Here are some thrifty tips to save money on toys when holiday or birthday shopping for toys. Some of these tips I wish I would of known about sooner. The Toy Book pictures in this post are from the 2016 toy book sales. So the toy books did not come out yet for 2017.
#1 Ask ASAP
Ask children what toys they want right away. The last thing you want to find out closer to the holidays is that your child’s favorite toy on the wish list is sold out everywhere and only way to get it is to pay a jacked up price from a person reselling it on Amazon or Ebay.
There are many ways to start a wish list. I let my kids look through the Toy Books as soon as they come out and circle the ones they want and start a wish list because some items may not be in the toy books. Do not have them shorten this list you want it as big as possible. Then the next day I have them go back and select their favorite ones because Santa’s bag and sled are only so big and elves have lots of work trying to find the parts for these toys. My parents used to have my sisters and I rank (#1, #2, #3, etc.) items on our wish list.
#2 Start shopping ASAP
Some popular toys will be cheaper if you buy them when they are on sale. So most of these popular toys start selling out when they are on sale in a store’s Toy Book. Find out their most wanted toys and start looking up prices on major retailers like Walmart, Kmart, Toys R Us, Amazon, Target, etc.
#3 Do not buy everything on the list
The majority of the items I have bought are only the items on the list only if they go on sale. If no sale and not a higher # on the wish list I am not buying the item. I could save the wish list for another present at a later time. Like a birthday. This will help you not pay full price for a big part of the list. This is why you want the wish list to be long so you can find deals.
I also do not buy some items I do not want my kids to have. Example might be price way to high, age not right for them, or looks like way to much work for the adults to do for kids to play with it. Another example of something I would not buy is a play stove kitchen toy because my son already has one and does not need it.
# 4 Gift gently used toys
Often gifting used toys can be a lot cheaper than buying brand new toys and are less work for you to do on Christmas morning. You can clean them off before wrapping them. The younger the child the better gifting used toys work because they are generally less picky. Example a baby is not going to have a wish list. And they actually prefer opening presents that are ready to play with opposed to a brand new toy in a box.
Look for end of season garage sales, mom to mom sales, church rummage sales, and ask friends with older children if they have any toys that they are not using. If you get the toys from a friend or family the toy could be possibly free or a lot cheaper than at a garage sale. If any one gives you free hand me down toys even not close to the holidays hide them to wrap up for gifts later.
I also have some hand-me-down toys from that used to be my step son’s that I hide and sometimes wrap up for extra holiday and birthday gifts.
#5 Follow coupon blogs even if you do not coupon to save on toys
The best way to save with less work for you is to follow another bargain hunter who is looking for deals. You can find blogs to follow here in one of the how to extreme coupon lessons. If you do not coupon just ignore the coupon deals and watch for toy sales. The best time to watch for toy deals is the end of October, through Black Friday, and just before Christmas. You can also join certain store’s deals group. Like look for Amazon Deal Groups to follow during the holiday season. And follow our Sears & Kmart Deal group here.
# 6 Look for stores that offer store coupons
Often several stores might have the same or similar price for a toy. You can save more money on these toys by looking for stores that offer money off or free gift cards when you spend so much. Then you shop at the one with the best store coupon. The lowest price of a toy might cost you more at the cheaper store if another store has a good coupon to pair with a similar slightly higher price. Note the picture above has examples of store coupons. Target also has lots of store coupons.
Do not forgot to look for high percentage off coupons for other stores that sell toys. For example, I used to buy 18 inch doll clothes at Micheals when they have 50% off any regular price store coupons. Which are found in local ads and digitally in apps like Retail Me Not.
I am also a personal shopper for Kmart. So if you need Kmart or Sears coupons you can sign up for free for me to be your personal shopper here and be sure to set your settings on why you wanted a personal shopper to savings to get more coupons. I can pass out coupons not available on Shop Your Way, Kmart, or Sears websites. I will then go into the personal shopper area and tell SYW (Shop Your Way) to email certain coupons to you! And do not be shy let me know if you want me to help you shop or not. After you sign up then go here to our new Kmart Face Book group to get more deals. We have more ways to get coupons inside the deal group in the pinned post.
# 7 Try to never pay for shipping!
When ever you shop online always look to see how much you need to spend to get free shipping. Then try to buy some of the sales to get to the free shipping and then look for a store coupon to stack with the sales. If you do not see anything that says how much to spend for free shipping you could also search for online code for any free shipping codes.
Many stores offer free shipping programs (like Amazon Prime or Shop Your WAY Max) with free trials, too. So you can sign up for a free trial as soon as you see the first toy deal you want on that website. Target offers free shipping (with no spending cap) if you pay using their credit or debit card. If you shop often at Sears or Kmart you might be a SYW VIP. If you are a SYW VIP you will have free SYW Max. If you choose to pay for the paid version of SYW Max you earn more points back throughout the year so it can pay for itself back if you shop often at Sear or Kmart.
Or you could also look for the free ship to store option on most major store’s websites. So you order online and the store ships it to a local store and let’s you know when it is available for pick up. This option is more work than free shipping but is good for when you have no other toys or gifts to add on to an order and you can just by the best deals instead of the best deals plus something else.
# 8 Looks for stores that price match to save on toys
Looking for store’s that price match can save you money and help you get toys that are sold out at the other store offering the sale. Some store’s that do price match are Target, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Bed Bath and Beyond, Sears, and Office Max / Depot. Some Walmart’s still price match buy you will have to ask your local store if they still price match because lots of locations have ended price matching. Each store has different rules for price matching so always call and ask them for updated price matching info. Kmart will only price match Kmart’s online prices at some stores. YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary because some stores will not do this. I always go to the help desk if I need to do this in-store. Walmart toys are often cheaper on the Walmart website also so look them up in the Walmart app and price match if cheaper online.
