Double standards drive me nuts. Double standards that cost us to spend more money than necessary flat out upset me. Case and point, the savings that can be realized cross border shopping. The price discrepancies between Canada and the United Sates for goods that are similar, if not precisely alike is an egregious double standard. I refuse to accept the
explanations excuses provided by Canadian retailers as to why, when our dollar is equal to or exceeds the value of the U.S. dollar, we pay 20-50% more for more or less everything than do our American friends.
Some of you must be thinking that something is amiss here. Isn’t this the husband wife duo who talk about buying local all the time? Isn’t cross border shopping a double standard then? Well, we do try to support local businesses quite often. Here at Sustainable Personal Finance however, “we strive to balance our financial goals with our sustainable lifestyle. Achieving this balance takes a lot of compromise, detailed discussions and careful evaluation of how we handle our personal finances while doing what we can to protect the earth and act socially responsible.” There are times cross border shopping makes sense for our personal financial plans and when these opportunities arise we will take them.
Early in our writing we shared a piece of financial advice that we still consider valid and so very important to Canadian consumers: when buying a car import vehicles from the United States. After dealing with all of the finances we saved over $9300 importing our Subaru Outback – a savings of 23.5% compared to buying the same vehicle from a Canadian dealership. When we bought the car in 2010 our dollar was trading about $0.97 for a single USD on the currency exchange. If we’d made the purchase in August of this month we would have saved another $2000 or so. If buying in the U.S. can save us close to $10,000, and help us save for a car,there is no way we opt for the local option – it wouldn’t be sustainable for our personal finances.
Fast forward one year and we head off on vacation to our Aunt’s vacation property in Chincoteague, Virginia. At this time we know lil’ SPF is on the way and while our Outback does have a lot of cargo space, our other “kid”, Freya the Newfoundland dog, takes up a lot of that cargo room. So we know we need to purchase either a trailer or a roof top carrier box. We opt for the roof top box and after researching the purchase thoroughly decide that the Thule Atlantic 1600 is the carrier we needed.
Cross border shopping rules again
Surprise, surprise – the cost for this roof box was significantly cheaper to buy in the U.S. Since we’ve been making money online in USD we figured we could spend some of that money on a travel necessity.
My research discovered that here in Canada a Thule Atlantis 1600 is $759.99, with tax in Ontario: $858.79! Comparatively, at the REI store in Fairfax Virginia we could obtain the same Thule Atlantic for $643.37 (after applying the new member REI discount). By cross border shopping we saved 25% on our purchase!
Heading across the border isn’t going to make sense for every purchase but on large ticket items it most definitely is worth a trip to the United States. When everything from staples like bread, milk and gasoline to books to roof top boxes to new vehicles are priced 20% to 30% less it is highly beneficial for Canadian consumers to consider making a day trip to the States for goods when our dollar is at, above or close to par.