Buy brand names over these 5 “bargain” products

32oz bottle of Dr. Bronner's lavender scented liquid castile soap

(photo compliments of

We all want more for our money.

When shopping, it’s easy to look at the price or (smartly) the unit price, and opt for the store brand or $1 products. Don’t do it! Some name brand products go a loooooooooong way over the cheaply made, and cheaply sold common goods.

So here are five products worth the extra few bucks.

  1. Gas. Bargain gas gives you a lower mile-per-gallon success rate based on the higher ethenol (an alcohol that burns up quickly) content. I promise. Not only did I do a chemistry lab experiment regarding this concept, but for almost a year, I calculated the miles-per-gallon my 2007 Honda Civic achieved. For a few months, I filled up at Wawa (I do love Wawa), then I switched to BP and Shell for a few months. The BP and Shell gases performed much better. Yes, you can save a few cents going to the convenience store gas station. But let’s say you have a 20 gallon tank (unlikely!) and gas is a whole 10 cents less, you’d be saving a maximum of $2 per fill up. For less mileage and more frequent fill-ups? I think not.
  2. Paper towels. Store-brand paper towels fall apart quickly. Take drying dishes (no dishwasher): I need 2-3 whole store-brand paper towels per load. However, I can use one (smaller, “select-a-size”) Bounty paper towel to dry 2-3 loads of dishes! You can actually wring it out and keep using it. Let it dry, come back and use it again. Brilliant! Three bargain paper towels for one load, or one Bounty paper towel for three loads.
  3. Toilet paper. Similarly, toilet paper is a big thing. The standard “two-ply” store brand requires 2-3 feet of paper towel per wipe. While I can use my Charmin Ultra Strong in a measurement of squares. 2-3 feet of bargain toilet paper or 4-6 squares of Charmin. Tell me which is better.
  4. Soap. Dish detergent, laundry detergent, hand soap. The bargain brands carry more water to compensate for the low cost. Water. You wanna pay a few cents less so you can get it in the form of watery, low quality soap? For hand soap, I like to buy Dr. Bronner’s (a good castile-soap company with great quality products) in a 16oz.+ bottle for $10 or so. Seems expensive, but it’s so concentrated that you have to water it down to use. So 16oz gets you 5-6 hand soap refills. That’s $2 or less per refill for a fair-trade, organic, natural hand soap. Make sense? Joy dish detergent used to boast that you could do a whole load of dishes with one tsp. or something like that. I believe them. The dollar-store brand? I believe it requires a 1/2 cup to get a load done.
  5. Shampoo, body wash. A similar concept to the about. Discount products contain a lot of water. Plus they contain SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), a dangerous chemical that’s purpose is to make soap foam up. Save your body the poison. Save your wallet from buying 50% water disguised as shampoo. I like Yes To products. I’ve posted on the Yes To product line before.

Look, spending your money responsibly is important.

First, capitalism works like this: your money=your vote. By buying a product, you are endorsing the company, the company’s behaviors, the products, etc. Think about where you want your opinion to stand strong.

Second, your money is your power. Use your money wisely, save however much you can for the things you really want (vacation, gift for yourself). Stay out of debt. Stay strong, stay stress-free.




  1. I will admit I don’t know much about gas and toiletpaper (insert useless joke here), but as far as different soaps go, it’s really useful to do some simple math to compare a cost per load (or cost per cleaning). And then, here’s the kicker – you have to actually follow the guidelines for use! Last year I switched to an organic universal cleaning product that only requires 1 tablespoon for a bucket of water. It may cost 3 times the bargain product, but it will last 6 times longer…. (if used correctly). It can be quite expensive to save money in the long run, but definately worth it.

    Otherwise you are just paying a ridiculous gallon price for…. water… Love this post by the way.

  2. Yes! Thanks for putting some perspective on the soap ideas. Sometimes I hate spending 15 minutes reading every label and comparing every ounce-to-cent ratio, but it DOES pay off to do a little investigation while shopping. Great comment. I appreciate the insight.

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