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Ways I Save Money: Skip the Brand Names (usually)

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Just because a product has a famous name on it, does it make it that much better? Not usually. Some of the products that have a well-known brand name are really just other products under a different label and some are even made by the same manufacturer as generic versions.

If you think about it, it makes sense that brand names are more expensive. They advertise more! That’s why you can see a logo and be able to tell what brand it is associated with. The swirls of Coke…the swish of Nike. We see tons of ads a day and that costs A LOT of money. So brand name products cost more to recoup the company’s advertising costs.

Whereas, the generic “no-name” brands do not advertise. They do not spend thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars perfecting the graphics on their packaging. They basically put out a product as inexpensively as they can and they pass the savings onto you.

Okay, there are sometimes differences with the taste of generic versus name brand. One thing I can think of is store brand mac & cheese versus Kraft mac & cheese. The Kraft version generally does taste “cheesier.” Personally, though, I like the more muted taste of the generic when made with the right amount of milk and margarine. So sometimes it is personal preference that needs to “rule” when deciding what product to purchase.

All things considered, we are largely a generic household. The only real exception would be when the brand-named items are on sale and they cost less than the generic. But overall, we are pretty happy with the bland packaging but not so bland taste of generic items. In fact, sometimes I think they taste better.

If you are willing, give generics a try and see if they work for you.


11 Comments

  • Reply Karen |

    You have my admiration – Good Job! I would like to “vent” a bit – about what I perceive to be other people trying to get their hands on my money. I’m talking about dentists, homeowner’s associations, mortgage companies, and anyone else who tries to intimidate me into giving them more of my money. Do you know what I’m talking about? Possibly it’s because I’m in my mid-50’s (but don’t look like it) and they assume I’ve got more disposable income? Or they just think I’ll blindly go along with their suggestion to part me with more of my hard earned dollars. It’s the dentist who starts questioning my silver crowns – “how long have you had those? Those look like temporary crowns. You should think about having those re-done.” Translation – no one has silver crowns anymore and I need a new boat/motorhome/summer house.” Or the mortgage co. that buys my mortgage and decides my escrow account has a “deficit” and raises my payment $100/month to provide them with an $800 “cushion”. Translation – they want to hold $1000 extra of MY money each year, interest free because….well, because they can. You get the picture. I resent the fact that when I don’t get sucked in, I am treated like some kind of freak. The road to becoming debt-free is full of emotionally charged issues, I’m finding.

  • Reply Kevin |

    Yes, buying the store brands can definitely be a money saver.

    I always give the store brand a chance first. Store brand diet sodas are terrible, but their cereals are just fine. Same with milk, cheese, detergent, canned foods, etc. In many cases, the product is also manufactured by a big name company, just rebranded.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Karen – feel free to vent, that’s the beauty of blogs! 🙂 I have never had anyone treat me like that yet and I am actually treated the opposite. Salespeople tend to not answer our questions like they do some other people. Probably because of our appearance. We all wear very plain clothes and I wonder if they think we will not purchase things. I’m not sure how I would react to the opposite but I’m thinking it would upset me to constantly have people trying to upsell things to me.

    Kevin – oh, yes…I agree. Store brand diet sodas are the worst! I haven’t tried them in so long I forgot that point! But other kinds like generic 7-up taste pretty good. I think it helps too if you grew up eating generic which I did and my husband didn’t. He wants the Kraft mac & cheese and I want the generic.

  • Reply Jan |

    I agree with you. There is however an important difference to consider beyond the taste : the ingredients. We shop for generic brands, but pay extra attention to i.e. sodium content. I’ve found that the cheaper and generic brans are higher in sodium or tend to have more corn sirup, etc. So the trick is to find generic products, without given up quality. Products under the Trader Joe’s label typically fit that bill, or even the 356 brand from Whole Foods. Many 356 brand products at (the expensive) Whole Foods, are cheaper in price and have great quality than a brand name at Safeway or Albertson.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Jan – thank you for bringing up that point! I have never thought to compare ingredients. I am going to take a look next time we go grocery shopping.

  • Reply mom2fur |

    I guess it’s all trial-and-error. Most paper products that are generic are pretty crummy. I will only buy H**lma**n’s Mayo (okay, I guess I don’t need the stars but I’m avoiding free publicity) because I just don’t like anything else. But one place I’ve found that generic works fine is OTC meds, like fake T*len*l.

  • Reply Champion Cheapskate |

    For food, might I suggest making it from scratch. Assemble your own ingredients or grow them. Be sure to use use coupons too.

  • Reply murphyc |

    I’m definitely a house-brand buyer and am lately paying more attention to sodium content. I shop mostly at Kroger and Aldi, always hitting Aldi first (best and cheapest produce for sure), then Kroger’s. I used to be a coupon freak but now rarely use them (guess if I had a bunch of kids to feed and clean it might be different). Truly, the best thing is to make your own from scratch whenever possible so you can control the sodium content, and practice makes perfect. Buying staples is the best way to go. I try the occasional new thing at the grocery but find these days I like my own cooking pretty well.

  • Reply Tricia |

    mom2fur – paper products can be a hit and miss. Some I have found to be good (like at the dollar store) but then they don’t carry them anymore.

    Champion – making from scratch is a great way to save money too. We try to do that, but sometimes the time needed is just not there. But I think it can definitely taste better cause you can making things exactly how you like them.

    murphyc – when I briefly lived in the “big city” one of my favorite places to go was Aldi. They really did have some great deals. But now I’m probably 5+ hours away from one and the best place for deals (less advertised sales) is Walmart. An Aldi in my area would have so much business!

  • Reply Judy |

    We have a wegmans where we live and I shop there most of the time. They are a bit higher on some things but I shop around their sales, buy meat in bulk when it is on sale, seperate and freeze, etc. They also have great deals every week on staples such as bread and milk. I am also very picky about store brands, especially mayonaise (I also used to buy just hellmans) but the wegmans brand mayo is really good. Also, in the past I never used to buy generic dish detergent because you tend to need two to three times as much but theirs performs just as well as the name brands. I sure wish we had a Trader Joes or Whole Foods. We do have Super Walmart but I don’t enjoy shopping there because the isles are so narrow but I do shop there sometimes. I also shop Sam’s Club occasionally but really, I think I do just as well if not better just shopping around the sales at Wegmans.

  • Reply Buzz |

    I have found that if you’re willing to have the selection be hit or miss, stores like Big Lots, Family Dollar, Dollar General, etc. often carry name brand and even upscale, organic boxed, canned and bottled pantry items. I get a lot of canned organic items this way, at a fraction of the normal grocery store price. Just be sure to check the expiration dates carefully.

So, what do you think ?