If you’ve been following Couponing to Disney for the past few years, then you won’t be surprised to see me share this tip. I live and breathe for Target’s twice a year toy clearance in January and July.
But what I usually write about is the thrill of the chase when hunting clearance deals, and less about how much money it actually saves me. Since we just wrapped up January Toy clearance at Target, I thought now would be a great time to break down the numbers of how buying toys during clearance sales saves money in your holiday and entertainment budgets.
Quick note: I’m a Target gal, but these practices also work at the retailer of your choice: Walmart, Walgreens, Meijer. Any retailer that regularly carries in season toys will likely clearance out in January, to get rid of all the excess Christmas product, and in July, to get ready for the new school year with new product. Stores will less reliable toy stock (department stores, generally) will have a less routine clearance schedule.
This is the complete haul of my January Toy clearance.
- B. Toys Flashlight-$2.98. Originally $9.99.
- Barbie Dreamtopia-$3.88. Originally $12.99.
- Barbie Outfit (3)-$4.44. Originally $14.97.
- Cutie Mark Crew 5 pack-$3.88. Originally $12.99.
- Cutie Mark Crew Blind Bags (4)-$3.52. Originally $11.96.
- Lego Overwatch-$7.48. Originally $14.99.
- Lego Spiderman Set-$17.98. Originally $24.99.
- Lego Friends Set-$13.98. Originally $19.99.
- Lego set Toy story 4-$17.98. Originally $24.99.
- Lego Set Toy Story 4-$13.98. Originally $19.99.
- Lego Movie 2 Set-$34.98. Originally $69.99.
- Lil Woodzeez Blind Acorn (2)-$2.96. Originally $5.98.
- Muppet Babies Figures (2)-$2.96. Originally $9.98.
- Trolls Boombox-$8.98. Originally $24.99.
Total Spent: $137.02
Original Retail: $278. 79
Total Saved: $141.77
What you’re looking at is my children’s birthdays, Christmas 2020, and Easter gifts. And I saved more than I spent to get all of this.
How does this save me money? We have a budget for Christmas, a budget for Easter, a budget for Birthdays, and a budget for Entertainment. Entertainment includes miscellaneous gifts that are hard to predict, like birthday presents if we’re invited to a party or tooth fairy gifts. Each of these budgets is a set number; we do our budgets is January.
When it is time for a gift giving event, I write down in my Saving to Disney binder what gift goes under what budget, and how much I spent. For example, I know that the big Lego set will be the Glass Slipper’s big Christmas present. So I go ahead and write that under Christmas budget. I do the same with all the things I buy on clearance. Everything goes in a budget: Christmas, Easter, Birthday, or Entertainment.
Then when Christmas comes along, I look at my budget list and all the things I have already bought. I usually have about 80%-90% of my Christmas shopping down by November.
This saves me money in three ways:
- Toys are always marked up at the holiday season. Buying them in the “off” season ensures that you’re at least paying a fair price, not an inflated one. And if you time it right with clearance sales, you’ll pay way less than retail price.
- The second way this saves me money is by stretching my budgets. Let’s say my Christmas budget was $100 per child. If I bought the Lego Movie 2 set at retail price, that’s 70% of the Glass Slipper’s budget right there. But by getting it at a clearance price, it’s only 35% of her budget, enabling me to get her some more cool gifts.
- Finally, if I am under budget on any one of these categories, where do you think the overage goes? The Disney Fund! Now the trick with these budget surpluses going in the Disney fund is that they don’t really count until the end of the fiscal year. This is why the workbook part of the Saving to Disney course has been so crucial for me. It’s a lot of numbers to keep up with. Once all the gift giving holidays I’ve budgeted for are over and done with, the last one being Christmas, I can sit down with my workbook and see if I went under budget and what goes towards the Disney Fund.
The big key about shopping the Toy Clearance sales is knowing what is an evergreen love of your kids, what toys are making a comeback, and what toys are least and most likely to be discounted. I snatched up that Trolls boombox because I know that a new Trolls movie is coming out, so by the time it’s a gift giving holiday, Trolls will be a hot toy again. I waited for the My Little Ponies to go to 70% off because I know that Friendship is Magic is ending and the toys aren’t as hot as they once were. But I also grabbed Legos at 30% off because Legos are rarely discounted.
Buying my gifts during seasonal toy clearance is one of my biggest money saving tips because it not only has saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars, but it’s enabled me to provide amazing holidays for my children without going beyond our means.
Do you shop the toy clearances in July and January? What’s your favorite store? What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten? Tell me in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!