11 Ways to Entertain Kids for Less

Take advantage of sales and swaps before buying brand new toys and books.

1. Cash in on coupons: Search for printable toy and game coupons at coupons.com, target.com and on Hasbro Play Saver.

2. Save on refurbished: Both Best Buy and GameStop stock preowned video games and gadgets and will give store credit for old ones.

3. Drop in to discount stores: Retailers like T.J.Maxx also carry marked-down quality toys. The stock is always revolving, so if you see a deal, grab it.

4. Ebay.com may offer the largest collection of pre-owned toys, while its partner site half.com specializes in used games, music, and books, including textbooks.

5. Check classifieds (both local and online, such as craigslist.org) to negotiate deals for inexpensive toys, games and books.

6. Cruise yard sales for the hands-down best bargains on kids’ playthings. Be sure to arrive early and bring batteries to test electronics.

7. Recycle cardboard (or get big appliance boxes), old scarves, fabric and blankets as supplies for your child to build crafts, forts, houses and rocket ships—for free.

8. Swap at toystotrade.com, swapmygames.com and swap.com for books, CDs, DVDs and games. Or find in-person swaps near you at peaceloveswap.com.

9. Trade in: If your child must have the newest Nintendo, help her sell the old one on a resale site like yourenew.com or gazelle.com and put the cash toward the new model.

10. Make them pay: An allowance can teach kids the value of money, especially if they must contribute to the cost of their own fun. They may blow their cash in one shot at first, but if you don’t come to their rescue (let them miss a night out with friends!), they’ll learn to conserve their funds.

11. Do a sample run: Before you buy a pricey game system, borrow one from a friend to make sure your kids will use it.