Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blogging...the first six months, part 1

I find it hard to believe that I have been an active member in the blogging community for six months already. I have learned a lot over the past six months, and not just about couponing.

One of the things that I have come to realize over these past few months of being a better couponer and an active CVS-er, is that name brand products really are that much better than the generics. There is a good reason for the price premium that comes with a name brand product. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely items (mostly food) where I have always been brand loyal, but in some areas, I was more willing to accept a close second for a few cents less.

Through couponing and CVS-ing, I have been purchasing mostly name brand health and beauty products for the past six months. Early on in this time frame, when I didn't have a stockpile, I was purchasing an assortment of brands when they were on deal. I had almost no brand loyalty during this phase on health and beauty, trying new brands in categories where I had always used the same brand forever. Having the chance to try some new brands has allowed me the opportunity to learn more about my own preferences when it comes to health and beauty products.

In some cases, I have found a new favorite brand. When it comes to antiperspirant, I had always been a Secret girl, but lately, it didn't seem to be as good and they had changed the product a few too many times. Through my shopping, I have tried quite a few other brands and have determined that I prefer the Lady Speed Stick 24/7. Now, when there is a deal on the Lady Speed Stick, I stock up and skip the other brands deals.

For some other products, I have determined that I will stick with the branded products from now on but I haven't necessarily narrowed it to one brand and continue to stock up, as needed on these items without much concern for the brand. (That's not to say that I haven't ruled some brands out.) When it comes to shampoo, I always thought that even the store brand shampoo was fine. Over time, you become accustomed to the performance and it's not bad, until you use a bottle of Pantene Pro V or Aussie and discover how much cleaner, bouncier, softer your hair really can be. I can't say I have a single favorite when it comes to shampoo, in part because I still use a weekday and weekend shampoo, so I need at least two brands (I think this comes from an article long ago about how the shampoo leaves build-up over time and it can't clean it's own build-up, so, you should use an alternate shampoo periodically to clean the other shampoo out of your hair) and in part because I like how my hair has responded to multiple brands that I have tried.

Not only have I tried new brands of the items that I use regularly, but I have also tried some products in a form that I hadn't used before and tried some products that I had never used before.

With some of these products, I have determined that I don't see the value in the different form/new item and wouldn't continue to purchase. One example of this are the wet facial cleanser clothes. In my day to day, I don't see a benefit of using these over a regular facial cleanser and washcloth and there is a price premium for these items.

With other new items I have tried, whether in a new form or an item that I previously did not purchase, I have found that I like the product. Take Benefiber, I had never purchased a fiber additive before, but with trial I have determined that I like the product and it is a great way to get a little extra fiber in my diet. If I can find deals on it, I will continue to purchase.

The nice thing is that with the couponing and CVS-ing that I do, I am almost always able to get the name brand health and beauty products for less than the store brands. This savings affords me the opportunity to stick with the branded products on the grocery side as well, without blowing my budget.

Have you tried a product that you might not have tried before that you can't imagine not using? Share your thoughts in the comments.