By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News
Posted 9/26/17 (Tue)
Back in the late ‘60s, my uncle had a fancy calendar from the Royal Bank of
At one point I asked my parents why he had that calendar and they told me that he once did business with the Royal Bank. This was my uncle who was a World War II veteran and was wounded in the
When I got older and went to college, I became more interested in what my uncle had done. About the same time, the Canadian dollar had dropped to 73 cents against the U.S. dollar or less so it was a good exchange rate. But the rate fluctuated a bit each day.
I also discovered the Bank of North Dakota was trading the loonie at 70 cents so I started using my National Guard salary to buy Canadian currency from the Bank of North Dakota at 70 cents.
My Guard check didn’t amount to much back then, but for every dollar I spent, I was getting $1.30. I just kept accumulating the currency for my next trip across the border since it was such a favorable exchange rate.
It also seemed like a hedge if I got into a financial bind which often happens with college students.
There were a number of businesses in
I saved the loonie regularly through my college years and had accumulated a tidy sum by the time I got out of college.
It would certainly come in handy some years later when I took an editor job at the newspaper in Langdon.
Just 17 miles from the border, 38 miles from
In 1998, I did all my Christmas shopping in
On one of those trips I decided to stop at the Royal Bank and see what kind of interest was available on savings.
It must have been my lucky day because there was a 9.5 percent interest on CDs if you locked them in for seven years.
I couldn’t resist that and signed on, depositing money in a Winnipeg Royal Bank mostly accumulated from the Bank of North Dakota.
A point that I think is important with the Canadian dollar is that for every U.S. dollar I traded during those college years, I received in exchange $1.30 and 9.5 percent interest was now being drawn on $1.30 rather than $1 had I put it in a U.S. bank at 5.5 percent, which was the best rate I could get at the time.
Of course, this had to be reported to the IRS every year and it sometimes confused the H&R Block folks, but it’s perfectly legal and we worked through it.
And all these years later I think back to the fall of 1984 when I first enrolled in college courses. Saving money was the last thing on my mind at the time. My priorities were working at the college newspaper, getting passing grades and making the cut to play on the college baseball team.
I stumbled on to the 70-cent loonie at the Bank of North Dakota when I took some
Part of that thinking was the only disposable income I had was from the National Guard because the rest of it was borrowed money for college necessities. So I figured out how to cut into my military salary without strapping myself.
When I moved to Langdon in 1995, one of the first people I met was Cavalier County Commissioner Neil Romfo who said something to me that backed up my unusual method of saving money.
Neil was giving me a tour around the county and was telling me that it had been pretty tough economically but there was a silver lining, at least for him. He pulled a Canadian $5 bill out of his wallet and said, “You know something, I’ll never be broke.” I made the same promise to myself 11 years earlier.