Money Tip #2 – Buy Generic
No matter where you are in life, chances are you wish you were closer to your financial goals than you currently are. Whether it’s saving more money, paying off debt, or getting your spending under control, all of us want to be further along on our financial journey than we currently are. Even if you have been doing all the right things, there are probably some things that you might not have thought of that could help you get over the next hump financially.
I’ve compiled an ever growing list of Money Tips, that will help you achieve you financial goals quicker, and hopefully with less stress than before. These simple tips will most likely only take you short amount of time, but have the potential to save you a big chunk of change. Of course, not all these tips will apply to you, but I’m willing to bet the majority of them will. If a certain tip isn’t something that could help you, I’m sure it could help someone else in your life. Feel free to share any of these tips with your friends and family.
Without further adieu, Money Tip #2
According to a recent USDA study outlining the cost of food for individuals and families, dated July 2015, a family of 4 spends between $554.90 and $1080.60 each month. Talk about an eye opener! I think it’s time to implement the bread and water plan for my girls. Alright, alright, that’s not exactly an option, but how else can I save some money at the grocery store checkout?
One option is to buy generic. Before I hear the collective moan coming from the other side of the computer screen, let’s take a minute and dive into this generic world. It might actually look better than you think.
Let me start by saying, I will never go “full generic”, if that’s a thing. My taste buds won’t allow the generic versions of Mountain Dew, Pop-Tarts, or Doritos. Chances are you have some of the same thoughts on certain products. We all have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.
The numbers don’t lie though. Despite proof that generics are very comparable to the high-priced brand name products, Americans still refuse to change. Even though someone buying generic products saves on average 30%, and sometimes as high as 52%, they continue to pony up the dough for the name brand goodness. I for one have become a converted generic buyer, and you can to.
Where do you start though? Let’s look at seven different areas you could save money at the grocery store!
The scrubbing bubbles and a bald man in a white t-shirt have sold A LOT of cleaning supplies of the years, and chances are you have bought some yourself. What are you really buying? The majority of cleaning products aren’t really that different from each other. So unless you like the way something smells or a certain product actually makes your life easier, you’re better off going generic.
When buying generic household cleaners such as bleach, detergent, or window cleaners, you are getting virtually the same product minus all the advertising dollar mark up. Bonus: If you want to save even more, most household cleaning can be done with ingredients you already have at home. Simply search on google or pinterest for natural cleaners. You will have too many to count!
Staples and Produce
Staples like sugar, salt, flour and spices all have the same standards of production, storage and ingredients set by the FDA. Salt is a chemical compound so you can’t mess with that recipe. The price difference for name brand staples can be as much as four times that of their generic counterpart. (Savings get even better when buying in bulk, but we’ll save that for another post.)
It’s the same story with produce. The Dole or Chiquita sticker on the peel of the fruit doesn’t change what’s inside. Another big price jump comes when buying precut salad mix. Compare the bags of lettuce to a head of the same stuff, and you’ll see a big difference.
Let’s start with milk. This blew my mind. My father-in-law works in a milk plant. He runs the machines that fill the gallon jugs with milk. This company has their brand that they run through the machine and is labeled with their company’s logo and name. Through the exact same machine, using the exact same milk, they also run a gallon jugs for a large retail chain. Those jugs have the label of that large retail store’s name on it. Two different labels, same exact jugs, same exact milk, probably delivered in the same exact truck for a price difference of up to $1.50 per gallon!! People willingly pay 50% more for a label! I’m sure this is the same for many juices and other beverages.
As I said at the beginning of this post, pop (soda, coke, whatever you call it) is where I draw the line. While milk jugs are filled by the same machine, that can’t be said about pop. Generic versions can taste drastically different, and in my opinion, aren’t worth the cost savings.
Cereal falls under the same umbrella as the cleaning companies we talked about above (see #1). Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Post love to advertise, and especially to children. In fact, the average preschooler sees almost 650 cereal ads per year! Understandable, if you have young children, this might be a hard thing to do, but switching to generic cereals can save 25-50%. That’s a considerable savings on that monthly grocery bill!
The world of over-the-counter and prescription drugs is huge. It’s definitely a big money industry, and for good reason when you consider the cost of researching and testing these medications. That doesn’t mean you have to pay high costs to buy them though. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications have some of the most exacting regulations for creating and selling generic versions. The FDA demands that all medications have the same active ingredient dosage and safety measures as the brand-name meds they’re replacing. Even though the price of generic Tylenol is half the price of the brand name, the drug quality is identical between the two products! Our medicine cabinets are full of the generic versions of pain relievers, cough syrup and antacids. Not only that, my bank account thanks me for it.
Makeup and Personal Care
Alright, I’ll admit I’m a little out of my league when it comes to makeup. I’ve only wore it once, and that was an isolated incident involving my older sister and her friends (we’ll save that story for another time). The simple truth here is that there are almost no chemical differences between the various products in this category. Walmart’s Equate line of health and beauty products is regularly singled out for its quality. For my money, generic shampoo, body wash, and lotions work the same as the name brand things.
I might get some push back here, but the only time my daughter’s have been in name brand diapers is when someone else has bought them for us. Besides, lacking a color changing line to tell me when the diaper is wet and sometimes Disney characters, I see no reason to buy name brand diapers. The savings is what I see. In fact, this weekend, I paid 13% less for a generic brand, and received 97 more diapers! In other words, the name brand would have cost me 32.5 cents per diaper, while the generic cost me 15.5 cents per diaper. I feel the same way about wipes too. One of the biggest complaints about generic diapers is that they don’t hold as much as the name brand ones. I haven’t found that to be true, but even if it is, I could use up to 2 generic diapers per 1 name brand and still come out financially ahead!
The other big cost when it comes to infant care can be formula. I HATE buying formula. Thankfully, we don’t have to buy a lot of it, but when we have had to supplement with our girls, we have opted for the generic stuff. Even though there is a difference in price, the nutrition is in there. The Infant Formula Act, passed in 1980, guarantees that all formulas, including store brands and other generics, are identical in the nutrition they provide and the circumstances of their manufacture. The FDA has certified any and all formula that you buy as good and healthy for your baby. Because the recipe is so simple, most of the differences come down to things like taste and texture. In terms of nutrition, there isn’t really a difference between them.
The No Generic List
As I said before, there are some things that aren’t worth buying generic versions of. In reality, everyone has their own list of things they refuse to buy generic, and that’s okay. In the name of saving money, our family has switched to generic in many things, and stayed with name brands for other things. Here are a few things that aren’t usually worth buying generic:
- Paint – this can widely vary in quality between name brand and generic. For something as “permanent” as paint, it’s worth it to pay a little extra.
- Toilet Paper – Okay this might be more of a comfort thing, but we all want something that will be there for us to count on when we need it right?
- Garbage Bags – I’ve actually found a store brand that I like, but there are a lot of garbage bags out there that don’t do the job. Name brand is usually best.
- Computers/Electronics – There’s a reason some brands cost more. Quality is a factor. It could be the difference between replacing something in 1 year or 5 years.
This list and the list above are by no means exhaustive. Next time you venture out to the store take a look at the generic products. You might just find something you like and save some money in the mean time.
We would love to hear from you. Do you already buy generic? What generic item do you buy most? Are you going to switch from name brand to generic now? Leave us a comment and let us know!