It's that time of year again, are your kids bugging you about what to put on Santa's list yet? What do you mean Santa? It's not even Halloween yet right!?! I know around out house the kids are all buzzing when the newspaper comes to look at the toy ads and circle what they want on their wish list. It doesn't help that I have Erica and Ashley's birthday only a few weeks away and they keep wondering what there presents will be.
But along with those lists comes questions of where do we find the money for presents (no matter what you celebrate). This questions ate at me about 1 years ago and I hated the feeling of wondering where I was going to find the money for Christmas presents again this year. So I decided to add a special envelope just for presents in our budget (taken from thenotsoordinarywife. This included not just Christmas presents but also birthdays though out the year.
We started buying toys at garage sales or thrift stores and wrapping them up for the kids for Christmas or birthdays! And Yes they do sell new toys at thrift stores. I also shop the clearnce racks at Walmart, Target and Drug Stores. Go ahead, tell the Ballard kids their toys were previously played with before I wrapped them up, let my secret out of the bag. It's OK because the best part, they don't care! They're just happy to have some new toys to play with.
Everyone benefits to this. For one, my budget doesn't get crushed by buying new toys for now four kids by the time the holiday arrives since second hand toys are usually 90% less than the retail price. The environment wins two ways, gently used toys are not going to the dump and all that packaging (you know that annoying stuff that takes you 1223.287 hours to open while an impatient child waits for you to get it done faster) isn't going there too. You've saved yourself 1223.287 hours of opening that crazy packaging that gets placed on kids toys. (Really have you ever wondered who's job it is to think of how to package kids toys? They for sure have never had kids of their own.) And I know my sanity has been saved by not stressing over where money will come from to buy they toys.
Another thing I love is I start shopping early. Hopefully this year my holiday shopping will be done by the beginning of December because I will not get any done with the new babies get here. I'm half way done with buying the kids presents already by shopping yard sales and store sales this summer. I only have little small knick-knacks. No big ticket items.
So what are your kids wanting now? Where can you find it cheaper? Right now it's fall here in Philly and that means our yard sale days are over or somewhat. But there are still a lot of places to look. Do you have a goodwill, savers, 2nd hand store or thrift shop in your area. Check those out. It is also a good time to get in on Back to School sales. They are going for 50% up to 75% at some stores right now. How about craigslist? There are a lot of great toys on there. And there is always ebay. Just remember to factor in shipping costs, I've found some 'deals' are not really saving money once I add in the cost of shipping. In fact some times it makes it even more than buying it full price at the store.
*A note on ebay and craigslist: if you're on there looking for items, you can bet you are not alone! So if it's too late to start that envelope for presents, scour your house and find things that you can sell! Are there some of those gently used toys laying around that your kids haven't touched in years? That new purse you only used once?
Now not all our toys are bought 2nd hand, some things we can't find, or just not worth it. I watch the sales all year long for things that I know I can expect on the kids wish lists. So start looking at those sales ads.... after all there's only 3 months until Christmas!