Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Once-a-Month Shopping: Why?

I made my August once-a-month shopping trip last Wednesday. Before I left, I mentioned on my Facebook page what I was doing, and when I got home, there were several comments from various friends about my shopping trip. As I was answering their questions, I thought the answers would make a nice blog post - or two - and would answer those questions a little more in-depth than I can answer them in a status update on Facebook!

First, the reason we make this trip each month is to save money. Food here can sometimes be as much as twice the amount I pay at Wal Mart in the US, and since we live just an hour from the US border, it's not a long trip. Several have asked if it's worth it, considering gas prices, especially last summer when they were extremely high. The answer is a resounding YES! When gas prices were near or over $4.00/gallon in the US last year, they were near/over $6.00/gallon here. We save, on average, about $2.00 per gallon; that's $40.00 savings for a 20-gallon tank. We drive two hours (one hour past the border) to the nearest Wal Mart Supercenter and use about 1/4 of a tank of gas, so it doesn't take that much to drive down, compared to what we save on a tank of gas.

Another question people ask is how much we can bring into the country without having to pay duty. For groceries, the answer is "almost unlimited!" There are restrictions on the amount of meat, cheese, milk, and eggs, but those restrictions (with the exclusion of the eggs) exceed the amount we would ever need to bring in. We are limited to two dozen eggs per person, but we've never been asked how many eggs we're bringing in. We still stick to that limit, though! We also buy some toiletries and cleaning products, although those things are usually available here for nearly the same prices. We tell the border guard that we're bringing in groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, along with the amount we paid, and we've never had a problem coming in; they don't even bat an eyelash - which leads me to believe Canadians going to the US to buy food is quite common. We've also met cashiers at Wal Mart and Costco who say, "Let me guess - you're from Canada. You're buying cheese and butter!" And they're right! Cheese and butter are two things that are much cheaper there than here. The two things the Canadian border guards ask if we have are alcohol and tobacco. Being saved people who have definite convictions against using those two substances, we always say no - and away we go!

In my next post on this subject, I'll tell you how I prepare for these trips. It's not as hard as you might think; it just takes some planning!


  1. The cheaper groceries is one area I envy the US in. They also have so many more coupon and freebie deals. Do you take advantage of those as well?

  2. Hey Susan,

    What an interesting post! I'm glad you shared. Lots of folks are interested in once a month shopping...something I personally don't do. For various reasons, I'm a once a week shopping gal. :) But I always love reading about the various ways other folks do it. Great article.

  3. Thanks for posting about this! I was intrigued when you mentioned it on Facebook, but I'm really looking forward to reading more posts about shopping once a month.

  4. SueAnne12:09 PM

    That's what I want to learn : how you prepare for such a large trip. I used to do it when we only had two children and we didn't have to buy stuff for school lunches. Looking forward to you next post !

  5. We have found Canadian food prices to be high also. We paid $5.58 for a gallon (actually it was in the liter bags, so not quite a gallon) of milk and $2.28 for eggs. What are they running over there? We aren't as close to the US, so going over the border isn't a feasible option for us. One thing I've found that I love is when they mark down the meat and cheese! I love sales! Do you do your menu planning for the month, or is it usually the same each month?

  6. Thanks for all your comments so far, ladies! I love hearing from you. You're asking so many good questions, I may have a Q&A post at the end of the series. Will that be ok? It'll probably be Monday or so?

  7. This was so encouraging. I am working on a list of meals and groceries for my diabetic diet, so we can save money. Since I have not worked most of my married life, we now live on one income of 1,000 a month, so every penny counts. As well as wanting to be a good wife and helping my husband with saving. Believe it or not, even on that amount we are able to help my son and his wife with some essentials that the 5 kids need, since my son lives on the same amount. Yes they do have a large garden, and they share with us.
    So thanks for the encouragement.


Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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