3 Things You Shouldn’t Buy Generic

Grocery store, shopping, list

A shopper at the grocery store | Source: iStock

Being frugal is a good thing, but sometimes it goes too far. On the website Poverty Living, an author cites instances in which people take frugality to the extreme. These are the types of things you may see on the TLC show Extreme Cheapskates. Here are a few examples from the site and the TLC show:

  • Using reusable cloth instead of toilet paper
  • Eating expired or half-eaten foods to avoid high grocery bills
  • Reusing dirty undergarments to avoid washing them
  • Having several family members take turns bathing in the same bath water to save on water bills
  • Haggling every store clerk and vendor you come into contact with
  • Washing dishes in a child’s kiddie pool, using the same water the children played in to save water

These actions cross the boundary line between frugal and counterintuitive. Considering the unsanitary nature of many of these activities, you may catch a viral or bacterial illness, with resulting medical costs much higher than the few dollars you may save.

Being economical is generally productive when it’s not taken to the extreme. There are, however, some purchases we make where being too frugal may cause problems later on. These are items that shelling out a little extra cash now will save you aggravation, time or money in the future. We’ve created a list of generic items you should shy away from.

1. Batteries

close up of batteries

Batteries | Source: iStock

Whether for your car, tablet, smartphone, or a kid’s toy, features you want in a battery are longevity and reliability. When it comes to batteries, you get what you pay for. A study published on MSN revealed that battery value is well-reflected within its cost, and the cost for generic versus brand names for batteries is about equal. This means that a Dollar Store non-alkaline battery may last 10 hours and cost $1 (just an example), whereas a Duracell or Energizer may cost $5 but last 50 hours. Therefore, cost per unit energy is about the same. The difference is, however, your time. You may have to spend more time going to the store and purchasing batteries, and you will have to change your batteries more frequently.

When it comes to tablet and phone batteries, the difference between brand name and generic is more pronounced. A major feature highlighted in a good mobile product is its battery life, and if you need a replacement, going generic may not be the best idea. According to Radio Shack: “Most lithium ion batteries are rated in milliamp-hours, which provides a rough measure of lifespan. For example, if your phone draws 20 milliamps and your battery is rated for 1200 milliamp/hours, you can expect roughly six hours’ life from a new battery. A replacement from the original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, should last as long as your original battery. … [third-party batteries often] use less expensive materials, resulting in a battery that degrades more quickly in daily use or fails to match the original’s performance.” Many electronics professionals also warn about counterfeit batteries and how similar they can look to an authentic model. To safeguard against this, conduct a thorough online review of the product and seller before making a purchase.

Trusted brand car batteries are usually the better way to go, as well. Car Battery World explains how the cheap models are often poorly constructed and made with lower-quality materials. If you get a real dud, it may result in your car needing a replacement faster, damage to other components of the vehicle, or even vehicle breakdown.

2. Some toiletries

Nivea deodorant bottles stand in production line on March 2, 2010 at the Beiersdorf headquarters in Hamburg, northern Germany, where the world famous cream is produced. Beiersdorf presents its annual results 2009 on March 4, 2010. (Photo by Philipp Guelland/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by Philipp Guelland/AFP/Getty Images)

So fresh and so clean – or not so much? While you can probably get away with generic cotton swabs or hairspray, certain toiletries like deodorant, razors, lotion, and perfumes are generally not items you should buy from the generic budget bin.

Web MD says we have between 2 million and 4 million sweat glands in our bodies, which release several liters of perspired sweat each day. Containing ingredients like aluminum-based compounds, parabens, and fragrances, deodorant helps keep our sweating in check. It’s probably best to go with a trusted brand.

As for items like perfume and lotion, it’s a good idea to put out a little cash for these, too. You put these products on your skin and in sensitive places. These products undergo a degree of testing for safety and effectiveness. When you buy a fake, you may get a product that hasn’t been extensively tested. An ABC News report examined counterfeit perfume. “Active ingredients found in counterfeit fragrance include things like urine, bacteria, antifreeze,” Valerie Salembier, senior vice president and publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, said to ABC.

3. Certain food products

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Many food products have excellent generic substitutes — the packaging and a few ingredients are the only real differences aside from the prices of many of these products. Oftentimes, buying generic means getting a great deal. With some food items, however, generic is the wrong way to go. A 103.1 Fresh FM publication included a list of foods you should avoid buying generic. The publication suggests we stay away from some generic processed cheeses, as taste and quality generally do not compare to the established brands.

Generic diet-foods can also be a little iffy, as they may not have perfected the taste as many of the larger brands have. The publication also included, soda, butter, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, and beer as items that are best not to buy generic. But this of course, depends on each individual’s taste preferences.

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