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Life is expensive. Student loans, rent, phone bills, groceries — it’s no wonder we spend our hard-earned paychecks so quickly. And then there are those little splurges on Ubers, dining out, and new clothes and shoes for work.
In an effort to talk about purchases that are decidedly more budget-friendly, I asked my Business Insider colleagues to share the best things they have bought for less than $30, and I got some interesting responses.
Some are seemingly random (a lemon squeezer), some are convenient (an extra-long charging cable for your phone), and some you probably didn’t realise you needed (a mini humidifier for your desk).
Check out our favourite affordable picks below.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider’s Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners, including Amazon. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback.Have something you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected]
I don't own a car in New York, but this air-vent phone mount is worth the AUD$10.95. I keep it in my suitcase so that I have it when I travel and I'm driving around a rental car. It works everywhere and holds my phone securely in place while driving. -- Reuben Ingber
No one likes to be the girl in the office who goes to crack her hard-boiled egg during this month's health kick and end up with a yolky mess. Not cool.
After more failed attempts than I would like to admit at the perfect hard-boiled egg, I discovered this little beauty -- perfect every time and you never end up with egg on your face ... or your desk. -- Caitlin Gallaher
I'm obsessed with this mini travel steamer. I always pack it so I don't look like a wrinkly shlub when I travel. It's quick and easy to use! -- Aly Weisman
I love cherries, but dislike having to spit out the pit. The Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover makes cherries more enjoyable to eat. It's cherrytastic! -- John DiBari
Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover, $33.64
I love using my Earhoox. Before I used these, my headphones would constantly fall out, especially when running or when I used them at the gym. I imagine these will come in handy again with the new Apple wireless 'AirPods.' -- Ansi Taing
This versatile oil in recent years has acquired a lot of buzz for being a more healthy, natural fat. Those who want to avoid harmful hydrogenated oils, such as refined vegetable oil, corn oil, and peanut oil, can substitute coconut oil with success in most cooking or baking recipes.
As a bonus, it can be used as a deep conditioner for your hair, a moisturizer for your skin and nails, and is an essential ingredient in many natural remedies because of its healing properties. -- Sarah Seehafer
Picnics in the park, days on the beach, sitting in the backyard -- what goes well with all of those things? Wine. That is why you need these wine glasses. They can be thrown in your bag and you do not need to worry about them breaking! They even have a place for your thumb for easy holding. These things are the best -- they have beer glasses as well, if you are not a wine fan. -- Valerie Reimer
I never knew I needed this, but after I lost my original iPhone charger, I ended up buying one of these six-foot chargers from Anker, and it's absolutely amazing. It reaches all the way to my bed super easily. It's lazy, sure, but convenient.
When my friends visit my apartment and see my charging cable they're like, 'Whoa -- I need one of these!' -- Ellen Hoffman
Tuning guitars, bases, ukuleles, mandolins etc. etc. etc. is a pain, but these things clip to the headstock, are chromatic and thus very easy to read and use, are quite accurate, run on long-lasting batteries, and let you play around with tuning on the fly once you know the right pitches. Much less than $30, too! -- Matthew DeBord
I picked up a similar type of tote bag from Old Navy recently, and it is so convenient to keep with me every day. I hate the wastefulness of plastic bags, but other reusable options can be bulky/annoying to carry around. This kind folds up small, so it's easy to keep on hand when I need it. -- Emmie Martin
OK, so this isn't the exact model of Google Cardboard that I bought, but Google completely opened up the spec so all cardboard VR viewers are effectively identical.
Anyway, the reason why this is the best purchase I've made under $30 is that it lets me communicate what many consider the 'next best thing' in tech to my mum. My mum is a very smart person and tech-savvy, but she's not reading the tech press every day to find out how to be on the bleeding edge. Explaining VR to her in words alone wouldn't cut it, but using Google Map's street view app in Google Cardboard did. Within seconds she understood that what she was seeing was a house in Croatia over 3,000 miles away, and that she could move around and see a 360-degree image.
