News and Tribune


April 25, 2014

MAKING CENTS: Don’t go cheap on these items

I’m sure you have heard the old saying, “If is ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

My dad used to say it a lot. I’m thinking that was so he wouldn’t have to do a lot of things on my mom’s “honey do” list or so he wouldn’t have to spend any money on new items.

There’s recently been a commercial running on TV for Cascade where the husband comes home with “bargain” dishwasher tablets and proceeds to dump and entire handful into the dishwasher so they will do the same job as one Cascade.

I am a lot like that man — in my quest to make my budget stretch as far as I can I’ve purchased some “bargain” products that just don’t measure up and ended up not being a bargain. I guess you could say that I learned that dad was right. You just should not change some things just because you can save some money.

These are of course my personal opinions of products and my personal experiences where cheaper isn’t better.


I don’t care what folks say, there is a difference in toilet paper. While comparing prices at Sam’s Club last month, I saw a deal on Quilted Northern and thought with a $5 savings I couldn’t possibly go wrong. That was a big mistake. It might very well be quilted, but when compared to my usual brand, Charmin, it would be better off used in my husbands woodshop for sanding purposes.


Again at Sam’s Club last month, I made another bad choice and purchased Sam’s brand of laundry detergent pods instead of my usual brand, Tide. It’s hard to really tell if a laundry detergent is doing a good job unless you do a side-by-side comparison, which I did not do.

However, there were some other factors that made me regret my decision. First, was the fact that over 1/2 of the pods were stuck together and could not be separated without the pods tearing and detergent leaking everywhere.

Second, when one of the pods leaked all over my hands, the detergent felt like oil and I had to go wash my hands with Dawn to get the oily residue off. Finally, I tend to like a detergent that leaves my clothes smelling fresh. This was not the case with the “bargain” detergent. Actually there was a rather odd smell left on my clothes.


Who would have thought that there would really be a difference in foam plates? I usually purchase the 150-count of Hefty foam plates. I know, foam plates aren’t environmentally friendly, but I found that if I purchased paper plates, my family uses three times as many because they would double or triple them so they would not collapse once food was placed on them.

I purchased the large bag of Kroger bargain brand foam plates and that was a big mistake. The plates collapsed once food was placed on them.


There are a lot of dishwashing liquids out there. Some even tout themselves as being No. 1, but there is only one choice for dishwashing liquid in my book, and that is Dawn dishwashing liquid.

I prefer the original Dawn but have not found any of the Dawn formulas to be bad. I have however found that no other brand of dishwashing liquid cuts through grease and grime like Dawn.


Some might find humor in this story, but I didn’t at the time. I purchased the Save-A-Lot brand ketchup in one of the new bottle designs that is supposed to do away with the need to shake the ketchup and to basically get every last drop.

Being a creature of habit, my husband decided that the bottle needed to be shaken before he used it. Lets just say that the bargain brand bottles are not well made and the ketchup is not as thick either and my husband got to test those paper towels. I am not a huge ketchup snob, but I do prefer it to be thicker then water and the lids not to snap off.

Of course, there are plenty of bargain brand products that are just as good as their name brand counterparts. Here are just a few of our favorite bargain brand products:

∞ Save-A-Lot brand BLUE bottle Bubba Cola

∞ Olde Towne Grocery — Best Choice Grape soda is far superior to any other grape soda out there.

∞ Bounty Basic paper towels

∞ Aldi brand Keurig type coffee cups — all flavors are great.

∞ Aldi brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal — my family prefers it.

∞ Aldi brand cheese loaf (like Velveeta)

∞ Dollar General $1 aisle snacks

∞ Rite Aid $1 aisle quart size baggies

 There is a lot to be said about bargain hunting and saving every way that you can. Sometimes though, you just have to bite the bullet and pay the higher price for the tried and true products that have never failed you. A lesson I have definitely learned. Are there products you just can’t live without or products you have tried that just don’t measure up? Come share with me and other readers over on my Making Cents with Darlene Facebook page.

— Questions or comments can be sent to Darlene Hilsenbeck at

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