Updated on 09.29.17

“Generics Make Me Feel Bad About Myself”

Trent Hamm

Monique writes in with a heartfelt observation:

The biggest reason I can’t bring myself to actually buy generics when I’m in the store is that I feel cheap and poor when I buy the white labeled knockoffs. I don’t like feeling like that. I like saving money, but when it leaves me feeling like a loser I’d rather spend a little more and get the name brand.

It’s marketing at work.

Take a look at this Tide commercial.

The entire point of that commercial is to create warm fuzzy feelings and associate them with the Tide logo. Look, there’s a loving father and a cute baby and sparkling white clothes and… Tide! Tide! Tide!

If you repeat that kind of association enough, you begin to, on an unconscious level, begin to associate good feelings with a brand. Those good feelings come out when you’re at the grocery store and trying to decide between a generic brand (no feelings because no advertising) and a name brand (good feelings built up by lots of advertising over the years).

“But I don’t watch television commercials,” some will say. Do you read magazines? Do you drive anywhere near billboards? Do you see the sides of buses? Do you listen to the radio?

The same effect is always in play.

That’s the purpose of at least one flavor of advertising. It’s all about building the brand. You’re not actually being encouraged to go buy a specific product. Instead, the entire point of the ad is to create an emotional imbalance in favor of a particular product versus another product.

Of course, you pay for that emotional imbalance when you’re at the checkout. Almost always (outside of a sale or some sort of great coupon stacking), the name brand item comes at a premium.

One of the biggest themes of The Simple Dollar is to avoid buying things based on emotional impulses. If you’re buying a name brand because buying it makes you feel good or because buying generic makes you feel bad, you’re making a buying decision based on emotion.

That’s not to say there isn’t a reason to buy name brand items. As I discussed in an earlier article, The Cheap Garbage Bag Dilemma, you do need a product to perform well for you. That’s why I often base my purchases on my own personal history with the item, as well as reports from unbiased sources like Consumer Reports.

If an item makes you feel a certain way that you can’t quantify with hard facts, marketing is probably at work. Ignore it. Make your purchasing decisions based on facts and come away with the best buy you can.

That’s something you can always feel good about.

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  1. jen says:

    In one of my geography/globalization courses in college we watched a documentary that talked about how a small army of child psychologists worked for advertising agencies helping them get the kids. Now instead of that warm and fuzzy feeling I give ’em the evil eye and hate their manipulative tactics.

  2. Deb J says:

    I buy store brands all the time if they are as good as the regular brand. It doesn’t make me feel poor or cheap. It makes me feel smart because I didn’t let myself get sucked in by all the hype our world teaches. I have a friend who wouldn’t buy the store brands. She also wouldn’t go to certain kinds of stores for the same reason. Then I had her over one day. I first fed her a lunch that was totally store brands of food. Then I walked her through our home and pointed out all the store brands, second hand, and made over furniture, etc. Then I asked her which she would rather have the store brands and second hand stuff with more money to use or her name brand stuff with credit card bills. She got the point. She couldn’t tell the difference in the food or in the furniture, etc. I refuse to buy based on someone else’s viewpoint and sales tactics.

  3. Annie Jones says:

    I’m reading about this very subject right now in the book called “No Logo” by Naomi Klein. My feelings about advertising/marketing have shifted from annoyance to disdain.

  4. jen says:

    also, this TED talk is pretty good. Around minute 6:30 he mentions how old whole foods brand olive oil beat out 33.50/oz fancy olive oil in a taste test.

    Benjamin Wallace on The Price of Happiness:
    Can happiness be bought? To find out, author Benjamin Wallace sampled the world’s most expensive products, including a bottle of 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc, 8 ounces of Kobe beef and the fabled (notorious) Kopi Luwak coffee. His critique may surprise you.


  5. Lisa S says:

    A lot of times the name brand means more money for the exact same thing. When I was a kid, my parents bought a Plymouth Volare station wagon, which was more economical than the Dodge Aspen. But it was the same car–the factory even accidentally put an “Aspen” nameplate on one side of it.

    When I bought my refrigerator (after poring over energystar.gov), the distributor explained that GE and Hotpoint were the same, made in the same factory, but I’d save a lot by not paying for the GE name.

    Trader Joe’s goes to various food manufacturers and has them put their store brand labels on quality food at a consistently low price. I’d bet other store labels do the same.

  6. Mary says:

    It’s a good thing I am allergic to Tide detergent. I get eczema in the winter and that detergent can aggravate it. I’m able to use store brand detergent though, but have resorted to Era HE, since I have an energy-efficient washer.

    For the most part I find that store brands are just the same, if not better, than the name brands of household items and food. I have a few staples that I absolutely must have the name brand (i.e. Kraft cheese slices. Being a Wisconsinite, I am picky with cheese and store brand cheese tastes awful!).

    Whenever I have a doubt about a store brand, I think to my long-term goals of saving money and getting out of debt, and know I can live with a store brand now, when I know I will get to owning a home or car with decent down payments, or living debt free. That to me is much more important than having a brand name thing.

  7. Mol says:

    What about brands that make you feel good because that’s what Mom and Dad used with you? Should you take those feelings into consideration when making a purchase or not?

  8. Claudia says:

    @ Annie Jones-
    You might also want to read “The Hidden Persuaders” by Vance Packard. Oldie, but goodie.

  9. Deb says:

    DebJ – I agree with you. I feel really smart and in control of my moeny when I shop smart. I don’t like the feeling of being manipulated by marketing techniques.

  10. triLcat says:

    My husband is very attached to brands for certain foods. We were at my sister’s house today and we noticed she was using a brand of peanut butter that we don’t usually buy even though it’s cheaper, because my husband prefers skippy. We asked her for a taste. He tasted it and conceded that it tastes just as good. Next time we buy peanut butter, we’ll buy that brand. It’s over a dollar cheaper per jar (we don’t live in the US and peanut butter is quite expensive here)

    Overall, I think the most important thing to realize is that you’re looking for quality in the product, not on the label.

  11. Dorothy says:

    Mol, no. You shouldn’t use a brand JUST because your parents used it for two reasons:

    First, your parents are probably just as susceptible to brand advertising as the average person, so their decision may have been influenced by Madison Avenue.

    Second, over time, brands change. A brand that was great 3 decades ago may have fallen behind the curve.

    Therefore, do the experimenting Trent recommends, and make the decision what’s the best brand for you.

  12. Pop says:

    When I first read her question, I thought she was talking about generic drugs, but I think it’s important to note that there’s a huge placebo effect in the taste of food and wine, the effect of drugs, and anything else that your brain ends up judging the quality of.

