Some of the most useful items are inexpensive.
A recent Reddit thread asked for the most useful items you can buy for under $US20.
We picked some of our favourites.
1. Small set of screwdrivers
“With them and the Internet, you’ll be surprised how much you can fix stuff, which saves you a lot of money in the long run,” writes Reddit user candydaze.
We recommend the Craftsman 8-piece screwdriver set at Sears for $US11.69.
2. Fire extinguisher
“If you do need it someday, it will be well worth the 20 bucks,” writes DaNinjaKitten.
Try the Kidde FA110 Multipurpose Fire Extinguisher available for $18.98 on Amazon.
3. Carbon monoxide detector
“When my sister and I were younger, the carbon monoxide detector went off in our house. She heard it, I did not. My parents were not home, so she ran up to my room and grabbed me and told me to come outside. We went across the street to our neighbours and they called the fire department for us. My sister saved our lives,” writes DoctorCrouchJrWho.
Try this First Alert battery-powered detector for $19.97 at Home Depot.
4. Jumper cables
“When I first moved for college, my car broke down the first week of school in the Wal-Mart parking lot,” writes halfwaythere88. “I had to stop a ridiculous amount of people before I found one with jumper cables.”
Amazon has them for $US11.10.
5. Spray bottle
“You can buy them at the dollar store but in my family (and now in my dorm) mine is getting constantly borrowed. It’s used for cleaning, ironing, doing hair, and more. The lack of people who have them astounds me!” writes bgaigalas.
The Container Store has a nice bottle for $US4.99.
6. Car cell phone charger
This suggestion by sauce480 is self-explanatory.
Best Buy has a Dynex charger for $US19.99.
7. Rechargeable batteries
“I love my Eneloop batteries,” writes CaptPikel.
B&H Photo Video has them for $US7.99.
8. Lodge cast-iron skillet
“All the fancy, expensive, ‘high end’ cookware can not touch the magic that this $US15 gem can bring to your cooking,” writes hvonn.
Buy one at Macy’s for $US19.99.
9. Dry shampoo
“Do you like to sleep in? Dry Shampoo lets you do that,” writes Hello_nerds.
Ulta has some for $US7.99.
10. Salad spinner
“Instead of using a paper towel for drying lettuce, herbs, berries or heck just about anything food related you can dry, just throw it in the salad spinner basket rinse and spin,” writes imjoshua.
Get one at World Market for the low price of $US19.99.
11. Tongue scraper
“I know, I know. I thought the idea was nasty at first too. And, yes, I also thought that my toothbrush did a perfectly fine job. Then I actually used one,” writes MyReligionIsPhysics. “Uncannily clean-feeling mouth, no more dental problems, fresher breath.”
Soap.com has a highly-reviewed GUM brand cleaner for $US4.85.
12. Sink plunger
“It’s got a flat bottom to match the drain on your sink,” notes kidl33t.
Get one at QCI direct for $US10.99, or buy two for $US20.
13. The right pillow
“Pillows for under $US20 can be of good utility and quality if you buy the right firmness pillow for your sleep style and follow the care instructions carefully,” writes MmeLaRue.
This radial memory foam pillow at Target works for most people and is $US19.99.
14. Fresh pepper grinder
“Freshly cracked black pepper corns will blow your mind,” writes edeneleven11.
The WEBstaurant Store has a fancy-looking one for $US14.99.
15. Micro-chip for your pet
“The police and local shelters have the equipment to scan you pet. If they find the chip number, they call the company and you are notified,” writes jpsrv. “You go pick up your pet. Without a microchip, in most animal shelters throughout the US, your pet is euthanized.”
ValleyVet.com has a microchip for $US16.99 that comes with a 15-digit code and syringe.
16. Zip ties
“Life saver at my job and at home!” writes autumnjoy.
Get 100 of them on Amazon for $US12.95.
17. Deck of cards
“Learn some easy tricks to blow minds,” says M99Syringe.
Bicycle has an awesome street artist-designed deck for just $US3.99.
18. Swiss Army Knife keychain
“I find a use for it almost every day,” writes Meath77.
Swiss Knife Store has one for $US15.95, and you can choose from a variety of colours and designs.
19. French press
“It makes your coffee much stronger and tastier,” writes Deetz_Z.
Get a top-of-the-line Bodum french press at Macy’s for $US19.99.
“The most convenient way to listen to music,” writes Mikey193.
For about $US10 a month you get a premium membership that includes offline syncing and streaming songs with no ads.
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