By ERIN TURNER
I am often asked if buying off-brand items always pays off. My answer is usually–you just have to be careful. It’s wise to make notes about which off-brand/discount items didn’t live up to your expectations so you don’t waste any more money on them in the future.
My kids go through a lot of batteries. It seems every toy needs a battery these days. Plus, my boys love flashlights and packable alarm clocks. These things use batteries a lot–especially when the flashlights are accidentally left on over night.
At the beginning of summer I stumbled across what I thought was the hottest deal ever–a 24 pack of AA batteries for $4.99! Oh yeah, I was all over it and even broke my cardinal rule of not stocking up until you know it’s either a) a super, great deal for a quality item or b) you know your family likes the item. I grabbed a handful of packages of those un-named, generic batteries feeling like a rock star!
After about 1 hour of Wii playing, those batteries puked. Okay, so they weren’t great for the Wii controllers. Maybe let’s just use them in the flashlights and the toys. Oops, and double oops! They were duds and barely got the remote control truck across the kitchen floor before absolutely dying.
Okay, now I’m not feeling so much like a rock star but a couponing failure. First, I broke my own rules about stocking up and second I was had by a lesser quality item. Drat!
We’ve used up the rest of the batteries (it didn’t take long). And now I’ve learned my lesson. There are some things that may be a great value on the price tag but their quality and longevity are far from a great deal. I’ve learned now that when it comes to batteries, it’s wiser for me to save my coupons for name brands and pair them up with a store offering a good sale. Deal hint: Keep your eyes open at Staples. Many times you can use a coupon matched with a Staples Reward deal and save mega bucks.
By purchasing name brand batteries, I may have to fork out a little more money up front, but in the end I will still wind up on top.
The same is true for laundry detergent. There are so many varying brands on the shelf and it is hard to know where the value lies. Again, making notes on which brands work and don’t work is critical. I’ve talked about being a Tide snob in the past but then finding out how terrible Tide is for our septic system. So, I switched to Arm and Hammer and also use homemade detergent. Recently, I purchased a cheaper brand and have been happy so far. My clothes are clean and the smell is lovely. I will make note that this brand is safe and I will get my money’s worth. Yet there are certain brands I will stay far away from because I know I will have to wash my clothes twice just to get them clean. No value there!
So, when it comes to using generic or off-brands I encourage people to seek them out first but use common sense. Don’t stock up on anything until you know it is worth it and you like it. And balance out those items, like batteries, where it is wiser to purchase the more expensive brand by using coupons and sales. Remember that by using coupons matched up with sales, you have the ability to dictate the price you are willing to pay for an item.
Saving money and being a smart couponer isn’t about being cheap, it’s all about getting the best value for your dollar. So, don’t settle for cheap items that don’t offer any quality. Go for quality and get the best deal possible for the highest quality possible!
Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.