Life is freaking hard — here are 50 clever things that make it a bit easier

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by Christina X. Wood

If you don’t believe that a simple, inexpensive item can make life much, much easier, I would like to introduce you to humble soap, our ally in the fight against dirt, smelling bad, and many plagues. Without it, life would be very hard indeed, which is why humans have been using it since the Babylonians invented it in around 2800 B.C. You can buy a bar of it for a dollar, and you wouldn’t like living without it. Convinced? I know I don’t have to convince you that life is freaking hard. Because wow. Fortunately, there are many clever things that make it a bit easier. Here are 50 of them, and they’re all simple and affordable.

When your morning goes off the rails and you spill the coffee beans everywhere, are you really going to haul out the vacuum cleaner? You might it if was tiny, shaped like a power tool, and fun to use, though. And your life would be cleaner for it. And, true story, I know someone who works from his car and every day, for lunch, was putting his meal on the hood to warm it up. This does not work well (or at all) in rain or snow. His life is so much easier since discovering this clever electric lunchbox that heats food quickly. I know your life will be easier, too, if you keep reading.

1. This trick for carrying groceries without hurting hands

If you have to carry groceries, water bottles, or other heavy items — or you like to load up all the bags on your arms to make it in one trip — this two-pack of handles takes a lot of the struggle out of it. Bag handles won’t dig into your skin and their weight is distributed to a wider area, making heavy loads much easier to carry. “As a five-foot girl with barely any muscle strength, these have helped me out so much!” said one reviewer. “The weight is evenly distributed and you don’t have to worry about bag handles twisting around your fingers.”

2. A deck of cards to help de-stress & lean into self-care

When feeling stressed or struggling to find calm or focus, pull a card from this deck of 52 Stress Less cards and focus, for a moment, on your breath, positive visualizations, gratitude, and a plethora of other proven strategies — from yogi and meditation experts — for stopping the mind’s stress response in its tracks. The exercises are printed on high-quality card stock and packed in a pretty, giftable box. “These are great to just pull a card and work on it for your daily self-care strategy,” shared one reviewer.

3. The flickering LED flame lamp that’s also a speaker

Create a chill zone anywhere by setting down this flickering LED light speaker, connecting your phone to it, and dialing up some music. It creates all the ambience you need indoors or out, and you can connect two of them together via Bluetooth for stereo sound. It’s small enough to take to the park for a picnic and the sound is big enough for home. “I bought this for evenings out on our deck,” says one reviewer. “It doesn't take up much room. The glow is plenty of light to see the tabletop for drinks. The flicker goes perfectly with our tiki torches. The sound quality is great and the speaker can get way louder than we need it to.”

4. A graphics tablet that makes it easy to draw, game, or write

If you play certain games, sign a lot of contracts, or like to draw digitally, this tablet and pen make that all much easier. It connects to a computer or phone, is able to recognize pen pressure the way paper does — to create a stronger or lighter line — and is small enough to tote along when you hit the cafe or head for the hills to do some digital sketching plein air.

5. This batter dispenser for fast, even pancakes & baked goods

This trigger-release batter dispenser makes it easy to drop a perfect dollop of batter onto the pan when making pancakes or cookies or to fill the muffin pan evenly. Just pull the trigger to open the dispenser at the bottom and release the trigger to close it. Measurements are clearly visible on the side, and gravity does most of the work to deliver the batter. Drop the empty dispenser into the dishwasher for quick cleanup.

6. The comfy couch you can take anywhere

Want to nap on the beach, kick back at a music festival, or post up in the park? Unfurl this inflatable lounger, hold it open in a breeze — or run — to fill it with air, then plunk it down where you want to sit. It’s a comfy lounger, with a pillow shape at the head, for you to stretch and relax in. There’s a side pocket for your water bottle and phone, and it deflates to fit easily into a backpack. It comes with a carrying bag, a stake to hold it in place, and a bottle opener to go with the vibe.

7. The weird wristband that keeps mosquitos away

Strap on this unobtrusive, bug-repelling wristband — filled with a refillable, essential-oil-based mosquito repellent cartridge — and go into the woods. The mosquitos will have trouble honing in on you because the essential oil blend masks the scent of breath and body, which are the triggers those pests use to locate delicious people. The band comes with two pellets that each last 15 days. You can also wear the adjustable band around an ankle, if you prefer.

