Author Archives: Meredith Rines

How To Save Without Walmart Price Matching

how to save without walmart price matching, walmart price matching, how to save money on groceries, how to save on groceries, budgeting help for groceries

Hi friends!  It’s been circulating online for about 6 months now how Walmart was going to start phasing out their price matching policy.  Well the time has come and Walmart has stopped price matching.  Gasp!  I know, I know.  Honestly, not all stores have stopped (yet); however, Walmart is being tight lip on which stores still allow price matching.  Price matching is how I saved the bulk of my money on groceries.  I don’t coupon.  Not because I can’t, but because I always felt it was a waste of time for my little family of three.  I am still adamant about not coupon clipping or printing off coupons online (unless it’s too good to pass up).  

What is price matching?

In case you aren’t familiar with what price matching is – it’s the best way to save money on groceries.  Your Walmart would typically match their competitor’s price on name brand items and even store brand to store brand items.  

When I heard how Walmart was going to be doing away with price matching I started developing a new strategy to help you save money on groceries.  

Price matching was always a double edge sword.  You saved money, but you had to deal with the mess that is Walmart, grumpy cashiers and impatient customers.  Part of me is relieved it’s over, but another part is a little sad because I liked the challenge and loved saving money.  

To combat the new policy backlash Walmart is supposed to be lowering their already low prices to help. I guess we’ll see how that turns out and if it’s really a savings, but until then I have a new plan to save money since Walmart stopped their price matching.

Here’s how to save without Walmart price matching:

Switch Stores

You can switch which grocery store you shop at.  Find a new one that can help save money without the hassle of price matching.  Simple – I plan on switching stores for most of my day-to-day grocery items.  I  started shopping at Aldi lately and I’ve noticed a huge savings on most of the essential items that my family needs.  My local Aldi doesn’t carry everything we need so I know there will be trips to Walmart or Walgreens in my future, but for the bulk of my items I plan at shopping at Aldi. 

Shop Online

The other option is start buying items online. I’ve started adding is ordering more from Amazon. Shopping on Amazon is by far the easiest and most convenient for our family. I use the Subscribe and Save for our dog food, diapers, toilet paper and wipes.  As I’ve learned when we need to replace items, I’ve added them to our Subscribe and Save too.

Money Saving Apps

You can utilize money saving apps to rack up extra money for fun trips, purchases, and anything else you want.  I use my money saving apps like the Walmart Savings Catcher And Ibotta. The savings catcher app doesn’t quite price match what I consider good deals. You have to shop name brand and it has to be on sale at a store within the vicinity of the Walmart you shop at. But honestly I feel that it only compares my shopping to stores like Walgreens and CVS in my hometown.  I don’t think it compares to the actual grocery stores nearby. 

Since I plan on stopping most of my Walmart shopping I won’t be using this app nearly as much. I use the Walmart Savings Catcher app when I shop at Walmart because it’s convenient.  I already have the Walmart receipt and it only takes 5 seconds to upload it, so why not? I don’t get a ton of money from the app and I usually try to save as much as possible to use for Christmas; however, it’s not typically enough to pay for my entire Christmas budget. That’s when I use Ibotta to help pick up the slack.

I do plan on using Ibotta with my Aldi shopping, but I’ve noticed a serious lack of rebates available from them.  It’s a little disappointing, but I can’t complain too much since I’m getting such a good deal in-store.  I also know I won’t be able to do all of my shopping at Aldi so it’s nice to know I’m still going to be getting some savings from the other local grocery stores.

Check Sales and Meal Plan

The third option I’m going to be doing is checking the sales ads. I do meal planning for two weeks to help us save money, so by having a plan with a grocery list of what I need then I’ll be able to see which stores have specific items on sale. I won’t mind going into multiple stores since I’ll have a plan for my grocery list and know which stores to buy which items then I can save time and money. Because let’s be honest price matching at Walmart though it was nice and saved money it could be time-consuming if you had a lot of items with a lot of price matches and you had a grumpy cashier.

What are you doing without Walmart’s price matching?  Leave a comment and let me know, I always want to learn new ways to save money.

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If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Happy Birthday, My Love

I wanted to take a few minutes to wish this man a very happy 31st today.  This man has unselfishly loved me from the very beginning… all of me.  Even my messy ways and how I can seemingly go into a panic about anything.  He is the calm to my storm.  When I’m too tired, he picks up the slack without even being asked.  This man.  He’s a keeper.

