5 ways to get cheaper generics
Think store-brand products couldn't be more affordable? Think again.
Certain store-brand products really don't taste/perform the same as their name-brand cousins. (More on that in a minute.) But if you buy enough generics, the money you save will underwrite the cost of the high-end brands.
Especially if you buy generics the way I do.
My cupboard census turned up even more store-brand products than I realized. Among them: canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, flour, relish, cream cheese, baking soda, soup, lentils, salt, spices, vinegar, rice, teabags, vitamins, baby wipes, bleach, antihistamine, cold meds, antibiotic ointment and sunscreen.
They all work just fine, thanks -- and the following tactics made them even cheaper.
Bringing costs down
1. Shop the dollar store. That's where I got my generic Benadryl for a penny a pill and a 70-count pack of baby wipes (aka "shower in a pouch," for use when traveling). Both were produced in the United States.
2. Hit the dented-can bin. Slightly traumatized store-brand tomatoes cook up the same as the unscathed cans. (Post continues after video.)
3. Pay with free gift cards.I bought a year's worth of Kirkland brand glucosamine chondroitin with Amazon gift cards I got for free from Swagbucks.
4. Visit ethnic markets. I bought a 4-pound bag of Western Family brand popcorn for $3.69 (it really is the world's most frugal snack). The same market has a big selection of 99-cent spices, including specialized or semi-fancy ones like pickling spice and fennel seed.
5. Read store ads. If a supermarket's house-brand soups are three for a dollar I get the maximum allowed. Private-label products are regularly featured in the Walgreens coupon insert; sometimes they carry "Register Rewards" instant rebates.
Some exceptions apply
I'm rarely disappointed with generic items. However, I do agree with "5 store-brand items to skip," which called out:
- Paper products.
- Mac 'n' cheese.
- Cleaning products.
- "Coupon-heavy" items, i.e., those whose name-brand counterparts are frequently the same price, thanks to manufacturer coupons.
Readers: Which generic products do you use? Which do you avoid?
More on MSN Money:
I almost always buy the store brand select-a-size paper towels. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to use rags but when you have to clean up cat barf, nothing works like a paper towel! I've already got enough laundry to do, thankyouverymuch. ;o) I also get the generic coated paper plates. When I'm just having a sandwich or a non-runny snack, they work fine for me.
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VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
You don't always have to sacrifice quality when you buy secondhand.