How Not To Save Money Part 1

Living in the tri state area, NYC in particular, you will routinely grab your ankles through the course of everyday living.  Add to that a recession where you may be collecting unemployment, or have had to take a pay cut or may see your income decline in the future, and the need for penny-pinching becomes abundantly clear.  At the same time, you can not go overboard with this, because obsessing over every last cent or purchasing something inferior to save money can cause as many problems as overspending .  Here’s a few thing I always keep in mind, and some are strictly how I do things, it may not work for you.

1.  Generic Products – The financial utility of generic products can not be overstated.  If you have some uppity need for name brand everything, you need to get over that shit.  Some things in my opinion, you should never even consider buying name brand, though there are always exceptions even to this rule.  If the active ingredient is the exact same thing and in the same amount as the brand name, you know what to do.  Advil is the same exact thing as generic Ibuprofen.  If we’re talking about normal headaches, you are not going to get relief in any considerably better way with a name brand.   With most prescription meds you are really taking an unecessary one in the ass by not getting the generic.

Some medicines might adhere to this rule, but it contains certain things which are inactive perhaps, but which somehow make it work better or the discount makes it not worth it.  For example generic toothpaste may contain the same amount of fluoride as the name brand, but from my experience brand name toothpaste seems to make teeth look whiter, and I don’t know why.

A rule I tend to stick to with generic products is that if taste is involved, I tend to buy the name brand because eating is not only a survival necessity, it’s a leisure activity.  Some exceptions would be condiments.  Ketchup is ketchup.  It compliments, it’s not the main attraction.  In general all condiments are safe for generic purchase.  One exception: salad dressing.  Generic salad dressing never tastes as good as regular salad dressing, but it is one of those things where the generic is considerably lower in price than the name brand, so that’s your call.

Another, at least for me, is cereal.  I like to enjoy my cereal and generic cereals don’t do it for me.  I either buy the real, or just don’t get cereal in that trip.  I want Cocoa Puffs, not Cocoa Stuffs.  It’s not the same, clearly.

I never see the need to buy generic soda on any consistent basis.  You are supposed to enjoy soda, so sorry Nehi, Tropical Fantasy, Top Pop or whatever 50 cent soda hood bullshit, I’m not buying, not even to mix with alcohol.

Point is, if what you are buying is a considerable part of the taste factor, just spring for the brand name and cut costs in other ways.  Eating is to be enjoyed and you can put a price on your well being. 

There are times buying generic might actually cost you more for example if have to use twice as much of it to achieve the same result.  Generic dishwasher soap is always shitty.  It won’t get your dishes clean, you’ll have that thin grease film on it unless you dump a shitload on it.  However the inversion of this rule is something like bleach.  Bleach is freakin bleach, it gets shit white.

To finish up part 1, I would like to touch on clothes.  People get ripped on clothes constantly but here is the bottom line.  If you like it and you think it looks good, it doesn’t matter where you bought it.  Get over that, you aren’t in high school.  You see something at Kmart that looks good, buy that shit.  At the same time, without question better quality clothing is generally available at more expensive shops so you can not limit yourself to discount stores.  Look for the deals.  Browsing never hurt anyone.  Even check out a thrift store, you would be amazed at what rich people get rid of.  I bought a high quality three-piece suit for 5 dollars at thrift store once and people always asked me where I got it, like it was designer shit.  I think it was custom made.  Unfortunately, I was like 30 pounds lighter then so I can’t wear it anymore, but if you don’t look for deals you’ll never find them.  Bottom line, never feel compelled to pay extra for something you can get for less in the name conspicious consumption.

Next time we will explore saving money on goods away from the home, as well as services.

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