Thank you J for being the best husband and the best Dad to us.  I will spend the rest of my days knowing how loved I am (even when you don’t say it all the time).  Your actions prove it.  

Let me tell you about this man.  He makes our little guy laugh the deepest belly laughs I’ve ever heard.  He’s the fun Dad who let’s you jump on the couch (of course he’s right there with his arms ready to catch).  He’s the neighbor who starts the weekly mowing rounds because everyone else follows his lead when it comes to cutting the grass.  He picks up toys and prepares bottles each night while I gently rock our little guy to sleep.  He turns the TV off when I’m too tired to keep watching knowing that the sound will keep me awake.  He sends me random Snaps through out the day (some I don’t want to see… ahem filters with women’s faces).  He changes all of the light bulbs in the house and takes the trash to street each week.  He helps with dinner on nights I’m too tired or too forgetful to lay anything out.  He helps with laundry, dishes and cleaning.  

This man.  I could go on and on about the things he does for his family, but who would have that much time to read it?  Plus, he might be embarrassed if I kept going.

Happy birthday J!  You deserve so much on this special day!  Don’t worry – Baby boy, Bud and I will be patiently waiting to see you walk through the door tonight!  

DIY Mother’s Day Gift or Birthday Gift

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. Thank you!

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift for mom, DIY photo gift

I wanted to treat my Mom to something special for her birthday and Mother’s Day last year.  I know, I know I can’t believe I am just now getting around to sharing what I did last year! #momissues

Our little guy was right around a month old, I was still struggling with the recovery from my c-section, I was tired and learning to adapt to this whole motherhood thing.  My Mom was great (a little overwhelming at times, but what new Grandma isn’t), she had really helped with the Baby and there were a lot of days she would just bring me lunch and sit with me for an hour.   When it came time to start thinking of Mother’s Day and her birthday, which is just a few days later, I knew I wanted to do something special for her.  Our son is my parents’ first grandchild and they were over the moon with excitement for him, so I knew he had to be a big part of her gift.  That’s why I wanted to create a DIY birthday gift for her.  

Honestly this gift can be created for a birthday, Mother’s Day or even Father’s Day gift.  Heck, it would even work for Grandparents’ Day.

J and I were trying to mind our budget, like always.  And with medical bills and some home projects our money was pretty tight.  I had to put on my thinking cap and come up with something creative that wouldn’t break the bank.

DIY birthday gift

I headed to Hobby Lobby and came across this pretty picture frame that holds three 5×7 images.  Luckily it was on sale and was 50% off.  After taxes I paid a little over $13.00 for it.  You can find the exact same frame on Amazon for less than $16.00 if it’s just easier to order one.  I typically buy everything on Amazon, but for those last minute items I tend to go shopping in-person.  

Once I saw the frame, I decided I would do something similar to my DIY Father’s Day gift I created for J.  I created a simple image using canva.com.  They had the heart image under the elements heading and under the shapes tab.  I then added his name, the month and year to remember when it was done.  

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift idea

I came home and used the same ink pad that I used in J’s gift that was leftover from our wedding thumbprint tree guestbook.  I simply pressed his feet into the heart by overlapping his heel prints.  I let it dry then placed it into the center frame.  I used plain printing paper so there wouldn’t be a problem with the thickness when I tried to close up the back. 

I then headed onto walgreens.com to upload a few pictures.  I of course googled a coupon code and found one for 40% off.  I ended up paying less than $3 for the images.  I placed them in the remaining slots and that was it.

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift for mom, DIY photo gift

I updated the image so feel free to download the DIY Mother’s Day PDF or click the image above to print. 

So for right around $17.00 I created a really sweet and memorable Mother’s Day gift.  My Mom loved it and she still has it proudly showcased in her home.  I have plans to do personalized gifts for both grandparents every year – that way they can get gifts that show off how their grandson is growing and I know they’ll be gifts they want to have around.  

How to Create A Simple Budget

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Did you know everyone has a budget? Yes, everyone.

Even you have a budget. Even the anti-budgeter next door has one.

What you spend is your budget. Whether or not your write it down and keep track of it.

Your income less your expenses each month is your budget. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  I’m sharing my tip on how to create a simple budget.

The people that are turned off by budgeting are the ones that tend to overcomplicate things. I’m sharing my one tip that can help turn you into the pro-budgeter you’ve dreamed of.

You can watch the video or keep reading.

