53 things under $20 that genuinely make life better

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by Christina X. Wood
Originally Published: 

Some struggles are necessary and some aren’t worth enduring. But how can you know the difference? That’s easy. If you can eliminate an irritant, improve a space, or streamline a daily hassle for less than the cost of lunch? Do it. Eliminating hazards, creating zen, and designing a life and space that don’t make you angry or stressed is so worth a small investment. And these 53 things under $20 genuinely make life better by doing exactly that.

If you’ve ever screamed in frustration at the tangled earbuds you spent 20 minutes detangling yesterday, you know what I mean. That frustration — and so many other things — can be solved forever with the application of a $4 solution. Having to stop and set down your backpack so you can search for your wallet, keys, or bus pass is another highly irritating moment that can be so easily prevented. And don’t even get me started on the pile of remote controls that clutter up the living room and yet are never handy when you need one. That, like so many of the solutions here, is easy to fix.

So keep reading and shopping to get those hassles out of your life and find your moment of zen.

1. A phone mount so you can watch movies in the tub

Mount this waterproof phone case to the wall of your shower or near the tub and you can bathe while you watch a movie or catch up with your social feed. It mounts permanently to the wall with an adhesive. Just pop your phone into it, close it, and your phone stays dry even when you operate the screen.

2. This coin organizer for safer toll crossings

Instead of scrambling for change while approaching the toll — or parking meter — keep your pocket change in an easy-to-access container that dispenses precisely the coin you need without searching. It holds 14 quarters, 13 nickels, 18 dimes, and 17 pennies, and a flip lid hides what’s inside.

3. These chubby twist ties you’ll use for everything

Colorful, easy to twist and untwist, and so useful — you’ll use these chubby twist ties for everything from electronic wires to organizing small items in your craft table, fishing box, or tool shed.

4. A handy place to rest your phone while flying

This flexible phone holder is designed so you can shape it to hold your phone while it’s sitting on the tray table. Or you can loop it over the seat back in front of you in order to easily watch movies no matter what else is happening on your flight. It’s also handy at home, in your lap, or on your desk, and it flattens out for carrying in a bag.

5. These safety gloves so you don’t cut yourself

When you are working with a knife or sharp blade, protect your hands from accidental slicing by donning these no-cut gloves — made of polyethylene, spandex, and fiberglass — first. They are stretchy — so you don’t lose dexterity — and they stop the knife before it hits skin, so you don’t end up in the ER.

6. This backpack organizer that eliminates daily chaos

How much time do you spend digging around in your backpack searching for what you want? Drop this lightweight, felt backpack organizer in there and put your entire every-day carry in order. There is one big main pocket and loads of side pockets — some stretchy and one zippered — for sunglasses, umbrella, water bottle, keys, and everything else you carry.

7. A vacuum-insulated lunch jar for hot meals anywhere

Whether you are saving money by carrying your lunch to work or school or occasionally like to dine at the beach, this insulated food jar will keep 16 ounces of food hot — or cold — all day so you can eat what you want, where you want. Eat right from the jar or serve from the lid. There is a folding spoon hidden in the lid, too.

8. This slim storage bank so your phone is always charged

This slim and slender power bank fits easily in a pocket, so you can carry an extra charge everywhere and never be caught without a connection. An LED indicator tells you how much power is left, a simple on button makes charging up clear and easy, and it has all three kinds of USB ports. This charger also comes with a micro-USB cable and a carrying pouch.

9. An arm rest organizer to keep all your essentials handy

Keep your glasses, a pen, your stylus, and the remote all within easy reach without cluttering up the coffee table by slinging this organizer over the arm of your favorite chair. There are five pockets of various sizes, including one large enough for an iPad. A grippy underside holds firm to even the most slippery chair arms.

10. A wireless charger for all your gadgets

Now that most smart phones are capable of wireless charging, it’s smart to keep one of these inexpensive wireless phone chargers plugged in and handy on a coffee table or counter so anyone can set their phone down and pick up a charge without searching for the right cable for their phone. It lights up to indicate that it’s charging but the light shuts off after three seconds.

11. This minimalist wallet for a lighter daily load

Want to stop carrying every receipt and loyalty card you’ve ever been handed in your wallet? Minimize with this slim wallet that holds only the essentials. There are three credit card slots, a see-through ID slot, a document slot, and room in the center for cash. It’s handsome and comes in 17 colors.