    So yeah, if the garbage bag doesn’t break, it seems like you’d quickly get over buying generic. But if Tide detergent makes you feel cleaner, even though that’s not actually so, I think there’s still a case for buying Tide. “Feeling” clean is as important as being clean. That said, the best result would be for her to feel as clean with the generics as she does with Tide. Hopefully this blog post will help!

  13. John says:

    For me, I only care about something that meets my needs. One of my needs is value.

    Sometimes this approach may mean buying an expensive brand name. While Tide gets knocked here regularly, it is considered by many to be the best cleaning detergent. For those with tough laundry needs, Tide may actually be a great buy. (Which is cheaper–Arm & Hammer with a dozen stain treatments and detergent boosers OR having Tide and Tide only, bought on a good sale?) But my laundry needs are simple. Almost any detergent will work.

    I have had the tendency of wanting to buy stuff because it’s the brand my family used. With my family mostly gone, I guess it’s understandable wanting some connection with the past. Still, I resist most of the time, only buying the old brand when its something that was, definitely, better.

    Although, a time or two, I have bought the brand my mother bought just because it was the brand she bought. At least once the last year, I’ve bought a sample box of Cheer–my mother’s detergent for a long time. Horribly expensive per use, but it did allow me to revisit past times for a fleeting moment. Practically, it gave me a relatively cheap way of testing an expensive detergent, and finding–as I suspected–that it did nothing better for my particular situation.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that brands that my family NEVER bought can seem (then and now) exotic and interesting. The funny thing is that when/if I get a chance to use these brands, the reality is they don’t really seem much different!

  14. Rebecca says:

    I automatically buy the cheapest brand there is, including a coupon if I have it. Unless we absolutely hate the cheapest version. Salsa is one thing we are particular about, the cheapo version didn’t cut it with us. But often times the generics are made by the same company that makes the brand name.

    even in areas where many think that brands do count, like baby formula. Both the Target and Wall Mart generics are made by Similac. Exactly the same, half the cost. Actually even cheaper. And exactly the same quality.

  15. Frugal Ella says:

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a white generic box! Store brands though – I buy tons of those. When I moved back to my home state I got warm fuzzy feelings over the store brand at Safeway, since that’s what my mom always bought. Brand loyalty can take all kinds of crazy shapes!

  16. Kathy says:

    Rebecca #10 is right in that a lot of store brands are made by the same companies that make the name brands. Years ago, when I was a kid, we had the black and white label generic and yes, those were terrible. They probably contributed to my aversion to eating canned vegetables. For a long time, I also had an aversion to generics because of the old black and white labeled stuff. But store brands have come a long way and most of the time, I can’t tell the difference between the store brand and the name brand when I use them.

  17. Michelle says:

    In my Google RSS Reader, this blog post came up with an ad for Safeway generic brand pop “Refreshe” – I found that amusing. :)

    Diet Coke is one of very few things I AM loyal to.

    I am not very brand-loyal, I have 20+ bottles of Purex detergent that I got for free+tax with coupons. I got one lonely bottle of Tide and paid a few dollars for it, and I only use it on bad stains because I know it gets it out. It’d be nice to use it on EVERY load, but really, I find that detergent is detergent, clothes get clean no matter what I put in.

  18. Kerry D. says:

    While our store brand packaging may not be as pretty, I do feel extremely pleased to buy stuff like top quality dog food for half the price (Kirkland/Costco), ibuprofen (CVS brand), Loratadine (large bottles from CVS or Walmart are a fraction of the Claritin price.)

    Even some favorite items I thought could never be found in a generic, such as Best Foods Mayonnaise, we’re finding the Safeway Select brand to be identical in taste.

    The money I save by buying frugally and cooking from scratch allows us to have our kids in some pretty expensive activities (tournament baseball and riding horses.) We value these a lot, as the kids love these “hobbies” and are building amazing lifeskills beyond the literal activities.

    Not a bad trade off for some potentially ugly packaging. It’s very, very rare we encounter poor quality in the store brand product.

  19. KC says:

    If you feel poor when you buy generics how do you feel when you don’t have enough money to pay your bills? Not to be callous but we’re talking about material items here. You need to feel poor when you overspend, not when you buy less expensive necessities.

  20. Johanna says:

    I’ve read somewhere – I wish I could remember where – that small status symbols like name-brand groceries are a whole lot less psychologically and socially important for middle-class people than for working-class people. You don’t have to worry about generic groceries making you feel like you’re a cheap, poor loser if there are enough other things (possessions or accomplishments) that make it clear that you’re *not* a cheap poor loser. But for someone who is on the border of actually being poor, name-brand groceries can make a much bigger difference.

    I don’t know if that’s what’s going on with Monique or not. But when someone says “XYZ makes me feel poor,” I think that’s worth taking seriously, not dismissing just because it doesn’t make *me* feel poor. Because I’m in a different situation.

    How this translates into advice, I’m not sure. Monique, for one, is clearly not a loser – she sounds pretty smart to have noticed this about herself. Maybe if she were to focus on feeling good about herself in other aspects of her life (her home, her job, her family, or her hobbies), name brand groceries would start to feel less important. But without knowing anything else about her life, it’s hard to be more specific than that.

  21. Russell says:

    private labels and name brands

    When I was in high school, I worked summers at the local pickle plant. I worked in the warehouse and moved pallets of pickle jars off the production line to the warehouse to be shipped later. Every day, we would make a certain number of pallets of our name brand, then we would switch the lids (to a different color) and switch the labels to some grocery store brand. Same pickle, different labels. We had about 40 private labels. That taught me all about private labelling. You would be amazed how many grocery store label brands came from the exact plant where that name brand came from.

    For me, if the ingredients are the same, the percentages of the ingredients are the same, and the package is the same; there’s a strong chance they came from the same place. Think about the packaging, a private label brand would have to set up it’s own factory to handle their stuff. You are talking about millions of dollars. Why not just put your label on someone else’s stuff.

    It’s also been like reading this site the first time, there were some things I didn’t see the need to be that frugal, but the more time you spend thinking about it, the more likely you are to integrate it into your life.

  22. Courtney says:

    I can’t help but think that Monique has problems far deeper than whether or not to buy store brands. Anyone who feels like a “loser” for not buying name brand products has a value system that is seriously out of whack. I have no idea what has happened in her life that has led her to think this way, but some reflection on what are truly important qualities to possess is in order.

  23. Ryan says:

    Marketing runs everything.

    Did you know that the company Unilever produces both Axe and Dove soaps?