The easiest tip for sticking to and creating a simple budget is by tracking your money. Not as you spend it, but before you spend it. Before you write your rent check, swipe your debit card or ACH your car payment. You need to track your money on paper (or spreadsheet) first.

We use Google Sheets as our check register, but I take it one step further by pre-tracking our monthly expenses. I know about what day each bill will hit, when our paydays will be and when I need to go grocery shopping.

I’m going to assume you probably know all of those things too. You run your house pretty smoothly and you know when the baby will need more milk and diapers, and when you will need more toilet paper.  It’s a mom thing for sure.  J has no idea when we’re about to run out of food and when the baby is going to need more wipes.  But I do.  Just like you do.

Most of us moms and wives are pretty up on logistics when it comes to our household. So I take the knowledge I have about grocery shopping, loan payments, rent, and daycare costs then write it down on my check register.

I start with the first of each month then I write down the date of each bill, payment or expense. I add in any income and the day they will be deposited into my account (I love direct deposit and don’t have to think too much about it). I subtract any expenses from income to keep a running total. Now I know on the 20th of each month how much I’m going to have after all the bills have cleared and before I get paid on the 30th.

For instance, if you look at your check register on the 20th and see you have two more bills that come out around the 23rd then you will know on the 20th how much money you can spend until you get paid again.

Does this make sense?

No more guessing. No more cutting it too close.

You know on the 20th if you need to be eating at home the next 10 days so you have enough money to put gas in your car.

This one tip on how to create a simple budget – pretracking your expenses – has saved my family over and over again.  

There are no more surprises when it comes to our bills.  Nothing gets overlooked and you won’t have to write a hot check hoping it doesn’t get cashed before payday.  

If you want to download the budget template my family uses, check it out. It has helped so much on keeping us on track and allowing us the ability to see where our money is going. No more guessing or not knowing.

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Beach Tips for Baby

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. Thank you!

beach tips for baby, baby beach tips, taking newborn to beach

Last year our little family of three went to the beach twice.  Our little guy was only two months old the first trip and then we went again a month later.  I learned so much during those two trips.  So much.  I kept telling myself I was going to put together a blog post sharing all my secrets and tricks.  But here I am almost a year later just getting to it.  #momproblems

Actually what inspired me to write this post is the fact our little family is planning another beach trip this summer.  I love the beach.  It really is my happy place and the beaches at the local lake don’t cut it (yuck!).  I know this trip will be so much different than the ones last summer since our little guy is now walking and is so much more active these days.

Here are my baby beach tips for your newborns:

Bring A Laundry Basket.  

It was the best thing I discovered.  Not only can you haul all of your stuff down to the beach, but your little one can curl up and take a nap out of the sand.  I can’t tell you how many times I ended up just carrying my sleeping boy back to the house in a laundry basket.  I laid a towel down in the bottom to give him some extra cushion, but that’s it.  

The holes in the basket are perfect to make sure your little one is getting enough air flow.  

beach tips for baby, baby beach tips, taking newborn to beach  

Bring A Portable Fan.

If you’re worried about airflow are just want to make sure they’re staying cool, then bring a portable fan.  I used this stroller fan that runs on batteries and clipped into the side.  We also had a Ryobi fan that we used.

beach tips for baby, baby beach tips, taking newborn to beach

 

Bring Sun Protective Gear.

Make sure the swimsuit you purchase as built in UPF protection.  I purchased this suit on Amazon and fell in love last year.  But now that’s a bit bigger and harder to change a diaper in I went with a two piece – swim trunks and rash guard. I even purchased a hat with protection to make sure his scalp wouldn’t get burned.  This hat even has an adjustable cap so it can fit a small newborn or a bigger baby.  We plan on using the hat this summer, too!  It still fits!

beach tips for baby, baby beach tips, taking newborn to beach

Bring A Canopy.

If you’re going to a beach where you can bring your own canopy or rent one, then please do it!  It’s so much easier than hauling a pack-n-play to the beach (and less sandy).  On our second trip we drove with J’s family and they packed a canopy.  It was perfect spot to have us out of the direct sunlight.  If you do end up with an umbrella then I would recommend grabbing an umbrella anchor to help keep the umbrella in place.  On our first day last year, the wind caught the umbrella and it came flying out of the ground.  It would have hit the baby but I ducked over him just in time to get hit pretty good in the forehead.  It scared our little guy, but he was unharmed!

Bring Sunscreen.

