With the Canadian dollar flirting with parity with the U.S. dollar yet again, Canadians can't help but consider shopping stateside to score some great discounts. (Use coupons strategically to score big savings on everyday purchases. Check out Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings.)

IN PICTURES: 5 Money-Saving Shopping Tips

Keep in mind that there are limits you have to adhere to when crossing back over into Canada. Always declare what you've purchased, and the rule of thumb is: the longer you stay in the U.S., the more you are allowed to bring back without having any duties or taxes levied.

Time Spent in the U.S. Amount You Can Bring Back
Week or more $750 CAD
48 hours or more $400 CAD
More than 24 hours, less than 48 $50 CAD
Less than 24 hours $0 CAD

If anything you buy is made in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) exempts you from paying duties, but you'll have to pay taxes when you cross back over if you go over your allowed limits or are only in the U.S. for less than 24 hours.

Finally, let's not forget to also factor those deep sales that happen in the States, especially on Black Friday and those low sales taxes charged in some American states, with the average sales tax hovering around 5.5%.

With the above in mind, there are certain categories of goods and services that are usually cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada, even without equal currency values, sales tax savings or major sales:



Books

The printed word tends to be cheaper in the U.S. by around 25%, partly because suggested retail prices are usually printed on the book itself, and retailers are not likely to want to reprice their books based on currency fluctuations. If you don't want to head over to the States every time you want to buy a book, buying your books online will probably score you a better deal than going to your local bookstore.


Cigarettes
A vice to be sure, but many Canadians might find more of a financial incentive to quit or cut back on this habit than their American counterparts. Why? Because cigarettes are almost double the price in Canada than in the States. A 25-pack of cigarettes costs around $12 in Canada, but a 20-pack of cigarettes in the United States is only around $5.
To be fair, cigarettes are taxed heavily in Canada, with the cost of cigarettes boasting taxes of 63 to 79% compared to New Yorkers, for example, who only pay 38%. That means around $7.50 to $9.50 of that $12 cost of a 25-pack of cigarettes in Canada is going just to taxes. If you live in Ontario, don't forget that added tax of $5 per carton that was enacted to deter smoking.



Tires
The duty to ship tires across the border is only around 4 to 7%, but tires in Canada cost over 40% more than the price of their American counterparts. What gives? Even tires made in Canada can be found for less in the U.S., even if you can see the factory right outside of your door. The solution? Buy your locally made tires online and have them shipped from the States right back across the border. (Shopping from the comfort of your couch has major benefits - and some unpleasant side effects. Read Shopping Online: Convenience, Bargains And A Few Scams.)

Food

There are rules and regulations of what you can and cannot bring over the border, and you will have to declare any foodstuff purchased in the U.S. With that in mind, even grocery shopping in the States can be cheaper than in Canadian supermarkets.

  • Meat is a one-third less expensive

  • Dairy is around 50% less expensive

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables can be up to 20% less expensive

  • Junk and convenience foods are one-third less expensive

IN PICTURES: 5 Ways To Control Emotional Spending


    Gas
    Unsurprisingly, gas is also cheaper in the United States by about 25 to 40%. Don't be fooled by that gallon-to-liter conversion, just multiply what Canadians pay per liter by 3.78, to get the American equivalent.
    So if gas is $1.10 per liter in Canada, it should be $4.16 per gallon in the United States. But are Americans paying those prices? No.

    Average gas prices hover around the $2.53 to $3.11 per gallon range, which translates into 67 to 82 cents per liter, prices that haven't been seen across the Great White North for quite some time. (Gas prices are influenced by more than supply and demand. Find out what determines the price you pay at the pump. See What Determines Gas Prices?)

    The Bottom Line
    This is just a comparison between Canada and the United States. For many people visiting Canada, the prices in their home country tends to be a lot more expensive, and they consider Canada to be a haven of great deals. As a Canadian, you can save a lot by spending stateside, but don't forget to factor in the extra costs of lodging, travel, food and taxes/duties.

    Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: GM's Dramatic Return.

    Related Articles
    1. Economics

      Industries That Thrive On Recession

      Recessions are not equally hard on everyone. In fact, there are some industries that even flourish amid the adversity.
    2. Budgeting

      Bespoke Post Review: Is It Worth It?

      Find out if Bespoke Post, the fast-growing, e-commerce subscription service for men's lifestyle and grooming products, is worth all of the hype in this review.
    3. Stock Analysis

      The Biggest Risks of Investing in Costco Stock (COST)

      Read about some of the biggest risks of investing in Costco stock. Gain a better understanding of its business model before buying in.
    4. Investing News

      Tufts Economists: TPP Will Reduce U.S. GDP

      According to economists at Tufts University, the TPP agreement will destroy half a million jobs in the U.S. by 2025.
    5. Stock Analysis

      The Top 5 Retail Penny Stocks for 2016 (TWMC, DXLG)

      Find out which retail stocks trade for less than $5 a share. Learn about bargains that can avoid bankruptcy and produce nice returns for investors.
    6. Forex

      The Consumer Price Index

      Find out how this economic measure can help you make key financial decisions.
    7. Economics

      Understanding the History of Money

      Money has been a part of human history for at least 3,000 years, evolving from bartering to banknotes.
    8. Economics

      How Interest Rates Affect The U.S. Markets

      When indicators rise more than 3% a year, the Fed raises the federal funds rate to keep inflation under control.
    9. Stock Analysis

      Wal-Mart's 3 Most Profitable Lines of Business (WMT)

      Learn about the key drivers of Wal-Mart's profitability as the company is concluding its fourth quarter, which is the period of its highest sales and income.
    10. Investing News

      Global Headwinds Hit the 6 Biggest Economies

      As of Friday, initial estimates for fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 growth in gross domestic product (GDP) are available for five of the world's six largest national economies, and for the ...
    RELATED FAQS
    1. What is comparative advantage?

      Comparative advantage is an economic law that demonstrates the ways in which protectionism (mercantilism, at the time it ... Read Full Answer >>
    2. How does the Wall Street Journal prime rate forecast work?

      The prime rate forecast is also known as the consensus prime rate, or the average prime rate defined by the Wall Street Journal ... Read Full Answer >>
    3. What's the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics?

      Microeconomics is generally the study of individuals and business decisions, macroeconomics looks at higher up country and ... Read Full Answer >>
    4. Does QVC accept debit cards?

      QVC accepts debit card payments as one of its many payment options. The company, which is the world’s leading video and e-commerce ... Read Full Answer >>
    5. Is Canada a developed country?

      Canada is a developed country. Countries that are considered to have developed economies exhibit strength in typical economic ... Read Full Answer >>
    6. Does QVC charge sales tax?

      QVC, an American TV network, is registered with states to collect sales or use tax on taxable items. QVC is also required ... Read Full Answer >>
    Hot Definitions
    1. Flight To Quality

      The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
    2. Discouraged Worker

      A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
    3. Ponzimonium

      After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
    4. Quarterly Earnings Report

      A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
    5. Dark Pool Liquidity

      The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is ...
    Trading Center