I love cereal. It has always been one of my favorite foods. I did an experiment in high school with generic versus national brand breakfast cereals and posed the question of would we really know the difference in taste if we didn’t see the label first? Sometimes we could and sometimes we couldn’t, so now the question is, are generics as good or better than the national brands?

I recently did a junk drawer about generic versus national brand and I stumbled on a few more, plus a few things you should always spend the money for for a national brand.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business did a study recently that found buying generics could save us one billion dollars a year! They also discovered that we spend $410 million on national brand medication; even though the generic medication had the same active ingredient. So, what else are we spending tons of money on that we shouldn’t?


With Christmas right around the corner and all of the toys that make noise that the grandparents and in-laws are going to bring your kids, you’re going to need batteries. The national brand batteries apparently have super powers that stay good for 10 years. That’s nice, but they also cost a bundle! Generic batteries work the same and cost about three times less than the national name brands.

Bottled Water

Bottled water, for the most part is just a huge waste of money. We keep it around because I use my neti pot on a daily basis and you can’t use tap water for it, so we have to buy it, but national name brand bottled water costs a fortune. If it’s going up my nose, into the sink and down the drain, I don’t need designer water. Every bottled water company claims that their water comes from a magical spring in France where fairies prance about and unicorns poop gold, but it’s simply not true. I learned from a distributor that one of the bottled waters they sell came from a tap in Eagan and “people are so dumb, they pay $1.29 a bottle for it!” Don’t be one of those people. A Brita water pitcher you fill yourself is probably the most economical way to drink water and it costs pennies.


If you’re headed to the beach sometime soon and don’t think your sunscreen from last spring break is any good, don’t reach for the national brand. A test done by Consumer Reports shows that generic sunscreens sold by Target and Wal-Mart actually got higher scores and overall performed better than the national brands. The generic sunscreen from Walgreens was the best performer when it came to blocking UVA and UVB rays. Consumer Reports tests also showed that some of the most expensive national brand sunscreens were the least effective.

So, what should you always spend the money for?

Apple Products

I was out looking for a case to protect my phone once and saw a rack of white products that claimed they were comparable to Apple products, but they were not. Case in point, my friend Ray bought a charger out of desperation when he was on vacation and as his phone was charging, he watched as it turned the phone on and typed out a gibberish text message and sent it to his boss. If you spend the money to get the Apple product, spend the money to get the official accessories.

Paper Products

Do you really want toilet paper falling apart when you’re using it? No, you don’t need toilet paper that can hold a brick, but you need something that can hold up. Paper toweling is another one you need to hold together when you’re using it. Baby wipes are another crucial item to just spend the money on.


Speaking of baby wipes, I am not a parent, but I did ask a parent about this one.  Store brand diapers are never as good as the national brands. My source says they fall apart and aren’t very good at helping with diaper rash. Also, blowouts are far messier.

What Products Do You Go Generic For? Which Do You Spend the Money For?