back to top

We’ve updated our privacy notice and cookie policy. Learn more about cookies, including how to disable them, and find out how we collect your personal data and what we use it for.

40 Things Under $50 Every Woman In Her Thirties Should Own

Whether you live with kids, cats, a significant other, or roommates, get these grown-woman essentials cheap. Then you can either save the rest or blow it on a riding mower that plays Beyoncé when you beep the horn (no judgments). Men's version here.

Posted on

1. A Fire Extinguisher

Oh, did you think this was going to be all about purses and makeup? Well, how do you feel about something called NOT DYING? If you've made it to 30, congrats. But guess what? You're going to have to work a little hard to NOT DIE, and this means owning a fire extinguisher.

These puppies expire, so if your landlord provided one when you moved in three years ago, guess what's going to happen when your scented candle tips over and lights up your curtains? YOU'RE GOING TO DIE A FLAMEY DEATH.

Seriously. Be a grown-up. Don't die. Your mother would be proud. This is only $21 at Amazon, which is a lot less than a funeral.

Ed. note from Doree: An ex-boyfriend got me a fire extinguisher for my 25th birthday. It was TOO SOON.

2. A Clothes Steamer

Who actually irons? Just hang up that shirt that was crumpled in the back of your drawer and steam it on the hanger. Those fancy ones that stylists use with the attached racks are probably better, but this portable steamer is just fine and it's only $24 at Amazon, and it doesn't take up too much space.

3. A Good Hair Straightener

CHI is the standard fancy straightener brand. It does really make a difference — it irons without frying your hair or making you look like a MySpace emo teen. It's $99 at Target, but has a "refurbished" (who knew?) one for $50.


4. Good Sunscreen for Your Face

Go nuts with those sprays or cheap lotion with SPF for your body, but you need something decent if you're gonna put it on your face. Especially since you should be wearing it daily, right? Allure magazine voted Neutrogena's Pure & Free Liquid as one the best.

Thrifty tip: Sunscreen is annoyingly expensive, but it goes on sale in drugstores during the fall/winter, so stock up now for next summer.

5. Workout Clothes Actually Meant Just for Exercise (Not Your Old T-Shirts)

I worked out in old T-shirts for years, and when I bought a proper athletic top with moisture-wicking fabric, it was a game-changer. Spending $$ on clothes you just stink up seems stupid (screw Lululemon), but Old Navy and Forever 21 actually have pretty decent stuff. This Old Navy top is $17. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and other discount stores always have a giant athletic selection where you can get tops, shorts, and pants for about $10 each.

7. A Functional, Not Sexy, Strapless Bra

No one strapless bra is going to work for everyone, but you only need one. Maybe — MAYBE — get a nude one and a black one, but you really just need the nude one. You will need it, like, once a year, and when you need it you'll desperately need it. Get one good one to last you for a long time.


9. A Garment Bag

If you're in your thirties, chances are you've traveled to approximately 2 billion weddings by now. Don't stuff your dress in a suitcase; get a garment bag. These are cheap: $12 at Macy's. There's a good chance you might have one that you got free with a purchase of a dress at some point.

10. A Rolling Carry-On-Sized Suitcase

Fuck a "weekend bag" or whatever nonsense that is. You want to be hauling around a 30-pound duffel bag on your shoulder, even for 20 feet? No way. This Tommy Hilfiger suitcase is above the $50 limit, but look how rad it is! You can find good deals for under $50 at discount stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Suitcases break or get filthy after a few years and lots of trips down the baggage claim chute. It's better to replace cheaper suitcases every few years than blow hundreds on some fancy stuff.

11. Keep Your Nail Game Up

You don't have to get professional manicures, or even wear polish if you don't like it. Just keep your nails looking decent; if your polish starts chipping, just take it off instead of looking like a Ritalin-addled teenager the night before the SATs.


14. A Second Bath mat

One for the floor, one for the hamper. That way you've always got a relatively clean one on there. Think about it: You touch it with your bare feet all the time — you don't want some grossness on there. Pottery Barn has nice ones on sale for $15 right now.


16. Fancy Foundation

Go nuts with drugstore lip gloss and everything else, but you gotta drop cash on nicer foundation — that's the one thing you can't skimp on. Most foundations at Sephora are in the $30–$40 range; I like Lorac, but you gotta find the one that makes you happy.

