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Money Saving Tips for Daycare Providers
By: Michael Castello and Forum Moderator MAC60

In this trying economy we have all had to deal with the shrinking dollar and likewise less money to complete our daily tasks as daycare providers. The forum was recently abuzz with ideas from many directors, teachers, assistants and parents from across the country lending some great cost cutting and money saving ideas. We would like to share them with the hope that it will make your daily tasks a little less stressful. One Moderator, mac60, first posted "I am sure we all have our own little things we do to cut back and save a few dollars running our business." Here are some money saving tips from our members that may help you stretch those dollars.

• Cut paper towels in half and fold them and place them on the bathroom counter to wipe hands with. Also, cut napkins in half to place snacks on at the table.
• Keep a spray bottle with water and a little dish soap in it to spray off the table and high chairs.
• Make your own foaming hand soap. Fill pump soap dispenser 1/4 full of liquid handsoap and fill with warm water. Put lid back on and shake and you have a new container of soap.
• When printing almost everything choose "draft quality" to save on ink.
sleeping mats • Buy preschool supplies when school supplies are out in order to buy at lower prices in bulk.
• Make your own sleep mats out of a twin size egg crate from Walmart for $12, cut it in 4 pieces, wrap it in a piece of shower curtain purchased for $1.97 (can get 2 out of each) and use duck tape to secure ending up with four 1 inch thick mats. Depending on how many you need, you may get a better deal buying a full or queen size pad. Make cheap pillowcase type covers for them. Pillows from Goodwill and pillowcases for 50 cents from Goodwill.
• Buy $1 towels from a dollar store and cut them in half. For a baby, 1 piece is made into a bib and the other you can crochet a tie on. Since they are matching sets, you know which one belongs to who. If they are older, make 1 piece with the tie for bath and other crochet trim for hand washing. Three and older are just 2 ties. One for bathroom & one for after meals. Newborn to 6 months, both 1/2s made into spit clothes. Ruffels for girls and boys plain border. Wash every night & reuse.
• Ask parents to donate things that they would typically otherwise throw away. Recycle them into craft projects (2-liter bottles, cylinder oatmeal containers, magazines, etc) parents are usually happy to save them and likewise alert them in your newsletters for that need.
• Purchase full size blankets at Walmart for $5 and cut them in 1/4's for nap mat blankets. Also cut fleece blanket throws in 1/2 that purchased after Christmas for $2.00 at Walmart for nap blankets.
• Buy three pack of cookie sheets for magnet boards for preschool activities.
• Replace electric light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs, These bulbs have revolutionized energy-efficient lighting. Many don't realize Electric lighting burns up to 25% of the average home energy budget! Costco, Sams and Walmart all sell Fluorescent Lights in bulk at cost saving prices. Forum Member Carole's Daycare wrote "Another thing I do is on my monthly newsletter I let my parents know if there are craft or curriculum supplies I need for the upcoming month, or borrow things for specific themes. My parents are happy to help out. I also am lucky whenever kids are bored with toys or activities, my parents bring toys from home that they've outgrown & donate them to us."

There were those that were glad they were not alone in their cost cutting remedies. Kitkat penned "I was feeling so cheap by cutting the napkins into smaller pieces. I'm so glad I'm not the only one!" adding "I use a ton of scrap paper for printing off the computer. My mom's work always saved it, but they hardly used it. She gave me a ton and it's lasted for about a year! She doesn't work there anymore, so I'm going to have to find a new "supplier" soon. I dread the thought of actually having to buy paper."

WalmartOne daycare operator asked parents to donate a box of baby wipes one time a month, then the next one in line will bring it for the next month and so on. She started by giving a note to every parent about donating baby wipes for accidents, meals, snacks, activities to wipe hands and face areas. She wrote "I have them donate one box every 6 months - I don't think 2 parents like it very much but I don't think it is too much to ask. I was always using my own for everything!"

Another daycare provider uses Golf towels - (they have a grommet for hanging, small tea towel sized) in different colors for each child. After meals rinse them off in a water/bleach solution to disinfect & hang them on rubber suction hooks to dry. Then give it a rinse in warm water before using it. Buy toys/baby equipment at garage sales/Goodwill and purchase wipes in bulk at a wholesale club. Always purchase holiday craft supplies AFTER the holiday to use the next year.

dollar storemomofsix wrote "We use face clothes instead of paper towels for hand drying and that's worked out quite well. One mom suggested the idea of using wash clothes for cleaning hands and faces after meals and snacks (right now I use baby wipes). At first I didn't give it much consideration, but now I'm thinking it may actually save a ton of money."

While another member continued "I use washcloths for meal clean up too. Each child has a different color. I bought those 3M hooks to hang them on, which works really well. I also buy almost all my toys/baby equipment at garage sales and Goodwill. I buy wipes in bulk at a wholesale club. I buy holiday craft supplies AFTER the holiday to use the next year. We need to do everything we can to keep a little bit of money that we work so hard for!"

If you have any other cost cutting suggestions or money saving tips we would like to hear from you. Please join in the conversation in our Forum!

In considering the money saving advice from our forum members, would like to remind our readers to stay within your state's licensing standards and guidelines. Please see your states licensing requirements for more information.

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