    Axe’s marketing is completely based on sex and telling guys they’ll get laid if they buy Axe.

    Dove runs a campaign telling girls how beautiful and special they are and they aren’t just good for sex.

    What’s Unilever’s real goal? To make money.

  24. jgonzales says:

    For people like Monique, I suggest using coupons. I know this was talked about earlier in the week, but with coupons you can often buy name brand groceries cheaper than generics. I will only use one brand of laundry detergent and when it goes on sale with coupons, I buy it and stock up. But for stuff like toothpaste, I buy whatever is cheapest. If the name brand is cheaper with a coupon (and through coupon sites, I find it usually is) then I buy that. If not, then I go with the generic.

  25. Sue F says:

    Generics make me feel good about myself. They make me feel smart.

  26. Nate says:

    Years ago I saw a PSA made by the Ad Council. The main line/point of it was “How would you know what to buy if we didn’t tell you?”. It implied without adverts you’d be buying products blindly. Oh god forbid!!!

    While I will admit I am attached to certain brands of hair products and cosmetics, overall I just buy whatever is cheapest at the time. However, I live outside of the US where canned & frozen veggies are rarely eaten and there is only 2 kinds of tuna! We eat very, very, few processed foods and aren’t picky about other things like laundry detergent, cleaners, soap, etc..

  27. SwingCheese says:

    @Johanna #15: If you think of the source, could you please post it here? That sounds like something I’d like to read. Thanks!

    FWIW, I’ve noticed that the store brand (at least at our grocery store) tends to be the mid-point between the brand name and generic in both price and quality. I tend to buy the store brand. However, when it comes to frozen veggies, I’ve noticed that there is a HUGE difference in quality between the three. On more than one occasion, I’ve opened a bag of generic frozen broccoli to find one or two actual pieces of broccoli, and the rest was stems and leaves. I bought some Bird’s Eye with a coupon and was shocked at the difference. So for some things, I’ll buy name brand.

  28. almost there says:

    My son graduated with a degree in computer graphics and is involved with advertising. He recommended we watch “Art & Copy”, so we ordered in via netflix and what an eye opener. It was produced for PBS for you purists.

  29. Nancy says:

    Isn’t it funny that the same situation can produce such opposite reactions? I think this tells us the issue is less with the actual product and more about our personal perceptions. I actually love it when I find generic brands that do the job or taste just as good as name brand. It makes me feel empowered that I am deciding where my money will go. I tend to always go generic first, but if the food or product is a fail I don’t hesitate to go for the more expensive brand. Doing it this way makes generic a choice and not a punishment. Luckily, there have only been a few things where I stick to the name brands for quality/taste purposes. 9 times out of 10 generic does just fine. Maybe you should approach it that way, that you are simply making a choice. Even if you only find a few things you are okay with buying generic, it will still help your budget. Every little bit helps!!

  30. If this is how you feel, then don’t buy them.

    Find other ways to save…

    I happen to think it sounds a little ridiculous, but who am I to judge?

    Find the other ways to save and hone in on them.

    Plus, I don’t have an issue w/ buying generics regardless, but the commenter makes it sound like she’s riding around with the generic labels plastered all over her car.

    If you really want to save but hate the labels, buy one each of the name brand stuff–use it–save the empty container–and fill it/them up with your generic products.

  31. coco says:

    my general rule is always try the generic/store brand one time. if it’s good then i buy it again. certain things i have found make no difference and i would feel like i was actually wasting money if i bought the name brand. examples would be baby formula, OTC medicines, sugar and many other things. i would say about 50% of my total buys are generic/store brands. but there are many things that are actually worth the “name brand”. for me this would be diapers, instant coffee, peanut butter, ketchup and a few others. then there are things that i would rather have the name brand, example TIDE, that costs so much more than a generic i can’t justify it, but it is a better product to me. bottom line if the quality is acceptable i get the generic, if not, the name brand.

  32. Free Ads says:

    Not all generics are made the same. Some taste awe full, in effective, or simply of lower quality. Some are equally performing, taste good and of the same quality as the name brand. I would specially try to avoid the no name brand. I also don’t buy the top name brand. I try to strike a balance and take the middle path (Buddhist philosophy) and test non national brands out before including the them in my regular purchase list.

  33. DA says:

    Shop smart…Shop S- Mart.

  34. larabelle says:

    The bottom line for me related to store brands/generics versus name brand is I like having more money in my bank account to do the things which I want to do versus buying a brand name soap/toothpaste/clothes detergent etc.

  35. uncertain algorithm says:

    I think that this is where Ramit Sethi has it right: spend lavishly on things you want, save on things you don’t care about. I know that, for me, Red Bull and Levi Jeans have a customer for life. No amount of cheap brands will ever win.

    But on everything else, I couldn’t careless what I buy. And I only need two pairs of jeans and strictly limit my daily Red Bull consumption, so there’s still a cap. However constant brand consciousness in all products will financially wipe out your wallet; in a few minor areas, it won’t.

  36. Hannah says:

    There are so many things in life that merit bad feelings that I cannot fathom why buying generics would even make it on someone’s list. If generics taste bad or don’t work as well, then I could understand the ill will towards them. But even then, if buying them helped me to put braces on my kids’ teeth or pay for medicine or build emergency savings, I’d compromise in a heartbeat (and have). I’m not saying I’m immune to social pressures, but if the people around me judge me based on such irrelevant minutiae then shame on them.

  37. Betty T says:

    I find that with couponing the name brands are usually less expensive than the generic or store brands. I usually buy whatever brand is on sale and our grocery stores double coupons up to 99 cents.

  38. Razmataz says:

    Everytime I see that Tide commercial I laugh. I don’t buy into that. Yes we do buy a name brand deterent but we buy it because it is better for the environment. We are like most people we buy what we like in the storebrand and what we like in the name brand. Somethings that are made in the store brand or namebrand may not have the texture or taste we like. So we go for what we like.


  39. Michelle says:

    Guess what? Anyone who “feels bad” about themselves when they buy generic already feels bad about themselves for other reasons. They have much bigger problems than what detergent to buy …

  40. Rachel says:

    #18 jgonzales – that is a good idea about the coupons, but I would imagine if just having a box of store brand something in her house makes her feel “cheap and poor”, then actually having someone see her using a coupon would probably bring her to tears at the register.

  41. Annie says:

    I buy the least expensive item that will do what I need, and try not to buy at all if I can avoid it.

    I know friends who won’t consider buying generic for any reason, swearing the quality is bad. Some of the generics have bad quality, but some have great quality.

