My stash of energy drinks is about to run dry. There’s no top up-trip to Sweden in sight. In desperation, I turn to shady1, online stores.

We’re certainly enjoying the good life here in Norway. But living costs are high, and pretty much everything – except for diapers – is more expensive than across the border, in lovely Sweden. We live about an hour from the nearest Swedish shopping mall, so every now and then we throw the kids in the car, and go there to stock up on candy, meat, soft-drinks. And in my case, those precious energy drinks.

How much we actually save by going to Sweden to shop, I don’t know. If you factor in the price of gas, the emotional cost of the constant fear of the kids barfing in the back seat, and the guilty feeling from all the lethal exhaust the car spew out on a trip that’s not strictly necessary, we might not be saving a single øre on the expedition.

But I digress. The point here is that it’s been about half a year since the last time we bolted across the border, and I’m down to my last 5 cans of sweet, sweet energy juice. There’s a crisis looming on the horizon!

The Internet to the Rescue!

As with every other problem, this particular conundrum of mine can be solved with the help of the double edged sword known as the internet.

There are many foreign online stores that sell energy drinks cheap online, and they gladly ship their goods to our front door. Of course, The Man tries to stop us peasants from getting anything cheap from across the border via the internet. There’s a NOK 350 (~$40) limit on purchases from foreign online stores. If you go over that limit, you’re hit with a hefty 25% sales tax, and a processing fee. So anything that costs more than NOK 350, you’ll probably find cheaper – or at least for about the same price – in Norway.

The NOK 350 sales tax exempt exists to protect domestic businesses, and prevent people from buying everything cheap from other countries. And from 2020 the regulation will be removed entirely. This means that every single purchase, not matter the value, from foreign online stores will be hit by the 25% sales tax, and the processing fee. Not a bad idea in theory, but it will be devastating for people who rely on foreign stores to purchase goods that are hard to or impossible to find in Norway.

But once again, I digress. That is another discussion entirely. The point is that my well of creativity-syrup is about to dry up!

Look at those Swedes, with their cheap energy drinks, prancing around like they own the world. Photo by lilmedia / Pixabay.

Get it While it Lasts!

Many foreign online stores have based their entire business model around the NOK 350 limit. Their goods are priced in a way that items they sell the most of cost just below the limit, including P&P.

After a bit of research, I found the following online stores that appeared to be at least somewhat reliable:

Let’s do a little math and see if it’s actually possible to save money when buying energy drinks from any of these stores.

A can of Monster Energy can quickly cost me NOK 25 in a Norwegian grocery store. From a foreign online store, however, I can get 24 cans of Monster Energy for NOK 260. Then, I’ll have to pay NOK 20 to transport the package to the Norwegian border. In total, that’s NOK 280, well below the NOK 350 limit. Then there’s an additional NOK 130 to have the goods transported from the border to a drop-off point a few hundred meters from our house.

That’s a grand total of NOK 410 for 24 cans of Monster Energy. The same number of cans would have set me back NOK 600 in a Norwegian grocery store, meaning that I’ve saved NOK 190 by purchasing from abroad. I’m sure there it’s possible to find even better deals, too, meaning that the savings potential is higher than in this example.

Worth it?

While it is possible to save some cash on buying from foreign stores, it does seem like quite a lot of hassle. Instead, I could have spent the time I’ve used researching, and writing this post by working a couple of hours overtime, and used that money to cover my energy drink needs for a while.

But there is one important thing to notice: The energy drink assortment in Norway is kind of crappy, and the foreign stores have a lot of different types of I’ve never even seen before! Germany seems like some sort of Holy Energy Drink Grail (like this and this). But I can’t find any German stores with this kind of assortment that ships to Norway. What a shame.

I think I’ll order a shipment of productivity sauce online, and see how it turns out.

Footnotes

  1. Not really shady, I just want to appear interesting.