As shopping editors, we're always searching for the products that will give us the most bang for our buck. Sure, we love a "little treat" or indulgent splurge as much as the next person, but nothing excites us more than when we find a product that has both a low price tag and the potential for real staying power in our routines.
So when we recently came across a thread in the "frugal" subreddit on Reddit, in which users shared the affordable or free things that hugely improved their quality of life, we were immediately inspired. The thread was filled with simple activities and products that people say make their everyday life easier or more enjoyable — proving that sometimes it really is the smallest things that have the biggest impact.
After reading the responses, we were inspired to poll our own team members and hear about the items they own that have deceivingly low price tags but have vastly improved their daily lives in some way. Here, we're sharing some of the Redditors' responses along with our own.
Redditor affordable finds
Redditors shared in the subreddit that certain hobbies, like watercolor painting, bread making or reading are affordable ways to boost their moods. Others shared inexpensive finds that worked their way into their everyday routines, like a smart garage door opener, insoles for shoes or multipurpose cleaning tools.
We found some shopper favorite options with strong ratings.
One person mentioned Magic Eraser cleaning pads as one of their affordable favorites — and it's not hard to see why. The popular cleaning tool can be used for everything from walls to light switches and bathtubs. For under $6, you'll get six pads in a pack.
You’ll never be left wondering if you left the garage door open again! This reviewer-loved tool allows you to open or close your garage from anywhere. Plus, it will send you notifications whenever your garage is opened or is left open.
Ready to experience the joy that comes from embracing your artistic side? This watercolor set has more than 8,000 five-star ratings and is just under $20. It comes with everything you need to start painting, including a palette with 48 different colors, a water brush pen, black marker and a flexible brush.
Inspired by their responses, here's what our editors shared.
More editor-favorite affordable items: Tech
"I bought this smart lightbulb after seeing a video on TikTok about how you can turn any old lamp into a sunrise alarm with it," says social associate editor Dani Musacchio. "This $8 find has single-handedly transformed the way I wake up in the morning. Instead of waking up to blaring alarms, I wake up with gradual light. I schedule what time the light turns on through the easy-to-use Kasa app."
Freelance writer Colleen Sullivan received this neck reading light for Christmas and says it's "one of those gadgets that makes you scratch your head and wonder why someone didn’t think of it before." She adds that the simple design and multiple features make it a "win-win."
And it's not just for reading at night either. "Because this light is ideal for any low-light situation, I often find myself using it outside of my bedroom," she says. "Either my husband or I will throw it around our neck when we walk our dog at night or even when we’re grilling in the dark. We love that it leaves our hands free to pick up after our pup or to flip whatever’s on the grill."
“These might seem silly but they have actually changed my life,” shares production coordinator Camryn Privette. “All of the lights in my apartment have one of these plugs and I can control them from an app or by talking to my Alexa. One of the biggest joys of this product is being in bed and not having to get up to turn any lights off. I haven’t touched a switch in years. Also, in the summer I have one for my A/C so I can control it remotely.”
Deputy editorial director Alexandra Deabler shares that her parents bought her this gadget before she went to college more than 10 years ago, and she still uses it to this day. "I pack it with me for every move (including cross-country) because it’s just so functional. Each tentacle moves and bends so you can plug in things that are on opposite sides of the room. So I can plug in my charger and when I yank on it, the tentacle moves, rather than the extension that everything else is plugged into. It’s small and cheap, but actually makes a pretty big difference."
"My home office setup is a bit of a catastrophe with the amount of wires sprawled out all over the floors and snaking around my desk," says senior SEO editor Jess Bender. "This cord organizer consolidates the technological chaos surrounding me during work hours and ultimately eases my anxiety that sparks from too much clutter."
"In the few weeks that I’ve installed these lights under my kitchen cupboards I can safely say that I will never go back and don’t even know how I survived so long without automated lights," says editor Vivien Moon. "I wasn’t expecting to be so quickly impressed and how much my mood could be improved by such a simple solution. While my kitchen has plenty of light and the ceiling lights are fine, sometimes you just want to grab something in the middle of the night or don’t want to switch the lights on and this pair of lights has made my kitchen feel significantly elevated with minimal time or effort."