    I worked in a factory once that produced both name brand and generic foods. Do you know which brand got the most quality control? Great Value Brand, by Wal Mart. The name brands actually had low to mid-grade quality control, but Wal Mart strikes terror into the hearts of the factory pocketbooks. they inspected and checked every pallet for quality…Since then I have no issues with certain generics, based on that experience.

  42. jane says:

    Maybe Monique should start thinking “I’m rich enough to try generic goods” rather than “people will think I’m poor if I buy generic goods.”

    I suggest this because, like Johanna (with an h, :)) #15, I read an article that said low-income people are more likely to buy name brands than are high-income people. Researchers found that this was because poor people felt that they could not afford to make a mistake with their purchases. For example, if the detergent ruins a load of clothes, they can’t afford to replace the clothes while rich people could and therefore the rich people could afford to take a chance with the generic detergent. (My example is very extreme, of course, I think the worse that could happen with the generic detergent is that the clothes don’t get clean enough and so you would have to rewash them and throw out the rest of the detergent, which wouldn’t break the bank for most people.)

    So maybe Monique could think in terms of “what is the worse thing that could happen if I buy this generic product” and if she can afford that “worse thing” then go ahead and try the generic.

  43. Lisa C says:

    I remember a friend’s grandmother who used to buy generic and put it in name brand jars. For example, she bought generic mayo and put it in cleaned Miracle Whip or Hellman’s jars. This fooled everyone, kept them from giving her a hard time about not buying the “good stuff” and she was happy she saved money.
    When I was a single mom, my kids and I played a game. Every time we went to the grocery store, we’d pick out one or two generic or store brand items that we’d never tried. We’d vote on the taste, and make a note of it if it was just as good as the name brand. It helped to teach them to try and compare based on quality, not brand names.

  44. Courtney says:

    Something funny that I’ve noticed is that the people who are most passionate about the evils of advertising are the same ones who fell hook. line and sinker for the spiel about the wonders of a certain presidential candidate in 2008. Hmmm…

  45. Stephanie S. says:

    I wish more generic brands of food had were organic, sustainable, and locally produced. At my grocery store, the only organic dairy products are (expensive!) brands; the store brands are from factory farms. I have trouble weighing the good of buying organic and sustainable against the desire to save money by buying generic.

  46. Maria says:

    Advertising contributes an average of 40% to the price of the product, then you PAY for cable/satellite to watch commercials (I don’t). Now THAT should make you feel bad, not buying generics. Line your own pockets, not the ad execs and corporations profiting off of manipulating you.
    The only brand names I lean towards are “Kirkland” at Costco and 365 at Whole Foods – oh wait, those are store brands…

    #28 Courtney – that’s a huge assumption that is WAY off the conversation at hand.

  47. Callie says:

    I prefer the lowest price option, but like other commenters, not if quality is too compromised. That said, I will never buy “Thrifty Made” products from Winn Dixie because of bad childhood feelings about it. That is the one product that makes me feel like the OP.

  48. ejw says:

    Courtney…and I guess you also know the political opinions of every person posting on this site as well. Spare the political rhetoric. Although I rarely assume things, it seems to be an indication that you support the previous occupant of that job. Now there was an army of spin doctors! And gee, didn’t he leave the country in good shape for the ‘certain presidential candidate of 2008’ to clean up after.

  49. littlepitcher says:

    I don’t think of them as generics-instead they’re regional manufacturers’ brands.
    Of course, my ad resistance sometimes costs me. I’ve been cleaning carpets with various pre-spotters, with bad results. I simply refused to use the Billy Mays oxy stuff, until I had the Carpet From Hell to contend with. I bought the super-strength outdoors brand, reluctantly, hating every minute of it, but it did the job. Wish I’d given in three years ago.

  50. Kathy says:

    Falling hook, line, and sinker for what someone else says is not the exclusive domain of one particular group of people. Courtney, in her own words, has just proven that point.

  51. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: If we’re going to talk about gullibility in politics, how about all the people who fell hook, line, and sinker for the demonstrably untrue notions that the President is a Muslim, a non-natural-born citizen, a socialist, or that he wants to pull the plug on grandma?

    For quite a number of us, if the Obama administration (and simultaneous Democratic control of Congress) has proved a bit of a disappointment so far, it’s not because they’ve been forcing their liberal policies on us, but because their policies haven’t been liberal *enough*. Let that sink in for a minute.

  52. Nancy says:

    I feel like a smart consumer when I buy generics. My policy is to try one of the generic brand and see if I like it. If I do than I will buy it in the future. If not, I only have one to use.

  53. jim says:

    I personally don’t think Monique’s aversion to buying generic products is about branding or emotions over commercials. Seems to me she has a problem with how buying generics make her look. That isn’t about Tide or any other individual brand. Its her opinion that generic product as being only for poor people. She’s worried what other people think about how it looks if she buys the generic. It is like how some people don’t like to buy used cars or shop at thrift stores. Thats not about branding.

  54. Courtney says:

    Sore topic, eh?

    Johanna, no need to let it sink it in, as you say, as I am well aware that there are those who think Obama & Co. are not liberal enough.

    However – and I will break this to you gently, as I’m not sure whether you are getting your news from accurate sources – the overarching reason that Obama and the Democratic-led Congress have plummeted to such dismal depths in the polls is certainly not because of their lack of liberalness – in fact, it is the complete opposite.

  55. marta says:

    Wow, perceptions of left and right are *really* skewed in the USA.

    I think that pretty much everywhere else the Obama administration would be pegged as being to the right of center — how far right being debatable. Liberal? Nope.

    Courtney, I suspect Johanna is getting her news from sources other than Faux News.

  56. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: If I am misinformed, then please set me straight: What, specifically, has Obama done that is more liberal than what he said he would do?

  57. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: ??? I didn’t say anything about Obama doing more liberal things than he said he would do…I stated the fact that he and Congress are doing horribly in the polls and the main reason for that is people do not like how liberal they are.

  58. valleycat1 says:

    Johanna & Courtney – please take the OT meta discussion elswhere.

  59. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: You said that people “hook. line and sinker for the spiel about the wonders of a certain presidential candidate.” I took that to mean that you think his campaign promises deceived people into thinking that he was less liberal than he actually is. If that’s not what you meant, then what did you mean?

  60. Johanna says:

    @valleycat1: Where would you suggest we take it?

  61. Ryan says:

    I love the Internet.

    Where else could a discussion about generic vs. name brand products turn into a discussion of politics?

