This obscenely easy life change can save you more than $1,500 per year
Young people seem to be surprisingly brand-loyal, with half of millennials saying they're either "extremely" or "quite" loyal to their favorite companies in a recent survey, Inc reports. Social media may be part of it — since it can be fun to tag and share items you buy or places you go. But all that loyalty could actually be costing you money.
While there's certainly an argument for choosing certain brand name items — like high-quality, ethically-made clothes — there are tons of items for which you can choose generic and save money, without compromising on quality at all. In fact, it's an open secret that generic "private label" or store brands are often made by the exact same companies turning out branded products.
You may be surprised at how much you'll save: Per Mic calculations, you could pocket as much as $1,500 annually by switching to generics. Don't believe us? Here are four areas in which buying generic will create the biggest bang for your buck.
Food and drink
If you're buying food products made by the big-name brands, you're almost definitely wasting cash. Consider water, priced at $3.98 for 28 20-ounce bottles of purified store-brand drinking water — compared with $10.03 for 24 16.9-ounce bottles of purified drinking water.
Buy the generic for $0.14 a bottle versus $0.41 per bottle of name-brand water, and you'll save around $0.27 per bottle. If you use 167 bottles of disposable water annually, like the average American, you'll save about $45 a year.
Generic groceries cost much less, too. A cart full of basic groceries — including waffles, yogurts, cereal and soup — is about $15 cheaper than name-brand counterparts, according to Three Thrifty Guys. Another blogger at Clever Dude who swapped out store brand products got a similar savings of around $17 for the purchase of basic groceries like chips, bread and apples.
Assuming you buy these basics around once per week and achieve a similar result, saving $16 per week (averaging the $15 and $17 from above), you'd end up spending $832 less per year if you made the switch to generic grocery products. Add in the $45 you saved on bottled water and you're up to $877 a year saved on food and water alone.
Medication is another big money-waster if you're buying name brands. The average household spends $338 per year on over-the-counter medications. If you need to take Claritin for seasonal allergies, you could pay $38.89 for 105 pills of a 10 mg dose of Loratadine — or as little as $12.49 for a 365-tablet generic alternative at Costco. That works out to $0.37 for each Claritin pill —versus just $0.03 for the generic, for a 92% savings. Big difference!
The savings are nearly as significant when you buy generic prescription drugs. "On average, the cost of a generic drug is 80% to 85% lower than the brand-name product," according to the FDA, which tightly regulates generic drugs to ensure they meet the same quality standards as name-brand medications.
The average out-of-pocket cost per prescription is $44 — compared with just $8 for out-of-pocket for generics. So even if you swapped out just one monthly prescription for a generic alternative, you could save about $432 per year.
Batteries and HDMI cables
You'll get big immediate savings if you opt for generic cables instead of name-brand. "For most HDTV setups, there is absolutely no effective difference between a no-name $3 HDMI cable you can order from Amazon.com and a $120 Monster cable you buy at a brick-and-mortar electronics store," PC Magazine explained. If you buy one new HDMI cable each year, you can save around $120.
And buying generic batteries can create small savings that add up. Americans purchase about 3 billion batteries each year. With an estimated population of more than 323 million, according to July 2016 Census records, that's like 10 batteries per person per year. A case study on battery usage produced by for CalRecycle also estimated around 13 batteries purchased annually per person.
If you purchase a 20-pack of Amazon's generic brand AAA batteries, you'd pay $6.64, versus $9.58 for a Duracell 20-pack. Testing has showed no discernible difference between brand-name and generic alkaline batteries, according to Money Talks News, and saving even just $3 can add up over time.
One item not to buy generic? Chargers for electronics. "We’ve already seen shoddy USB-C cables kill laptops, and there are countless reports of fake chargers leading to fires or even exploding phones," Gizmodo warns.
Printer ink that comes in those cartridges is actually the single most expensive liquid most people buy. "At about $13 an ounce, [printer ink] costs more than, say, fine Champagne, while the priciest, at about $75 an ounce, is more costly than, say, Chanel No. 5 perfume," according to Consumer Reports.
Yet buying generic ink cartridges can be way cheaper than opting for the printer manufacturer's own brand, often with minimal or no compromises when it comes to quality. Compare, for example, the black and color combo for HP 61XL at $61.98 with a black and tri-colored LxTek remanufactured cartridge replacement at $22.98.
If you replace your ink cartridge twice annually and you save $39 (or more) each time, you're looking at savings of $78 a year. Add this to all your other savings and you're looking at real money.
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