8. A simple necklace that keeps glasses handy

Tired of hunting for your sunglasses or reading glasses? Wear this glasses-holder around your neck and, instead of setting specs down when you take them off, loop one of the arms through the ring. It holds glasses handy and securely without messing with your hat or hair. It’s slightly stretchy for comfort.

9. These strange spatula tongs that are super versatile

This combo of tongs and spatula is so genius that it may just become your go-to kitchen tool for everything from stir-fries to pancakes. The silicone spatula part slips under fried eggs or browned meat. Then, close the tongs to grab and lift and you can easily flip things over or move them to a plate. Drain holes in the spatula leave grease or juices in the pan and you can toss it in the dishwasher for cleanup.

10. This stick-on toiletry caddy that can travel with you

This clever, compact toiletry caddy sticks easily to any clean, shiny surface — glass, tile, etc. — and holds essentials right where you want them. There’s a razor hook, a tiny shelf for a spare blade, and a slot for your toothbrush and paste. You can peel it off the wall and move it to another surface anytime you like, so it’s a perfect travel accessory. But it also looks great in your bathroom — in any of the three matte colors — for permanent use.

11. A trash can & organizer to keep your car clean

Instead of scrambling to clean the trash out of your car every time you have a passenger, install this all-in-one trash station in a handy spot. You can secure it with whichever of the adjustable, elastic straps works for your situation so it stays put and nothing spills. It comes with two reusable waterproof liners to make emptying the trash easy. There’s a dispenser pocket for tissues or wipes, and a mesh side pocket to stash sundries.

12. The can colander that makes canned things easy to drain

When you pop open a can of beans, tuna, or fruit, this can colander makes the food-getting process a lot easier — and a little safer. Simply snap it over the top of the can and turn over to pour off the liquid. You can also flip it over and press the sieve into the can to drain water out of a canned tuna or chicken. No more trying to make the sharp, metal lid serve as a drainer, or dirty a big colander for a little treat.

13. This hand warmer that will also charge your phone

When it’s cold outside, your hands will love having this rechargeable warmer tucked into a pocket or ready in a bag to bring frozen digits back to life. You can set it on gentle warmth — around 100 degrees — or crank it up to a toasty 131 for when things get really cold. Your phone will also benefit from this pack-along since this warmer is also a high-capacity phone charger. It comes in five colors.

14. A flashlight that picks up things you dropped

This pen-sized flashlight is super handy to have in a pocket — and there’s a clip for that — when working because it will not only shine a light on what you’re doing, but also reach into tight spaces to pick up the screw, nail, or part you dropped. The telescoping neck reaches nearly 23 inches on a bendable gooseneck. A powerful magnet is built into the light so that you can just touch it to metal pieces to retrieve them. A magnet in the handle end lets you stick the light to anything metal to hold it for you.

15. The combo food scale & cutting board for precise recipes

This handy cutting and measuring scale lets you measure ingredients as you cut by chopping on the bamboo cutting board, then sliding cut pieces right onto the metal tray over the scale. It makes precision when cooking super easy. The scale shifts among four measuring units, runs on batteries, and easily zeros out any container you set on it. Both the cutting board and tray lift off for cleaning.

16. This windshield cover so you can quickly get going on wintry mornings

If the weather coming at you looks like it might cover your car in snow or ice, cover the windshield with this waterproof cover when you park so that clearing it off will be easy — just pull off the cover instead of scraping off snow or idling in the car while ice melts. It tucks into the doors and has hooks that attach to your hubcaps to hold it in place. Use it in the summer to protect your car from the sun, leaves, and birds.

17. A laptop stand that turns any desk into a standing one

Prevent neck, back, and hand pain, and a host of other ills from sitting all day, by turning your desk into a sit/stand desk with this super adjustable laptop stand. It elevate screens, or books, a few inches for better ergonomics while you sit, or it rises to over 16 inches so you can stand up. It has a roomy surface with a lip to keep laptops from slipping and can hold over 40 pounds.

18. The sonic face cleaner that gets rid of skin-clogging gunk

This spatula-style sonic skin cleanser is super effective at removing dirt, oils, makeup, and other debris from your skin — whether you can see it there or not — quickly, gently, and effectively. The silicone paddles are soft and gentle; one is for cleaning and the other for helping uplift skin. They dislodge and remove debris effectively, and almost 12,000 people give them a perfect five stars.

