Parents know that kids toys are getting more and more expensive these days — the newer and higher-tech toys can run in the hundreds of dollars. And kids always seem to want the latest and greatest toys they see on television and that they see their friends playing with. But at some point, the cost of these toys can get out of hand. And if you're looking to get a grasp on the situation and keep your budget from breaking, here are a few strategies that could help out.
Host a toys party. Kids might play with toys for a little while, and then get bored with them. But they're perfectly good toys. To prevent waste, and to save money on getting new toys, invite some friends, family and neighbors to a toys party, asking everyone to bring good toys that they're willing to exchange. Have some food, play games, think up different ways to exchange the toys, and leave with a whole new set of toys, without spending a dime.
Thrift shops. They often have a bad image, but if you check out the thrift shops in your area, you might find that there are some good toys for very cheap. It's worth a look at least.
Rummage sales. You can get some great toys from people who are cleaning out their house or moving. Spend a Saturday looking at different rummage sales in your area. It can be a lot of fun.
Exchange a box with friends. When you notice your kids not playing with toys, just put it in a box in your closet. Ask your close friends to do the same. When the boxes are full, exchange them.
Make your own. Some of the best toys are made by parents. From kites to blocks to forts, if you get creative, you can make some fantastic toys and only spend a fraction of what it would cost to buy. And the best part: your child could help, especially with the decorating. Check out this article for some ideas.
Shop after Christmas. It's well known that the best deals are the week after Christmas, when the rush is over and stores are trying to get rid of excess inventory. But there are other good sales as well, when stores are closing out, or trying to get rid of old inventory to make way for the new. Keep your eyes open and you can find some great deals.
Green them up. Getting environmentally friendly toys will not only help Planet Earth (and it's never too early to start teaching your kids about the environment), but they're also safer and cheaper in the long run. Avoid harmful PVC material, and look for wood — the toys will last much longer, and are safer for children. Look for simpler toys that don't require batteries. Look for non-toxic paints, and sturdier toys that will last a long time.
Use their imagination. Kids can be amazingly creative. Sometimes they enjoy playing in or with the box the toy comes in more than the toy itself. Give them some paint or beads or glitter and glue, and they can have a blast. Let them play outdoors, and make toys with sticks or other things they find in nature. Make a fort out of bedsheets or a refrigerator box. Let them use their imagination, and old toys can become new again.
Reduce your need. The best way to save money on something is to learn to need less of it. Talk to your kids about the cycle of consumerism, about always wanting more and newer toys, about how advertising creates a need in us to buy new stuff, about how it's bad for the environment to keep producing and consuming more and more stuff, about how kids in other parts of the world have to go without toys ... and teach them to spend their time helping others instead of wanting to buy stuff for themselves. It's never too early.
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