I took a course on investing during the summer of 2009. One evening the instructor asked an interesting question—do you buy the same brand names that your parents bought when you were growing up? My answer was yes, of course.
My mother has always been VERY frugal, but she ALWAYS bought brand name items that were on sale and had corresponding coupons in the L.A. Times to go along with them. She bought in bulk, so rarely did we run out of things. Many years later (and regardless of whether I had a coupon or not), I bought the exact same products that I had been accustomed to using in my mother’s home. Regardless of how much the name brand item cost and no matter whether the store brand promised the same quality as the name brand item, I wouldn’t touch the product if it didn’t say Johnson & Johnson’s, Del Monte, Glad, Ziploc, Tropicana, Hunt’s, etc.
My eyes were opened to a whole new world approximately 5 years ago. I started paying attention to how much farther $10 could go for friends who shopped at the 99 Cent Store as opposed to me. They would have 9 items at the end of the day, and I would only have 2…and I can’t stand for people to out-save me. I refused to embrace this new world, reasoning that a can of Hormel Chili from the 99 Cent Store isn’t the same as the Hormel Chili from Vons, but that just wasn’t the truth. It took me 4 years to fully step into this world, but I’m glad I did. It is a world where I will still spend a pretty penny on those things that are important and/or “worth it” to me but for things that aren’t as important—things that I HATE buying anyway—I am open to spending less for the store brand as long as the taste and quality aren’t compromised.
I am actually comfortable using Equate lotion as opposed to Aveeno. Equate saves me at least $2 a bottle. Up also makes great baby powder…I can save at least $1 on that one. I will buy the Up brand of Q-Tips because they work just as well as the Q-Tip brand and they are at least $1.50 cheaper. I will buy pork chops at Fresh & Easy as opposed to Ralph’s because the price and quality are just right at Fresh & Easy.
Again, I will pay more for the things that are worth it to me. Filet mignon from Trader Joe’s is worth it to me. Charmin Extra Soft toilet tissue is worth it to me. Don Francisco Coffee is worth it to me. Other things are NOT—and now that I’m asking myself the point of spending an extra $4 on Glad trash bags when the UP brand works just as well, I’m not wasting as much money, and it feels good.