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September 29, 2010


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Yes I agree for many things--others not so much.

1. pain relievers-of course, we buy generic only. By law, it's exactly the same thing whether generic or not.

2. water--we buy name brand and also filter tap water. Water brands vary widely in taste. Unfortunately our municipal tap water not only tastes terrible all the time but sometimes is officially under a warning to not drink because of flooding and farm runoff in my rural small town.

3. Milk--I buy whatever has the latest "sell-by" date in the supermarket. I waste more $ when it goes bad before we drink it, than with the initial cost.

4. Don't use margarine--only butter. We buy the local commercial brand even though slightly more expensive because it tastes better & I like supporting local industry. It's not like we go through 10 cubes a week or anything--it only adds up to pennies.

5. Bleach--like pain medicine, it should be exactly the same thing. Still I tend to buy the name brand just because it's clear it doesn't have anything else added. Some of the other "whiteners" sold have other junk in them that you don't need or want, but you have to look closely at the label to tell. We only buy a bottle perhaps once every 5 years--another thing I'm unlikely to broke buying name brand.

6. Cleaning products: I buy only name brand. I'm a mom & I've unfortunately spent decades of my life cleaning my home. I've found that the cheaper commercial stuff is either diluted so you have to use more and scrub harder to get the job done (especially windex equivalents), or else the cheap stuff comes in terrible packaging with trigger sprayers that work poorly or break before the bottle's empty or are designed so you can't empty the bottle or can fully. For me, efficient packaging adds value by making the tedious cleaning chores more bearable.

Also--when I tried them, I found that baking soda and other natural or rmake it yourself recipes just don't work well. Also you can destroy some of your bathroom finishes using some recipes if you aren't careful.

7. Spices--things like oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, etc--I grow my own in pots on the deck. For others I buy the most expensive name brands--I do find that they are fresher and contain more leaves and fewer stems than the cheap brands.

I will say though, we bought generic toilet bowl cleaner - and one time was enough! We buy the real deal now. The cleaner was so watery and did not do a very good job of cleaning that we had to use twice as much and it was not worth it!

Other than that, I totally agree!

7. Believe it or not, some Whole Foods stores sell bulk spices by weight that are an extremely good deal. I can buy more cinnamon there for $1 than I would get for $3 at the "normal" grocery store.


Here in NYC (Queens) a gallon of milk is about $3.40. I just paid $1.99 for a half gallon of milk the other day (I'm one person and can't drink a whole gallon before it goes bad).

1. We buy name brand OTC medications. By law, the ACTIVE ingredients are the same, not the inactive ones. And often, the brand name OTC meds are made in the USA or Canada, whereas the generic ones generally don't even list where they are from. That means China, and I don't trust China with things I put inside my body after they killed thousands of pets and babies with tainted pet food and formula. Who's to say adult human food and medicine won't be next? I'm willing to pay a few extra dollars for the brand name OTC if it means that I am getting something from a country that has actual enforced standards for drug-making. Prescription is a different story; many generics are made in reputable countries (Teva, a lead maker of generics, makes theirs in Israel), and the differece in price is far more astronomical than OTC.

3. The organic milk we buy, after trying several other brands and having issues with them, is about $3.79 per half gallon. The local fresh milk we sometimes get is $3/half gallon, but we have to go to places out of our way to buy it (local grocery store doesn't have it).

I agree with almost the entire list but two elements I disagree with are:

6. Cleaners: Simlar to KH, I find that many store brand cleaners are poorer quality and do not work as well. Also, you often can not tell which cleaning product they are the generic version of. My wife is very paticular about which products she uses so sticks with brands she know works. Since we often can't tell which store brand mirrors the formula we like we stick with the name brand. But for bleach and others basic items where the generic matches the name brand, we go with the generic.

7. Spices: I am a foody so I agree with KH's comments above about the quality of store brand spices (especially the Aldi stuff).

The only exception to this is I will buy the COSTCO Store Brand (Kirkland) on almost every items (especially spices, though only on those that I use a lot as the large quantity packages will go stale before I can use it all) I have found Kirkland products to all be of the best quality (and they are often top rated by consumer reports even over the name brand products). The prices are great too.

I always buy generic ibuprofen. I usually go with name-brand vitamins though.

I go with Costco vanilla and spices. I love the giant containers. I do want to start my own herb garden though.

I make most my cleaners.

I have found though that for many toiletries, you can buy on sale and/or with a coupon and it is as cheap as generic if you time it right.

Buying store brand is always so much cheaper, and I totally love to buy food items, cleaning supplies, and certain beauty/bathroom products that are store brand. I didn't have a good experience with medicine/vitamins that are store brand so that I will stick with brand names.

With regards to JM's comments on name brand versus generic OTC medications, I am not aware of any medications that are manufactured in China that are sold in the USA. At least some of the Equate (Wal-Mart store brand) medications are manufactured by Perrigo here in western Michigan. Te

JM is correct about generics not necessarily having the same inactive ingredients as name-brand products. For 99% of medications this is irrelevant. For some prescription medications, this can affect the bio-availability of the medication (how much actually is absorbed by your body). This is not a reason to avoid generics, but a reason to always be careful when switching from a branded to a generic or from one generic to another (unfortunately, pharmacies won't always notify patients if they switched generics).
For example:

I think we buy store brand for pretty much everything. When we find one we don't like, then we get the name brand, but we always start with the store brand first.

