediocre toy that will end up lost or broken, or I can buy 4-5 books that are more likely to be read and treasured. Books are a cheaper gift that most families value over toys.

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Roger

People are always getting rid of toys on Freecycle. For the price of gas to pick it up you can't beat free. But garage sales are great too.

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Guest

i cut old and too short jeans into shorts for the summer. i purchase clothes 1-2 sizes too big for growing room. i cut baby wipes in half. i also shop at second hand stores.

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jessica

I save on toys buy making them myself. At first like any new parent I spoiled my son with alot of toys but I saw that he would lose interest in them very easily. So I decided to start making household items into toys. My son enjoys playing with household items that have been made into toys. You have to see all the things you can just do with Cardboard boxes.

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MELISSA HANSSON

I've had great luck finding Groupons and other vouchers for local toy stores.

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MELISSA HANSSON

"Liked" on Facebook. Thank you!

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Monica Platz

Liked you on facebook!

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Monica Platz

I usually stockpile toys and buy them on sale and then just go to the toy stash when needed!

Guest's picture

My son is almost two, and I've bought very few new toys for him, yet he's got enough toys to fill the house. I throw birthday parties for him, which is where most of the new toys come from, and I shop at thrift stores and garage sales. You can get very nice and nearly new toys secondhand!

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I like your Facebook page.

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KelR1

I save on kids toys by not having kids! But I do have a niece and, when I have to buy a gift for her, I usually try to find the toy she wants at Walmart or Target. I also look for coupons. I signed up for the Toys R Us rewards card so that when I buy something there I earn points toward eventually getting free or discounted merchandise.

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KelR1

Like you on FB.

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Ang

I always buy used. My kids have enough grandparents and other relatives who are willing to buy new toys, so I've made a habit of only buying used toys that are in good condition (although I tend to prefer experiences to toys!)

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cwaltz

Consignment shops are great. As your kids grow you can trade for toys that are more age appropriate.

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Gwenavyre

You can get great quality kids toys for little to nothing at garage sales.

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Carmen

We try not to buy too many toys as my daughter gets plenty from friends and family at Christmas and her birthday. For those we feel we need to pick up, I buy used - rummage sales or second-hand stores.

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Carmen

I already like you on Facebook

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sonja adams

I often buy toys at yard sales...or do exchanges with friends. Sometimes will pick up things at consignment flea market sales specifically for childrens toys and clothes.