12. A tracker for your wallet, passport, or phone

This small, square Tile tracker will fit in a wallet slot, a passport case, the pocket of a bag, or stuck to the back of a phone or other gadget, so that you can always find that thing. Connect it to your phone via Bluetooth, and it will show you on the screen where the tracker is. Still can’t find it? Tap the screen to make an audible alarm you can use to track it down.

13. This car-seat gap organizer for safe, organized driving

Transform that irritating space between the car seat and the center console — where you always drop your phone and keys — into a useful and organized pocket for a little cash, your sunglasses, your phone, and all the small things you like to have on hand by installing this clever pocket into it. It blocks that gap so nothing gets dropped, too.

14. These single serving freezer pods for easy frozen meals

When you make pesto, baby food, or soup, freeze a single portion in one of these freezer pods so you can pop out what you need when it’s time to eat. Each of the six two-tablespoon sized pods in this tray have the amount printed on them, and the tray comes with a silicone cover. They stack in the freezer, and there are four sizes to choose from.

15. A simple coffee & spice grinder for a better brew

This grinder is all you need to turn whole coffee beans into precisely the grind you need at the push of a button. Grinding your coffee fresh before you brew a pot makes for a much more flavorful cup than buying the beans ground. It’s also great for grinding nuts, seeds, and spices.

16. These motion-sensing lights so you don’t stumble in the dark

You will never have to stumble around looking for the light switch in a dark room after you plug in one of these two motion-sensing lights. They’re great for illuminating your utility room, garage, bathroom, or hallway. You can set the brightness and choose from on, off, or auto mode. When in auto mode, they only light when motion and very little ambient light are detected.

17. A shelf right over the outlet for your Echo Dot

Get your Echo Dot — and its wires — off the table or counter by replacing your outlet cover with this over-outlet shelf. A clever cord stash that’s built into the shelf hides all the wires and it provides the perfect powered resting place for an Echo of any generation. It’d also work for another small speaker, electric toothbrush, or other small tool.

18. This five-compartment organizer that’s perfect for remotes

Keep all your remotes where you can see and find them with this decorative organizer with five slots. It’s also perfect for cosmetic brushes, office gear, or utensils, and it comes in 20 color options to match the room you want to put it in.

19. A sponge that defogs your car windows quickly

When the windshield goes foggy, you need it cleared immediately because being blind behind the wheel even for a second is dangerous. Keep this cleaning and defogging sponge at the ready because, unlike your bare hand, it won’t leave smudge marks. It works whether it’s bone dry or wet.

20. These funky clothes hangers that free up closet space

Move your slacks, scarves, and skirts to these S-shaped hangers and leave the regular hangers for shirts and jackets. They will not only free up lots of space on the closet rod — taking advantage of unused vertical space — but you can use it to organize your garments by category for a more organized dressing experience.

21. This versatile tripod with a wireless remote

Install your phone or camera into this tripod — there’s a clamp for phones; cameras screw on — and step away to take your selfies, record videos, or capture nature shots. The remote control snaps the shutter while the bendy-legged tripod holds your phone at any angle from any surface, branch, handlebar, or anything else.

22. This colorful desk mat that replaces your mouse pad

A writing mat transforms a slippery desk into a pleasant surface for writing by hand, and this colorful desk mat is also exactly the right texture for comfortably using your mouse. It’s big enough to provide a work surface for your laptop and accessories, and it’s reversible so you can switch the look whenever you want. There are 11 great color combinations to choose from.

23. A six-pack of clips to organize all your wires

The phone cord that slides behind the bedside table, the laptop cord that’s always in the way, even that lamp cord that drags across the desk will hold still and always be where you want it once you install these simple clips. Just peel off the backing, stick them to just about any surface, and push your errant cable between the grippy, rubber fingers.

24. These no-tie laces so all your shoes are easy to slide on

These no-tie laces convert any pair of shoes to the easy, slip-on kind. You can call it laziness, but there is no doubt that life is easier when you can step into your shoes without having to sit down to lace them every time you want to exit. Just install the laces once and those shoes will slip on and cinch tight in a second. Over 42,000 people give these five stars.

25. A tiny waterproof speaker in a cute and functional case

This waterproof speaker is so tiny, you could clip it to a belt loop and go about your day sporting your own soundtrack. It also delivers big sound because everything that would make it bigger or diminish the sound has been removed — no microphone or headphone jack, and there is just one button. It comes with a cute, protective carrying case for listening on the go and over 10,500 people give it five stars.

