When to buy the brand names vs. knockoffs
April 23, 2007 7:46am CST
Saving money is always a good thing. There is nothing wrong with being financially conscientious at times and buying second-tier or discounted items rather than big-name brands. As with most things, however, some exceptions do exist; in certain cases, brand names are definitely your best bet. Find out which products are worth big bucks and which ones aren’t. Bottled water Among man’s most basic needs, water is a very common supermarket purchase. The bottled water industry is so lucrative today that more brands and variations of the stuff exist than ever before. As long as it does not appear tinted or impure when you grab it from the shelf, go for the generic brand; it can add up to a surprising savings each month. Milk There isn’t a huge difference between brand names such as McArthur or store versions for a lesser price. The USDA regulates the homogenizing process necessary to bottle and sell milk, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t save a few bucks by opting for the store brand. Knives This is a touchy category for many. On the one hand, only a moderately experienced amateur chef would be likely to notice and have an appreciation for a world-class set of cutting instruments. Therefore, one could argue that lower-end, inexpensive cutlery is the way to go for guys who don’t do that much cooking. If you prepare meals a few times a week, however, it is a much smarter move to invest in good brand-name knives. Athletic shoes This is a category in which you should really spring for a reliable brand name. Whether you exercise occasionally or run marathons on a regular basis, injury prevention is key. High-quality athletic shoes are designed to offer you support and keep injuries at bay, so avoid cheap knockoffs at all costs. Cordless phones With the advent of cell phones, home-based cordless phones have fallen by the wayside in the last few years. The good news is that prices have gone down considerably. Then again, you don’t need a high-end model, either. Opt for a brand with a reliable warranty, such as GE, but there’s no need to get their most expensive model. Medications Most major pharmaceutical companies have subsidiaries that distribute generic versions of their products. These no-name versions can be 50% to 75% cheaper than their brand-name counterparts, and since the U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulates and monitors these products for your protection, there’s generally no reason why you shouldn’t choose them. Computers Dell, the world’s No. 1 manufacturer of personal computers, has set the tone in terms of prices, and its peers have followed suit for the most part. Today, computers are so relatively inexpensive that most IT professionals will advise customers to replace rather than repair them. Don’t waste hours toying with drivers, optical drives and countless operating system reinstalls; simply go with a brand name and a good warranty. Tires With most auto makers competing for market share by boasting warranties that range from 36 months to 10 years, consumers are only responsible for maintenance in a few basic areas -- one of which is tires. When it comes to high-performance, speed-demon types or if you live in an area where snow and ice are common, specialty tires are probably a good bet -- even though they’re a bit pricey. Mastering the art of allocating your financial resources is hardly easy -- whether it is for milk or tires. The idea is to learn to stretch money a little bit on certain items so that you will have the resources to buy something you really want or some cash stashed away for a rainy. So, do you generally buy the brand name or the off brands. If it just varies, give some examples of which you buy for which product.