While navigating the crowds at Walmart last week I was pleasantly surprised to see a new take-over of the generic Great Value products. I've been pleased with their quality. Many stores offer generic options for food, drugs, beauty products, and consumable goods that can drastically slash your bill.
Your grocery store of choice probably offers a generic option. If this is news to you, try to be a more observant shopper. Maybe you're a DiGiorno guy and never stray from the deep dish, cheese stuffed pizza. Give the Tom Thumb generic Safeway brand a try. Love your canned chicken? I bet you'll dig Costco's Kirkland brand even more. The generic brands put out by big chains intend to be competitive with their shelf sharing name brands--if you've tried generic in the past and hated it, give it another go. At up to 30% cheaper you have little to lose.
You may have bought generic products in the past and not known it. Some are completely obvious (think the Dharma Initiative inspired white Great Value labels at Walmart) while others are more suave, like the Private Selections from Kroger. If you're into organic eating, many stores even offer a generic version--Tom Thumb and Kroger have some yummy options for far less than the outrageous brand-name organics companies. Definitely go for pantry staples like flour, sugar, and base soups in the generic variety. The only difference is price--both taste the same. Some of the canned vegetables are noticeably inferior in quality, but never inedible. Even specialty dairy products like lactose free milk are available in generic.
Here is where the generic market shines the brightest. Never miss an opportunity to ask your doctor for a generic prescription. There is absolutely no difference between active ingredients--the drug industry is heavily regulated so don't worry about quality. Newer, less common drugs don't always have a generic alternative, so be sure to discuss your options with the doctor before leaving the office. Pharmacies can't issue the generic version without your doctor's consent, so always ask first. And for over-the-counter drugs, compare the active ingredients. If they are the same get the generic variety.
In my experience, a good salon product is superior to everything else--but not every salon product is worth the extra bucks. If you can't afford the salon variety, try a generic version from a beauty supply store like Sally Beauty. Check out the Generic Value Products, salon formula replicas that get the job done in a boring black and white bottle. Always look for the same active ingredient in the original and generic varieties.
So many pets have crazy skin allergies and weird maladies that are directly linked to diet. Even the most popular name brands made a food composed primarily of corn and meat "meal" rather than chicken or lamb. Be a label scout and seek foods that contain chicken, lamb, or some other meat as the first ingredient, generic or otherwise. Avoid foods that contain corn. Kirkland (Costco generic) makes several excellent flavors for dogs and cats at a fraction of Science Diet types. Buy five bags and you've more than covered membership costs.
*Generic Products to Avoid:
Saving money is just that. Saving money. But you save nothing buying worthless junk. Diapers are one of these generic lepers. Don't even try it. If you've found a brand that contains the nastiness of a baby bottom (ahem, Huggies), stick with it. If you branch out and get the cheapo variety you'll end up cursing the dude who created them. He obviously hates women to make something so inept. Cleaning supplies also top the list for must-have-brand names. Dirty, grimy jobs will laugh in the face of generic cleaning products. And paper goods? If the paper plate is so thin you need seven to make an adequate eating surface, it doesn't make financial sense.
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