26. This car phone mount that sticks to your dash

Set this simple and versatile car mount on your dash — the underside is sticky — and put your phone in the slot. You can also keep coins or other small items on the grippy pad. It accommodates even a large phone while in a case, and you can position it so you can use the navigation easily. Reviewers love it, giving it 11,000 five-star reviews.

27. A handy two-in-one box cutter & bag sealer for fresher snacks

If you love snacks, this is a handy multifunction tool to keep in the kitchen. Use the bag sealer to reseal snack bags or create single-serve packages from big-box chip bags with a few swipes. Slide out the blade, with a push of the button, to open bags and packages. And you can hang it for storage using the convenient hook on one end.

28. The flat adapter that turns one outlet into two USB ports

This converter takes one outlet and makes it two charging ports for your phone or any other USB device, and it does it without sticking out of the wall so you can fit it easily behind furniture. The USB cables extend from the bottom, and you’ll appreciate being able to charge two devices at once.

29. These cleaning wipes for your phone & glasses

Instead of going through the day with dirty glasses and a sticky phone, keep some of these cleaning wipes in your pocket for a quick refresh. They are safe for lenses and other delicate instruments, the perfect size for a single cleaning, and individually wrapped for getting rid of smudges and germs.

30. An insulating carrying bag for a six-pack of bottles

Carry your beer in this neoprene carrying bag and it will stay cold, not clank about, and be easy to port. Or cart the baby bottles to daycare and wine bottles home from the store. Each pouch holds up to a nine-inch-tall bottle in its own cushioned and insulated pocket.

31. These alarms tell you if someone is breaking in or out

This four-pack of entry alarms is a quick way to make sure no one breaks into your home through a back window, cellar door, or other egress. Just stick one piece to the door or window and one to the frame so that when the entry is closed, the magnets connect. If they separate, a loud alarm will sound. This also makes a great warning if you have children and a pool or other hazard. An off switch lets you come and go freely.

32. The fur-grabbing gloves your pet will adore

When you pull on these nubby-palmed gloves, your pet will come running for pats because it feels so good, and unlike with a brush, you can reach their tender belly and skinny paws with these soft massagers. It’s designed to remove loose fur, too, so while you are indulging your fur baby, you are also keeping the house clean.

33. An in-car trash can for a tidy car & better storage

Set this waterproof trash can in the car so you have a place to store trash and keep it off the floor. The outside pockets provide a spot to stash the in-car sundries that tend to create chaos, and the elasticized lid keeps all the trash inside until you open it for dumping.

34. A tiny towel that absorbs a ton of water & dries fast

This microfiber towel sucks up five times its own weight in water and dries quickly, making it perfect for camping, the gym, or your beach bag. The soft texture feels amazing against your skin, it comes in ten colors and six sizes, and it packs away into a carry bag that lets it air dry.

35. A measuring tool for cooking the perfect amount of spaghetti

Stop guessing at how much spaghetti to put in the pot. This measuring tool accurately gauges how much dry spaghetti you need to cook for the number of people who will be eating. No more shorting the dinner guests or ending up with mounds of pasta that won’t get eaten. It fits in a drawer or hangs on a hook.

36. This colorful patio accessory that chases away bugs

Set this cute patio accessory down right in the middle of your gathering, turn on the fuel cartridge, and let it silently chase the annoying mosquitos away from your people. It’s odorless, clears a 15-foot area, comes with three repellent mats, and is available in 11 colors.

37. A simple trick for wine that tastes much better

It is so simple to improve the flavor of wine with this aerating pourer. Simply put it in the bottle after you remove the cork and pour through it. It exposes the liquid to oxygen on the way to your glass, which helps open up the wine and can improve the flavor, especially for cheaper wine. Over 9,000 people give it five stars.

38. This big garlic press & silicone garlic peeler

Garlic is great but peeling and cutting it isn’t. This big garlic press makes that task fast and simple. Peel the garlic in the silicone sleeve, pop it into the big hold of this press and squeeze to produce lots of crushed garlic fast. Or pop unpeeled garlic into the press. It can handle it. It can also do several cloves at once.

39. These ice trays don’t make you struggle to remove cubes

These ice trays are made from a flexible silicone, so getting the ice out of the tray and into your glass is so easy. Just push from the bottom and out they pop. Since you can easily remove one cube at a time, these are also great for freezing baby food, pesto sauce, or any small portions you want to use slowly. They have lids and stack easily.

