5 Simple Ways We Save Money On Kids Toys

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You can save money on kids toys if you're creative. I share my go-to ways to save money on toys that our kids love and keep more money in our pockets.

This post is part of the TaxACT How I Save blog tour which teaches you ways to keep more money in your pocket. Last year, TaxACT saved America over $240 million on tax preparation. How much can you save? To learn more about tips and strategies on saving, click here.

I realize the Christmas shopping season may very well be over and thus the drive to buy kids toys is over for another year. As a father of three and a growing extended family, I can tell you that you’re never really over when it comes to buying toys for kids. Well, that is unless everything falls at the same time on the calendar. That said, you likely know that many think it can be a challenge to save money on kids toys. As a parent, or any gift giver really, it can be difficult to not give in to that desire to spend more. Because, let’s face it, spending more just outright guarantees the recipient will enjoy said gift more. 😉

Seriously though, Mrs. Frugal Rules and I are human and have given into that feeling in the past and decided a number of years ago that we were going to stop. After all, the little Frugal Rules’ have three sets of grandparents, not to mention other family members who shower them with gifts and toys so why should we inundate them with more stuff to fight over, err…, play with?

That’s also not to mention the fact that it just adds more clutter to the house that we don’t need. We still buy toys, but we’re frugal about it. We look for deals. We’ve drastically cut back the budget for them and many other things. So, if you’re looking for ways to still score toys your kids will love and not give into the pleas for a large gift, then hopefully some of these tips will help.

How to Save Money on Kids Toys


Buy second-hand: I think my Mom had heart palpitations when we told her we buy second-hand for our kids. Here’s the thing, any kid under five is going to beat the crap out of most toys. If you have a good eye for a deal you can spend a fraction of the cost of buying new by visiting sites like Ebay to garage sales to the Goodwill. With a few sanitizing wipes it’ll be like new and they don’t notice a thing.

Give a group gift: This obviously works when there are multiple kids. If you know that they will all enjoy a toy or game then buy it for them all and spread the cost amongst them. We’ve done this numerous times and it makes for three happy kiddos.

Know the time to buy: This really applies towards the Holiday season, but buy a few weeks before Christmas as the best prices are to be had then and not on Black Friday.

Try Amazon Warehouse: Amazon Warehouse doesn’t always work to save money on kids toys, but we’ve seen it work in the past on games and toys. The Warehouse Deals are items that have either been returned or slightly damaged somehow. Again, this doesn’t always work but is always worth checking out quickly.

Compare Prices: This is an easy one, but you’d be amazed by how many people don’t compare prices on toys. We do this and it saves us money nearly every time. There was one toy in particular that was nearly half off on Amazon as opposed to Target this past Christmas. Suffice it to say, we got it on Amazon.

Making Money Work For You


We try to spend less on toys for our kids because we want to make our money work for us – which also has the dual benefit of helping us teach them about making wise money decisions. For example, this past Christmas we spent roughly $40 on each kid which left $110 left over for each child. We took $90 for each to put in their 529 accounts and the other $20 was saved for some sort of activity they may want to do throughout the year.

So, instead of blowing our entire budget on toys that would just clutter up the house and overwhelm them we’re able to get them a few things they’ll get hours of joy out, have money set aside for something fun during the year and, more importantly, put some money away for their future needs.

Saving money on everyday things, such as toys, doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need to be creative and look at your priorities. As we’re fresh in the New Year, I challenge you to find new ways to save money so you can have more of it in your pocket as opposed to going out.

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If you bought toys for Christmas this year, how much did you spend? Would you ever buy second hand toys? What’s one thing you’d never buy second hand?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • Kalie says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your philosophy of spending less on kids’ toys (and more on college savings). Second-hand stores and garage sales have so many clothes and toys in good condition, I can hardly imagine needing to buy them much new stuff. Another idea we’ve done with close friends and between siblings is for the kids to exchange their existing toys for Christmas and birthday gifts. It helps the kids share and allows us to accumulate less.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Exactly Kalie! So often they just don’t notice and many times the item is just as good as new so it only makes sense to save money. That’s a great idea!

