When should you buy generic items and when should you buy brand name? Should it matter? I fully admit that I buy brand name clothing and accessories because I like how they look and feel on me. But on the flip side of the coin, I buy mostly generic groceries and I like using homemade cleaning products. I suppose it truly comes down to buying brand name for the stuff you care about, and buying generic when you can’t tell the difference.
Side-by-side comparison. Do a blind side-by-side comparison or taste test to see if you can differentiate products. You may be surprised to find that you like the knock-off labeled product over brand name or that you can distinguish a taste difference between the brand name and generic cereals and soda. Then again, you may not and you can cut costs without really noticing the switcheroo. Other items to consider buying generic are gasoline (e.g. Costco), fresh produce, dairy products and baby formula.
Stock up. Pantry staples and health & beauty products are two categories that you can stock up on when they go on sale. If there is a must-have brand-name product that you like, use coupons to compound the deal. It is easy to over spend on these items when you need them so keep a watchful eye while shopping and stock up on these essentials. Additionally, do your homework. If you can wait and don’t need the item for a few days, you can order the same product online for a fraction of the retail cost and have it delivered to your door.
Learn what you can compromise on. Purchase generic over the counter medications and ask your doctor for the generic script of your monthly prescription. Check labels; there are strict federal mandates that require that generic versions contain identical quantities of active ingredients as their name-brand counterparts and that they have the same standards for quality and safety.
Make your own. We make our own laundry detergent and cleaning products. Not only is it saving us money but they are non-toxic and safer around our children and pets. We grow our own fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides. We also bake our own bread and make our own freezer meals to avoid preservatives.
It all comes down to this: we can’t have it all and we must consciously think where we want to spend our money. If you want to spend $150 on a pair of Michael Kors ballet flats, then you may want to skip the brand-name organic items in your grocery cart.
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility with the less is more mindset.