1. Save on refurbished: Both Best Buy and GameStop stock preowned video games and gadgets and will give store credit for old ones.
2. Cruise yard sales for the hands-down best bargains on kids’ playthings. Be sure to arrive early and bring batteries to test electronics.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.