Inspired by Hilary Tan’s post post on the topic, I thought I would fun to share some of my favorite cheap and amazing everyday workhorses. All have alleviated a recurring pain point in my life, or brought me joy. All are under $25, and several much less. Here we go!
- Jar Spatula I used to become frustrated at those last bits of nut butter, jam, or sauce stuck to the bottom of a jar or caught under the lip. The narrow form and slightly-rounded silicone are perfect for scrapings out the remaining food, for a frugal win. When I bought it many years ago, it was called the “Every Last Bit Spatula,” which perfectly captures what it accomplishes. Cost: $9.
- Tub Shroom I have hair, which inevitably ends up caught in the shower drain. The cheap, serrated drain snakes were a nightmare and continually got stuck. This easily removable drain plug catches the hair and debris, while allowing water to flow through. It’s a game changer! On top of that, it prevents cockroaches from coming up to visit. Cost: $14.
- Toothpaste Tube Squeezer Similar to the jars, it drove me nuts to throw out a toothpaste tube with product trapped beyond reach. When we switched to better toothpaste with tubal design flaws (looking at you, Earthpaste), it felt like we were loosing even more product. In steps the handy toothpaste tube squeezer, and not even a pea-sized bit goes to waste. Cost: $10 for set of two.
- Good Nail Clippers I didn’t understand how poorly my $2 drugstore clippers worked until I upgraded to a better set, which is sharp enough to trim effortlessly on the first try. I have the Seki Edge fingernail and toenail clippers. Cost: $18.00 each.
- Bag Sealer Sticks About ten years ago, Lifehacker introduced me to GripStic, which were a a complete new approach to Chip Clips. These ingenious sticks of plastic slide across a folded chip bag, completely sealing out any air. They’re great for all kinds of things, and the knockoffs are just as good as the original. I use them for everything: bags of nuts or lentils, frozen berries, flours, and–my favorite–sealing off mylar bags of bulk spices to (successfully!) retain the flavor. Cost: $10 for 16-piece variety pack.
- Seconds Stationary I love beautiful cards and stationary, and I love sending cards to my loved ones. However, I cannot stomach paying $5-8 on something that non-sentimental recipients would likely throw out. Over the years, I’ve identified designers I like, and I look for deep holiday discounts and, especially, seconds. The lovely cards with minor imperfections can be had for around $1 a piece, and I can send them to relatives throughout the year. Cost: $10 for 10 cards.
- Pilot Precise V5 RT A good pen makes all the difference. This rolling ballpoint is my favorite everyday pen. It’s smooth without smearing, with a nice grip. I’m a fan of the the blue. Cost: $20 for 12 pens.
- Spigen Phone Case I am always dropping my phone, so it’s important to have a protective case. Of all the brands I’ve tried, Spigen is the perfect blend of low-profile, yet effective (and affordable). I find Otterbox cases to be a bit bulky and the especially pretty cases to break, or worse, break while allowing my phone to break too. Cost: $10-20, depending on phone model.
- Darn Tough Wool Socks Seven years ago, I had one pair of beloved Darn Tough socks. Luck smiled down on me one day and I discovered a basket of the hiking socks in a luxury goods store for $6 a piece. After all these years, the wool socks are still in great shape and, if when they finally wear through, I can send them back for a free replacement. I’ve subsequently purchased with 20% coupons as an REI member and found past seasons styles on discount after the holidays. Cost: $24 per pair (with lifetime warranty).
- Stasher Reusable Silicone Stand -Up Bag I’ve talked about Stasher before, but this newer design quickly became a favorite. I use this style to store carrots from the market (with a half-inch of water to retain freshness), frozen peas when the bag splits too much, and a premixed blend of lentils. They’re good for everything! On top of that, they can be put in the dishwasher, the oven, the freezer, boiling water, and anywhere else you can think of. My oldest set is about four years old and still look brand new. Cost: Varies based on size, but this one is $22.
These are all items that I use on daily basis, or close to it, and I would be quite sad if a single one of these disappeared from my life. Do any of these things surprise you? What inexpensive things improve your quality of life or bring you joy? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below. I’m looking forward to perhaps discovering a few items to add to my list!