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Money Leaks: Buying Brand Name Instead of Generic

Posted By Jim On 09/29/2011 @ 7:36 am In Frugal Living | 13 Comments

The easiest way to save a little money while getting almost the exact same thing is to buy a generic version of a brand name product. Whether it’s cereal or prescription drugs, the generic version is almost always cheaper and usually a close enough product that you wouldn’t be able to tell in a blind test. In the case of prescription drugs, the active ingredient is identical by law.

So why do we buy brand name goods? Sometimes we don’t think about it. Sometimes we just like it better. Those are mental hurdles we need to overcome before buying generic will be the first thought in your mind.

This is the latest edition of our Money Leaks [3] series.

Check Where It’s Made

When I was in college, our fraternity had food delivered by Sysco. I also worked at Heinz for the summer and learned that Heinz supplied ketchup to Sysco, a fact I could confirm by looking at the manufacturing address on the back of the large cans. Ketchup product in Pittsburgh, PA, is ketchup produced by Heinz (plus you can taste the difference). If you want to convince yourself that a generic is identical to the brand name, just look at where they are manufactured and it’ll be a big hint as to who actually makes it. There aren’t two ketchup manufacturers in Pittsburgh, PA.

Check The Price

Sometimes the generic is a lot cheaper than the brand name (prescription drugs), and sometimes it’s only a few cents. Do the math and figure out whether it’s worth it for you to try the generic to see if you’ll like it better (or at least not be able to tell the difference). If you want to get even more complicated, buy one of each and mix them (don’t do this for drugs, I’m thinking cereal) if you aren’t 100% sure. In the end it’s about saving money in a way that doesn’t impact your life, this is an easy way to dip your toe in the water.

Lastly, one trick that one of my friends, who has kids, told me is that you can keep the brand name boxes of cereal and just replace the bag inside with the generic stuff. In many cases, that’s exactly what the manufacturer does anyway!

(Photo: faungg [4]


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