Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.

Where to cash in on the strong Aussie dollar

First published in The Punch on 18th October, 2010

If you looked at the value of the Aussie dollar as a sign of our economy strength, things have never been better: since the currency was floated in 1983, it’s never reached such a high value. Here we found ourselves 27 years later practically rolling in money, with a dollar nearing parity with a value in the high 90’s.

Let’s ignore the negative for a moment, shall we? The good side of the value in our dollar obviously lies in how much our prices are going to drop – at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to go if we believe what we’re told. Sadly it seems the opposite is mostly the case.

As luck would have it though, the modern age has found a way around that, as it’s now much cheaper and easier than ever for you to go on the internet and purchase anything you’d like at cheaper prices overseas, thereby bypassing the expensive Australian retailers.

Much in the same way that tourists travelling to foreign lands benefit from our boosted currency value, you’ll find that your dollar will take you further when shopping online.

Sure, you’re potentially doing Australian retailers damage in the long run by sending your money overseas rather than paying their inflated prices… but when there’s such a lag with retailers passing on the benefit of the strong dollar, where’s the incentive to do otherwise?

Take, for example, the new 8GB iPod Nano, retailing for $199 from Apple Australia.

The same music player costs $149 in the US. According to CommSec’s latest iPod index, Australia is now the fifth most expensive country to pick up an iPod, and the second most expensive country in the world from which to buy a song from iTunes, when with a strong dollar, you would assume that the opposite prices would be the case.

True, you can’t get another country’s Apple to ship to Australia, but there are always ways around this.

Another bit of money saving is the books, DVDs, and Blu-Rays available, particularly through large sites Book Depository UK and Amazon (both US and UK, the latter with which we share the same blu-ray region).

Most of the time what you buy is cheaper than Australian retailers, even after charging postage. It’s true that Blu-Ray movies have been slowly coming down in price domestically, but even retailers like JB Hi-Fi won’t beat four Batman movies for $30 (if you really want Batman and Robin, I’m not here to judge).

Buying books online also gives you the benefit of getting books in hardcover, usually for the price of the Australian soft cover version – hardcover books are becoming few and far between for book shops in Australia, simply because of the price.

You think it ends there? Browse through shops online in the US, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a recent music CD over $15, and most are around $10.

At the higher end, a 160GB Playstation 3 is $299US – or a full $150 cheaper than it retails for in the ‘lucky country’. For a place where the dollar is so strong, that kind of disparity is astounding.

Yes, there are reasons why our Australian dollar is so strong and yet we don’t really see an impact. But at a time when everything from interest rates to food prices keep rising, wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy buying something cheap for a change?

Ignore the potential downsides, such as a dip in foreign investment because there’s cheaper places elsewhere, or the fact that we’re so far away and so expensive for the rest of the world to visit that Tourism Australia actually needs that publicity boost provided by Oprah.

Isn’t it time you reveled in our high dollar, did Christmas shopping ahead of the time, from the comfort of your own home in your pyjamas?

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This entry was posted on November 5, 2010 by in lifestyle, technology and tagged , , , , , , .
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