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Nov 242012
 
 November 24, 2012  Posted by  Hot Deals, Shopping
Dollhouse

If you’re shopping for kids this holiday season, you’re probably shopping for toys. Use these tips to save money on all the toys on your list.

The Early Bird Doesn’t Get the Best Deal

Black Friday ads might make you think that scoring the best deals on toys means rising before dawn the day after Thanksgiving. Not so fast. Sources such as ShopAdvisor and DealNews consistently find lower toy prices after Black Friday. You’ll save the most on the season’s hottest toys during the two-week window before Christmas. The day after Black Friday and December 23 are historically good times to find bargains on a wide range of toys. But if waiting until the last minute adds stress to your holiday season, rest assured. You’ll generally save money on toys by purchasing anytime in December.

Find Low Prices in Your Inbox

Use sites such as The Tracktor or Online Price Alert to monitor prices on Amazon. Enter the URL for your favorite items and receive an alert when an item is discounted. Alert settings and privacy policies vary from site to site, so be sure to read the fine print before registering.

Take Advantage of Price Matching

Instead of dashing from store to store or clicking from site to site for the best deal, save time by shopping a single source that matches competitors’ prices. This season, Target will match print ad prices both in-store and online through December 24. Through December 16, Target stores will match the prices of online competitors, including Amazon, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and ToysRUs.com. Best Buy stores will match local and online competitors’ prices on appliances and electronics from November 27 to December 24. Walmart, Toys”R”Us, JCPenney, Kohl’s and Sears are among the many retailers that match prices featured in local print ads.

Swap, Don’t Shop

On sites like Toyswap.com and ToystoTrade.com, you can post a toy your kids no longer use and swap it for a gently used toy on your kids’ wish list. You simply pay for shipping. Toyswap.com also allows you purchase and sell gently used toys. To avoid shipping, shop Craigslist or thrift and consignment stores for used toys. Some stores keep request lists and will contact you when your desired toy is available for sale, which is how I scored a $100 dollhouse for $20 at Once Upon a Child.

Video: How to Choose Toys for Your Kids


Earn Customer Loyalty Discounts

If your shopping list includes several items from one category, you can save money by shopping for those items at a single store. For example, GameStop and Lego.com offer free customer loyalty programs that award points for every $1 in goods purchased. Accumulated points are redeemable for store credit. These programs can help you save on higher-priced items that rarely go on sale. Fee-based customer loyalty clubs, like Barnes and Noble’s Member Program, can pay off on smaller purchases made during the holidays and throughout the year.

Shop Locally, Strategically

Our new favorite way to shop for toys supports our local economy and keeps our spending within budget. Here’s the idea: Take your kids to a local store with a large selection of toys. Have them make a wish list from items available at that store. Determine your budget and return to the store to purchase wish list items that fit within your budget. Many local stores have customer loyalty cards to help you save money, and some will even wrap gifts for you. Keep your child’s wish list for ideas on birthday gifts and other future purchases.

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Kim Kankiewicz

Kim Kankiewicz writes fundraising and marketing communications for nonprofit organizations and ghostwrites executive articles and speeches. Her byline has appeared in Brain, Child magazine, The Saint Paul Almanac, MinnPost and Denver’s Westword weekly. Kim is a seasoned re-user, upcycler, and secondhand shopper. Her favorite discount purchase was the wedding dress she found for $25 at Savers, which she wore when she married her equally frugal husband.

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