  62. STL Mom says:

    I met a woman who worked in marketing, and she told me that lower-income people buy name-brand drugs and generic soda, while higher-income people buy generic drugs and name-brand soda.

  63. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: For the most part, I don’t think Obama deceived people with his campaign promises (although he did lie about certain things, like having the most transparent administration ever). I think that many people did not pay close enough attention to exactly who Obama was before they voted for him.

    By falling for it hook, line and sinker, I’m referring to the fact that some voters got swept up in the feel-good aspect of the Obama campaign – his presidency was going to be a groundbreaking moment in history, he was going to bring hope and change and usher in a brand new era, he was going to be the great uniter, he was a rock star, etc. The basic message from his marketing team was, “You’ll be super-cool if you vote for Obama.” Lots of voters fell for that and didn’t do the due diligence and scrutinize his background or his record or listen carefully to what he was saying. They trusted the mainstream media, who conspired to withhold negative information about Obama (google “JournoList” for more on that topic). They voted for him based on emotion, not facts, and now they are experiencing a raging case of buyer’s remorse.

    That’s what I meant. I certainly don’t think this is true of all people who voted for Obama, but it is for many of them.

    For the record, Obama has turned out to be just the kind of President that I thought he would be – but I was paying attention during the election and I did not vote for him.

  64. ejw says:

    Courtney, this really isn’t the place to make smug inflamatory political references. And to go from an amiable discussion on the emotions and advertising in generic vs brand name to the current political situation is an almost insane jump on its own…but now anyone who voted for Obama wasn’t paying attention during the election? Were you paying any attention during the previous 8 years of Republican regime? Well, just go back to your Fox News, Rush and Sean. They’ll make you feel safe and righteous.

  65. Courtney says:

    @ejw- You must have missed the part where i said, “I certainly don’t think this is true of all people who voted for Obama”.

    And why not discuss it here? We’re talking about advertising and how it manipulates people. That very thing played a big part in our last election and the majority of the country is now regretting it. Fits in perfectly with the discussion!

  66. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: If these people you speak of cast their votes for Obama without paying attention to facts, what makes you think they’re paying attention to facts now? Couldn’t President Obama’s present unpopularity be just as much the result of marketing as candidate Obama’s popularity was?

  67. Pattie, RN says:

    STL Mom.. (#43) You are 101% correct! The poor judge their worth by only getting the “good” stuff, even though it pepetuates the cycle of poverty. Like Lotto tickets, it is a con.

    This is neither a political nor second hand observation…..my husband teaches in an elementary school where 100% of the students get free or reduced lunch, about 55% of the students are from the public housing “projects”. These kids are getting the free stocked backpacks from local churches this time of year, and free toys at Christmas. HOWEVER, other than a handfull of children not born in this country, the kids all come in wearing the latest name brand jeans and sneakers to go with that free backpack.

    Meanwhile, the teachers and their kids stocked up at Wally’s World and are driving 12 year old cars. Are WE poor? Not at all, we just have betteer things to spend money on than trendy crap! (Hubby does wear a $280 pair of support shoes, but we purchased them three years ago)


  68. Matt says:

    Trent, I think you mean “subconscious” level, not “unconscious”…

  69. Michelle says:

    I feel the same way about buying generic sometimes…I actually don’t very often! I’m not sure if it’s because of the reasons you specified, or simply because many times name brands simply have better quality. Hm…

  70. Johanna says:

    @Pattie, RN: This is exactly what I was talking about before. Teachers (and nurses) have relatively high-status jobs, and more education than most people. Those two things alone are enough to firmly establish that you’re well above the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder, and there are probably more (a relatively nice home in a relatively nice part of town, maybe, or all that “better” stuff that you say you spend your money on). For your husband’s students and their families, those name-brand jeans and sneakers may be the only status symbols they have – the only things that “prove” that they’re not as poor as they might be.

    That doesn’t make it a smart financial decision for them to buy those jeans and sneakers. But it does make it more understandable.

    Before you lecture other people for having their priorities wrong, think about what life is like from their point of view.

  71. ejw says:

    Courtney, And you perhaps weren’t reading where I said “smug, inflamatory political references”. It was an interesting side point until the fingers started getting pointed at only one side and anyone who may have voted for him. If popularity is so pertinent, have you already forgotten the pole numbers of the last president? Or doesn’t that count? Politics is often an ugly, dirty and unconscionable game and manipulation and downright lying happens on both sides. And that is what should be deconstructed and examined, not blaming a party that may have different views than what you agree with from the entertainers you listen to for your news.

  72. Courtney says:

    @Pattie, RN: That’s an interesting observation from your husband. I guess it’s a sign of the times we’re living in that people feel more stigmatized by wearing inexpensive clothing than they do by having taxpayers pay for their kids’ lunch.

  73. Dottie says:

    If families are living in public housing, can’t afford to pay for lunch or school supplies and need to accept “free” toys for Christmas they ARE poor and brand names and labels will not prove to others that they are not as poor as they may be. They definately have their priotities wrong. Instead of falling for a marketing scheme that wearing name brand jeans, purchasing brand name food etc. makes you feel good about yourself they need to face reality. If they are uncomfortable being poor they need to educate themselves on ways to improve their situation and live a lifestyle that is sustainable on their income.
    Learn to feel good about supporting yourself and the long term freedom that comes along with it. Labels and brand names are a suckers high not a way to prove status.

  74. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: Virtually all public school lunches are subsidized by taxpayers. For that matter, so are all public schools. All these parents must have some kind of nerve, having taxpayers pay for their children’s education like that. :)

  75. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: My kids go to public school and assuming they eat school lunch every day, it costs me over $1000 out of pocket each school year. If they eat breakfast at school every day, that dollar amount doubles. Add to that the amount of taxes I pay and it becomes apparent that some people are a whole lot more subsidized than the rest of us.

  76. Those feelings of inadequacy that come with buying generics come from carefully crafted ads and pr campaigns. Rise above the manipulation of advertisers and spend your money where it makes sense. Think about the pride you should feel in saving money to feed your family. Buying a store brand for reasons of self esteem steals money from the people you love.

  77. Becky says:

    I wish I could remember where I heard this, but I recall someone telling me that people were more likely to buy name brands if they came from dysfunctional families. The only reason I remember it is that I thought about my three best & oldest friends’ families, and they stacked right in order.

    I thought it was interesting at the time, because I had seen how I and my friends from healthy families learned skills like “how to grocery shop” from our parents, who learned them from their parents. Over time, our families built up knowlege of facts like “store brands are made by the name-brand companies, they just have a different label.”