I used Babyganics Sunscreen and highly recommend them.  I felt safe using it on my little guy.  

beach tips for baby, baby beach tips, taking newborn to beach

Pack Pre-measured or Pre-filled Bottles.

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, pack bottles that are pre-measured and ready to go.  I formula fed so I had measured out my water in the bottles and formula in my dispenser.  This way when our little guy got hungry I didn’t have to traipse back up to the house or worry about getting sand in his bottle.  It worked great!

This year now that our little one is over a year old and much more active we plan on bringing:

This life jacket.  It’s highly recommended and I love that it has a head support to keep his head from going backwards.  It also has a handle so if we need to grab him, it will be a lot easier.

Babyganics sunscreen.  It worked beautifully last year so I’m going to stick with it again this summer.

These swim trunks and rash guard.  Like I said, this year I plan on having two piece swimsuit for him.  I think it will be a lot easier when changing his diapers now that he’s an active toddler as opposed to an 8-week old newborn.

The adjustable hat that I mentioned above.  We also got a new one for his birthday that I can’t wait to put on him.  He’s going to be so cute!

Swim shoes to wear around the pool.  Since he’s walking I figured keeping him off the hot concrete will be difficult.  So I’m planning ahead and buying these water shoes.

What are some of your favorite go-to beach tips for baby?

Being Sick as an Adult Is…

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Being sick as an adult is the worst.

Guys, let’s be honest. When you’re a little kid and you get a cold, it’s amazing. You get to skip school, stay at home all day and watch movies! A slight whimper means your mom is on her way with a popsicle. Sure you have the yucky feelings and the doctor visit to put up with, but you know on the way home there will be a milkshake stop and a movie rental.

In college it gets a little harder to be sick because you don’t want to miss out on anything.  You fight being sick with everything you have.  It’s not because you want to go to your classes, but because you want to be with your friends – going out, doing something that you will remember for the rest of your life.

As you get older it gets harder and harder to be sick. Maybe my body doesn’t bounce back like it used to, maybe my patience is running thin. I don’t know. But being sick as an adult is the worst.

Last Friday I stayed home from work with a migraine. I slept ALL DAY. No joke. I woke up for about 2 hours around lunch time and an hour around dinner time. I slept the rest of the day.

I guess should have realized my body was telling me something.

being sick as an adult

During the weekend my body started to break down. My throat started hurting, a cough started, and I could just feel the sickness in my body.

You know the feeling right? Your chest starts feeling constricted, your body starts aching and you know you’re done for.

By Monday I was full blown sick and realized DayQuil was not going to solve my problems. However, I couldn’t get in to see my doctor until Wednesday. Should I have gone to Urgent Care? Probably.

Because here I am, it’s 5:00am on Wednesday morning and I’m wide awake. My fever has spiked a little, my throat feels like I’ve swallowed thousands of tiny razor blades, and my nose won’t stop running.

I missed the end part of Monday at the office because I came home and slept. I missed the middle part of Tuesday for the same reason. And I fear the first part of Wednesday is already lost.

baby playing on picnic blanket, being sick as an adult

But as an adult who has time to be sick? The baby doesn’t understand why Mommy can’t hold him as much or put him to bed like she does every night. He doesn’t understand why at 6pm the past few days Mommy disappears (Daddy is a fun substitute because he takes the little guy outside to go swinging!). But it’s so hard to not be around him as much as I want.

It’s hard to miss work. It’s hard to feel like crap making breakfast, getting dressed, and putting on my makeup just to look as yellow as I did without it.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the doctor gives me the good stuff this morning and I start to feel better fast.  I don’t think I can take a full week of feeling this awful.

DIY Birthday Party Decorations

Affiliate Disclosure: I am grateful to be of service and bring you content free of charge. In order to do this, please note that when you click links and purchase items, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. Your support in purchasing through these links enables me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. Thank you!

DIY birthday party decorations, gone fishing party decorations, first birthday party ideas, gone fishing party theme

For our little man’s party I ended up creating most of his decorations.  I searched on Pinterest (you can check out my board of inspiration) for tons of ideas.  Then I went to start looking at buying the decorations.  Whoa!  Those prices were big, at least in my book.  I knew if I wanted to provide lunch for everyone then I wouldn’t be able to afford all of those fancy decorations.  So I took what I saw on Pinterest and made it myself.  You can make your own party decorations, too.  All you need is a little bit of planning and some creativity.  I swear you can create most of the decorations for a fraction of the retail price.  

