Did you know that over a child’s lifetime, parents spend approximately $6,500 on toys, according to a 2016 study conducted by the Toy Industry Association? That is a lot of money. To make it worse, the kids tend to play with the box at least as much — or more — than the toys or they quickly get bored of the toys and stop playing with them!
Just think about what you can do with just a fraction of that spending. Imagine being able to reduce that toy budget by half. That would be $3,250 that you can use for something else. What would you do with that money? How much could you contribute to debt repayment, toward an emergency fund, or paying for activities for the kids with less financial stress?
You may be thinking “That sounds nice, but how is this even possible?” One of my new favorite resources can be found at Cuyahoga County Public Library. The library has an amazing toy catalog that works similarly to the book lending program. The cool thing is that parents can browse the toy catalog by age, type of activity, etc. Then the kit comes with the toy and a related book to help parents reinforce learning and reading. Toy rentals are for three weeks at a time, but there is an option for renewing the items if someone else has not requested a hold. Plus, the library staff cleans the toys upon return, so the next person who rents gets clean toys.
I learned about this program a while ago and I finally tried it out. It was amazing. My kids loved the toys and books and were engaged for hours. They were so engaged that they didn’t even ask to watch their favorite television programs. The toys were also educational and it allowed us to work together on reading and math in a fun way.
I really love saving money by not paying out of pocket (assuming the toys are returned on time and we avoid fines), the kids get to refresh their toys every three weeks, I am not frustrated that the kids are more interested in the box than the toys, and the learning stays fresh and interesting.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a resident of Cuyahoga County to use the library. Anyone who is a resident of Ohio can obtain a library card and that card unlocks all of the resources that the library system has, in addition to the toy lending library. Also, given that the library has 27 branches, if you live outside of Cuyahoga County but in Northeast Ohio you can find a branch that is relatively close to you.
Check it out! Your children will love the toys and you will love the savings. This truly is an amazing program.