Frugal Living Tips: What To Buy Generic

Most of the leading chains offer a “generic” or store-brand type of the most popular items that they sell. Sometimes, buying generic is full of the awesome: you get a great deal and can sense almost no difference in quality, taste, or efficacy. But the choices, as anyone who has done the generic thing before, knows, are harder than they appear: what to buy generic? What to buy name brand?

With the current economy and many of us trying to (or learning to) live on less, the choices to buy generic or not can be baffling, so most of us ignore the generic brand and buy what we’re used to seeing: the nice fancy label and the clever marketing campaign. It’s okay to admit it – I do it too. Those big name brand companies, though, they’re happy to keep you not trusting generics. So let’s bust down those ideas, see what’s what, and get to work learning what should be bought generic.

Let’s look at things you should always feel comfortable to buy in generic form:

1) What To Buy Generic: Cereal – since many cereals are marketed solely to children, the advertising dollars that are spent are reflected in the cost. Plus, it makes children more likely to demand the fancy cereal ads they see on television – brand-loyalty begins in toddler-hood. Generic cereals cost up to 50% less than do the fancier name-brand types of cereal. Bottom line, especially if you have small ones in the house: buy generic cereal.

2) What To Buy Generic: Beverages – milk, cream, cottage cheese and sour cream are usually processed in the region they’re sold in, which means less transportation and processing, like the national brands have to do. However, this does not apply to canned beverages, like soda, which vary WILDLY in flavor and taste – it’s worth a shot to try out the generic soda, but don’t buy large quantities until you’re certain you’re happy with the flavor of generics.

3) What To Buy Generic: Over-the-Counter Painkillers – Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are two of the painkillers you should feel entirely comfortable buying in generic.

4) What To Buy Generic: Pantry Staples – Because the Food and Drug administration requires that brand-name and generic forms of pantry staples like sugar, flour, salt and spices, meet the same standards for storage, production, and ingredients, unless you have a coupon, there’s absolutely no reason to go name-brand. Unless you’re a master chef or something. For the rest of us mortals, generics are what to buy.

5) What To Buy Generic: Produce – both salad and other types of produce are things to buy generic because the quality of the name brand versus generic is non-existent. That pretty corporate packaging will only make you feel pretty – not a smarter shopper.

6) What To Buy Generic: Batteries – there’s a happy medium to be found with batteries, which, if you have kids or a techie in the house, you know you’ll be using a lot of, which means you should understand a couple of things. First, the most expensive, “longest lasting” batteries are not the best value for price. Nor are the bottom of the barrel, Dollar Store brand. In fact, if you can meet in the middle so that you’re neither buying the most or least expensive batteries, you’ll be saving yourself wads of cash.

7) What To Buy Generic: Cleaning Supplies - most companies who manufacture cleaning products are hard at work making sure that consumers feel as though they must have the best, newest, and most expensive cleaning product to make sure they keep their homes clean and sparkly. Truth is, most of the cleaning products are almost identical. So unless you’ve found a revolutionary way to clean your house, stick with generic cleaning products.

8) What To Buy Generic: Makeup – marketing techniques make many of us feel like our face will fall off if we don’t buy the latest and greatest, but the truth of the matter is this: most make-up, fancy packaging as it may be, isn’t worth the spendy bucks. Instead, try out generics – same great look? Half the damn price.


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Any other ideas for things to buy in generic form rather than store-brand?
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8 thoughts on “Frugal Living Tips: What To Buy Generic

  1. Pingback: Limboland - Mommy Wants Vodka

  2. I buy a lot of store brand grocery and hygiene products because i have found that they are less likely to contain citric acid, which we all know is death for my skin.

  3. With three techies in the house, I found that I come out cheaper buying rechargeable batteries. I have stocked up on them when I find coupons and have found that the rechargeables actually last longer in my son’s game controllers and in my camera (and wireless keyboards and mice…). I don’t have a brand loyalty for them and if you buy a starter set with the wall charger that accommodates AA and AAA, you can recharge any brand in it.

    As for just about anything else, I’m a generic brand lover! (except for the Mtn Dew. There is NOTHING in my opinion that can take the place of my wonderful Mtn Dew.)

  4. Ok, I really needed this one. Sometimes I sit and debate over the difference between, say, a can of spicy refried beans for five minutes before I end up buying the Old El Paso brand. I am so buying generic next time.
    I feel like I should buy you a sofa to thank you for all the money you’ll be saving my family. Or at the very least the frothy beverage of your choice.

  5. Pingback: Don't Waste Your Money: What NOT To Buy GenericLife On The Frugal Side

  6. Stop buying boltetd water period. With the recent studies showing concerns regarding the plastic leaking toxic chemicals as well as the massive landfill contribution,the fact you are paying more for a 20 oz bottle than you would for the same amount of gas, the water may be less healthy or no better than from your own sink or refrigerator faucet plus the cost. Invest in a aluminum or stainless steel water bottle for each member of your family and refill away!! Your decision will not only result in significant yearly savings you will also be doing a good thing for the environment (immeasurable savings) and protecting your health (also immeasurable savings.

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