Money Well Spent
When it comes to shopping on a budget, the key to success is to find items that enhance your life without adding significantly to your monthly costs. Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to find household and lifestyles products that are both useful and inexpensive. For less than a Jackson, you can drop these items into your cart to bring convenience to day-to-day life without putting a dent in your wallet.
Light up a dim cabinet, closet, or pantry without the fuss of wiring a light switch using these puck lights from GE. The battery-operated LED lights turn on and off with a single touch, delivering 20 lumens of bright white light so you can finally see well inside the space. Easily install the lights wherever you want using either the keyhole mount or double-sided tape that come included in the two-pack. Available at Target; $8.59.
Ever drop a screw on the floor just as you were about to drive it into a stud in the wall or perhaps climb a ladder to hammer a nail only to discover that you left the nail on the floor? With this adjustable-fit, breathable nylon band from RAK around your wrist, you can “stick” screws, nails, bolts, and drill bits directly to the band with the help of 10 built-in magnets, putting every small item you need for your next home improvement project at your fingertips. Available at Amazon; $15.99.
Drain snakes and liquid drain cleaners can damage your pipes and the environment overtime, and a call to the plumber can put a dent in your wallet. Avoid these problems with the TubShroom, a revolutionary mushroom-shaped drain plug that fits inside your shower drain and traps hair and debris without disrupting the flow of water. As human or pet hair falls into the drain, it will neatly wrap around the bottom lip of the plug without getting tangled; all you have to do is remove the plug, wipe it off, and say “goodbye” to clogged drains for good. Available at Amazon; $12.99.
Hand and Tool Cleaning Glove
Whether you need to clean your hands, surfaces, or everyday tools, this glove from HYDE provides the extra hand you need to carry out essential maintenance tasks while protecting your skin. Developed by a house painter, the patented weave of the glove affords the grip and friction needed to remove oil- or latex-based paint from a paintbrush, spilled wood stain from a floor board, or dust, dirt, or grime from any surface without the need for chemical solvents. Available at Amazon; $5.89.
Related: How To: Remove Paint from EVERYTHING
Stop grime in its tracks with the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, a more potent and less messy option than your go-to bottle of bleach. Made of DURAFOAM, the scrubber gets all types of surfaces, from plastic patio furniture to floor tiles, sparkling clean without added cleaning agents. Just wet the eraser, squeeze it, and wipe the area clean; the water-activated micro-scrubbers will reach deep into grooves to lift dirt and grime without you lifting a finger. Available at Target ; $4.99.
Why get up from your spot to flip the light switches in your home when you can turn them on or off directly from your phone? With the Wemo Smart Plug, all you have to do is plug in the wifi-enabled mini plug, download the free app, and start controlling lights and appliances through the app or hands-free through voice commands. Wemo even lets you schedule devices to turn on at certain times, sync lights with the sunrise or sunset, and randomize when lights go on and off to fool would-be prowlers. Available at Amazon; $19.99.
Adhesive Picture Ledge
Create a wall gallery or bookshelf in minutes with this picture ledge from Command. There’s no need for a hammer, nails, or stubbed fingers; just remove the adhesive backing from the ledge, stick it up on the wall, and prop up your favorite framed portraits or reads to craft a cozy corner for me-time. You can even rearrange or reuse the renter-friendly accent in another room without leaving holes or sticky residue on the walls. Available at Target; $15.89.
When you can’t stow your iron in your suitcase, pack this portable steamer from OgHome to give silk or jersey wear, suits, toys, or even wedding dresses that fresh-from-the-laundry look. When you pour distilled or purified water into the water reservoir, the fast-acting steamer with a rust-proof stainless steel heating panel warms up in just two minutes and delivers 15 minutes of steam to get your whole travel wardrobe wrinkle-free. Available at Amazon; $19.99.
The Ove Glove
Don't sacrifice dexterity in order to protect your hands when dealing with hot items. With the Ove Glove you can comfortably grip dishes thanks to its five-finger flexi-grip. The exterior is made of heat and flame protective material used by firefighters while the inside is soft cotton. Available at Target; $19.89.
Extra-long Charging Cable
If you’re tired of huddling in a corner of your room to charge your iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device with a connector that’s too short for convenience, swap it out for this extra-long lightning-to-USB cable from Amazon. Spanning 10 feet, the double-braided nylon, laser-welded connector ensures a complete charge or data sync from anywhere in your home, workplace, or even a car with a USB port. It has even been tested to bend 95 degrees without fraying. Available at Amazon; $15.99.
