Home & Garden

12 'just in case' items under $25 you need in your home

You'll be glad you've got this stuff when it matters.

Amazon sells AA batteries, a tool kit, a flashlight and a cell phone kit. Credit: Amazon

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One of our failings as a species is that we don't get the things we need until, well, we need them. But when the unexpected happens or something breaks around your home, you'll wish you had planned ahead.

As someone who has had to make way too many runs to 24-hour convenience stores hoping they'd have what I need, I know how that feels. Don't be like me. Be smart, and be prepared. Here are some of the things I now keep stocked around my home just in case I need them. (Prices are subject to change, so if you see a good sale snap it up!)

1. AmazonBasics AA Batteries - 48 pack ($11.87)

For pretty much my entire adult life, when a remote control dies I do the exact same thing: rummage through the junk drawer hoping that last time I grabbed batteries I was smart enough to buy extra. With this 48-pack from Amazon you're not only getting all the batteries you'll need for years to come, you're saving a ton over drug store prices.

If you're willing to spend a little more, we highly recommend the Eneloop rechargeable batteries ($35.90 on Amazon). This kit gives you 8 AA batteries, 4 AAA batteries, and the charging station. These are super popular on Amazon and they should hold up for a long time.

2. 2-port USB Quick Charger ($10.99)

While some people like to live dangerously and charge their phones only as needed, I charge mine every night. The problem? The plug is behind our bed and it's a pain to unplug it and move it around if I need to top up before then. An extra USB charging plug is perfect because my wife and I can both charge up on the couch without moving all our charging bricks around.

It's a tiny thing, but it beats losing track of your cable and watching your phone die. Just make sure to pair this with whatever USB cable you need for your phone, whether that's a Lightning cable ($5.99 on Amazon), USB-C cable ($9.99), or Micro USB cable ($9.99).

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3. Battery-powered LED Lantern - 2-pack ($16.88)

Just about everyone I knew had some kind of kerosene lantern in their home for when the power went out. It's time to modernize that with something like these battery-powered LED lanterns.

These Etekcity lanterns are incredible popular on Amazon, come with 6 AA batteries, and are cheap enough you can pick them up and stash them until you need them, whether that's during a power outage or on your next camping trip. You can buy them in packs of two or more, and they're about half as tall as a roll of paper towels but can give off light for up to 12 hours continuously.

4. General Tool Set - 39 pieces ($18.99)

Whether you have a house or an apartment, if you're on your own your need a toolset. Even though they're not the best tools if you're doing a lot of work, a cheap general-purpose toolset will get 95% of jobs done with ease. Whether that's replacing a bulb in your oven, swapping out door knobs, hanging curtain rods, or hammering in a few nails, you should always have a basic set of tools somewhere.

This set includes all the basics like a hammer, scissors, ratcheting bit driver, 20 bits, a small box cutter, a set of hex keys, and a tape measure. Everything you need to get most little jobs done.

5. Polar Fleece Throw Blanket - ($21.99)

At any given time my wife and I have approximately 600 blankets hanging around our house, and our fleece throws are the ones that we compete over the most. While living in New England means we probably get more use out of ours than most, we have blankets around year-round.

This particular fleece throw is huge at 90 square inches, and it's the #1 best-selling blanket on Amazon, available in grey, tan, or chocolate brown. It also wouldn't be a terribly idea to leave something like this in your car, in case you need something to sit on or if y

6. Adjustable LED Flashlight - ($12.99)

While the lanterns mentioned above are great for some uses, you sometimes just need a basic hand-held flashlight. I like this adjustable LED one, which lets you focus the beam of light if you need or spread it out wide if you need to cast a glow on whatever is in front of you.

It's affordable, it's effective, and you'll be glad you have one when you need it. My favorite feature about this one is that it runs off the included rechargeable battery, but it also has a case that lets you swap in three AAA batteries in a pinch.

7. 4-inch folding pocketknife - ($8.91)

One thing toolsets never include? Proper pocketknives. As someone who has ruined far too many steak knives opening packages, take it from me: you should have a general-purpose folding knife in your house when you need it. Whether you're using it to cut boxes, excess cord, or zip ties, you're going to need a knife, and you don't have to spend a bundle to get a decent one.

8. High-density foam roller - ($18.99)

At some point in your life, you're going to pull a muscle, or feel a twinge in your hamstring, or have your back tighten up. In just about every instance, a foam roller is just about the best way to stretch it out and help promote healing. Even if you're just planning on using it in between runs or yoga classes, foam rollers are fantastic. This cheap one is big enough to cover any major muscle group or your back, if need be.

9. Precision Smartphone and Eyeglass Repair Kit - ($10.99)

While general-purpose tools are good for 95% of jobs, sometimes you need something for the other 5%. This precision toolkit is perfect if you have to open up anything that has small or odd-sized screws, including the pentalobe-style screws found on many smartphones such as the iPhone.

You obviously don't want to mess with your phone unless you know what you're doing, but I've replaced three cracked iPhone screens and my kit (which is nearly identical to this one) paid for itself immediately.

10. 10,000 mAh USB Battery Backup - ($23.99)

There is no "emergency" item in my life that gets more use than my USB battery backup. I actually own four of them: one for my house, one for my car that can jump the battery, one for my work bag, and one for traveling. They not only let you top up your phone's battery if need be, but you can also use them to charge many other devices like a portable game console, Bluetooth headphones, e-reader, and even many cameras.

Unless you need one that'll fit into a tiny bag like a clutch, this 10,000 mAh backup is the best combination of size and power for the price. It can charge just about any iPhone fully a few times over, which is perfect when you've only got 3% battery left and you need the e-ticket on your phone to board a plane or train.

11. Gaffer Tape - 30 yards ($16.85)

Though most people think of duct tape as the best all-purpose tape to keep around your home, gaffer tape can be even more useful. It has basically all the same properties as duct tape, but the standard black fabric backing is less reflective and doesn't immediately stand out the way duct tape does. This particular brand is made in the US and fairly priced, and it comes in a variety of colors.

Gaffer tape is the go-to binding for film productions around the world, and it's cheap enough that you should always have a roll of it laying around for whatever last-minute DIY projects come your way.

12. Gorilla Epoxy Resin - 3-pack ($18.99)

Like duct tape, superglue has a bit of an unfair reputation as the go-to adhesive for small projects. But as someone who has had multiple DIY projects where glue just couldn't hold up, let me tell you: epoxy is where it's at. Epoxy comes in two parts, a resin and a hardener. Mix them together and you get a clear, ultra-strong bond that gives you a few minutes to set properly.

I used this to repair an old wooden coat rack we had that had snapped right in the middle. Even with thirty pounds of coats hanging off it, the epoxy has held up beautifully for years, and it bonds to any number of surfaces that glue may struggle with. It's a must-own for any home.

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