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Top tricks for saving money at the annual toy sales

As this year’s annual toy sales come to an end, you might be wondering to yourself how much money you actually saved at this tumultuous event? The sad reality is, it probably wasn’t much.

Each year, thousands of Australians flock to the major toy retailers – Target, Big W and Kmart, in the hope of snapping up a bargain for upcoming birthdays or even Christmas. Hundreds line up at midnight with their children waiting for the sales to open. There are kids screaming, parents yelling and fights over who will take home the last Justin Bieber figurine.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and the 100 page catalogues full of toys, but if you actually want to save money at the annual toy sales, there are a few very important things to keep in mind before you let your children coax you into the stores.

Do your research

What many people don’t realise is that not everything in those catalogues is actually on sale. Furthermore, many things that are on sale are only very moderately reduced.

My tip is to sit down with the catalogues before the sales start and make a list of the specific things you want to buy. Then, go through all of the catalogues and find the cheapest price for each of those items. Don’t forget to check out some of the smaller retailers like Dick Smith and Aldi who have also jumped on the mid-year toy sale bandwagon.

Once you’ve made your list – go online and compare prices. You’ll be amazed at the savings you can make on toys by purchasing them online. There are plenty of websites that can help you compare like

Plan your purchases carefully

If you’re planning on purchasing toys for Christmas – remember that it is still 6 months away. A lot can change for children in 6 months, which means that toy they are lusting after right now will probably be old news by December.

Try and select items that you know your child will be able to enjoy for a long time. Lego is a safe choice, but this product is normally cheaper online, which means you don’t have to buy during the toy sale. Classic board games are also a great choice, as people generally keep these for many years and pull them out every few months when school holidays come around. Avoid seasonal games that have been released based around movies or TV shows, as children will tire of these more quickly as the trend phases out.

Also, let your family know what you’re planning to buy at the sales for Christmas so that no one doubles up and gives the same toy to your child as a birthday present in the meantime.

Be smart in store

If you do have to venture into the stores, there are a few things you can do to help make things go smoothly.

Firstly, even if you’re not shopping for Christmas presents, leave the kids at home. Children are very good at talking their parents into buying more than they intended and the last thing you want is your child throwing a tantrum at the register or fighting with other children over toys. Your child may be a little angel at home but the combination of toys and lots of other children can bring out the worst in them.

Secondly, take your catalogues with you. If you’re looking for an item at Target that’s sold out, take the catalogue to Kmart and they will match any price.

Lastly, be prepared for long queues at the checkout filled with frazzled parents (who probably didn’t plan ahead as well as you did)! Stay calm, and try and get in and out as quickly as possible. If you plan your shopping well, you should only have to tackle the shops once.

With these clever tips in mind, you’re more than ready for the next round of toy sales. My final advice is not to worry if you miss out on particular items during the toy sale. Things go on sale at other times during the year (often at a cheaper price) or can be purchased online.

Kirsten Stallard is a frugal-living enthusiast and personal finance blogger for Cash Doctors; Australia’s multi award-winning short term lender.