More editor-favorite affordable items: Beauty
Cleaning your makeup brushes is a task that almost no one looks forward to, but if you neglect to do it, it could impact your skin. For Shop TODAY writer Danielle Murphy, the process is "a nuisance" that she avoids "for as long as possible." That is until she discovered this affordable brush cleaner.
"The makeup practically fell off my brushes. I couldn’t believe how quickly the formula broke down all the product buildup. It worked on all makeup types too — from liquid concealers to powder eyeshadows," she says. She adds that she used to have to wait 24 hours for her brushes to dry after cleaning before she could use them again. "Not with this miracle cleaner. I only wait five, maybe 10 minutes, and they’re ready for applying glam again."
Flat hair can ruin your look. But Murphy says that this viral volume spray "unlocked the secret code to my hair volume problems." "While some influencer beauty trends can lead to not-so-smart spending, I was lucky enough to have a fantastic outcome," she sares. "This Raise the Root spray will forever be a must-have in my hair care routine, especially for special occasions or days that I desperately need a style 180°. Best of all, my hair and I have officially reached BFFL status."
More editor-favorite affordable items: Fashion
"I’ve waxed poetic about these insoles many times," says production associate Audrey Ekman. "They’re designed for people who work on their feet all day to help absorb impact on hard surfaces and combat fatigue. I put them in every pair of boots I own and they make every pair exponentially more comfortable — even on days when I’m running around the city and far exceeding 10,000 steps."
More editor-favorite affordable items: Home
I have eczema on my hands, which tends to get aggravated by cold weather or lots of water exposure. As a result, I dread hand-washing dishes even more than the average person might (which is a serious problem because I don't have a dishwasher). At one point the breakouts had been causing me a lot of pain and someone suggested it might be due to dishwashing and recommended I get a pair of gloves. I picked these up from Target that day and haven't looked back since.
I wear them every time I wash dishes (which ends up being multiple times per day) and while cleaning around my house, and my eczema breakouts have significantly improved. In general, I feel like they help prevent my hands from drying out and keep them protected from harsh cleaning chemicals that might otherwise cause irritation.
Restaurant workers, bar owners and chefs have been using Bar Keepers Friend for years, but I only recently discovered it (on TikTok, of course). Though, now that it's a part of my cleaning routine, I have no idea how I survived for so long without it. It can be used to remove rust, tarnish and stains from everything from kitchen pans to bathtubs and faucets. I used it to remove years-worth of stains from my well-loved baking sheets and regularly sprinkle it over my kitchen sink to get it sparkling again. It's affordable, easy to use and multipurpose — what more could you ask for from a cleaning product?
"I’m always trying to cut down on disposables (I've got my reusable water bottle, tote bag, etc.) but I realized I was still using a ton of plastic cutlery — especially at work," shares associate partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky. "Now I keep this bamboo set in my desk drawer and use it every single day for lunch. It comes in a convenient carrying bag if you want to take it on the go, and has lasted me for several years now."
Hate scrubbing your shower? This bestselling cleaner promises to make the process much easier. Simply spray the formula, wait eight to 12 hours and then rinse with warm water.
"The product was easy enough to assemble. I fully extended the included hose and then inserted the tube into the container. Then I rotated the nozzle, sprayed away ... and went to bed. Yes, seriously. The directions say to just spray and then wait 6-8 hours before rinsing," says one writer who tried it. She says her shower was "dismal" to start with so she "scrubbed it with a large sponge and used a small bristle brush on tougher stains," and then repeated the process a couple of times and ultimately had a pretty impressive result. "With weekly use, I’m confident I’ll be able to keep the soap scum and grime at bay."
"I was influenced to buy these after reading [associate editor] Shannon Garlin’s ode to them, and they are one of my most-used purchases," Musacchio says. "I live in a busy neighborhood in New York City with several roommates, so these earplugs have helped me prevent many sleepless nights. I also will never travel without them. Crying baby on an airplane? No problem."
How we chose these products
The Shop TODAY editors and writers search the internet to find the best products out there. We interview expert sources and use our personal experiences with the product and brand to make shopping easier for our readers.
As an editorial team, we independently create content and determine coverage based on research, reporting and what we think TODAY.com readers would like to read about. The goal of our content is to provide a service and inform readers who are on the hunt for the latest products to help make their life better. Items are sold by retailer, not TODAY. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY.