***Disclaimer: To the grandparents and family members who lovingly and generously buy the brand-name stuff for my children: in no way am I saying don’t buy these things for my children anymore… you go right ahead and continue to spoil my babies rotten!  I’m just saying that WE don’t buy these things ourselves.***

I do so many little things on a day to day basis, to try to save every little penny that I can, or to earn any little penny that I can. I have to, or else we run out of money by month’s end. Some people don’t have to, but they’d like to be able to give more to needy people (this is what we plan to do when we’re finally financially free). But until then, here’s one simple way that I save money, and you can do it too!
Brand Names are Stupid
^Yep, that’s what I said.  I’m not meaning to be offensive, I’m just sayin’.  Seriously, think about it: buying brand name clothing and groceries really doesn’t make much sense if you’re attempting to live abundantly on a not-so-abundant budget!  So, those of you who have unlimited budgets, then just skip this article.  (But why are you reading, anyway?  This is, you know, a frugal blog.)  If you disagree with the title of this article, then my methods for saving money are too extreme for you, so stop reading now, and unsubscribe please.  No comments or emails or facebook replies are necessary.  If you’re able to afford brand name things and luxury items on a daily basis, then by all means, buy them and enjoy, but I highly doubt if you’re a regular reader of my blog, that applies to you, so all my proudly penny-pinching, homeschooling-on-one-income friends, read on!
I never buy brand name clothing.  I rarely even enter a brand name store, except during end-of-season clearance time.  However, my children and I are often seen wearing clothing from brand name stores and high-end labels.  That’s because I do get them used: at yard sales, Goodwill, the thrift store, consignment sales, or places online like Craigslist, Ebay, Thred Up, etc.  When I need an item new, I can get stylish, flattering, and affordable new clothing at Walmart, Target, Cato, KMart, just to name a few places I frequent.  Usually I buy new things during the end-of-season clearance sales.  I recently found a comfortable and nice-looking pair of black boots at KMart on clearance for $8.  They look really cute with my Mega-Thrift skirts.
Rewind about 8 years or so.  I used to buy all my clothing and shoes from catalogs (before online shopping was the norm) and stores at the mall, full-price.  I cared about brand names.  No, I adored them.  I justified my spending sprees (and credit card interest accrued) because of the assumed “quality” of the clothing I was buying.  I would assume that brand-name clothing lasted longer and therefore was worth the higher price tag.  In addition, I thought that brand name clothes made me feel good.  I thought that they made me “fit in.”  And maybe they did, superficially, help me to fit in at work and among certain friends with whom I used to associate.  But after 7 years of staying at home, and a severely limited wardrobe budget, my perspective has changed.  It has been by necessity, but I don’t regret or resent it.  In fact, I’m thankful for my change in perspective!  If we ever do have more money to spend one day, I don’t think my opinions will change then.  I think I will continue to be thrifty.
I’ve become very practical.  What finally dawned on me was that the clothing I truly liked was classic and basic anyway.  I am not a “latest fad” kind of woman anymore, and I don’t care in the least about “fitting in” or whether or not other people notice what I wear.  I like basics that are comfortable and simple to mix and match, easy to wash, don’t require ironing (I pick up an iron twice a year at most), and are flexible to wear for almost any occasion.  Sure I could buy the expensive brand names, but I’ve found that they fade, stretch, rip, and unravel just as fast as the cheaper variety most of the time.  

My honest opinion, take it or leave it, is this:

Why spend a ton of money on the current fads that are going to be old next year or within a couple of years, anyway? Why not buy them cheap, and then when they’re not in style anymore, I won’t feel at such a loss when giving them to Goodwill, consigning them, or selling them at a yard sale?
Besides, I’m not in high school anymore.  Who really cares if my shirt or my jeans have a brand label on it?  I highly doubt anyone really pays attention to the clothes I wear anyway.  No one I care about, that is.  If someone judges me because of the clothes I wear, they are not a true friend anyway, and I couldn’t care less what they think.
Yes, it has always been true that there are some things that are manufactured better by certain brands, and those brands often have an awesome return policy where if something does wear out, you can return it and have it replaced with no questions asked. By all means, buy those things – they’ll last longer, or at least you can return them when they don’t.
But come on, grown-ups, get real: if it’s just a fad or the latest trend item, get it cheap or buy the knock-offs.  For example, let’s just go through some shoe fads from the past decade: Rainbow flip flops, Crocs, Keens – I’ve always bought the cheap knock-offs, and they were just fine for me and my children.  The generic versions are a fraction of the price of the real thing. And I’ve found that they last just as long – well, for as long as you need them to.  Children’s shoes really only need to last 6 months at most.  They only need them for a season, or less if they grow out of them before the season is out.  Even cheaply made shoes will last that long!  Brand name shoes in used condition are super finds.  Just last week, I found a pair of “real” Keens for Liam in excellent condition at the thrift store for $3, which I’ve put away for him for next summer when he’s walking.
And why wear a shirt with a store logo on it?  They’re not paying you to advertise for them.  Just sayin’.  Why be a walking advertisement?
That being said, here’s my two cents about brand-name food. There’s definitely a difference between the brand name and the store brand at the grocery store. Some people say they can’t really tell, but I’ll be honest: you often can!  Oh, don’t lie, there really is a difference.  However, the store brands are definitely cheaper. And trust me, you really do get used to them after a while. So if you’re like me, and spending less on groceries is a priority, try some of the store brands, you may just grow to like them, or at least tolerate them.  Stock up on name brand favorites when they’re on sale and/or you’ve got coupons though!
This series of posts was originally published in 2010, and I am just recently editing and updating them, just for the fun of it.