Products that let me share my excitement for technology with the people I love is a really great thing. It may not be as sophisticated as other VR headsets, but for the price of a burger, it's pretty darn good. -- Brandt Ranj
I'm loving my Vibrelli Universal Bike Phone Mount, which I bought this summer.
It lets me easily access nav, track my ride (on MapMyRide), listen to music, see who's texting ... all without crashing. And I'm about to upgrade from iPhone 6 to the 7 Plus, which it will handle no problem. -- Andrew Sollinger
I love this thing. You can turn almost any food paper-thin instantly. A whole onion takes about 10 seconds. Most kitchen things are needless gimmicks but this is a massive time-saver. I take this thing camping and to friends' houses, and would buy another immediately if I ever lost or broke it. -- Forrest Almasi
This inflatable solar-powered lantern is essential for camping! It's practically weightless, takes up almost no space when deflated, is easy to tie onto a backpack or bike, and lasts so long on a full charge. It lights up my whole tent. I give these as gifts to everyone. -- Lauren Friedman
MPOWERD Luci Original Inflatable Solar Lantern, $17.75
One might think this is a unnecessary tool, but for anyone who has ever had a cut on their hands while cooking or making cocktails, squeezing a lemon can be quite painful! I love using my lemon squeezer in the kitchen; I feel like I get more out of the lemons, it's quicker, and I save my hands! If you are not a fan of yellow, you could always opt for a lime squeezer ... it's green. -- Valerie Reimer
Amco Enameled Aluminium Lemon Squeezer, $12.13
I bought my first one of these in high school and have used them ever since. It makes it easy to drink out of a wide-mouth water bottle without accidentally spilling all over yourself -- especially helpful while you're doing something like driving or running on the treadmill. I swear by this thing. -- Emmie Martin
I'm a runner and need a place for my keys and sometimes even some cash, a credit card, and subway card on long runs. These are perfect. I can get many uses out of them, and they're cheap enough to lose/throw away and not care. -- Sam Rega
My dad used to come home from trade shows with loads of branded carabiners in tow. Companies would hand them out because it was a small way to get your name out there. Over the years, I've used carabiners to attach my house keys to my water bottle while I'm working out, secure a deteriorating suitcase, and even hold hair elastics. I can't lose anything! -- Melia Robinson
Making a large pot of pasta? Hate having to pick up that steaming water and dump it into the sink? I do. I burn myself; steam goes in my face. If I wanted to lift weights, I would go to the gym. And if I'm making cacio e pepe, I need some of that starchy water -- that is what makes this pasta skimmer clutch for the kitchen. -- Valerie Reimer
Ten years on, the 'Ove' Glove has consistently been an unsung hero in my kitchen.
It looks a little gimmicky, but this oven mitt has really allowed me to prepare meals efficiently and safely. The mitt is lined with silicone strips so you can get a firm grip on your pots, pans, and cookie trays without worrying they will slip. It's made of cotton, so it's more comfortable than plastic version, but it's still able to withstand temperatures up to 540 degrees. -- Kelsey Mulvey
I don't know how superstitious the average person is, but I for one supremely enjoy putting undue meaning and power into an indifferent, inanimate object. Growing up, I had a lucky card (the two of hearts) I would keep in my back pocket, then after that I had lucky lighters for a while before I realised that I lose too many lighters to continue ascribing so much meaning to them.
Today, I have lucky socks. Socks are a great charm or totem to use positively in your life. Got a big meeting at work one day? Or maybe you're heading to the ballpark for a rivalry game? Put on your pair of lucky socks, and all of a sudden you bring a whole new set of positive vibes with you to the experience.
My lucky socks all come from Happy Socks, as they make bright, interesting patterns that are worthy of being deemed lucky. -- Tyler Lauletta
This article was originally published on 9/15/2016.
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