How much could you save using store brands?

Brand vs. Generic

by James Lacey

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Get power with your purchase. Get brand power. At least, that is what some commercials on television would have you believe. Surely you have seen these bold advertisements on television that tout the inferiority of store name products to brand name items. But if you are living on a budget (or even if you're not), then you may not know the only power that brands have is the uncanny ability to make your wallet feel lighter. Sure, you might clip a coupon or two for brand name items, but you can still save more by buying store name products. Let's take a look at a few common items that would be purchased by a standard family of four and compare some numbers. Calculators ready?

At my grocery store, a bag of popular brand name chips (the name of which I'll withhold) costs $3.99. For store brands, a comparable size bag is only $1.99. If you a buy a bag of chips per week (which is probably not enough for a family of four), then you'll save $8 a month on just potato chips. And I won't mention how I think the store brands taste fresher than the brand name. Whoops…

Every family needs laundry detergent and it is probably the worst of the brand power wallet eaters. A three-liter bottle of the leading orange bottle costs $10. The comparable in-store brand is $3.99. If you have to buy a new bottle every two weeks (remember that a family of four would have a decent amount of laundry), then you are saving $12 a month buying store brands. So far, our family of four is saving $20 a month, and we have only looked at two products. Let's speed this up a bit.

If you buy a 12-pack of popular Atlanta-based soda pop, you'll pay $5.99. The comparable store brand costs $3.79. Our family of four will save $8.80 per month buying a case a week. The peanut butter that features a popular storybook character costs $4.69, but for the store brand, you'll pay 2.88. Finally, "it's not delivery" frozen pizza costs $8.99, and the store brand is $5.29.

Have you been able to keep up with the math? Look at your calculator. If you got it right, then it should read around $50 for the month. Go ahead and run the numbers again. I didn't believe it at first either. With just a quarter of the invisible shopping cart full, our family of four has saved what amounts to $600 a year, and we have only begun to shop.

That's the cost of a new television or maybe a new computer for the college-bound teenager. If money is really tight, then maybe that is half a mortgage payment or a month's rent. Perhaps you could use that money to stay a few days extra at your family's favorite vacation spot, or pay off some of that high interest credit card. However you spend it, just remember that it came from avoiding the wallet lightening power of brand.

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