5 Must Have Items I Can’t Live Without

Five Essentials Under $50 - 5 Must Have Items featured by popular Washington DC lifestyle blogger, Monica Dutia

Today’s post is a fun one! You may remember Empress Themes–the brainchild of Victoria and Lisa–and the theme shop responsible for my current site design! They’ve created a wonderful community through Facebook and their blog, and are facilitating some fun post topics…this one is about five must have items under $50 you can’t live without (obviously an exaggeration, but you get the point). This was a fun one to answer because fifty bucks is a relatively low dollar amount, meaning a lot of items are likely going to be pretty…basic? Simple? I like this because it allows more of a “what’s in your bag” or “what’s in your grocery cart”-like discussion, and let’s be honest–isn’t everyone at least a little nosy and curious how others answer these questions?


ONE // Fresh Soy Cleanser, $38

I was actually thinking of doing a dedicated blog post about this face wash–and I still may–but it’s at the top of my “five items I can’t live without” list because it’s the first cleanser I’ve used in years that’s truly agreed with my skin. If you’ve been reading here awhile, you probably know that my skin is really sensitive and acne-prone…a lot of products that people swear by unfortunately have zero to purely negative effects on my end. The Fresh cleanser is really gentle (I use it nightly with my Foreo) and I can’t see myself switching from it any time soon. The price is also right…a little goes a loooong way!

TWO // Fresh Sugar lip treatment, $24

Two beauty products in a row?! Who am I? I really owe all this to Michaela because along with the Fresh cleanser, I’d been on the fence about trying Fresh’s Sugar tinted lip balm. I figured it’d be good, but wasn’t sure if it would be $24 good. She convinced me to try it and, well,…consider me hooked. It’s perfect if you’re someone who prefers lip balm to lipstick but wants a little color, and also thinks lipstick can be drying, this is worth a try. It’s a splurge, but you can tell the quality is superior to other tinted lip balms on the market (and it’ll always be 20% off in Sephora’s annual sale–that’s where I picked it up!)

THREE // GSuite, $5/month

Katie has been raving about GSuite since I’ve known her and I don’t know why it took me so long to get on board. Basically, my former self-hosted blog email address had a ton of issues synching to my normal inbox and iPhone, and whatever the issue was (no one could figure it out) meant that I couldn’t actually send emails from my iPhone using my self-hosted email address. This was incredibly frustrating and I stupidly let it go (so only responded to every email from my computer…which defeats half the purpose of an iPhone) for a couple of years before finally signing up for GSuite, which basically makes my self-hosted email address function like a Gmail address. That means there’s no need for mail forwarding or anything…there’s a lot on the backend I don’t totally understand, except that GSuite is among the best $60 I’ll spend this year. If you have the Gmail app, it means that your non-Gmail address essentially functions the same way as your @gmail!

FOUR // Moleskine notebook, $15

I had a handwritten planner in college but over the past couple of years, have completely switched to a digital calendar. I’d really prefer to write things down but it’s really nice being able to access your calendar from anywhere, plus J and I share one containing each of our plans so we don’t have to check in about upcoming plans, etc. The one thing that’ll always be pen + paper for me is a to-do list, and a simple Moleskine is my go-to notebook. I’ve given up trying to carry one notebook for thoughts, another for to-dos, a third for the blog, etc…everything just goes into my Moleskine. It took a little bit to get used to that sort of mixed-use approach, but it’s infinitely easier than carrying around multiple versions and extra weight. Plus, it ensures everything is one place.

FIVE // L.L. Bean Tote, $35-50

You’ve seen it on here 100 times…I love my L.L. Bean Boat and Totes! I own a couple of them and use them weekly…I used to take this one to work every day, but at six years old and several inclement weather encounters later, it’s looking a little worse for daily office wear :) I now use it as my gym bag, and this open-top one is my go-to Boat and Tote–it fits my laptop and then some, and as long as you make sure it doesn’t tip over mid-flight, is the perfect travel bag. These little totes are priced right, are incredibly durable, come in tons of colors + sizes, and are monogrammable…I love them so much. Truly one of the best gifts for yourself or someone on your list!

What about you? What are your must have items? Let me know in a comment below!


See what the other ladies who participate in this month’s linkup had to say about their essentials under $50:

Indigo Row – A Touch of Teal – Sincerely, Dani Rose – Luv in the Bubble – TamarasJoy.com – Not for Wallflowers – Politics of Pretty – Rosé and Brosé – VICILOVES – Beauty and Burberry – Victoria McGinley Studio – Elembee – The Sasha Nicole – Bedknobs & Baubles – <em>dash

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  1. Jessica wrote:

    I didn’t even think about using Gsuite for my blog email. I really should because I have the same issues with it and if I try to respond on my phone, it comes from my personal email address. It’s not the worst thing, but it is awfully annoying.


    Posted 3.22.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Yea, exactly! It’s crazy that such a little change has made such a big difference…even though I don’t respond to emails from my phone often, it’s really helpful being able to do so (especially for time sensitive things or while traveling!)

      Posted 3.25.18 Reply
  2. YES, Gsuite is amazing!! I got it last August and I’m so happy to spend $5 a month, totally worth the ease and convenience! I’m also the same with notebooks, I now write everything in the same because it gets to be too much work otherwise ha!

    Posted 3.22.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Exactly! Completely with you :)

      Posted 3.25.18 Reply
  3. I’ll definitely look into GSuite! I forward my emails right now from my domain but I’ve run into a few problems over the years. Thanks for the tip!

    xo, Kimberly

    Posted 3.22.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Glad it’s helpful–good luck!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply
  4. Erica wrote:

    I had to include a lip item on my list as well! It’s truly the little things in life that make each day a little brighter.

    Posted 3.22.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Love! So true…as they say, “little luxuries!”

      Posted 3.25.18 Reply
  5. Sasha wrote:

    The Fresh soy face cleanser is amazing, I’ve never found any face wash that takes off my makeup and cleanses my face so well!

    Posted 3.24.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Yes!! I’m so impressed at how gentle yet effective it is with eye makeup, too!

      Posted 3.25.18 Reply
  6. Dani wrote:

    Ahh that Fresh Soy Cleanser is one of my faves, too!

    Dani // Sincerely, Dani Rose

    Posted 3.25.18 Reply
  7. Victoria wrote:

    I used to run email through my hosting (on another platform before I moved to Flywheel), and never had any issues. BUT, I will say once I migrated hosted and then ran everything through Gmail, it’s so convenient having all my Google accounts in one place (i.e., I can access files across Drives so much easier). I try not to think about the fact that Google is completely up in my biz (literally), because CONVENIENCE!

    Posted 3.25.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Yes to the Drive! I need to fully take advantage of all the offerings–something I certainly have not done yet!

      Posted 3.26.18 Reply