Amazon is full of perks that persuade you to buy more stuff: like free shipping for orders over $25, or same-day shipping for Prime orders over $35. In other cases, Amazon punishes you for not purchasing enough, like those add-on items that only ship in orders over $25.
A year ago, we published a list of cheap, actually-useful products on Amazon that everyone should own—perfect for adding to your cart and using when you need to hit that $25 threshold. Today, we’re back with 10 more useful items that’ll actually improve your life, all of which cost less than an Andrew Jackson. As usual, we’re going for somewhat-universally-useful things here—not hilarious novelty banana slicers (even though yes, they actually work pretty well).
A Water-Resistant Bag for Your Phone
Hot summers mean taking pictures at the pool and chilling at the beach, while simultaneously trying to protect your $1000 phone from stray drops of water and scratchy grains of sand. While there are some great water-and-dirt-resistant phone cases out there, like the Lifeproof Fre series, they’re on the pricier side, and only work with certain phones. For the more budget-minded among us, I highly recommend these universal IPX8 bags from Mpow: you can stash your phone in them, lock them up, and keep them protected from water and sand, while still being able to use the touch screen. The latest version is $11 for a pack of two (but there’s a coupon for 5% off, so I’m calling it close enough).
A Screen Protector That Isn’t Cracked to Hell
Speaking of scratched phone screens: why do so many people use screen protectors even after they look like they ran it over with a car? If you need a few extra bucks to get free shipping, put that cash toward a new, pristine glass screen protector—if yours looks like any of my friends’, then a new one’ll make you feel like you have a brand new phone. This glass protector from Maxboost is well priced, and I love the tool that comes with it to help give you an even application. It’s what I recommend to most people that want a glass protector, though if yours seems like it’s always getting cracked, I actually think IQ Shield’s old-school films are better for impact protection. It’s what I use on my phone, and it won’t crack like glass protectors do (though it doesn’t feel quite as smooth on your fingers, if that’s something you care about.)
Rubber, Not Velcro, Cable Ties
Some would argue that I’m a bit too obsessive about hiding my cables. I would argue that I want my desk to look nice, and not like medusa having a bad hair day. And for years, I used these Velcro-style ties to tidy everything up under my workspace, but after my wife randomly bought me a few of these rubber gear ties from Nite Ize, I’ve become a convert. They are so much easier to wrap around your cables, and equally easy to take off if you need to route a new gadget—plus they come in a variety of sizes and colors. They’re a bit more expensive than the velcro ties unit-for-unit, but considering they’re still only a couple bucks per pack, you aren’t going to be spending a fortune.
A Magnetic Privacy Slider for Your Webcam
Webcams are easier to hack than you think, and you should absolutely be covering yours up. While tape is an incredibly cheap and easy solution, it looks janky as hell, and it’s a bit of a hassle to replace after the tape gets old and un-sticky. Enter the Sunshot sliding webcam cover: for $6 you can get three of these suckers for all the laptops in your household. The outer ring sticks on your laptop bezel, while the inner cover adheres to the ring magnetically, allowing you to slide it back and forth as you need the camera. Not only do they look way nicer, I was shocked to find that they didn’t really hinder the closing of my laptop thanks to their super-thin profile. The silver ones look great on Macs, but are a couple bucks over $10, if you’re willing to fudge the numbers.
The Dongle Dangler (Yes, That’s What It’s Called)
I hate the new headphone jack-less world we live in. It’s been three years and I’m still mad as hell at Apple for removing this universally convenient feature and causing the rest of the world—including companies like Google who originally blasted them for it—to follow suit. Worst of all, my wife uses iOS while I use Android, so we’re constantly swapping headphone adapters in our car, then trying to figure out where we left them. The perfectly-named Dongle Dangler might be my new favorite thing: it contains a dummy 3.5mm plug so you can attach your headphone dongle to your keys, never to be lost in the abyss of your backpack ever again. You get two for $7, too, so give one to a friend and live your best life. (Well, second best life—in your best life, you’d probably still have a headphone jack.)
Rubber Bumpers for Everything
If you know me, you know I like finding weird uses for dumb, mundane stuff. (See again: my previous under-$10 roundup.) Lately, my current obsession is these little rubber bumpers designed to keep cabinet doors from making noise. If you don’t have them on your cabinets, you should, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg here—I use these little buggers for all kinds of stuff, like the router that won’t stop sliding around my desk, the keyboard that lost one of its original rubber feet, DIY projects of all stripes...I even put a couple on my old home theater PC that kept scratching the inside of my entertainment center. Grab a multi-pack and stick them in your drawer; you’d be surprised how often they come in handy.
A Set of Wood Markers and Wax Sticks
Speaking of scratched-up wood, after a few years of treating my furniture like crap—mostly because half of it is crap—it’s gotten quite a few dings and dents. My wife introduced me to these wood markers, though, and while they seem like a half-assed fix, they actually made things look quite a bit nicer, provided the scratch isn’t huge (like in the image above, which will never truly look good). For deeper scratches, this set also comes with a set of touch up filler sticks in multiple shades to match the wood in question. For $9, that’s not a bad deal.
An Actually Portable Power Bank
I love my LifeProof power bank, but let’s be honest, the thing is huge. It fits in my backpack, and it checks all the right boxes, but it’s not exactly an every-day-carry sort of item. So in addition to a high-capacity battery bank, I also find it useful to carry around something smaller, like this RAVPower 5000. It’s a bit bigger than the lipstick-sized Anker PowerCore+ Mini, but it’s also slightly cheaper at $12 (which, with the $3 off coupon on Amazon, makes it eligible for this list). At 5000 mAh, you’ve got enough juice to charge a regular-sized iPhone almost twice. If you know you’re going to be out and using your phone a lot, like navigating your way through an unfamiliar city, stick it in your pocket or purse and you won’t have to worry about running out of juice.
LightDims for All the Blinding LEDs in Your Life
I actually discovered LightDims eight years ago on The Inventory’s sister site Lifehacker, and I still use them to this day. Sure, you could stick a piece of electrical tape over the annoyingly-bright LEDs on your computer, router, home theater gear, and so on, but—not only does that look janky (see webcam discussion above)—those LEDs are also useful. Knowing which indicators are lit up on your router can help troubleshoot problems, for example. LightDims do exactly what they sound like: they dim, rather than black out, the light, allowing you to see it when you want, and ignore it when you don’t. Plus their YouTube video is hilarious, and I want to give them money just so they can make a better ad.
These Silly-But-I-Need-Them Pull Chains for Your Ceiling Fan
Okay, I know I said I’d avoid silly novelty items, but guys—I must be fan chain dyslexic or something, because even after three years in my house, I still forget which chain is which and it drives me insane. These pull chains from Harbor Breeze (which come in multiple colors to match the metal on your fan) help you distinguish between the two, and I don’t care how much you make fun of me in the comments, I’m going to use them. There’s also a slightly less kitsch-y version, if you want.