I want to have an Honest Abe moment with you…. If I had the extra room in my budget and wasn’t worried about saving money then I would have just purchased everything we needed because it would have been easier.  I didn’t spend but a few hours making everything, but it would have just been easier to buy it all; however, that is not my reality.

Before I go any further I need to say… 

I am not the most crafty person in the world. I lose my patience easily.  I am all about progress not perfection.  Also, after looking at the party pictures I realized that I did not do the best at taking pictures of my decorations.  I was so pressed for time and then when the party came I was enjoying my son and our family and friends.  

Now with that being said let me share with you my DIY birthday party decorations. 

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

I created a photo wall using a net I ordered off amazon for less than $6.00.  I took a gamble ordering this decorative net because I couldn’t specify which color I wanted.  But after reading the reviews and seeing the prices of the other nets, I decided to roll the dice.  I was so happy I did!  I ended up with a yellow one, which was perfect.  Honestly any color would have been fine and I would have made it work.  The net was huge and I wound up cutting off a portion I needed.  I didn’t use the rest of it and now I have it tucked away for a future party.  

I used clothespins that I already had on hand to hang the pictures and then used some leftover fishing line from when J went fishing a few weeks ago.  I found these bobbers on amazon for around $4.00 and had my friend help me string them to the net.  

The pictures were part of the package our photographer gave us from our family shoot a few weeks ago.  

I then placed our kitchen table in front for a place to gather the gifts.  This wall cost me about $10.00 to do.  Not too bad.

Then over on the food table I ordered a table cloth from amazon (because everything comes from amazon!).  This striped plastic tablecloth was perfect.  I actually ordered two, but since it was windy we decided not to cover the tables outside.  They were only $2.99 each (the price actually has lowered when I was writing this post!).  Since it was so cheap, I decided to hold on to the one I didn’t use and the one we used was still in perfect condition, so I wiped it off and folded it up.

I made a few food decorations using canva and some construction paper.  I already had the dowels and the papers so after I printed them in color, I cut out the images, glued to the construction paper and taped to the dowels.  I think they turned out perfectly!  I even created them as PDFs so you can download them yourselves.

I purchased a tackle box from walmart for about $8.00 and used those to place the gummy worms, Twizzlers and Swedish fish in.  Now that the party is over J has a new tackle box he can use!  I’m the best wife ever!

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

The smash cake was probably the easiest decoration I made.  Two pieces of construction paper, a dowel and tape was all that was needed.   I even shared how I made his smash cake for only $3.00.   After we took our family photos a few weeks ago I learned just how much our little guy doesn’t like cake.  I think the icing is too sweet for him.  So I didn’t want to spend too much on his cake, including decorations.  In the smash cake pictures, the cake topper (the one I spent over an hour creating) was the first thing destroyed and ripped.  I learned my lesson!  For the party I kept it simple.  

I took a red and white piece of construction paper.  Then using my compass from the 6th grade (yep, I still have my compass that we used in beginning math class with the original pencil!) I drew a circle on each piece.  If you size the circles correctly you should be able to get 2 circles from each color, and I used the second one for the high chair.  I then cut the white piece in half and using a very old glue stick I put it together.  After I was finished I realized I forgot the top part of my bobber, so I used red scraps and made it work.  After it was glued, I took a black marker and wrote “the big one”.  I used regular tape to stick the dowel on and that’s it.

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

For his high chair pennant, I took some orange tissue paper I had on hand and cut it into strips.  Then I tied the strips to some blue gift ribbon (I couldn’t find my twine and I was tired of looking so I improvised).  I then cut out a circle using red and white construction paper, glue it together and took a black marker to it.  I think it turned out wonderful!

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Outside we decided to not do any decorations since it was windy.  We had two canopies set up and our little kiddie pool for the kids to play with.  The kiddie pool was a huge hit!  I bought a magnetic fishing set which came with 2 fishing poles, 2 nets, a blow up pool (that we didn’t end up using) and tons of fish, sharks, and food (weird, but they were probably the favorites) pieces.  Now the party is over, little man has lots of new bath toys to play with.  I bought the pool for about $8 from Wal-Mart and the set was about $25 on Amazon.  

That’s it!  That’s the DIY birthday party decorations we created for our little guy’s first birthday.  I was all about keeping it simple, doable and within our budget.  To keep you on track, I talked about how I stayed organized by using this handy checklist.  