# 9 Hide the Toy Books, Wish Lists, and limit TV closer to the holiday
As slowly buy gifts your budget and time to find sales will shorten. The last problem you want to get is a last minute new thing added to the wish list! Especially if they start ranking it #1. Try to have them watch more movies instead of TV shows with tons of commercials. You could also have them watch shows recorded way prior to the toy holiday shopping season with less toy commercials. If you have a younger child changing the channel they are watching also helps to avoid a commercial for a certain toy and hope they forgot about it.
# 10 Mail Santa the Wish List Early
Having your kids mail their wish list to Santa can also help you avoid last minute add-ons. You want to try to avoid them from adding last minute gifts to the list that they have their heart set on that Santa will get them. An example of this could be they see a commercial for a toy sold out at most stores. So now you either pay above the normal price on E Bay for it or they do not get their new favorite toy. My children will mail their wish lists in an envelope addressed to Santa Clause with the address of North Pole.
# 11 Set a budget to save on toys
You will want to set a budget and try to stick to it. If your kids are almost the same age a certain budget per child is better. If you have a big age gap between kids you might have a total budget to keep instead. An example of this is when both of my babies were little I spent less on them with free hand-me down toys or buying used toys. So my step-son had a higher budget for toys when I shopped for my daughter when she was a baby and toddler. And I did the same when my youngest son was born. I would count the gifts and try to balance out the gifts that way.
# 12 Lay Away
Putting items on Lay Away can also help keep you on budget also. Do not put too much toys on lay away where you might not be able finish paying for them before you need them though. And be sure to learn the rules before you start it. Also look for store’s that offer discounts if you start a lay away. The above picture was a Kmart layaway coupon code that was offered during the 2016 holiday shopping season.
# 13 Pay with Discounted Store Gift Cards
You can save more money holiday shopping if you look out and buy discounted gift cards. During the holiday shopping season many apps and retailers will offer deals where you can buy a discounted gift card or if you buy a gift card get points back to pay for something else.
You can buy discounted gift cards at :
If you shop at Sears and Kmart you can earn free points buying discounted gift cards by going to Raise through the SYW site here. Make sure you are logged into SYW before finish clicking to Raise. Points back can take up to 10 days.
# 14 Ask your family if they want you to shop for your kids from them
I bargain shop gifts from my parents and grandma to kids every year. They tell me a budget, give me money, and I look for deals for them. This helps them out and also helps me save money on the gifts I am also buying, too. And this also helps me avoid the long return lines after the holidays!
Helping someone else shop for my kids also makes it easier to stack sales to get free shipping on sales. It helps me get more rewards back when shopping. Examples would be points back I make at Kmart from me buying the items can help me spend less on my items later. Also, if I use my Discover card to pay with gifts from them I get a percentage back on the sale that I can use to spend less on my gifts.
# 15 Asking for help
If you are low income ask local charities if you qualify for help from any toy drives. You can also look out for places where they often adopt families in need around the holiday. You could ask local schools, churches, social workers, friends, etc. Even if they can not help you they might know someone who could help you.
# 16 Online Codes
Anytime you are shopping online you should quickly search to see if there is any current discount codes to enter at check-out. You can find them easily by searching the internet. Or you can search in savings apps (like Retail Me Not) for codes.
# 17 Waiting for Black Friday?
I do not recommend to wait for Black Friday to start toy deal shopping. Lots of toy sales start sooner and do sell out. Again, if you learn the store’s return policies you could also return a few items if a better deal pops up. But to avoid returns you can often look on Black Friday websites the closer and closer it gets to Thanksgiving to look for leaked and released Black Friday Ad Scans!
The exception is if items on their wish list are electronic items (like video games, phones, i-pads, computers, etc.) then you should wait closer to Black Friday to buy. And note even though I start buying before Black Friday I am slowly buying toys as they go on sale so I still buy some toy sales during and after Black Friday. So when Black Friday deals start I am looking for deals on toys not bought yet on the wish list.
If you shop at Kohl’s or JC Pennies watch out for good coupons they send in the mail every year before Black Friday. I have gotten almost free toys several times from Kohl’s and Jc Pennies Black Friday coupons before. Lots of times their coupons can be stacked, too. Hope we get some good ones again this year.
# 18 Lower your Out of Pocket Cost
A good way to help stay with in budget is to sell unwanted toys. The best time to sell toys is Halloween through Christmas when people are looking for holiday gifts. The easiest way would be to have a garage sale but I like to only do that if I have someone watching the kids so they do not see their old toys getting sold. If you do not have that option selling it in a way where you sell one toy or box of toys at a time might work better to sneak them out of the house. You could sell them on Craigslist, Ebay, or on a local Face Book group for buying and selling items. Some higher end resale shops might also buy nice toys if they are looking for used toys to sell.
Another way to spend less is to save money earned from free money apps. I use these apps all year long but often start saving some of the money the closer it gets to birthday or Christmas. I like to save the money in my Pay Pal Account so when I am shopping online the money is already ready to pay with Pay Pal. Also some of my apps I will also cash out with free gift cards, too. You can learn more about different kinds of apps that pay you back in the first menu on this website.
# 19 Get paid back a % of your online shopping
When shopping online you can also get a percentage of your money back if you go to a cash back website or app and then click a link to go to the store that you want to shop at. Many merchants will pay these cash back sites money to refer you to shop at their store. Then the cash back website pays you back a percentage of your sales!
# 20 Shop Clearance to save money on toys
Many stores will clearance out toys at certain times of the year. So you will want to watch out for clearance sales. These toys just need to be sold fast so the stores can have room to stock a more profitable and/or newer toy. Toys go on clearance year round but often the best time to look is in the summer and save them for birthdays and the holidays.