    In families where that chain of life-skills education was broken, like my friend who started buying groceries at age eight – because there was no food in her house – with money taken from her mom’s purse while mom was passed out drunk – these are the people who learn what to buy from marketing sources like TV and in-store displays. Marketing messages play most effectively to the most vulnerable.

    This isn’t only a poverty or education issue. My friend’s alcoholic mom is a well-off college graduate. She herself buys store brands. But her (otherwise extremely sensible) daughter still won’t buy a store brand to save her life.

    Before condemning someone for their choices, try walking a mile in their shoes.

  78. Ryan says:


    You’re forgetting that those kids on free or reduced lunches live in a completely different social world than the middle class.

    Obviously, we know that it’s not a wise choice to buy designer jeans while getting a free lunch.

    But in those kids (and their parents) world, those jeans are a very real symbol that they have some sort of status.

    It’s somewhat of a luxury to say “Name brands? No thanks.” You have to have enough confidence and it helps when you have other nice things that overshadow the perceived cheapness of generics.

  79. Johanna says:

    I understand being rubbed the wrong way to see a kid getting free lunches while wearing designer jeans, but really, the two have nothing to do with each other. If a family qualifies for free or reduced lunches (if their income falls below a certain threshold, I guess), then they are entitled to free or reduced lunches, period, and how they spend their money on other things is none of anyone else’s business. You don’t get to say that the family should give up their free lunches, or the school or the government should take them away, because they’re spending what money they do have on things you don’t approve of. It doesn’t work that way.

    I’ve been seeing this sort of thing a lot lately where people are trying to “thought-police” poor people – so if they’re not sufficiently humble in their poverty, they’re doing something wrong and therefore deserve some harsh consequence or other. It’s really infuriating.

  80. Courtney says:

    @Ryan: Sorry, but I don’t buy the argument that buying generics requires confidence and having other nice things. I grew up poor, we lived off generics and we sure as heck weren’t thinking, “Hmmm, we need some Calvin Klein jeans and Nikes to boost our self-esteem.”

  81. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: This discussion has been an interesting illustration of the great divide in American society between those who believe in personal responsibility and pulling your own weight and those who don’t.

  82. Ryan says:

    You don’t have to agree, but I believe my statement is true for quite a few families stuck in poverty.

    Your great divide argument can quickly turn dangerous. There are plenty of people who have been kicked when they were already down. Maybe there was a medical emergency that sent them over the edge or they couldn’t escape their credit card bills.

    Hard work isn’t always rewarded. There are tons of people willing to contribute, but don’t have the opportunity.

    I’m asking this in the most curious way possible, (no snarkyness intended at all):

    What solution or ideas do you think should be implemented to control the welfare/foodstamp/free lunch issues?

  83. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: Has it really, now? Which side would you be on, then: the one that acknowledges that poor people are personally responsible for their own money, or the one that would subject all their spending decisions to some sort of pre-approval from the collective?

  84. Courtney says:

    @Ryan: Alright, here are a few thoughts off the top of my head.

    There needs to be a taxpayer-funded safety net for people going through catastrophic life events. By that, I mean a devastating illness or injury or the death of a breadwinner in a family. I do not mean people who have gotten in over their heads by racking up credit card debt or mortgages they can’t afford or by choosing to have kids they can’t afford.

    No handouts for able-bodied people. If an able-bodied person wants money from the taxpayers, he or she needs to earn it. They can do so by doing work that benefits the taxpayers – mowing grass on public land, shoveling snow, filling potholes, cleaning public buildings, etc.

    No welfare for people choosing to break the law by being in this country illegally.

    No welfare to support the kids of deadbeat baby daddies. Crack down hard on them. You choose to make a baby, you’re paying for that baby for the next eighteen years and failure to comply results in very harsh penalties.

    Above all, make people take responsibility for their own lives and quit enabling generation after generation of dependency.

  85. Dottie says:

    I absolutely believe that poor people are personally responsible for their own money. “Their own money” being the key phrase. When they choose to publicly spend their money on luxury items ( ie:Desinger label jeans) and then turn around and accept free hand outs purchased with other peoples money for basic necessities I absolutely will publicly subject their spending decisions to scrutiny.

    Courtney, I completely believe personal responsibility and pulling your own weight is the key to success. A person ( other than the disabled) who has to continually accepted hand outs year after year with no change to their personal situation is lazy and taking advantage of the system.
    Family, neighbors and church will gladly assist someone who is down on their luck for the short term due. When you find a person that claims that there are not family, neighbors and church to turn to it may be a red flag that they have taken advantage of those resources for way to long.

    Ryan, I admit that I have very strong views when it comes to public assistance and as you said this is with no snarkyness intended but I truly believe that welfare and school lunch programs should not exist( along with most other low income government programs). Food stamps could be combined with unemployment benefits to get you by for the short term, and the vast majority of “poor” people would qualify for already existing free tuition for higher learning. I’m very much a “Teach a person to fish, not give a person a fish” person. Friends, family and Church should be who you turn to for a short term hand up. Most low income government programs are a pit fall into “hand out” addiction.

  86. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Let me get this straight… It’s outrageous to tell welfare recipients how to spend money – but it’s perfectly fine to tell me that I need to hand over a large chunk of my earnings to support these same welfare recipients.

    I’m all for people having the freedom to buy luxury goods – as long as I’m not paying for the roof over their heads and the food that they eat.

  87. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: I actually agree with much of what you’re suggesting. I would love to see the government hire more people who need work to do some of the many jobs that need doing. That’s a big part of what they were doing last year with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “Stimulus”), which was almost universally opposed by Republicans. So if you can help get some of your fellow conservatives on board with this idea, that would be great.

    I would also love to see child-support orders more strictly enforced. So if you’re advocating publicly funded legal assistance to help get that done, I’m with you.

  88. Johanna says:

    @Courtney (#66): But your children are getting taxpayer-subsidized food and taxpayer-funded educations too. (And as for “the roof over their heads” – do you take a tax deduction for your mortgage, by any chance?) Does that mean I get to scrutinize your budget and tell you how to spend your money?

    Since most people don’t have children in public schools, but everyone pays taxes to support the public schools, it is quite likely that you’re getting more out of the system than you’re putting into it right now. So where do you draw the line between when someone has the freedom to choose their own wardrobe and when their clothing purchases are everyone else’s business?

  89. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: I don’t take a tax deduction for a mortgage because I don’t have a mortgage. My husband and I planned and saved for years so we would not need a mortgage.

