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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gaming the Systems, or What to do When the Kids Ask Santa for Expensive Stuff

Welcome Money Hacks Carnival goers. This post has been included in the Laid Off and Freelancing Edition of the carnival at Financial Wellness Project, and there are lots of other good frugal ideas over there this week. After you you've had a look-see here and subscribed to my RSS feed or email subscription, head on over and check out the other great ideas.


Photo by Jennifer Lee

The magic of Santa meets economic reality in a big way for us this year. We've been talking a lot with the kids about how times are hard for everyone in the world now, and that Santa can't get expensive things for everybody who asks for them. This is a big bit to chew, especially for my more materialistic child.

Now, understand that my kids limit themselves to one request each from Santa. This wasn't a rule we imposed on them--it just evolved at our house, the same way Santa doesn't wrap gifts. (Now there's a nice tradition that came from my last minute parents!)

We sometimes give our kids strategies for deciding what to request from Santa. They know that Santa will not bring toys of which Mom and Dad don't approve. But they have been gaming the system a little in the past couple of years--Mom and Dad can't afford whatever it is, so let's ask Santa!

This year the requests are pretty big--an iPod Shuffle, and a Nintendo DS. I'm already starting to panic about where the money is coming from for presents in general this year. We can't really afford much of anything, but we did set a budget. There will be 2 nice things and a bunch of really inexpensive things. And mom and dad don't need anything this year.

So, I think I may have a solution. Neither of the two Santa items are routinely available at a discount. Granted, the prices have come down on iPod Shuffle. The answer is my new favorite word: Refurbished.

Apple sells reburbished iPods and computer systems through their online store. Gamestop sells reburbished game systems, including the Nintendo DS Lite, for 30% off the cost of a new system. That should make Santa happy. They also have a very wide selection of used games that start as low as $3.99. That is, if Santa were looking for a supplier.

Plus, if you sign up for their email list, you get a coupon for 10% off used stuff (games only, not systems). Still I just saved myself a pretty penny on the stuff that goes with the stuff Santa will bring. If you have a gamer in your life, you might too. As far as I can tell, there is no reason to buy games at full price anymore.



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