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5 things you need that are cheaper than your next takeout order

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

How often do you order takeout each week? For millennials, enjoying a meal prepared outside your home is increasingly the norm. While it might feel like a treat, paying for that convenience adds up to $3,154 for the average American a year, a 4.9% increase from 2015, according to the latest BLS Consumer Index

So first, consider cooking at home, and then check out these 5 things you actually need that are cheaper than your next takeout order, ranging from $5 to $30.

For renters, a renters insurance policy is essential. But only 41% of renters said they have it, according to a poll by the Information Insurance Institute. For $10 to $20 a month, a typical policy covers $30,000 in personal property (your furniture, electronics, appliances) and $100,000 in liability coverage (payment for damages and injuries). Mine is $10 a month — and that’s in New York City! That’s definitely cheaper than my last lunch special and way more worth it.

Download a receipt scanning app for a few dollars. It may seem like an unnecessary purchase, but did you know that receipts can increase your risk for cancer? Yep, according to the Ecology Center, they found over 93% of receipts tested positive for BPA or BPS, chemicals that affect things like your hormones and metabolism, which is why they remove these chemicals from baby bottles and sippy cups.

Although some retailers have promised to switch the paper they use, the chemicals coating the thermal paper receipts can still be found in a lot of the receipts we get everyday from stores, gas stations, theaters, and even libraries. Swapping out that paper for good will surely take years, so in the meantime, opt for electronic receipts when you can and make use of that scanner app to snap a photo of your receipt and throw out the slip as soon as you can. It’s a win win for your body, environment and wallet.

Invest in a $30 shredder. Even after choosing to go paperless for most of your bills, we all get those relentless credit card promotions in the mail, offering introductory rates that are too good to be true. That shredder will come in handy when it comes to protect you from dumpster diving identity thieves, and it’ll help you resist the temptation of opening yet another credit card.

Ramp up your digital security. Most of us are doing some sort of banking while we’re on the go and need extra protection from hackers. If you’re somewhere with public wi-fi, connecting to the internet through a virtual private network, or VPN, will encrypt your activity so hackers can’t steal any of your sensitive data. The best part is that it’s more affordable than a single cup of coffee at Starbucks, for a just $3 to $5 a month.

Finally, to distract you from the temptation of takeout, you need a solid set of headphones. If you’ve moved onto Airpods and sadly lost one before you set up the app that helps you find it, you’ll need to fork over $69 to replace it. A more affordable alternative is to save $40 and go for a good old set of $29 wired earpods and use the adapter dongle that comes in the box with your iPhone X. 

Wall charger, wired EarPods, and of course, the dongle. Just like the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8, there’s no headphone jack so if you want to use your traditional headphones, you need the dongle. Otherwise you can use the lightning headphones. And then the lightning cable for syncing to your computer or charging.

What are some of your top must-have essentials under $30? Share them with me on Twitter @Jeanie531 or in the comments below.

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