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10 Things Everyone Should Own That Cost Less Than $100


By Esther Trattner, MoneyWise

It's important to save money, of course. But you also need to know when to plunk down some cash to get the proper gadget that will do what you need it to. It's undeniable that the right tool for the job can make life so much easier.

Whether you're looking for a gift for a friend or loved one, or you just feel that your own life could use a bit more convenience, here are 10 items everyone should own that cost less than $100.


1. A good pillow


Don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Research shows that being well-rested will help you concentrate better during the day, improve your mood, reduce chronic pain and even boost your sex life.

If you're waking up with neck, back, or shoulder pain, or if you find that your eyes are itchy or your nose is stuffy in the morning, your pillow may be to blame.

Depending on whether you sleep on your front, back or side, your pillow needs to support your head and respond to your neck position properly. You may even be allergic to your pillow's stuffing material and not realize it.

Spending less than $100 on a high quality, hypo-allergenic pillow that supports your head and neck properly can help you achieve a deeper, more restful sleep. Given that you spend a third of your life in bed, upgrading to a good pillow can literally change your life.


2. A 6-inch chef's knife


Never underestimate the power of using the right tool in the kitchen. Easily avoid slipping, chipping, and accidentally adding your fingers to a meal by using a high-quality chef's knife.

The sky is practically the limit on how much you can spend on a chef's knife (Germany's Nesmuk made one that retailed for about $96,000!), but you can pay under $100 for a great blade from a brand such as Wustof, Henckels or Shun that will last a lifetime with proper care.

A high-quality knife will pay for itself many times over in time and effort saved in the kitchen.


3. A garment steamer


It's smart to look neat and wrinkle-free for work, important dinners, dates and most other places that aren't your sofa on a Sunday morning.

Still, ironing can be hard on your clothes, and there's a learning curve if you want to avoid adding creases.

Save your clothes and your sanity by investing in a garment steamer. Plenty of models on the market cost less than $100 and store compactly and conveniently in even the smallest of closets.

In a minute or two, you can steam wrinkles out of shirts, jackets, dresses and pants. A garment steamer can save you a fortune on dry-cleaning fees.


4. A slow cooker


The simplest slow cooker you can get for less than $100 will be a miracle worker in the kitchen.

Just chop veggies and meat (or buy everything precut), toss the ingredients in the cooker, and turn it on "low." When you come home from work, dinner is served!

Whether you're cooking for just for yourself or for a whole family, a slow cooker does the job right, with far less effort than cooking from scratch after work.

Buying the raw ingredients for a hearty soup, stew or homemade, grandma-approved pasta sauce will save you a lot of money versus buying takeout for dinner, and the meals will be much healthier, too.


5. A cast-iron skillet


It's rare that something costing less than $100 can last generations. But cast-iron skillets are so tough that, with proper care, your grandkids might inherit yours one day.

With a little practice, this amazing pan will become your favorite tool in the kitchen. A cast-iron skillet makes it easy to cook up your favorite meals, from perfect steaks to succulent pork chops, from amazing frittatas to legendary casseroles.

Often, you start out cooking on the stove, then toss the skillet in the oven to finish the process.

Cast-iron skillets heat evenly and can handle all the varying temperatures you need to create restaurant-worthy meals at home — for a third of the price.


6. A small safe


As the years go by, we all accumulate more and more important documents, media and precious items like jewelry. If these papers or objects are lost, stolen or damaged, it can be a real pain trying to replace them or claim the insurance money.

Keep these most important items in a small fireproof and waterproof safe, in case anything ever happens to your home.

For less than $100, you can get a safe with an electronic lock, or you might want to opt for a key or combination lock, so you won't have to worry about changing batteries.

A small safe can be an essential item for just about anyone, but that's especially true if you live in an area that's more prone to crime or natural disasters.


7. A HEPA air purifier


You might not realize that a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifier can cost under $100 — or that you need one.

They're priced as low as $70. If you find yourself having an inexplicably stuffy nose, scratchy eyes or regular headaches at home or the office, there's a good chance the air quality is to blame.

HEPA purifiers can clear the air of dust mites, allergens, chemicals from cleaning products, and pet odors and other unpleasant smells — to help you breathe easier.

A HEPA purifier can seriously improve your quality of life at home, especially if you or your kids have asthma or other respiratory sensitivities. You'll also be likely to notice far less dust settling on your electronics and shelves.


8. An instant-read thermometer


An instant-read thermometer is another essential kitchen tool that's often overlooked.

For as little as $10, this little gadget can quickly show whether you've reached the correct cooking temperature. That can make all the difference when you're trying to whip up the perfect steak, roast chicken, baked goods, candy and even that bird for Turkey Day.

If you spend any time in your kitchen, you need an instant-read thermometer.


9. A rechargeable battery backup


Your car battery can die unexpectedly for several reasons. Maybe the lights were left on and the battery drained, or maybe the battery is old and weak. It also can happen if your car is hit with extreme temperatures, or if there are issues with the charging system.

In short, at some point you're very likely to find yourself stuck in a parking lot with a car that won't start. If you have really bad luck, it'll happen in the middle of a snowstorm.

This is why it's essential to own a lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack that can jump-start a car.


10. A countertop convection oven


For under $100, this magical gadget toasts and bakes meals fast, using a fraction of the energy of a regular-sized oven.

Because these ovens are small, they reach the desired temperature more quickly, too.

Countertop convection ovens are perfect for heating up a one-person meal, a snack, a quick breakfast, or baking anything that will fit inside.

Overall, this is a fantastic and super-convenient kitchen component that will make fast-food stops a thing of the past.



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