How I Save With Off-Brands

how i save with off brands

Guest post from Liz of The Quick Journey blog

As a wife and mom who is trying to save money for our family, trying “off-brand” products sometimes makes me nervous.

Will the off-brand items be as good?

Will they taste the same?

Will the products hold up as well as the name brand?

Those are all questions I have when I am about to place a cheaper branded item in my shopping cart.

If you shared these same concerns, I wanted to share a few off-brand items that I feel are equal, or better than the name brand items. These are items that I will buy without hesitation because I have had such good success with them in the past. These are items that taste yummy, hold up to wear and tear, and perform really well despite the lower price tag.

1. Diapers

I am super picky about what diapers I use — I like a diaper that holds moisture well and doesn’t get saggy.

After diapering four kiddos (one is still in diapers), I will choose Target brand diapers every time. I much prefer them to the name brand diapers and the lower price point coupled with coupons and the Cartwheel app… you can’t go wrong!

2. Plastic Baggies

When I have snacks and food inside a plastic baggie and then shoved in a full diaper bag, I need those baggies to stand the test of time! There is nothing worse than cleaning smeared PB&J out of a diaper bag.

My favorite, go-to, baggies are the Boulder brand from Aldi. I have tried every version and size of their baggies and they are just as good, if not better, than the name brand.

3. Paper Towels

As I mentioned above, I have four kids, so there are a lot of messes happening in my house on a daily basis. While we like to limit our use of paper products, there are just times that require a paper towel.

I used to be a huge fan of the name brand towels that cost an arm and a leg, but I now use the Walmart Great Value brand of paper towels as I find them to be very durable and long-lasting when scrubbing yucky messes.

4. Canned Goods

I have found, after much trial and error, that canned goods, like soups, veggies, fruits, sauces, are pretty much all created equal. If you are new to off-brand buying, canned goods is a good place to start! Definitely do your pocketbook a favor and save your pennies by buying off-brand canned goods.

These are just a few of the off-brand items I  but to save more at the grocery store!

What off-brand items do you buy?

Liz is a stay-at-home momma to her four kiddos. She enjoys cooking, drinking a piping hot cup of coffee, and reminiscing with her “high school sweetheart” hubby. She shares her journey through motherhood on The Quick Journey blog.

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What Kim Kardashian Can Teach Us About Contentment


I usually “live in a cave” when it comes to current events… but it’s almost been impossible to avoid the fact that Kim Kardashian chose to pose nude for the world recently.

Only God knows her heart. Only God knows why she made this decision.

I’m not here to call her names. She’s been called enough things this week.

I’m not here to talk about how her actions make other women feel. Many other writers have done a great job of that. Nor am I here to open up a discussion on what is and isn’t appropriate to be shared with the public.

But what I think we all can learn from Kim Kardashian is an important lesson on contentment.

Yes, contentment.

You see, so many of us buy into the lie that money and fame will buy happiness. We chase after more. We wish we had a bigger house, a nicer car, a better job, more clothes. We want to be in a place where we can afford to buy higher quality items or have more wiggle room in our budget.

We look at that family at church, or the family in our neighborhood, or that blogger online, or that family member, or that movie celebrity and we envy what they have that we don’t.

We think, “If only we had this…” “If only we had that…” If only we had more money…” “If only we had more in savings…” “If only we had a better job…”

We believe that more will automatically equal greater happiness and fulfillment. We want what the Jones’ have.

But here’s the thing: the Jones’ probably aren’t happy.

As Kim K. has shown us this week, having a net worth of $65 million dollars doesn’t equate happiness. Even though she can pretty much afford to pay for whatever it is on earth that she wants, from my perspective, it appears that she’s still seeking something she doesn’t already have.


I think it’s fantastic to get on a written budget. I think it’s often helpful and good to look for ways to increase your income. But, ultimately, know that the best thing you can invest your time and effort into is developing contentment.

