5 Items You Should Always Buy Generic

by Connie Mei · 12 comments

Buying name brand was the way to go once upon a time. Walking into a grocery store, you could easily spot the brands you know and trust. Even though you were paying a premium for them, the purchase made you feel good because you were choosing quality over quantity.

But that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

Now, there are numerous generic brands available and many of the products they produce are the same quality as those name brands, maybe even better. Too bad many of us aren’t taking advantage of these savings though. According to a 2014 study by Tilburg University, Americans are wasting approximately $44 billion dollars a year on name brands. Ouch! You’ve probably contributed to that number at some point too.

Instead of always going to the brand with the best commercials, here are five products you should always buy generic:


You probably want the best of the best when it comes to your health. Buying generic medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, might not seem like the way to go. But rest assured, generic medication and name-brand medication is exactly the same. The industry is heavily regulated by the Food & Drug Administration and generic brands are as safe and effective to use as their name-brand counterparts.

Household products

There are many items you need to use around the house, from cleaning products to toiletries. And you can find the generic version of almost all of them. They can do the exact same job. Think of it this way: bleach is bleach and soap is soap. For basic items like these, spending more money on a better brand isn’t going to make a difference.

Pantry/Cooking Items

The same thing can be said of many items in your pantry. Whether you buy name brand or generic brand, salt and sugar is probably going to taste the same. Especially if you cook at home a lot and make your own meals, buying generic brands for your pantry items and cooking needs will save you a lot of money.


Bottled water now comes in a variety of brands with fancy packaging. You might be inclined to go with the brand that claims the best taste or the one that comes from a remote spring deep in the mountains. But don’t be fooled. Generic bottled water will taste just as good. It’s filtered, clean, and much cheaper.

Paper Products

Everyone uses toilet paper. It’s something you need to purchase over and over again. And we can all get very particular about what kind we use. While some generic brands aren’t the best, many are exactly the same as name brands… literally. Especially for consumer products, many generic items are made in the same factory as name brands. It’s just a different label slapped on it.

A brand name doesn’t always mean better. Most of the time, we choose to pay a little more because we recognize a name and feel a comfort in a buying a brand we trust. But next time, go for the brand you might not necessarily know. You might be pleasantly surprised.

For those interested, here are 5 consumable products that’s not worth the extra cost.

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  • Lulu says:

    I buy generics for everything EXCEPT my migraine pills. I have tried the generic migraine pills and they do not work. I swear by Excedrine and you would have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers before I would ever trust a migraine to a generic again. 🙂

  • Bert says:

    Bottled water is the largest scam ever perpetrated on the American consumer. Our tap water is rated the very best, by far, in the world. If one reads the labels, they will see that most brands are straight out of a public water supply. Otherwise, good post.

  • Julia says:

    Generic is usually the best option; but I would caution you to check your insurance plan first when it comes to prescription drugs. Sometimes brand named medications are lower cost than generic if your insurance company has negotiated a lower price for specific medication. I had a situation where the generic was $175 versus the name brand at $0 cost to me. It’s good that my pharmacist was proactive in telling me that I had a better option.

    • David Ning says:

      Good story Julia. I always hear stories about pharmacist in our country looking out for us by offering ways to save. It just goes to show that if we take away the incentive for people to make money by offering us more expensive product, they become more helpful.

      Now if we can manage to take the incentives out of the medical system, then we can all benefit…

  • I agree that generic versions are typically the same quality if not the same product. A few years ago this was confirmed for me when Peter Pan issued a recall. It was removed from store shelves and temporarily unavailable. I went to Wal-Mart to try and select an alternative. I looked up and down the shelves and found that two brands of peanut butter were actually removed: Peter Pan and Great Value. I suppose it could just be coincidence, but based on my observation that day and my daily consuming of the Great Value alternative, I would say they are the same product. The only differences are the name on the jar, the advertising budget needed to promote it and of course, the retail price.

    • David Ning says:

      You’ve just shown that it literally pays to be alert. Good observation there Carey. I want to encourage everybody here to give alternatives a try. Sometimes, they taste different. Other times, they are the same thing and you’ll have found an easy way to save forever. As I always tell my kids, you just don’t know until you give it a shot.

  • Michelle says:

    I always get generic medications. Funny thing is that I’ve never even been offered the “real” stuff whenever I go to a pharmacy, they automatically always just give me the generic.

    • David Ning says:

      I find that only pharmacies in America automatically offer generics. I wonder if there’s a better profit margin with generics? Or is it merely the mentality of “why pay more when you don’t have to”.

  • Money Beagle says:

    I often buy medicine from the dollar store. As you pointed out, it’s FDA regulated so there’s no reason not to trust it, especially when it’s a store that’s part of a national chain, so I would expect they wouldn’t put themselves at risk by cutting corners.

    • David Ning says:

      They are probably safe. I get mine from Target and they are nicely packaged and even cheaper whenever they run promotions. What makes it even better is that all the usual discounts like discounted gift cards work too so it’s really a good deal.

  • Mario says:

    For me, the best generic water is the one that comes directly from the tap 🙂

    • David Ning says:

      Haha nice.

      I installed a filter in our home and we fill them up in water bottles when we go out. It’s not quite tap but the savings are still quite substantial 🙂

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