Money Saving Monday Tip #18 – Buy Generics
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One of the recent changes we’ve made to our spending is buying generic products. This includes generic branded medicine, food and non-food products. I’ve found that you can save a significant amount of money purchasing generic products and in general with no sacrifice in quality. There are generics for almost everything: trash bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, canned products, frozen products, milk, bread, etc.
Note, I said “in general no sacrifice in quality“. Our experience with prescription and over the counter medicine, the quality is identical. This also holds true for non-food items that you typically find at the grocery store such as trash bags, plastic wrap, dish soap, dish washer detergent, rinse aids, etc. Regarding food products, the quality is a little more varied. Our experience is that for the most part you can’t tell the difference. This is particularly true of products that you mix with other food items, such as sugar, spices, canned vegetables, coffee creamer, etc.
For food products that you directly consume, here’s where you may notice a difference. For example, I love Pop-Tarts, all flavors, all kinds. I tried the store brand of pop-tarts and even the branded “Toastems” and they don’t even come close. Another example where I personally can’t tolerate the generic brand is Yogurt. For me, nothing compares to Dannon Fruit on the bottom yogurt. On the other hand, I’ve found a few products I enjoy where I can’t even tell the difference. Overall though, I prefer brand names for products I consume directly.
Generic Prescription medicine
When a drug manufacturer creates a new drug, they typically have about 7-12 years of patent protection for the drug. Once this patent protection runs out, other companies can then begin producing the drug. Due to the competition, the prices for the generic products are significantly cheaper than the name brand. Generic drugs must contain the same active ingredients as the original and are identical in dose, strength and safety.
If you take prescription medicines, make sure you tell your pharmacy to provide generic alternatives when they become available. In general most health plans offer a reduced co-pay on generic drugs as well.
Generic over the counter medicine
The concept here is exactly like prescription drugs. Same product, just made my multiple manufacturers thus reducing the price.
I take Claritin-D, and up until a few years ago it was by prescription only. Once the patent ran out, it went over the counter and now “drug-store” branded versions are available that are half the price for the exact same product. This holds true for Tylenol (Acetometaphin), Advil (Ibuprofine), Sudafed (pseudoephedrine hydrochloride) and many many other products.
If you aren’t purchasing generic over the counter medicines, you are missing out on considerable cost savings and you are just paying more money for the same product.
Generic Grocery Products
Most common food and non-food products are available in generic and store branded versions. This includes pasta, detergents, soap, frozen and canned vegetables, diary products, sugar, flour, cereal, etc.
For non-food products, the generics are excellent alternatives and the quality is on-par with name branded versions.
For food products, you may find some difference in quality and taste. This is particularly true of products you consume directly. Products that you cook with or mix with other products are great options.
We’ve saved a considerable amount of money over the past few months buying generics. It’s been a difficult effort though, as we’ve had to change our habit of picking up the name branded products we’ve become so used to. We’ve learned what we like and what we don’t, and aren’t completely generic, but much more so than before.
I would strongly encourage you to give generics a try. Worst case you aren’t happy and you return to the product you used before. Best case, you can’t tell the difference and you’ll see those expenses take a significant drop!
What’s your experience with generic products? Are there any I’ve missed? Share your thoughts an input by adding a comment below!