If you’re not 100% fulfilled, happy, and embracing right where you are, there’s a good chance you’ll never find fulfillment or joy elsewhere — no matter how much money you make, how many likes your post gets on Facebook, what kind of house you live in, or what kind of promotion you get at work.

Contentment is much more valuable than the greatest net worth on earth.

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Toluna: Earn $1-$5 for Taking Surveys

Another great survey opportunity for you to check out is Toluna. They pay $1 to $5 each time you qualify and take surveys. You’ll also be given opportunities to test products for free and share your opinions. Plus you will get an entry for a $2,500 sweepstakes when you register!

Find more legitimate survey companies to sign up with here.

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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Sign up for Pinecone Research & earn money for taking surveys

Wanting to make a little income taking surveys? Pinecone Research has some openings available for new applicants!

Pinecone Research is one of my very favorite survey companies and one that I found offered the most surveys for the best pay. Now, mind you, you’re not going to get rich taking surveys, but you can earn a nice little stream of income from it.

See more of my recommended survey companies here.

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.)
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We Paid Cash: A Down Payment

We paid cash!

A testimony from Anne of Modern Mrs Darcy

My husband and I set a big hairy goal more than ten years ago. We wanted to move out of our much-loved starter home (6 people, 1 bathroom, you get it) into a slightly larger place — while keeping our first home so we could rent it out. We wanted to do it before our oldest child — then a toddler — hit the teen years.

We did our research: our banker suggested we borrow a big chunk of change off our first house to use as a down payment for the second, but we didn’t want to. We were uncomfortable with cashing out our equity: the big crash of 2008 was still fresh in our minds, and we didn’t want to give up the margin we enjoyed because of our small mortgage. Besides, once we put our first home into use as a rental, we wanted that place to cash flow. That’s easy to do with a small mortgage, but much harder with a brand-new 80% one.

So that meant we needed to save up a down payment from scratch. While still paying the mortgage on our first home. Yikes!

To make a long story short, we did it. We moved into our new place in May, and our new tenants moved into our old home a week later. Here’s how we did it:

Think long term.

We have known for over a decade that 1. we wanted to move before our oldest was a teen and 2. we wanted to keep our first home when we did.

Richard Foster says that people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year but grossly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten. We were working with a ten-year plan.

Sweat the big stuff.

Most Americans spend the most on housing and cars. We had a low mortgage payment on our first home, and we aren’t car people. (That’s a nice way of saying our cars are old and inexpensive to operate.)

Bonus: we don’t freak out when one of us dings the minivan backing into the stone wall at the park. Hypothetically speaking.

Put it on autopilot.

For years, we’ve relied on automatic deductions to take a portion of our paychecks straight out of our checking account and into savings. This was especially helpful early on when we were lacking in enthusiasm because we had so far to go.

Stick to the essentials.

The closer we got to our goal, the more motivated we became. For the last year we spent very little on nonessentials. The closer we got to the goal, the more we cut out because we were close enough to taste it.

Save dollars big and small.

Unexpected birthday checks, payments from consignment stores, yard sale funds, freelancing checks: whether it was $3 or $300, we banked all those extra income checks in a designated savings account at a not-normal-to-us financial institution that was really a pain to withdraw funds from.

Just keep swimming.

Ten years ago, it was daunting knowing that we needed to save up a big chunk of change starting from zero. But we just kept plugging away.

We were inspired by Crystal’s own journey to pay cash for a house. Like her, progress came slowly at first, and then all at once.

It wasn’t easy, and it took ten years, but paying cash for the downpayment on our new house sure felt great!

house keys

Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She’s putting a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy, where readers engage in an ongoing conversation on womanhood today. A classic INFP, Anne couldn’t choose a favorite book – or child – if you paid her, but she would love to talk about your best-loved titles and what we can learn from heroines like Lizzie Bennet and Anne Shirley all the live-long day.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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