19. This hot pot for fast, satisfying meals wherever you are

Whether upgrading a hotel or RV stay, spending too much time in your office, or you just like to gather friends and family for shabu-shabu, this plug-in hot pot will help you forego greasy takeout and save money, too. Use it to turn ingredients on hand into a delicious, warm meal fast. Just fill it with stock or water and drop in noodles, seafood, and vegetables for a tasty hot pot dinner. It also makes oatmeal, boils pasta, and more. It has a warming setting for keeping cooked meals hot, too.

20. A personal fan that’s also a weird clock

Plug this USB clock fan into any USB port on your computer and it will send a steady breeze wherever you direct the fan at the end of the gooseneck. Strangely, it will also tell the time in its spinning blades, which is not only convenient and fascinating, but is a great attention-getter. “This thing is really cool,” said one reviewer. “I find that I really enjoy having it plugged into my computer. And once you set the time, it seems to keep it, regardless of whether your computer is off or not.”

21. This hammer with 11 other tools hidden in it

This handy multitool hammer is a toolbox all on its own. Hidden in the handle and head you will find 12 tools, including the obvious hammer. There’s a nail puller, Allen wrench, saw, knife, several screwdriver bits, a can opener, a bottle opener, a file, and more. It comes in its own carrying case and is small enough to tuck into a car or camping rig.

22. A set of slick lenses that upgrades phone photos

Want to take phone photography up several notches? This set of lenses will do it. There’s a fisheye, macro, wide-angle, telephoto, and polarized lens so you can take creative images while carrying nothing more than a phone and this tiny case of lenses. The metal mount snaps easily over your phone, and the case clips to a belt or keychain. The lenses fit neatly into the custom foam lining of the case for protection.

23. These gloves that are actually wearable flashlights

When working in a dark space, walking the dog, or putting together a superhero cosplay outfit, these gloves with lights on the forefinger and thumb will save the day. There’s an on/off switch on the back of the hand, and the two powerful LEDs built into each hand let you send light wherever you point your fingers. They’re waterproof and the fit is adjustable.

24. A pen that’s also a multitool & ruler

This pen is a nerd’s dream. Not only is it a handy writing implement with a ruler built right into the body, but it’s secretly carrying several other diminutive tools. There’s a stylus for your touch screen, a spirit level, and two screwdrivers hidden inside the pen-shaped body. The ruler can handle five scales, the hexagonal shape stops it from rolling away from you, and the pocket clip keeps it safely with you.

25. This bottle that infuses water with flavor

Load the infuser container in the center of this clever water bottle with fruit, cucumbers, herbs, frozen fruit, or ice to create the water flavor you prefer, then sip and enjoy. You’ll drink more water if it tastes good, right? And that will helps make life and overall health better. This holds 32 ounces of water, the infuser is easy to remove and fill, the top pops open with one touch, and it fits in the car’s cup holder.

26. The foot mask that makes feet shed dead skin like a snake

Pull on these foot mask socks that are infused with botanicals and relax for a few minutes. This is the start of a strange process. For, in a few days, your metamorphosis will begin. Soon, you will take off your shoes and discover that your feet have begun to shed their external layer. This takes a few more days. And then, snakelike, the shed will be gone, revealing baby soft, callus-free feet devoid of cracks and dry patches. There are three pairs and they smell like lavender.

27. This snowflake that’s secretly a tiny toolbox

This snowflake keychain might look like a purely decorative adornment, but when there’s a beer that needs opening or string that needs to be cut, or your bike has need of a quick repair, it will be handy and ready. It’s small enough to easily tote, but has a box cutter, hex wrench, Phillips screwdriver, twine knife, and 14 other functions. It’s sturdy and solid and comes in silver or black. This is a set of two.

28. A set of tongue scrapers for cleaner breath & mouth

These tongue scrapers are easy to use because the solid handle feels nice to hold, and the angled scraper drags effortlessly across your tongue — taking stuff you don’t want on your tongue with it. They’re made from a solid piece of stainless steel so there are no plastic parts to break or make it difficult to clean. “Scraping and flossing have changed my life,” says one of the nearly 10,000 five-star reviews. “My breath smells 10 times cleaner and this scraper is very sturdy.”

29. This cap with wireless speakers in the brim

This hat with a pair of speakers built into the underside of the brim lets you listen to music without wearing (or keeping track of) headphones. Just connect it via Bluetooth to your phone and use controls on the side to manage volume. You can even take calls through your hat, which is great when riding a bike, backpacking, working, or when holding a phone isn’t convenient but you don’t want to miss a call.