  • Laurie @wellkeptwallet says:

    I hear you on this one, John! One of our favorite ways to save cash on toys is to check Ebay (they often have new toys for cheaper than the stores) and to check Amazon frequently. They’ll have ridiculously high prices on a toy one week and ridiculously low prices on the same toy the next week. We saved over 30% on one of our son’s Christmas presents this way.

  • Money Beagle says:

    We have a secondhand store nearby and we’ve got some great deals on items that are in wonderful shape that our kids love. For example, we got a dollhouse that our 3-year old loves for less than half the retail price, and it came with extra pieces that had been purchased separately, for an even better deal.

  • Holly@ClubThrifty says:

    I have gotten a lot of nice toys for my kids from garage sales. Hell, they’ve gotten garage sale toys for Christmas before! They don’t know the difference and we are able to pay a fraction of the price.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, we’re the exact same way. I’d say at least half, if not more, of the stuff we tend to give them for gifts was from some sort of secondhand store of some sort and at a fraction of the original cost.

  • Jon @ Money Smart Guides says:

    We don’t have kids yet but I see the same thing with my nieces all the time. They get a mountain of gifts and only play with one or two. I was talking to my wife about how we could do things differently, maybe instead of buying a ton of toys, buy a couple and put the difference in a 529 plan.

    When I was growing up, we got a few small gifts from Santa, but then one big gift for all of us. One year it was an Atari 5200 and another year it was a family computer. It seemed to work well for us.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yea, it can get really overwhelming for the kids and without fail they really only like 1 or 2 of the toys.

      We plan on doing something like that as our kids get older. It can save some money, not to mention giving them the ability to play/work on something together.

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    Fortunately for me, my son is still having fun with boxes and containers. Plus my wife finds some great deals at thrift shops…some of them are practically brand new. We also get toys from friends whose kids have outgrown them.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Well, you have some time still with the box and container stage. Our 5 & 7 year old kids still love them. But, part of me thinks that’s because it’s something new and Dad is telling them to leave it alone. 😉

  • Lauren says:

    I love buying second hand toys. You can find some great stuff at thrift stores and flea markets. It just takes a little more effort to clean the items up, but I love knowing that I’m making an eco-friendly and budget-friendly choice. If my daughter has fun with it, then she doesn’t care where it came from!

  • Kim says:

    My philosophy is pretty much to not buy toys because Granny does. We bought a few things from Santa, but most of the stuff came from grandparents. I feel a little bad, but you really cant’ stop them, so might as well roll with it.

  • Michelle says:

    This year, the whole month of December, Cartwheel from Target had great deals on really usually expensive toys.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Dang second group giveaway this week I missed out on – hopefully I can get in on one in the future. Kids toys are just another reason why I am happy to put off having kids. While there are ways to save on them (which you described), it’s just one more expense.

  • Mark@BareBudgetGuy says:

    Craigslist is big for us. Also for my son we just get him scrap wood, some nails, and a kids hammer and he goes to town making his own “toys.”

  • dojo says:

    We were pretty frugal this Christmas, too. We did find nice things on sale, so we went for them. Instead of paying 3-4 times more for the same thing, a bit of patience and attention helped us save more money.

  • Mrs. Maroon says:

    We try to be very deliberate about the toys we bring into our house. For Mini Maroon #1’s second birthday last year, we bought NOTHING. We had to talk ourselves up to stick with the plan on multiple occasions. But we knew we were having a birthday party with friends and family and would end up with way more than he needed anyway. This year, we’ve moved away from that crowd, so likely no big party. Instead, we plan to build a sandbox. By building we also give him a project to work in with Daddy. And that experience is likely half, or more, of the enjoyment he will receive from the gift.

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says:

    That’s my problem. When I buy toys for my kids, they tend to get envious most of the time to one another. I end up buying them a one type of product. I consider the group gift the best option for this type of problem.

  • Mr Ikonz @ says:

    I’ve just had my first child (a beautiful baby girl) and I can already see that I’m going to have a hard time trying not to spoil her rotten.

    Buying toys earlier in the year during big sales seems to be a HUGE advantage, as are laybuys.

    I LOVE the idea of giving money/something investible. We live in a world where so much is disposable, I’d love to know a Christmas present etc is making a difference to her financial well-being.

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