DIY Smash Cake for the First Birthday

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines Please, please don’t try to look up smash cakes on Pinterest.  You will see some of the prettiest cakes ever created and then you will get it in your head that you can be that talented.  It’s a lie!  You can’t.  At least I couldn’t.  A few weeks ago I attempted to create my own smash cake.  I baked the cake, I made homemade buttercream icing and I pipped a design onto my cake.  It was awful.  The icing was drooping, the color was more mint then blue and it looked awful.  I asked J for his honest opinion and he said “maybe you should save your homemade cake for the party and order one for his pictures.”  I knew right then and there my cake was a disaster.  

I ordered a cake from the local bakery for our little guy’s pictures.  The cake was beautiful and so simple.  

I knew it was going to be a big deal if his party cake wasn’t as nice as his picture cake.  I still wanted it to look good and decided to take a different approach.  I went with easy instead of making it hard on myself.  That way if it didn’t turn out I could blame that.  Instead the cake turned out great!  It was a lot better than my first attempt.  Not as pretty as the bakery made cake, but not too shabby either.  

As he O-Fish-Ally turned one last weekend, we celebrated!  I wanted to make sure we saved money where we could and one of the best ways to do that is by baking your own smash cake.  Trust me!  There is no need to go out and buy a made cake that your little one is going to destroy in 2 seconds.  Unless of course you want to and have built in your budget.  I’m all about saving time and money, but I also know that not everyone enjoys baking.  So if it’s not your thing, then please go right ahead.

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Here’s how I made a DIY smash cake on a budget:

I purchased a boxed cake mix that was on sale for $1.00 (gasp! boxed cake mix!… I know, I know).  I also purchased two cans of icing that were on sale for $1.00 each.  I already had the oil, eggs and water.  So my DIY smash cake only cost me $3.00.

I used two round cake pans to bake the cake, after they cooled I then took a bowl to cut out a smaller portion of each layer.

Once I cut out the portion, I popped the cake into the freezer so it would be easier to ice.

I took one can of icing and used it to do the crumb coat and the layer between the cakes.  I then popped it back into the fridge for about 10-15 minutes.

The second can of icing was the one I added some blue food coloring too.  I had about 6-8 drops to get the right color blue.  I then iced the rest of the cake.  

I added my DIY cake topper and that’s it!

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Super simple.  I baked the cake on Friday night so it would be nice and cool on Saturday.  Plus I knew how hot it was going to be on Saturday and I didn’t want to have the oven running in the morning heating up the house.  So I opted to bake on Friday night.

DIY Gone Fishing Birthday Party {free planning checklist}

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Well as you can probably tell from all of the birthday posts lately and over on Instagram, our Baby Boy turned one a few days ago.  I swear Sunday morning I woke up and felt as if I had been hit in the head with a baseball bat.  I was so exhausted by the end of Saturday night and am so grateful our man slept amazing.  But seriously, I was dragging so bad Sunday.  I just wanted to nap and drink all the coffee.  But here I am, fully recovered and the house is back in order.  

I like to be prepared for just about everything, so when it came to planning a party during tax season I had to rely on one of my favorite tactics – the checklist.  I created a to-do list and checklist to help me plan our son’s DIY gone fishing birthday party. I wanted to make it memorable without going broke. So we created a lot of the decorations ourselves and made most of the food for the big day. I even made his smash cake. It probably wasn’t the prettiest cake around, but it served its purpose!

A few months ago I talked about how I was starting to plan for his party. But in reality I started planning the first week of January. I put together a very detailed to do list that encompassed everything from the big stuff (like mail invitations) to the small stuff (like buy ice). I didn’t want to forget anything. I also figured if I had a to-do list then I could rope in a few extra hands to help me put it all together.

Now that the party has come and gone, and we’ve barely survived it. I think it’s time to share my trusty checklist with you. I wanted to put together something that work great for the everyday planner and for the last minute planners.

I also had it broken up by what needed to be bought so we weren’t shelling out a huge chunk of money right before the party. I wanted to space it out so it was around paydays and times of the month where our bills were a bit lighter.

