Today I have a guest post from Katie, who writes the blog Katie Saves, she shares lots of fantastic ways to save money and make money over on her blog. so it’s well worth a visit. As part of Non-branded November, she is sharing the brand swaps she never thought she would make. Over to Katie…
I’ve always been a frugal spender. Even as a child our household budget was small and I grew up with own brands – paying for branded products when there is a budget version available was just not something I was used to or had ever really done.
However, when I became responsible for my own household budget, I decided there were some ‘luxuries’ worth paying extra for and so some branded products became engraved in my ‘essentials’ shopping list. Sure, I would swap most items for budget brands – I definitely wasn’t a brand snob. But there were a few things on my list that HAD to be branded and likewise my husband had his own list of items that he refused to substitute.
Recently though, we’ve found budget alternatives the majority of those items – a much smaller budget than we’ve been used to has meant that we’ve made even more of a conscious effort to reduce costs where we can – and thankfully, for the most part we’ve been successful.
Now, very few items in our household HAVE to be branded. In fact, off the top of my head I can only think of one, which I’ve included at the end. Here are my ‘I’ll never buy non-branded’ converts.
* Prices correct as at 11th November 2019 via mysupermarket.co.uk
I think any new parent will relate to the fact that the want ‘the best’ for their new baby. I would quite happily eat cheap products and use cheap toiletries, but when my little girl was born, I wanted the best of everything for her.
Unfortunately, that is an expensive attitude to adopt and honestly? Expensive does not always equal better. I made a lot of premium branded swaps to non-branded during those first months (particularly as I was on statutory maternity pay so it just wasn’t sustainable) but the biggest saver for us was nappies.
We started buying Pampers for the first few months after she was born. And the price is eye-watering. Even now I shudder at the money we literally threw in the bin with those nappies.
We currently buy size 5 nappies for the Mamia range at Aldi. Mamia Nappies have won numerous awards including the Made for Mums Gold Award in 2019 where Pampers won the silver award.
Mamia Ultra Dry Size 5 – 72 Nappies – £ 4.39 (6.1p per nappy)
Pampers Baby Dry Size 5 – 72 Nappies – currently on offer at Morrisons for £9 or any 2 for £16. (Making the cheapest availability 11.1p per nappy)
I remember a time when our cupboard was stocked with only branded coffee – I was not allowed to change this due to the fact that I didn’t drink the stuff, so I couldn’t have an opinion. Fair shout.
Except that when a jar of coffee takes a huge chunk of your monthly food budget, something has got to give. Knowing that money was extremely tight, we made the swap to a very similar looking jar of coffee in Aldi for a fraction of the price. We haven’t bought branded since.
Now a quick disclaimer – I’m not a coffee drinker! So I can’t vouch for the taste or similarities but my husband has allowed me to make this a permanent swap, so he obviously is happy with it!
Alcafe Gold Roast Freeze Dried Coffee – Aldi 200g – £ 1.89 (94.5p per 100g)
Nescafé Gold Blend Coffee – Lidl – £3.99 (£1.99 per 100g) (Lidl is the cheapest Price around – most supermarkets stock this at £7+ unless it’s on offer)
Ah, now here’s my favourite on this list. Brand snob I am not. Tea snob I very much was. It HAD to be Tetleys. When someone would buy a different brand in the office it would ruin my day. There is not much I am precious about – but I do love a good cup of tea (white, one sugar please).
In all honesty, I don’t actually think Tetley is that expensive – and you can usually find the larger bags on offer for a good price. But my husband decided to pull a fast one on me. We ran out of teabags and he took it upon himself to replace my beloved Tetley with a non-branded tea bag from Lidl. And it took me days to realise they were different.
So, as much as I insisted that I could taste when it wasn’t Tetley and I wouldn’t trade them in, I had to admit defeat in this instance. I did not notice the difference, therefore my argument was no longer valid. Well played my friend, well played.
Knightsbridge Red Label Tea Bags – (160) Lidl – £1.19 7.4p / 10 Tea Bags
Tetley Tea Bags – (160) ASDA – usual Price £3.30, offer price £3.00 18.8p / 10 Tea Bags
We had some fun with the chocolate spread swap and conducted a blind taste test with the entire family. We had Nutella – the leading brand version, Nutoka – Aldi’s non-branded version, and Smart Price Chocolate Spread – Asda’s basic version.
Everyone was given a teaspoon of each to taste without knowing which was which.
If you’ve ever bought Smart Price chocolate spread you’ll know that it’s not a good substitution – the texture is all wrong and it tastes what it is – cheap.
But nobody could tell that Nutoka wasn’t the real deal, and in fact it came out on top of the blind taste test. If you have stubborn family members who insist on branded anything I highly recommend a blind taste test!
Nutoka Hazelnut Chocolate Spread – Aldi 400g £ 1.09 (27.3p per 100g)
Nutella Hazelnut Chocolate Spread – Lidl 400g £2.39
This one took a while to get hubby onboard with. But eventually he agreed that there was no difference between branded and non-branded paracetamol except for the price.
Next time you find yourself down the medication aisle in the supermarket, pick up a pack of cheap tablets and compare to the branded version.
The ingredients are the same. The brand might use clever wording and marketing trickery to convince you that their product is more effective, but they’re essentially the same. You are literally paying for a name and a pretty box (which in most cases is a plastic wallet as opposed to the more environmentally friendly cardboard box of a budget brand).
Any non branded Paracetamol – From as little as 15p to 40p for 16 tablets Panadol – £1.60+ for 16 tablets
And the one brand swap I won’t make…
It’s not that expensive anyway, and usually you can find a tube of branded toothpaste on offer for £1. Lidl currently has Colgate for 99p. We tried their non-branded version (Dentalux Complex 5 Toothpaste – Sensitive Plus (125ml) – 59p) and I was not convinced.
I just didn’t feel like it cleaned as well or that the minty freshness lasted as long as the branded version, so for me it’s not worth the 40p saving.
If you’re looking to save money and reduce your household budget, then switching to a non-branded alternative is a great way to do it. Obviously though, it all comes down to personal tastes and preferences so whilst these were worthwhile brand swaps to us, for others they may not be.
Don’t always assume that branded is better though. Compare the labels – have a look at ingredients and nutritional information. Look beyond the packaging and marketing tactics. There are plenty of savings to be made. You can find some tips on this on Thrifty Clair’s post: Savvy Shopping – Beating the Supermarket.