    My kids do not get taxpayer-subsidized food because they eat breakfast at home and pack a lunch. As I said yesterday, though, if they were to buy meals at school it would cost me over $1000/school year out of pocket for lunch only and double that if they bought breakfast and lunch – so if the school meals are subsidized, it sure isn’t by much.

    Yes, my children go to public school, but you are incorrect when you say that I’m getting more out of the system than I’m putting into it right now. My husband and I pay huge amounts of taxes and have done so for the past twenty years.

    Bottom line, if I pay $100 in taxes and get $1 in services, I am not exactly coming out ahead.

    We pull our own weight and pick up the tab for the 50% of people in the US who pay no taxes.

  90. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: BTW, forgot to add that taking a tax deduction for a mortgage is not the equivalent of a handout, it is the government letting you keep money that you have rightfully earned. There’s a big difference.

  91. Johanna says:

    @Courtney: It’s incorrect to say that 50% of people in the US pay no taxes. You’re probably thinking of the people who pay no federal income tax. There are also state and local income taxes, property taxes (often paid indirectly through rent), sales taxes, and payroll taxes. I think that most people pay at least one of those.

    OK, so you pay huge amounts of taxes. Do you understand that not all of that money goes to the schools? And that some of it goes to other things that you benefit from (like roads, parks, libraries, police, and the military)? And that plenty of other people also pay huge amounts of taxes, including people who do not have children in public school?

  92. Johanna says:

    And anyway, you did not answer my question: Where do you draw the line? What criterion would you use to determine whether a person’s spending decisions are everyone else’s business or not?

  93. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: You are right, I am referring to the 50% of people who pay no federal income tax, which is ridiculous.

    Yes, I have complete understanding that not all taxes go to schools :)

    Yes, I benefit from a strong military, fire protection and roads and I am more than happy to pay for those things. I have no problem paying for useful, productive things. Even after paying for all of those, we are not coming out ahead by a long shot.

    Believe it or not, yes, I do know that other people also pay huge amounts of taxes. What exactly did I say that would make you think I didn’t know that?

    Yes, I know that people who do not have kids in public schools pay taxes. We paid property taxes for 15 years before our oldest started school and we will continue paying property taxes after our youngest graduates. Schools are useful and productive (at least where I live), so I am happy to pay for them, whether I have kids enrolled or not.

  94. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: To answer your question, if people have money to spend on designer jeans and expensive shoes, then they obviously have disposable income and should not be receiving taxpayer handouts.

  95. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Also, I’d be very happy to pay my kids’ tuition and keep government completely out of education.

  96. Johanna says:

    “if people have money to spend on designer jeans and expensive shoes, then they obviously have disposable income and should not be receiving taxpayer handouts”

    That’s just the thing – which government expenditures are “taxpayer handouts”? Why is a free or reduced-price school lunch a “taxpayer handout,” but a regular-price (but still subsidized) lunch or a public school education is not? That is the heart of the matter here, and that is what I am not understanding.

  97. Johanna says:

    And just to be clear: What is your proposed solution to this problem of free lunches and designer jeans? Do you think that the families who buy designer jeans should voluntarily give up their free or reduced lunches? Or do you think that the eligibility criteria for free or reduced lunches should take into account what kind of clothes a child wears?

  98. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: “Why is a free or reduced-price school lunch a “taxpayer handout,” but a regular-price (but still subsidized) lunch or a public school education is not?”

    Maybe this will help explain. When I register my kids at the beginning of each school year, I am required to pay several hundred dollars for textbook rental and school fees. As we’ve already discussed, I would also have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for my kids to eat meals at school. This is on top of the thousands of dollars in taxes I’ve already paid that go to the school.

    The next person comes in and because the family’s income is below a certain threshold, they get all of those items absolutely free (free to them, not to taxpayers).

    They get something for free that others are required to pay thousands of dollars to get. That is a handout. There is a huge difference between paying for government services (through taxes as well as out of pocket money) and getting government services for free.

    Believe it or not, not everyone in America gets handouts. Those of us who pay taxes are paying not only for the services we get from the government, but for those 50% who don’t pay net taxes.

  99. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: “What is your proposed solution to this problem of free lunches and designer jeans? Do you think that the families who buy designer jeans should voluntarily give up their free or reduced lunches? Or do you think that the eligibility criteria for free or reduced lunches should take into account what kind of clothes a child wears?”

    Well, it would be nice if those families would voluntarily give up the freebies, but I think we all know that’s not going to happen ;)

    Sure, I think there should be very stringent criteria when it comes to getting handouts. The IRS likes to poke around in every corner of taxpayers’ lives to make sure they’re paying all that’s due, so why not be able to poke around in every corner of handout recipients lives? It would be like an audit. “Quick, hide the designer jeans, we’re being audited!”

  100. Johanna says:

    “There is a huge difference between paying for government services (through taxes as well as out of pocket money) and getting government services for free.”

    OK, so by that standard, a reduced-price school lunch is not a handout (since it’s not free), whereas use of a free public library or public park *is* a handout? Or is it only a handout if your total tax bill falls below a certain amount?

    “Sure, I think there should be very stringent criteria when it comes to getting handouts. The IRS likes to poke around in every corner of taxpayers’ lives to make sure they’re paying all that’s due, so why not be able to poke around in every corner of handout recipients lives?”

    That doesn’t sound like a culture of personal responsibility to me. That sounds like nanny-statism at its finest. “If every aspect of your life meets with my approval, I’ll give you a cookie, but if not, you can starve.”

    Exactly which luxuries should be off limits to “handout recipients”? Should they be forbidden from ever eating in a restaurant? Going to the movies? Owning a television? Owning furniture? (Hey, it won’t kill anybody to sleep on a pile of rags on the floor…)

    And of course, with so much at stake, that makes it all the more important to clarify what exactly is or is not a “handout.”

  101. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: A culture of personal responsibility would be one where welfare does not exist – which would be fine with me!

    There’s nothing wrong with placing conditions and requirements upon welfare recipients. Welcome to the real world, where your livelihood isn’t handed to you in the form of a government check each week.

    I would classify the reduced-price school lunch as a handout, and use of a library or park, too, if the recipient is not paying taxes to pay for those services.

    What qualifies as a luxury? Anything above and beyond the basic necessities of life.

  102. Johanna says:

    “I would classify the reduced-price school lunch as a handout”

    So a regular-price lunch (for which part of the cost is paid out of pocket, and part comes as a subsidy) is not a handout, but a reduced-price lunch (for which a different part of the cost is paid out of pocket, and the rest comes as a subsidy) is? That is really strange.

    “and use of a library or park, too, if the recipient is not paying taxes to pay for those services.”