 

Here’s what we wanted from his first birthday party:

We wanted to have it at our house

We wanted it to be on a Saturday afternoon so it would be easier for out of town guests

We wanted activities for kids to play

We wanted family and friends there to celebrate with us

We wanted it on a budget

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

I think we more than met our goals!  I started planning weeks ago for this party.  I am such a planner and a list maker that I created a checklist to go off of.  I wanted to share my DIY party checklist with you so you can use it for your next party.  It really helped me stay on track and not get overwhelmed.  Plus, we were able to split up the stuff we needed to buy so it wasn’t one big chunk at one time.

first bithday checklist, party checklist, gone fishing birthday party, baby's first birthday party

I kept the checklist with me at my office until about a week before the party.  Then I stuck it in my purse so I could keep it with me.  I’m sharing how I created my own decorations later this week, so check back.  You can download your DIY birthday party checklist here.
gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

For the kids’ activities I decided to keep it simple.  We purchased a kiddie pool for $8 at Wal-Mart and filled it with fishing toys.  I found this amazing magnetic fish toy on Amazon that was filled with 50 pieces (I added a picture below).  It came with nets, a basket, two fishing poles and tons of objects for the kids to fish for.  There was even a blow up pool that came with it, but we opted for the kiddie pool.  It was about $25 and it kept all of the kids occupied.  We may have had a few take a dive, but no one was hurt and they had a blast!

For food, we kept it simple.  J grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  I had my office tax season party for clients the day before so I was gifted pulled pork, cowboy baked beans (the kind with hamburger meat, bacon and peppers in it… yum!) and a veggie tray which saved us some serious money.  The hot dogs, burger and buns cost about $10 thanks to things being on sale.  

I also added a few snack items like chips and dips (which were gifted to J so we didn’t have to buy them), candies that I bought on sale and a fruit tray.  I had the fruit tray made by my local bakery and it cost $40… what?!?!  Let’s just say I learned my lesson of asking about price… 

I should have asked how much it was going to cost because I could have saved over half of it by making it myself.

Lesson learned.  

I also had the bakery make cookies for the party.  I ordered 2 dozen iced cookies and 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies.  Both of them were a huge hit!

I say overall the food cost less than $100 and decorations cost about $50.  The only other item I purchased was matching t-shirts for us to wear.  I got them on Etsy for about $40, but after I ordered them I found a local girl who could have made them a lot cheaper.  I guess I should have done a little more research on Facebook and asked around before ordering.  I really like them though and the quality is great, plus they came in record time.  So it was a win for sure!

The total cost of our party was about $200.  We have more than enough food left for about 3 other meals, which will save us more money.  Plus it was so great to have all of our family and friends (well the ones that were able to make it since it was Easter weekend, it was a bit difficult for everyone) at our home to celebrate our little man reeling in the big ONE!

 

 

How To Recover From Your Kid’s First Birthday Party

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Well we survived.  Baby Boy’s first birthday and party was a huge success.  We went with the Gone Fishing theme and had so much yummy food. Now that it’s over I feel like I need an extra day just to recover.  I spent months planning this party and then just like that it was over.

A great thing that worked out for us was having his party on Saturday.  That way anyone who was traveling from out of town could come for just the day.  The party started in the early afternoon so most of our out-of-town travelers came down that morning and we able to be home by 7 or 8 that same night.  We also wanted our guests to be able to have a day off before going back to work.  I like having parties on Saturdays.  Usually J and I are the ones having to travel to see friends or family and being home late Saturday or early Sunday morning is the best.  Then I feel like I have a full day to get things done around the house.

We also planned a Saturday party so we could have a full day to get the house back to normal and take lots of naps.  Genius!

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Here’s what we did to recover FAST from our Baby Boy’s birthday party:

Cleaned up first thing.  As soon as the party was over we started cleaning.  Threw away trash, put dishes in the dishwasher and put away and left over food.  I didn’t want to procrastinate and then be left with dirty plates and trash laying around.  It may not be a perfect clean up, but try to get the bulk of it before going to bed.

Deep clean the next morning.  I woke up early and finished cleaning the house.  I swept, cleaned the floors and hauled back the tables we borrowed.  If you need extra hands then I would recommend taking your little guy to his grandparents’ for a few hours to give you an opportunity to clean.  

Find a place for all of the new stuff.  I had a feeling that his first birthday was going to be bad (as in a lot of stuff).  But I had no idea.  

TIP:  Hide a few new toys in a closet and then in a couple months when all of their toys have lost their excitement, then pull out a hidden toy.  

Nap time.  Naps are important for your little one and the day after his party might be pretty hard.  So make sure you build an extra nap time in your day. 

I’ll be sharing how I threw his party on a budget and what tricks I used to save money… and what I splurged on later this week.