Frugal Tip: Don’t Be So Loyal

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I grew up with a father who was a marketer’s dream. He was/is the King of Brand Loyalty. Only Heinz ketchup. Only Roman Meal bread. Only Scott toilet paper. The list goes on.

And I must confess I jumped on that band wagon. For years I felt compelled to reach for the Heinz, under pain of death. But, frugality won over in that particular situation. I found that Hunts or generic was just as good.

But old habits die hard and there’s good reason to buy the same kind, the kind you know you like, everytime. If you’re on a fixed budget, you don’t want to spend money on something that you may hate. Experimenting with different brands involves risk. Risk of being stuck with a monster-size jar of strawberry jam that no one in your family likes. Risk of throwing away said jar of strawberry jam and in essence, throwing good money away. Ask me how I know.

At the same time, like we’ve discussed before, frugality is a means to an end. To get where I want to be, like out of debt or more financially free. And so over the last few months, due to great sales and great coupons, I’ve experimented with different brands. Sometimes I’m able to get our favorite of favorites for cheap or free. And other times, I’ve had to suck it up a little bit. And in some cases I’ve discovered a new favorite.

For instance this week I’m running out of my favorite toothpaste, Tom’s of Maine. It’s all natural and the taste is almost gag-proof for pregnant me who really has trouble brushing and not tossing my cookies. Well, since we’re in the home stretch of this pregnancy, I’m going to suck it up and go for one of the free tubes of toothpaste (Colgate, Crest, or Aquafresh) that I’ve picked up at CVS and Walgreens over the past few months. Is it my favorite? No. But, I’ll choose FREE over $4 a tube. It’s a means to an end.

For more frugal tips, visit Crystal’s blog every Friday.

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  1. I so had to laugh at your brushing teeth gagging. My son is 11, and I still remember how awful it was to brush my teeth some days… *shudder*

  2. I can so relate to this. It used to be only Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for me. I’m no longer a slave to labels.

  3. I am working on this. My hubby is the loyal one,but he doesn’t do the shopping so I am trying to ease him into this. So far he is doing much better than I expected.

  4. Same here!! I have ALWAYS used Crest. But when I learned I could get free toothpaste at Rite Aid, well I started trying new kinds… And what do you know??? I actually like some of them!!! (And some work better than my old faithful!!).

    The one area I’m giving up on being frugal…coffee. I just can not stand to drink one more cup of regular grocery-store type brick coffee. I opened the last of my stockpile today, thank God. After this it’s back to gourmet coffee. Sheesh. A woman has needs!!!!!

  5. Tiffany, I’m with you. A girl’s got to draw the line somewhere. Coffee is definitely one of the somewhere’s around here. FishPapa, who is the resident coffee fanatic, recently bought Aldi’s coffee. I was in shock. It’s worse than Folger’s he says. I won’t even try it. So, we’re saving that for emergencies. We prefer Peet’s but since that’s only available to us mail order, we have to stick to Starbucks. But, that’s better than the alternatives.

    Yes, we’re coffee snobs.

  6. I don’t know, I’m all for a good deal, but even the brand name items eventually go on sale. There are some things that I have found that store brand works for me…contact solution, shampoo, canned/frozen vegetables. But, there is no substitute for some items: Cheerios (the Malt O Meal version just is the wrong texture), Hellman’s Mayonnaise, as example.

  7. Growing up, my dad was the brand loyal one in our family. If my mom didn't use Mueller's macaroni to make mac & cheese, he knew!

    My friend and I used to babysit for a neighbor when we were teenagers. We always stuck our snobby noses in the air at all the generic brands they would buy. We've both certainly done a 360 since those days now that we're raising families of our own! However, I can't deal with generic baggies or generic frozen vegetables!

  8. Fishmama, here is a tip for NOT gagging while you brush your teeth. My mom passed it down to me. Try exhaling as you brush. It always helped me when I felt queasy 🙂

    And, you are so correct about not being loyal. I am the proverbial golden retriever…I am loyal to EVERYTHING! Plus, I am such a creature of habit…bad combination!

  9. There are very few brands I am loyal to, but I’ve been in a toothpaste rut since I was…um…seven or so. But I couldn’t turn down free toothpaste either. Last week I opened a new tube which I don’t care for, but I’m soldiering through. If I were pregnant, I wouldn’t be able to tough it out.

  10. my sister is the same, only with paste vs gel instead of a brand. when i try to give her toothpaste from my surplus – she insists that it has to be gel instead of paste. she got sick on paste when she was pregnant with her first (the Princess) and hasn’t been able to stomach it since.

  11. I’m with you on Aldi’s coffee. Hubby works hard to bring home that paycheck and I think it’s worth paying extra so he doesn’t have to drink sludge.

    For me, Oreo’s can’t be duplicated but I’m game for almost anything else.

  12. I don’t have a CVS but I got Colgate at Walgreen’s for pennies and even tho it’s not my fav I’ll be using it cuz it’s better than paying $2.50 for crest.

  13. Our Big Lots often carries Tom’s Of Maine Toothpaste . I do not know if it is flavored , but I do know that it is not $4.00 a tube .
    I use to be brand loyal , but except for a few items , I’m just not as picky as I used to be.

  14. Hi there! Do you have a longs drugs near you? They have a pretty good rebate program (check turn around is about 10 days) and this month Toms of maine has a pretty good rebate. It will go on sale sometime this month making it even better.

  15. I have found that I can get Heinz ketchup cheaper than generic ketchup, if I buy a lot. Like, a whole lot. Last time I did a freezer cooking day I bought a 2.84 Liter (100 oz.) can of Heinz for $6.99. By the time I had made 3 meat loaves I still had enough to refill our 1 Liter squeeze bottle and a ziploc container. Way cheaper than buying the smaller bottles or brand or generic 🙂