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Everyday Cheapskate: 6 Generics That are Truly a Great Buy

Mary Hunt on

What do you associate with the word "generic?" Do the words "inferior" or "tastes like cardboard" come to mind? Or do you, like many people, associate name brands with people who are well-to-do, while people in poverty opt for generics? All of that is complete nonsense, but commonly held attitudes. The truth is that generics are often a great buy because the quality of the product is exactly equal to, or sometimes even better than, the name brand counterpart. Here are six winners:


You really can stop paying $4 a box for cereal because excellent generic options are typically 30% cheaper. In several blind test studies, kids who were given brand name and generic cereals could not tell a difference. If your kids are picky about their favorite cereal, try combining the name brand and the generic brand in a plastic container so they don't see the packaging. Gradually move the mix to more and more generic until they've made the switch.


If you are buying name brands like Advil, Tylenol, Bayer Aspirin, Prilosec, Zyrtec, Claritin and Sudafed, you are wasting your money. You are paying up to three times as much as that medication's generic version.

By law, a generic drug must be created to be the same as an existing approved brand name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics. I was shocked to learn Americans waste about $32 billion a year buying name brand pills over-the-counter where generic alternatives are readily available.



Government regulations require the same manufacturing and storage procedures for all staples such as flour, sugar, eggs, milk, salt and so forth, no matter the brand. Buying the generic brand is just as safe and tastes the same because it is the same as the brand name. Buying generic is almost always cheaper (except for those rare occasions when the brand name is on sale for less than its generic counterpart) because there is not marketing and advertising built into the product's price tag.


The Food and Drug Administration strictly regulates and requires the same nutrients in all infant formula. This means your baby will get the same benefits from the name brand as with the much less expensive generic option. Generic formulas have to follow the same manufacturing and safety guidelines, too, so there's no added risk there. You really can be confident in generic infant formula.


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