17. Multiple Pairs of Black Tights

The key here is MULTIPLE. Think of them like socks: You wouldn't wear the same socks two days in a row without washing, right? Your feet are all up in those tights stinkin' up the joint. Have a few pairs you can rotate in and out of your laundry (you can put thick, sturdy tights in the washer, just hang dry).

18. A Power Drill

There is no greater hell than having to borrow someone else's drill. Only $38 for freedom to make anything you want, hang any pictures, assemble any Ikea furniture you desire. You'll use it more than you ever expect.


23. An Evening Bag/Clutch

This is the kind of thing you can totally get at Forever 21 or H&M, but it'll look like a million bucks because using a clutch instantly makes you seem like some glamorous sophisticate. You can't show up to a wedding or fancy event with a giant shoulder bag. But make sure to get one that will fit your phone, keys, cash, license, a credit card, and maybe sunglasses (if you're going to an outdoor daytime event) or a tampon (self-explanatory). This one is $20 from Forever 21.


25. All Your Contacts Organized and Saved

Don't be that person who makes a status update on Facebook about how you lost your phone and all your contacts. That's some twentysomething shit.

If you have people's phone numbers saved just on your phone but not with your email, you may have to do the painstaking thing of manually adding them all. It'll take you an hour of your life, but then you have all your contacts in one place. You can export/import the contacts to any other program of your choice.

27. A Swimsuit You Feel Like Hot Shit In and You Can Actually Swim In

If you've ever gone swimming in a bikini or a strapless one-piece, you know these things are not meant for actually swimming in. You need a one-piece with straps that won't flash any children at the beach for those times you're actually doing more than just tanning.

A Hot Shit swimsuit is wildly different for everyone; you'll know yours when you see it. This is worth making a splurge for.

As far as cheap swim-able one pieces, Old Navy or Land's End (yes, really) are the best.


30. A Work Bag That Fits a Laptop but Isn't a Hideous Nylon Computer Bag

No matter what your profession, you're going to end up at some moment needing a nice-looking bag to carry your laptop (or at least laptop-sized papers). This one from Madewell is $218; you can certainly find them way more expensive or cheaper elsewhere.

31. A Full-Sized Wallet Complete with Zipper for Change

You can't get away with a bi-fold wallet and coins dribbling out of your pockets whenever you sit down. You need a wallet with slots for all credit cards, ID, sub-of-the-month-club stamper cards, CVS rewards card (oh my gosh, you DO have a rewards card for your local drugstore, right?), etc...


33. An External Hard Drive to Back Up All Your Photos and Files

If you're 30, you've probably already lived through multiple computers dying on you. Don't let it happen where it eats all your important stuff. Back that shit up, seriously. You will be so glad when your computer inevitably dies on you. The BuzzFeed IT team recommends this $53 drive from WD.

34. A Plant You Can Actually Keep Alive (Hint: Try a Succulent)

Plants are great for the home — they give you oxygen (or whatever), and they make things feel nice and alive and happy.

The beauty of succulents is that they're cacti, so you don't really have to water them too much. It's pretty much easier to kill a highlander than an aloe plant.

35. A Playlist You Can Put on During Dinner

Preferably NOT smooth jazz. But you don't want to have a few friends over for a nice dinner and then blast your Spotify mix called "Awesome Running Jamz" that's all Ke$ha and Rihanna.


36. A First-Aid Kit, or at Least a Bunch of Band-Aids, Neosporin, and Rubbing Alcohol, Etc.

If you have kids, you're probably burning through the Band-Aids like a teenager blowing through the minutes on her family phone plan. You probably don't actually want one of these prepackaged kits — just get all the essentials separately.

But obvs everyone should have one. Plus, watching hydrogen peroxide bubble on small cut is one of life's secret perverse pleasures.

37. Blister Band-Aids

These are literally a gift from God sent down to bless the feet of His children. When you get a shoe blister, normal Band-Aids don't help at all. These are expensive ($5 for only six pads!) but totally worth it.

39. A Simple, Versatile Vase

Whether someone gives you a romantic bouquet or you bring home the centerpiece from a wedding, there are going to be flowers in your life. This is a good thing. Have something to put them in other than an old coffee can. Get an ornate old milk glass one from Goodwill, or this $10 plain one from Ikea.



These are thin enough to put in almost any heel or flat without making the shoe tighter. For boots and other shoes, go full-on gel insert.

The patriarchy is responsible for us wearing uncomfortable shoes, and these dumb pink leopard prints are our best weapon for fighting it. Or something like that. But seriously: These will change your life.