Car Phone Mount
Need directions on the go? Clip this car phone mount from AUKEY to an air vent in your car, press the instant-release button, and insert your phone or GPS to get turn-by-turn instructions for your route hands-free. The flexible-fit mount with silicone padding attaches to vents of all thicknesses and prevents scratches on your phone, while a 360-degree rotating and pivoting ball joint allows you to adjust the device to your preferred viewing angle. Available at Amazon; $9.99.
Plant Food Spikes
Stop fussing with loose fertilizer and instead nourish your indoor potted plants with these no-mess plant food spikes from Miracle-Gro that don’t require any measurements. Wet the soil, make a hole halfway between the plant stem and the rim of the pot, and drive the fertilizer into the hole, pressing it down until it’s covered by the soil. The spikes are filled with all the micronutrients that your indoor blooms need to grow and thrive; all you have to do to keep them vibrant is replace them every 30 days (make that every 60 days in winter or fall). Available at The Home Depot; $2.98.
Whether you need to shed light in dark corners or pick up long-lost items from hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of the home, enlist this two-in-one flashlight and pick-up tool from VIBELITE. Made of a military-grade aluminum alloy, the durable, extensible accessory with three ultra-bright LED bulbs and a magnetic head and base lights up areas that ordinary flashlights can’t access and picks up everything from screws to bolts without forcing you to bend down or strain your back. Available at Amazon; $10.99.
Mini Waffle Maker
Need your waffle fix, but don’t have the countertop space for a standard waffle maker? Satisfy your sweet tooth with this mini waffle maker from Dash. Weighing only a pound, the compact and lightweight kitchen essential whips up four-inch waffles that lift cleanly from the dual non-stick surfaces of the unit. Making breakfast is a cinch; just plug in and get cooking—you’ll have golden-brown waffles in no time. Available at Target; $9.99.
Save leftovers for later without packing them in plastic bags that later wind up in landfills or oceans with this set of three plastic-free reusable food wraps. Made from organic cotton infused with bee’s wax, jojoba oil, and tree resin, Bee’s Wrap is quite simply the most sustainable way to prevent food waste. Stretch the wrap over bowls or containers or place your munchies directly inside a wrap; the flexible food wraps will retain their shape and create a seal around the food that keeps it fresh. When it’s time to clean, simply wash the wraps with cold water and dish soap and reuse! Available at Amazon; $18.
Silicone Baking Mat
The next time you crave cookies, skip the oil or butter—and the extra calories—with this food-grade silicone baking mat that eliminates the need for greasing or laying parchment paper in your baking pan before pouring in batter. Measuring roughly 11.6 by 16.5 inches, each non-stick mat in the two-pack from AmazonBasics fits a half-sized baking sheet and is oven-safe up to 480 degrees F. Available at Amazon; $13.99.
Slash drying time without the need for chemical-laden dryer sheets, liquid fabric softeners, or plastic dryer balls with these natural dryer balls made of 100% organic New Zealand wool. Drop two to three dryer balls into a small load of wet clothes—or four to six for a large load—and dry as is or toss in a few drops of your favorite essential oil to render garments fresh, fluffy, and fragrant. Available at Amazon; $4.89.
Electric Wine Bottle Opener
Are you a wine connoisseur who has all too often fallen victim to a crumbled wine cork? Serve vino to guests the frustration-free way with this electric wine bottle opener from Oster. Simply remove the foil seal on the bottle, place the opener on top of the bottle and press the lower switch to drive the corkscrew into the cork, and then press the upper switch to cleanly remove the cork. With just one six- to eight-hour charge in the included charging station, the Oster opens up to 30 of your favorite bottles of red or white. Available at Target; $19.99.
3M Patch Plus Primer
Offering three ounces of spackle, primer, and a built-in putty knife and spackling pad, this four-in-one toolbelt essential offers all the supplies you need for your next repair job in one convenient package. Whether you’re patching a nail hole or priming an area of the wall, the 3M Patch Plus Primer won’t shrink or crack and is ready to paint in half an hour. Available at Amazon; $6.97.
Reusable Twist Ties
Cure cord clutter in a seconds with a simple twist-and-tie action with these patented gear ties from Nite Ize. The eight-pack of rubber ties with a bendable wire interior offers the flexibility needed to organize loose unused cables, wrap headphones, and keep computer cords in check. Available in eight different colors and size combinations, the waterproof and UV-resistant ties can even be used to label your diverse cord collection for easy identification. Available at Amazon; $9.98.
The Little Things In Life
It's not always the grandest gift or fanciest gadget that improves your life, sometimes it is the small, affordable items that give a boost to ordinary days.
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