40. This slick-looking magnetic knife rack

Design your kitchen so that all the tools you need are right at hand instead of lost in a drawer by mounting this magnetic knife bar to the wall over your work space. It’s easy to install because it’s two pieces that snap together once the base is on the wall. Stick knives, graters, whisks, and anything else that’s metal to it and make cooking fast and less irritating.

41. A slender, full-featured waterproof watch

Time your runs, count your laps, and know if you are about to miss the train by sporting this slender and attractive waterproof watch with a clear, easy-to-read display. It has a stopwatch, alarm, and backlight, and it keeps track of two time zones and comes in four colors.

42. This clever hack for carrying lots of stuff at once

Snap your grocery bags or paint cans into this clever device and you can carry more of them at once without hurting your hands or shoulders. Just balance the weight of your parcels and hold the comfortable plastic handle or sling it over your shoulder. You’ll be able to carry much more at once without pain or stress.

43. A magnifier that makes a phone screen look like a TV

Just unroll this clever device, set your phone in the phone mount, and watch that tiny screen through the magnifier to make it seem about the size of a small TV. It’s super handy for watching YouTube videos, streaming a movie, or reading small print. It looks attractive on your coffee table, requires no power, and comes in five finishes.

44. This draft stopper for a more comfortable home

Even a small gap at the bottom of an exterior door can cost a fortune in lost heating and cooling while letting bugs and sound in. Install this draft stopper to put an end to all of that. Peel off the backing, stick it to the bottom of just about any door, and forget about it. It blends right in and doesn’t impede the opening or closing of the door.

45. A small folding keyboard for your phone, tablet, or laptop

This small keyboard folds in half to make it super portable, and it connects to anything via Bluetooth so you can use to write on your phone, make a tablet more functional, or use it as a more comfortable keyboard for your laptop. It’s rechargeable and lasts for days on a single charge.

46. The body pillow you can wrap yourself around

Wrap your body around this soft and fluffy microfiber body pillow, and let it support your head, arm, and knees all at once so you can sleep. It’s especially helpful if you have back pain or are pregnant. It’s over four feet long, offers gentle support — not too firm — and fits into a wide range of pillowcases.

47. These sheets straps for a perfectly made bed

If you hate remaking the bed after a fitful night, these sheet straps will stop that bottom sheet from shifting until you are ready to change the sheets. It clips the sheet at the corners and in the middle so firmly that you can even use a flat sheet as a bottom sheet. Using these makes for a very crisp bed and over 8,000 people give them five stars.

48. A container that keeps produce fresh longer

With an internal basket that keeps your produce away from the walls of the container, a filter that absorbs ethylene gas (which makes fruits rot), and a vent to create optimal humidity, this little container is where you want to store a pint of perishables. Your berries and other fresh produce will last longer in this container, and it’s also available in two larger sizes.

49. This tiny spatula that gets every last drop

When there is only a small amount of mayo left, and you want all of it, pull out one of these two tiny spatulas with long handles to reach in there and get every last drop. It works for any condiment, lotion, or cosmetics container and is also great at spreading your mustard, peanut butter, or frosting once you get it out.

50. This lunch cooler with two insulated sections

If you carry your lunch to work or school, this two-part insulated cooler will remove all the hassles. A large section on the bottom (big enough for a six pack) is insulated and so well-sealed it will hold water. A smaller section on top keeps your dry snacks separated and a shoulder strap makes it easy to carry. It comes in nine colors.

51. These grippy disks for opening jars

This colorful collection of 12 grippy rubber disks is super handy for getting jars open. Each one is 5.5 inches in diameter so you can use them on all sizes of jars, and they are handy as a trivet for your camper or boat because they won’t let vases or mugs slide around. You get three of each color.

52. A dining table that snaps into your car’s steering wheel

Snap this molded dining table into the steering wheel of your car and pull over for a quick and tidy in-car dining experience. There’s a cup holder and plenty of room to spread out your road-trip meals. It’s also great for getting a bit of work done in a parking space. Over 18,000 people give it five stars.

53. These oven liners so you never have to clean the oven floor

Before you bake that messy berry pie, a cheesy casserole, or a roast that wants to drip fat, lay these oven liners on the rack below your creation to catch all the mess. These remove and wash easily in the sink or dishwasher so your oven stays clean. There are three in the set, and they are easy to cut to fit your oven if needed.

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