30. The fob that keeps track of where your keys are

If losing your keys has ever given you an unwanted shot of adrenaline or made you late, add this Tile tracker to your keychain. Once connected to your phone with Bluetooth, you can find your keys quickly by checking the app. If your keys are within range, it shows you where they are — or will play an alarm so you can locate them. If your keys are out of range, it will show you their most recent location on a map. If someone else finds your keys, they can use a QR code on the Tile to reach you.

31. This keychain hiding a charger cable & bottle opener

There are a few items regularly needed, that are completely stymying without. A phone charger and bottle opener come to mind. So why not carry both in a 3-in-1 keychain so they’re always handy? This gizmo is exactly that. The phone charger cable is secreted securely in the frame of the bottle opener, and it’s all about the size of a car key. It even comes with a small carabiner to connect to your keychain.

32. A solar power bank you can take anywhere

If you have trouble remembering to charge your portable power bank, consider adding this compact, solar-powered version to your arsenal. It charges two phones at once, clips to a backpack so it’s always sipping a little sun energy, and is water and dust resistant. You can charge it by plugging it into a wall outlet, too, but if there isn’t one handy just give it a bath in the sun and it will transform it to phone power. It comes with a charging cable and carabiner.

33. A bedside lamp that’s also a speaker & alarm clock

Set this sleek nightlight down on your bedside table and not only will it provide warm, comforting light, but it will tell time and play music or audiobooks while you drift off. There are 48 color options and three brightness levels on the dimmable light. The “sound is loud and crisp,” according to one reviewer, and there is a built-in microphone for taking calls, too.

34. This food warmer so you can have a hot lunch anywhere

If you want to bring lunch to work or school — and whether this puts you in an office or a vehicle — this electric lunchbox is better than a microwave. Load the internal stainless steel container with leftovers or ingredients. When it’s time for lunch, plug it into a standard outlet or your car’s lighter and it will heat your lunch to perfection. A separate plastic container with a lid is great for bringing a salad or fruit to snack on while your meal heats. Its utensils snap into the lid.

35. A place for everything that’s in your pockets

When you walk in the door and empty your pockets, this docking station provides a place to put all of it. There’s a charging station for your phone with a cutout for the cable, a notch to hang glasses, a tray for stray pocket detritus, and a place for wallets, pens, and keys. There is even a smartwatch dock and a place to hang rings and jewelry. It’s all solidly built and crafted from wood. There are eight options, some with sayings or personalization carved into the phone dock space.

36. This pumice that gets rid of that dreaded toilet ring fast

If you have hard water, toilet bowl rings are a recurring nightmare. They happen seemingly overnight and are nearly impossible to remove. This pumice with a handle is the weapon needed to fight them. “I — weak little me — was able to scrub the impossible-to-remove ring out of my toilet in under 2 minutes,” said one reviewer. Its gentle abrasion works to remove mineral deposits, rust, stains, and scale from toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers, and it lasts for a very long time. You absolutely want one of these in your cleaning kit.

37. These heat-resistant gloves that can handle the hottest BBQ

When grilling, smoking, or cleaning the grill, protect your paws by donning these grippy, heat-resistant mitts. They can withstand high heat while allowing terrific dexterity because they have five fingers. “I was able to pull the smokebox out and these gloves didn't seem phased at all,” said one reviewer. “I used them to pull pork shoulders from the smoker with ease as well.” They have a soft lining, a loop to hang them from a hook, and they come in 11 colors. Also, the grippy pattern is made of hearts so they’re a perfect gift for your most beloved griller.

38. This stylish belt with a secret pocket

No one will ever know you have a key or cash stashed in your belt when you’re wearing this stylish leather belt with a hidden pocket. So if you don’t want to carry a wallet or bag, you’ll still be able to get into the house or pay your bar tab. The pocket is sewn discreetly into the inside so that even you will probably forget your safety measure is there — until you need it.

39. This easy, extra storage for the bed, couch, or desk

Give yourself some handy hanging storage wherever you like to work or study by sliding the leather anchor of this organizer under a mattress, couch cushion, or something heavy on your desk. It will suspend the three mesh pockets and one large pocket — perfect for a notebook or tablet — off the side. There are 13 color and pocket configuration options, some that offer a water-bottle pocket or more storage, so there’s sure to be a setup that works for your gear.

40. A pizza knife that always cuts a straight line

If you want to cut a pizza (or a pie, flatbread, or focaccia) evenly and with straight cuts, this oversize straight cutter is the trick. Just line up your cut and rock the curved blade back and forth for perfect, pizza parlor-worthy pie. It will cut through all the toppings and a crisp crust, leaving you with perfect, easy-to-pick-up pieces. It comes with a blade cover so you can store it in a drawer, and over 7,000 people gave it five stars.

