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Entering your 30s means you’re officially an adult. Or at least that’s what they say. While your 20s were probably full of buying items you didn’t truly need, want or cheap stuff you just bought because it was trendy, your 30s tend to be a bit different.
This is the decade when you start to care more about making smart purchases on pieces that will serve your health, home, career and productivity in the long run. That can mean the best mattress that’s just the right amount of firmness or a hygiene product to help you possibly save on massive bills in the future. Also, some products are just about helping you save time and even cut down on having to buy the same item over and over because you’ve found one that has some staying power.
Whether you’ve just entered your 30s (welcome to the club!) or you’re closing in on 40, below are a few essential items for every area of your life.
1. A mattress that will last for years
For the 30 and beyond crowd, chances are you really know the importance of a good mattress by now. A bad night’s sleep can ruin your day and create back problems. And for this reason, Reviewed has reviewed a ton of mattresses, but the one brand that came out on top is Nectar.
The memory foam mattress contours to your body, distributes weight evenly, and the cooling cover wicks away heat as you sleep. Many bed-in-a-box companies have a decent trial period, but Nectar allows you a full 365 days to test it out. If you’re used to buying cheaper mattresses, this will feel like a sticker shock but for the price of a great night’s sleep and a home item you’ll have for years to come? Your future back will thank you.
2. These fancy (but affordable) knives for every food type
There’s nothing sadder than attempting to slice into a perfectly juicy tomato or crusty loaf of bread and your dull knife just squashing it into oblivion. No need to live that way any longer. You could spend hundreds, but even a quality knife set doesn’t have to set you back by more than $100. Zwilling, which owns J.A. Henckels, has been in the cutlery business since the 1700s and their 15-piece knife block set has close to 1,000 Amazon reviews. The set includes everything from a chef’s knife to a bread knife to a santoku, which features indentations to prevent food from sticking to the blade.
3. These food storage containers that actually last
Meal prepping seems like a pretty adult thing to do, and it’s also financially savvy. But you’ll actually need containers to store your delicious meals when you’re done. (And no, the plastic takeout containers you’ve been reusing a million times and that are permanently stained red with pasta sauce don’t count.)
Try this set instead, since it’s BPA-free and safe to go in the microwave or dishwasher. The three separate compartments are perfect for portion control or if you just don’t like your food touching. This is a top-rated item on Amazon and many reviewers say that the material is durable, meaning it doesn’t crack or warp with use. The company will offer a full refund on the order if a container cracks within 10 uses.
4. A cookware appliance that should be on your countertop
You’ll actually need a way to prepare those meals in your containers. If you haven’t purchased a slow cooker yet, now’s the time. There pretty much isn’t anything you can’t do with one of these. Saute or steam your ingredients or turn on the slow cook feature for those heartier meals. You can even keep food warm for up to 24 hours. If you're not the most experienced cook yet, the included booklet has tons of recipes that can help you too.
5. The classic skillet that’s as amazing as everyone says it is
You’ve probably heard how amazing cast iron skillets are, but why? Cast irons distribute heat evenly and are completely nonstick, plus they go seamlessly goes from stovetop to oven. This is a must-have piece of cookware if you fry or bake fairly often. With a little bit of care (i.e. handwashing and towel-drying immediately), this pan will just get more seasoned with age. This particular skillet is by Lodge, a company that’s been in the cast iron biz since 1896.
6. A planner to stay on top of your dreams
We’re in a digital world, but if you’re in the 30+ crew then you remember a time when it wasn’t that way. In fact, you probably even remember having to practice your penmanship in school. Grab the pencil or pen again and get yourself an actual planner. This one from Amazon is a major seller and has more than 1,000 rave reviews. The planner is meant to help you map out your smaller weekly tasks and overall goals like health, career, finances, and more.
7. This fashionable, functional carry-on
That suitcase or oversized weekender that’s seen better days? You know the one I’m talking about. It needs to get the boot for a carry-on suitcase that’s fashionable and functional. While we haven’t tested this carry-on yet and it’s not featured in our round-up of the best carry-on luggage, the interior pockets of the Fortis Pro Traveler will keep your clothes organized and the 360 wheels make jetting through any terminal a breeze. If for whatever reason you need or want to check your bag, the ribbed mirrored finish makes it easy to spot this luggage on any carousel.
