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Every fall, many larger retailers release their list of the top hot holiday toys. Kids tend to flock toward the items on these lists.

While parents and family members want to get the things kids want, there are obstacles that come up. That doesn’t mean you won’t get the toys your kids are dreaming of, you just have to know how to play the game. Here are a few tips to help you get those big ticket items that your kids are asking for.

Shop Early

The items on these list are getting the most exposure, which can increase the demand. If you know your child wants something on a hot toy list and you find it in stock, you probably don’t want to hesitate to buy it. Even though the holidays are still a couple months away, if you don’t buy it now, you may not find it again.

Avoid Waiting for a Sale

Retailers have a pretty good idea about which items will draw in the most sales. Because of this, the odds of them lowering prices on these in-demand items can be pretty slim, as they don’t need to offer an incentive for people to buy. That means most of the items on these lists will not go on sale this year. If you try to wait for a price drop, you will more than likely miss out on getting them.

Split the Cost

If something it a bit out of your budget, ask a family member to share the cost with you. Buying one larger toy can actually be more cost effective than getting two or three smaller items.

And if you decide you just can’t get them the items they’re dreaming of, whether because of availability or if it’s out of your budget, here are a few alternatives.

Redirect Your Kids

While some of the items look incredible, consider sitting down with your kids and find out what they really would like and use. Something might appeal to them only because they have seen it advertised. But is that something they actually want? Will they still be playing with it in a few months?

Limit Your Shopping

This year, try a different gift-giving tactic. For instance, give the “five gifts” system a try. This is where you purchase five total gifts for your child. These include items like:

  1. A book to read
  2. An item they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. A toy they want
  5. Something to share

Create your holiday list and budget and be careful not to allow temptation to sway you to spend more.

Have a Back-up Plan

Even if you have the budget set to be able to grab that hot toy, you might not be able to find it. The most popular items sell out quickly. Don’t go too out of the way trying to find something in stock. Create a back-up plan. Ask your children for different ideas. That way, when you can’t find one toy, you can still give them something they want.

The holidays are not just about the gifts. Sure, we want to give our children what they want, but we need to keep our sanity (and our finances) in check. Getting them the hot toy of the moment (which may no longer be interesting to them in a few months) certainly isn’t worth going into credit card debt over. Not only can this damage your finances, but it can also harm your credit. You can keep an eye on how your holiday spending affects your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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