41. The pair of headrest hooks that holds your phone & bags

These in-car headrest hooks are super clever. Lock one onto the headrest rod and swing it toward the back seat to give you a place to hang grocery bags or a tote. Flip out the retractable phone clip to give a backseat passenger a hands-free phone mount. Spin it to the front and hang your phone, water bottle, or jacket. Rotate it under the headrest to hide it away. This is a two-pack and each hook holds 22 pounds.

42. This mug warmer so your coffee is hot whenever you drink it

One of life’s universal frustrations: You make coffee because you just can’t even anymore, but it’s too hot to sip. While it’s cooling, you find your focus and forget about your brew till it’s cold. Repeat. This mug warmer will stop the cycle by keeping that cup of coffee at just the right temperature, without burning it, for hours. It has an auto shut-off feature in case you completely forget that cuppa and comes in six colors that look great on a desk.

43. A portable mini humidifier & night light

Set this tiny, modern-looking humidifier on your desk, next to the bed, or in the car to add cool humidity to the air. This helps alleviate dry eyes and sinuses and can help you sleep better. You can even add a bit of essential oil to the water for a scented mist, which is a great mood booster or sleep aid. The seven mood lights make it look nice wherever you set it, and help it double as a night light for a child. It comes in black and green.

44. This fabric shaver that removes pills & fuzzies

When your sweater starts to accumulate lint, fuzzies, and pills, your first impulse might be to toss it. Check that impulse. This little fabric shaving machine can fix that problem quickly. And the experience is very satisfying. Just charge it up and run it over the garment or furniture that has started to look shabby and it shaves off debris and vacuums it away, leaving a fresh, like-new garment in its wake. The dust bin area is roomy so you don’t have to empty or clean it too often.

45. The weekly dinner menu on a dry erase board

Answer the question of “What’s for dinner?” for the entire week by posting the week’s menu on the fridge with this dry-erase board designed for the purpose. It’s simple, comes with four chalk markers — three colors and one white — that also stick to the fridge magnetically. There’s even a space to jot notes or a grocery list. When the week is over (or the menu changes) just wipe it clean with a damp cloth and write the new plan.

46. This tiny but mighty vacuum cleaner tool

This little rechargeable vacuum cleaner is just the thing when there are crumbs on your keyboard, the dashboard is dusty, or your coffee grounds escaped onto the counter. Hold it like a drill, aim the sucking end at the mess (with either the brush attachment or flat nozzle, depending on the debris), and pull the trigger. The filter and dust bin are washable and it’s gentle enough to use on electronics.

47. The jump start for your car that fits in the glove box

You’ll never find yourself stranded in a parking lot in the middle of a snowy night again if you keep this battery-powered jump starter in the car. It’s small enough to stash in a glove box or center console, will start the car 25 times on a charge, and will also power phones or other devices. It has a built-in flashlight and safety strobe so you can see what you’re doing, and it makes jump starting safe because it protects against reverse polarity, short circuits, overcharging, and more. It works in cold or hot weather.

48. These cleaning brushes that attach to a power drill

When the mess exceeds your available elbow grease, attach these cleaning brushes to your power drill and get it done. The flat one is great for counters and shower walls, the round one gets into corners and crevices, and the small flat one has a long arm for hard-to-reach spots. They attach to your power tool the same way a drill bit does, and come in six color-coded bristle stiffnesses for cleaning everything from the car to the grill.

49. The garlic press that minces & slices

Pop your garlic into this dual-chamber garlic press and you can choose if you want the end result to be slices or minced pieces of garlic. Or do both at the same time. What?! It also comes with a silicone garlic-peeling tube that makes getting skin off a clove a matter of dropping it in the tube and rolling. A cleaning tool and brush make cleanup simple and fast, and the press can go into the dishwasher. Garlic has never been easier to wrangle.

50. This simple sleeve that’s actually pockets for your wrist

This wrist band provides the pockets you need when shorts or yoga pants are woefully without. There is a zippered pocket on one side and a simple, foldover pocket on the other so you can carry small items — cash, a credit card, even your phone — on your wrist for safety when jogging, traveling, or running errands and you don’t want to carry a bag. The sleeves come in eight colors and patterns and are a smart way to keep stuff handy at all times.

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