8. A wardrobe staple that works for all occupations
Regardless of your size, style, or occupation, a good button-down shirt should be in your wardrobe by now. You could go the fast-fashion route and buy a few over the years, but spending a bit more on a shirt that can take you from work to the weekend is what will really give you the most bang for your buck. Also, a neutral hue means you can mix and match it with just about everything.
9. These UV-protecting shades that flatter all face shapes
These sunglasses are another style staple for the 30+ sect, and they’re truly one size fits all. Shopping for sunglasses can feel intimidating because some frames are unflattering on certain face shapes, but regardless of whether you’ve got a round, oval, square, or a heart-shaped face, aviators are the universal standard. If you wear sunglasses often, then spending a bit more, like on these Ray-Bans, makes sense. Also, this pair has 100-percent UV protection.
10. A work tote fit for a boss
A strong, structured bag instantly has a more refined vibe compared to a slouchier style. So a structured work tote should be on every 9-to-5’ers list. Even if you have a less conventional career or work from home, a spacious bag that can hold your laptop and even a spare change of shoes will come in handy. The handles are even spacious enough to be carried over your shoulder and free up your hands.
11. This sturdy umbrella that stands the test of time—and against the elements
Yes, an umbrella is on the list. Don’t laugh just yet, especially if you live in a climate that experiences a fair amount of rain or snow. How much money have you spent on buying a new umbrella because yours blew away or was turned inside out? Or maybe you’ve constantly had to replace umbrellas you keep leaving behind. Either way, an umbrella that’s sturdy against all the elements and hard to lose should be on your list of things to buy.
The Weatherman, which was created by a meteorologist, is made with Teflon-coated material to repel water, plus it can handle winds up to 55 mph and features an automatic open and close mechanism. Even cooler, the umbrella comes with an accompanying app that can send you weather alerts and helps you locate your umbrella.
12. These cozy matching towel sets
There’s a chance you have bath towels that are probably mismatched. A blue one here, a canary yellow one there—plus a random orange one that you have no idea where you got it from.
But nothing says adulthood more than matching towel sets. You don’t have to buy a ton of them, especially if you live alone, but two or three will suffice. AmazonBasics has a top-rated set (more than 1,400 reviews) that comes in a three piece or eight piece set and the colors range from neutral white to bold petal pink.
13. A razor that’s a cut above the cheap single-blades you’ve been using
If you choose to shave, then you probably know the importance of a good razor that doesn’t leave you with a million nicks and cuts. But you’ve also probably skimped on buying a good razor in lieu of a few single blades that are good for a single use.
We’re too grown for that. Billie razors include five blades surrounded by a super soft, moisturizing shave soap. And the edges are rounded, to prevent those annoying cuts that inevitably happen around your ankles or knees. You can also set up a subscription to have blades delivered to you based on the frequency you shave.
14. A night cream for all skin types
Even if you’re not a skincare and product junkie, moisturizing night cream should be on your list. While getting those much-needed z’s, skin cells actually regenerate, so prepping your face with heavy hitting products is a great idea. And Dermalogica’s Sleep Cocoon is a great option for all skin types, from combination to oily.
Yes, the $80 price tag is not cheap but I’m a proud cheapskate and I’m happily buying my second jar (the first lasted for at least seven months with nightly use). With ingredients like persian silk tree extract, lavender essential oil and Wu-Zhu-Yu extract (reported to be anti-inflammatory), your skin will feel soft when you wake up.
15. This water flosser that’s so much easier than flossing
Great oral health is a must. You've probably flossed the usual, old-fashioned way, but this electric version has some power behind it and helps reduce plaque and the risk of gum disease. Control the water pressure based on your desired level of intensity and it’s safe for braces and veneers. The portable style makes this great for traveling and unlike some flossers, this one is a more compact size. It’s also great for a small sink or vanity, since it doesn’t take up too much room.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.