7 things to buy in generic brands
You already know that you can save money by buying generic products. But what may be new to you is the wide extent of generic products and store brands available: everything from organic milk to medication can be cheaper because of the name on the label. Here are seven generic products that often match the quality of name brands, but cost less.
1. Fresh produce. Even small price differences on everyday purchases such as fruits and vegetables can really add up, so consider skipping over well-known brands and head for the generics. When buying produce, use your senses - sight, smell, touch - to judge freshness and quality, rather than the label.
2. Organic food. All products must meet the same USDA standards if they're labeled "organic." So why pay more for a name brand? Try buying store-brand organics such as O Organics from Safeway and 365 Organics from Whole Foods. You can also save money on the generic versions of organic milk, tomato sauce, and peanut butter.
3. Pantry staples. Despite the brands on the label, basic foods like all-purpose flour, regular sugar, butter and iodized salt are really all the same, produced and stored in the same way. If you dislike the look of generic brands' packaging, store these products in matching canisters.
4. Over-the-counter medication. When you feel ill, your first impulse might be to grab brands you've seen advertised on TV. But take a minute to compare prices and read labels to check the active ingredients and dosages. If both medications have 500 mg of acetaminophen, for example, they should work equally well at relieving pain. The FDA regulates both name brand and generic brand medications.
5. Prescription medication. To save big, choose the generic when possible. Basically, generic medications are former name-brand drugs whose patents have expired. The average prescription for a generic drug cost $29.82 in 2005, while the average brand-name prescription cost was $101.71, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Another money-saving tip is to ask if your health insurance offers lower co-pays on the generic version of drugs.
6. Vitamins. Like over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements are frequently available in name brand and no-name versions. Products are required to have nutrition labels showing the ingredients. If two vitamin supplements have identical ingredients, consider buying the cheaper one.
7. Personal care products. When shopping for basic toiletries such as shampoo, soap and body lotion, take a short walk down the aisle to compare prices on the generic brands. Your hands will be just as clean, plus you'll save a few dollars.
To find generic products that are as good as name brands, do some online or in-store research. For example, read medication and toiletry ingredients to compare generic to name-brand versions. If you're not sure of the difference, give each a try and decide for yourself which you prefer.
What's next? Can green products save you money?