6 Items You Should Always Buy Generic

Many people assume that purchasing a name-brand item will guarantee quality. But is that really the case? Are generics just cheap imitations of the real thing, or are they less expensive, but equally reliable alternatives? As with many things, the answer to that question is yes and no.

Even though the answer isn’t “cut and dry”, we can still list several things that you should always buy generic:

Over The Counter Medication

It amazes me that you can have a product that sells for 40% less than the exact same product, just because it comes in a different color box or bottle. However, this is the case when it comes to over the counter (OTC) medication.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have requirements in place that ensure that generic OTCs have the exact same active ingredients (in the same doses) as the brand name drugs with which they are competing.

The generic counterpart is no different than the more expensive brand name. As with many other brand versus generic comparisons, we find that most of the difference in price is due to the difference in marketing, advertising, and packaging budgets (among other things).

This is not only true for pain relievers, but also for cold and cough medication, eye drops, pain relief patches, and most other OTC medication. Just be sure to check the active ingredients on both to be sure.

Prescription Medication…Sometimes

Yes, I know that the title of this article says “always buy”, but hear me out. Remember what we said about the FDA and OTC drugs above? Well, the same regulations hold true for prescription drugs as well. The generic version of a prescription drug must have the same active ingredient(s) as the branded counterpart.

However, for some people the branded medication will be more effective for their condition. Actually, there are some people who fair better when taking the generic version of a drug than they do with the brand. I have no idea why that is (because I’m not a pharmacist or a doctor), but after working for a large pharmaceutical company, I know this to be true.

Make sure you talk to your doctor before deciding to opt for the generic version of a drug. Based on your condition, other medications that you are taking, or other factors, he may recommend that you stick with the branded version.

Gas

When I first began driving, I remember hearing stories of certain gas stations watering down their gas! The common theory was that any “no-name” gas station, whose price was significantly less than a name brand station directly across the street, added water to their gas in order to make more money per gallon. Therefore, they were able to have lower prices.

When we (my friends and other drivers I knew) didn’t notice a difference in the performance of our cars with either type of gas in the tank, we then believed that the gas was just inferior and that explained why it was cheaper. The big oil companies just took the “good” oil for themselves and left the no-name ones with the “bad” oil! Hey! We were kids, give us a break! 😉

Then a relative got a job working for one of the largest oil refineries in the country. He told me that these huge oil tankers from every oil company would come to fill up with gas. Each company received its gas from the same supply lines; meaning that there is absolutely no difference in the gas as it gets pumped into those trucks.

The other amazing thing that he told me is that (at the time), if a company wanted to say that their gas contained special detergents that was good for your car, they only needed to add one gallon to each oil tanker!

What this means is that you can feel comfortable with buying the cheapest gas in your area. I guess it also means that you definitely should not pay a premium for gas that claims to be full of detergents to clean your fuel line!

Bleach

Bleach is bleach!

I guess I should write more than that, right? Both name brand and no name bleach solutions are mostly water. What you have to compare is the percentage of the active ingredient (sodium hypochlorite) in the solution. Of course there are other types of bleach for more specific uses, but if you are just buying regular, household chlorine bleach to clean the basic areas of your home, save your money and go generic.

As long as the bottles have the same amount of the active ingredient, they are virtually identical for cleaning purposes.

Wires/Cables

Being a former musician and emergency sound-man, I’ve had to purchase a number of cables in my life. Add in the fact that I love gadgets and computers, and that number grows and grows! I honestly do not know of too many products for which you can find such a wide variety of prices for essentially the same product!

I’ve purchased computer cables from the local dollar store that work just fine! No need to spend $50 for an Ethernet cable from an electronics chain! The same is true for those insanely expensive Monster cables (yes I purchased one or two in my younger days)!

The less expensive cables are fine, and you will not destroy your expensive electronic devices by using them.

Spices

This is another odd one. There are huge markups for basic spices in most grocery stores. You’re just buying salt, pepper, oregano, nutmeg, etc – these are all things that we get from the local dollar store when we run out. I really don’t think that the other companies have a better salt “recipe”!