Thriving Childcare

Budget Buying for Child Care

Most providers no matter if they are newbies or seasoned are usually on a tight budget when it comes to making purchases for their child care businesses.  That being said, our equipment can really take a beating over the years especially when you take into account the number of children we care for year-end and year out.  So whether you are trying to outfit your new child care or if you ever have looked around (like I did) and realized “This stuff is looking kinda old.”, this post today is just for you.  Want some savvy tricks to budget buying for child care?  Here are 7 go-to ways to buy for your child care on a budget on the cheap.

Budget Buying for Child Care

Last updated: 04/22/20

Where and How to Get Stuff

  1. Craigslist is my go to.  You can usually find some really good items there for almost half.  Sometimes you will luck up and find a daycare or school going out of business and really get some good stuff.
  2. Walmart usually has very reasonable prices on their kid gear.  So check them out online.
  3. Get on for notices when items drop in price.  Just put in a few wish list items and they will notify you when they drop in price.
  4. Ask your parents for donations.  I had a parent 10 years ago that is still donating items to me just about every year.  Most parents would be more than willing to let some of their toy stash go to a better cause.
  5. Don’t be afraid to do drive-byes.  I actually have found highchairs by the side of the road … twice.  These were not yukky, old, or broken down.  They were in pretty good condition and Peg-Perego which sells for up to $300, for FREE!
  6. Be creative.  One time I noticed something behind a patio business.  Apparently, they had renovated a home and the homeowner got rid of a playhouse his kids no longer used.  They said I could have it.  It was FREE!  All I had to do was haul it home (I can’t remember how I pulled that off).  I’ve had it for years.
  7. Finally, if you can’t afford it, DIY itGet to pinning!  There are so many things you can make yourself or find at the dollar stores.  Check out the boards on Pinterest for some fun ideas.

Is that it?  Seven ways not good enough? Well, you are in luck if you are still asking …

Where Else Can you Get Stuff?

I’m glad you asked because here are quite a few other ways you can pick up great buys to outfit your child care while staying on a reasonable budget.

Sign up for catalogs

Environments, Lakeshore & Discount School Supply are great suppliers that often have great sales.  Get on their mailing list to get updates.

CCR toy rental

See if your local CCR has a toy rental program.  Mine does and allows providers to check out books, equipment, toys, etc.  This is a great resource for new providers who don’t really have the budget to make big purchases yet.

Offer to swap

I have written before about developing collaborations with fellow providers and how beneficial such relationships can be.  If you know a few other providers offer to swap toys or equipment with them.  Don’t know anyone?  Check out some Facebook swap groups for child care.

Plan  a fundraiser

Parents are primed for fundraiser events.  Think about a bake sale or something easy to raise a few dollars for your child care purchases.

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Reach out

Often times preschools and daycares upgrade their equipment and have the need to get rid of perfectly good stuff.  Here is another time where developing a relationship with a director of your neighborhood preschool could work in your favor.


Kids can get bored playing with same stuff every day.  Think about rotating toys once a week or at least once a month.


Oh if you are fortunate enough (like me) to get an overflow of donations that you don’t really have the room for, think about putting some of the items up for sale on AmazoneBay, Craigslist or one of the selling apps to bring in $ for other purchases.

So there you have it, my go-to list for budget buying for child care.  I use these methods all the time to save BIG money on purchases for my business.  Finally, check out Amazon for larger items, like ride-on toys, to possibly get FREE shipping.

I do want to stress that even though I am just about always looking to get a deal, I believe that either purchasing new or very good condition items is always best – just not at retail prices.  As child care providers we care for young children so we want to ensure that what they are playing with is safe, clean and age appropriate.

Budget Buying for Child Care
Are you on a budget for your child care?  Got a secret go-to get things cheap?  How do you save money on your purchases?  Leave me a comment below and clue me in.
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One Response

  1. Honestly, Child Care seems to be so expensive than anything else! I am an expectant mother and so I needed for tips for this. Thanks a lot for sharing such helpful information.

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Adrienne Bradley Thriving Childcare

Hey there, I'm Adrienne. I help daycare providers like you create businesses they love!

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