With milk, I'm considering buying name brand b/c i can get it organic- that's the only reason we would get that though.

OTC medicine + milk:
I'm lactose intolerant, and I use Lactaid milk (the $3.39/gal is around the Target price for it) and Lactaid pills. I tried the Walmart lactose-free milk, and the Target brand lactaid pills once, and it was NOT WORTH IT. They just did not work at all and I ended up sick like I was eating regular dairy. Sometimes the store brands just aren't the same, unfortunately.

I think milk goes for around $3.25 - $3.40 a gallon in Northern NJ. I can get it for $2.99 at BJ's. With 2 small kids we go through about 2 gallons a week, but BJ's isn't always convenient...some times the convenience stores sell it for 2.99...I guess to get you in the door to buy other items!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you milk fast approaching its expiration date, make rice pudding. :)

Are you saying that 3.39 is expensive for milk? I am in NJ and yesterday I paid 3.99 and went to a cheaper supermarket. At the convenient one by my house (which I go to as little as possible) it is $4.29. If I go to BJ's or Costco it roughly $2.60 but I always end up spending much more than that so I don't go there too often! LOL!

Lynn --

Yes, $3.39 is expensive! We get a gallon of milk for $1.99 (and it always seems to be on sale at either a grocery store or drug store nearby.) Then again, we live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so things are often cheaper here.

I got milk the other day at Wal-mart on sale 2.19 a gallon. Its been running 2.49 a gallon at Meijers for most of the past summer. I buy 4 gallons at a time. I drink about a half gallon a day. .... love my milk.

I rarely buy water. The stuff out of the tap really is just as good.

I agree with these in general.

We buy a specific brand of organic milk cause my wife likes it. Our store or generic milk usually runs $3 per gallon.

Wisconsin, Minnesota & Michigan are heavy milk producers which might explain why FMF's milk is cheaper. I'd also assume the Northeast probably imports most of its milk which would make it a little costlier there.

Why anyone would ever pay for a bottle of water is frankly beyond my pea-brain comprehension.

Regarding Michael Goode: Thanks for the information you posted. I don't shop at Wal-Mart, but that is definitely good to know about their generic brand. You said you are not aware of any OTC medication being sold here that is made in China; if you could give more clarification on that, that would be helpful. I guess we are being paranoid about it, but we really do want to be better safe than sorry. I just wish it were a requirement to list country of origin on EVERYTHING sold in stores, at least for food and consumable goods such as medications.

I usually do most of these. However, there is one pain med I can't buy generic because the only formula with the gel tab is the brand name, and it's the one I use for migraines. I never thought the gel tab thing made much of a difference, but it cuts about 15 minutes off the time to relief for my migraines.

So I'm with the list, mostly, but will pay a bit extra in this case. :)


"Why anyone would ever pay for a bottle of water is frankly beyond my pea-brain comprehension."

Maybe for convenience or poor quality of local water.

The savings percentages are incorrect in the article. Take margarine for example: $1.79 vs $1.19, savings of 60 cents. 60 cents is 1/3 of $1.79 so you are saving 33%, not 50%.

Your family sounds a lot like my family, except for the coupons.... (darn it!!! I wish my wife would clip coupons too).

I usually start with the middle priced item of whatever product I'm purchasing. If I like it, I will try the lower priced the next time. If I don't I buy the more expensive until I find the best for my taste. I've found for the most part the middle priced is the best fit. I'm a big fan of Costco, their butter is better than most name brands and their meat beats any but the real butcher down the block.
As for water, I have a "name brand" water filter on my tap and will only buy bottled under extreme circumstances.

Milk - I pay over $3 for a 1/2 gal, but that's because I want milk without the growth hormones in it.

Water - we buy bottled water because our daughter takes it to school in her lunch box. It's only a couple bucks a 24 pack so it's not too expensive, and we recycle the plastic bottles.

Most other products we are not too picky regarding if it's name brand or generic.

Not to be snarky about the math here, but I believe this post mischaracterizes the savings. For example, the first example (generic medications) says that a $4 change from 10.99 to 6.99 is 57%... it's actually around a 36% chance - you have to divide $4 by the old value ($10.99), not the new value ($6.99). Same holds true for all the other examples I think.

I disagree about the milk... I only buy organic milk that has no hormones. It's about $5 a gallon. I hate the higher price tag... but that is one thing I don't skimp on, since it's mostly for my kids.

@ jon - it's much cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) to buy a water filter.

Totally disagree on the margarine and spices. I can tell a big difference between store brands and name brands with margarine. The butter is indistinguishable, though, so I get whatever is cheapest. On spices, store brands are usually lower quality. Open up two bottles of the same thing from a name brand and a store brand some time and take a sniff. Chances are, you'll smell a difference. I usually do, though not always.

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