    Everybody. Pays. Taxes. We’ve been through this before. Or would you have detailed accounts kept on everyone, with everyone allotted a yearly number of books they can check out of the library, hours they can spend in the park, or times they can travel on a public street, based on the amount of tax they pay?

    And what about police protection? Even if you think that libraries, parks, and roads should all be privatized, I think that most people agree that law enforcement is best done by the public sector. If a poor person is the victim of a crime (hey, maybe somebody stole their designer jeans), would you have the police decline to investigate? Or, to make it easier, should poor people be required to confine themselves to designated neighborhoods with no police presence at all?

    “What qualifies as a luxury? Anything above and beyond the basic necessities of life.”

    So: gruel out of a plastic bucket and a pile of rags on the floor. Got it. Should we bring back the Victorian workhouses too?

  103. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Everyone may pay taxes, but everyone does not pay net taxes – 50% of Americans don’t.

    Johanna, we can argue all day but the truth is that you and I are very different people. I believe in personal responsibility and you do not. I doubt we will ever see eye to eye on that – it’s like our brains are wired differently.

    I grew up poor and pulled myself out of it through discipline and hard work. It can be done.

    I am disgusted at the generation upon generation of stagnation and dependency that has been created by our welfare system. Apparently, that does not bother you. So be it.

    There are many others like me who are getting just a little bit tired of bankrolling the freeloaders in our society. Hopefully, the November elections will bring about some much needed hope and change :)

  104. Johanna says:

    “everyone does not pay net taxes – 50% of Americans don’t.”

    Where are you getting that number? I don’t believe that it is correct.

  105. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Google “47% of Americans don’t pay taxes” and you can read all about it (I was off by 3%).

    I have to go to work now. You know, gotta make some money to pay for all those free lunches, so I’ll have to leave this discussion for now.

    Take care!

  106. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Well, I take that back, I guess I was right. My husband just informed me that as of 2010, over 50% of the population does not pay net taxes. It was a historic jump.

  107. Johanna says:

    Yes, I have seen that statistic, and as I said before, it refers to *federal* *income* taxes. And I repeat myself: There are also state and local income taxes, property taxes (often paid indirectly through rent), sales taxes, and payroll taxes. Payroll taxes alone bring the total tax burden to something greater than zero for all but some 10-13%.

  108. reulte says:

    Courtney – The Congressional Budget Office says that about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes (possibly where Johanna got her numbers).

    Monique – I’m sorry to hear that buying generics (as opposed to actually using them) makes you feel bad and like a loser. I think you need to explore this issue – perhaps alone or with a good friend or your family (childhood experiences). If you continue to let your emotions control your buying habits you will become someone who loses money because of this controlling emotion. If nothing else, perhaps you can shop on the way to work/home at a store where you don’t know anyone (and don’t care what they think!) or shop at times when fewer people shop (if your store stays open until 10pm or midnight). If nothing else, use a price comparison website to find the least expensive places/prices for your brand names. Good luck.

  109. Johanna says:

    “about 10 percent of all households pay no net federal taxes”

    And that’s just *federal* taxes. The things that Courtney and I were talking about – schools, libraries, parks, roads – tend to be funded at the state and local level, so the more relevant number is the percentage of households that pay no net state and local taxes.

    I can’t find any statistics on this (probably because nobody keeps records on who pays how much in state and local sales taxes), but I suspect that the number is very close to zero, since state and local taxes are almost universally regressive. Sales taxes are regressive, since the poor spend a greater percentage of their income than the rich, so they pay a greater percentage of their income in sales tax. Property taxes tend to be regressive, since the poor spend a greater portion of their income on housing. And state and local income taxes tend to be either a flat percentage or only very slightly progressive.

    Some states have refundable income tax credits, which means that some people probably have a net negative state and local income tax liability. But nobody pays a negative amount in sales tax, and nobody pays a negative amount in property tax. As I said before: Everybody pays taxes.

  110. ysabet says:

    I have definite opinions about generics.

    Wine: More expensive wine is not always better. That said, the wines I prefer tend to be in the $15-$50 range, not the $5-$15 range. This is in blind tastings, or in tastings where I have no idea whatsoever of the price. Rough, cheap wine tastes like rough, cheap wine. Exquisite, well-crafted wine tastes like exquisite, well-crafted wine. However – that’s just my opinion. If you can’t taste the difference, more power to you, and my pocket wishes my palate was like that, even if my career aspirations disagree (I’m studying to be a winemaker).

    Food: well, it depends. I always check labels, and check levels of preservative and additives. Sometimes generic/store brands contain significantly more nasty stuff than pricier alternatives. I tend to choose products that have fewer nasty/unknown things in them. Sometimes that means branded, sometimes it doesn’t. I also tend to favour fresh, local produce as much as possible. Or at least manufactured in this country, if not truly local.

    Other non-food supermarket items are similar in this respect. For example, bodywash. I refuse to use things that contain soap, sulfates, or parabens. Soap is itchy, and the other two categories are generically bad mojo. Finding a generic product that meets these requirements (other than plain tap water) has so far been impossible.

    Medicine: Some medicines I’m happy to take the generic of (for example, ibuprofen and codeine – seems to have the same effect generic vs store vs branded). Some medicines, NO WAY am I getting the generic (fluoxetine vs lovan). This is because different fillers and coatings react differently under individual metabolisms, leading to different absorption rates, effectiveness and side-effects. In some cases, generic and branded are interchangable, and in some cases, they are not. It is something that has to be determined by blind test on each individual.

    In short, it depends :P

  111. Shell says:

    I wonder if Warren Buffet ever said, “oh my, I can never buy a generic product, it would just make me feel too terrible. It would affect my self esteem. ” I think not. The man knows a bargain when he sees it. That’s how he got money and that’s how he keeps it. Buying generic doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. I have a friend that is loaded. You see her at every thrift shop in town and she’s proud of it. A mutual friend said something to her about it once , asking her if she wasn’t a little embarrassed to be seen in , “those places.” She replied,”Lordy no, I would be embarrassed, being seen throwing my money away, paying twice as much for something that doesn’t look any better than what I buy at a consignment shop or thrift shop. When you walk out of a store, it becomes used, regardless.” She takes trips to France, Italy, all over the world in fact and guess what, she gets the best rate on those too. I think I would rather follow her example and that of the late Sam Walton and Mr. Buffet instead of the friend who bought everything brand name new and doesn’t have a penny saved. Sam was from my neck of the woods, by the way. We used to see him in his old red truck and you know what? He didn’t look a bit embarrassed either.

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