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When to Choose Generic
You know that you can save money – sometimes a lot of money – by buying the generic version of a product rather than the name brand. But most experts agree that buying generic is not always the most cost-effective decision.
These things you should almost always buy generic:
Medicine. You probably have noticed that the generic equivalent of a prescription drug costs a fraction of the price of the name brand, and that your insurer probably strongly encourages you to buy generic. That’s because, when it comes to both prescription and over-the-counter medications, there is no difference in the formulation of name brand and generic. As long as you can find your correct dosage and your pill preference – caplet, gel cap, etc. – in a generic, you can buy it with confidence.
Kitchen staples. When it comes to things like sugar, flour, spices and salt and pepper, buy generic. There is no difference other than the ad budget for the name brands.
Gas. Again, there is virtually no difference among gasoline brands, so you can look for the best deal.
However, in some cases the generic does not work as well as the name brand, so you end up buying more of the generic than you would of the name brand – which can end up costing you more. While there are significant differences among the generics and you might want to experiment, these are things that often are simply not as good in generic:
Dish and laundry soap. Generic dish soap might not clean as well as the name brand,, which means you need to buy more. The same can be true with dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent. In addition, if you have sensitive skin or particularly challenging laundry, you might be more comfortable buying a name brand.
Paper products. As with dish soap, generic paper products such as paper towels, toilet paper and tissues might not do as good a job as the name brand. If that means you have to buy more, you might be better off with the name brand.
Diapers. Some generic diapers do not keep your baby as dry or may not stay closed as well as name brand diapers.
Garbage bags. You cannot pack as much into many generic garbage bags as you can the name brand bags, so you end up buying more.
With these products, it might be best to stock up when the name brands go on sale.
Finally, when it comes to generic food products, it is a matter of whether you can taste the difference. Some people love Oreos, for example, and the generic sandwich cookie just can’t compare. Other people can’t tell the difference.
You might compromise by using generic products that are part of a larger recipe, such as tomato sauce or broth, for example, and buying the name brand cookies or ice cream you prefer.