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Through Snow and Rain: How to Save at the Post Office

Chereen.Langrill

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds…” But, boy, do they charge a lot to do all that!

The United States Postal Service is something we all rely on, and mailing letters, bill payments, and packages can be a frustrating and costly addition to a Krazy Coupon Lady’s routine.

The holidays are right around the corner, and that means more visits to the Post Office to send out packages and holiday cards. But don’t panic! There are ways to save with the USPS.

  1. Use Media Mail. Shipping packages of books, CDs, magazines, and other informational/educational materials can qualify for discounted shipping known as Media Mail. Though this service is categorized as “business” by the USPS, individuals can still get media mail pricing when they ask for it at the service counter. A book weighing 13 ounces costs $2.84 to ship via First Class service—and only $1.73 via Medial Mail pricing! So if you are sending a novel to your best friend or a comic book for your nephew’s birthday, use Media Mail so you can spend more on the present and less on shipping it.
  2. Buy packaging supplies elsewhere. Boxes, bubble wrap, and decorative envelopes sold directly at the USPS window are pretty but pricey. Opt for cheaper packaging supplies obtained at drugstores with store coupons (like Walgreens and CVS), or—better yet!—reuse existing supplies. Turn brown paper bags inside out and cut along the seam instead of using costly rolled postal paper. Many larger-sized prepadded envelopes are also sturdy enough to be used more than once (just attach new labels!)
  3. Stick to Forever stamps. All stamps sold by the USPS are now “Forever” stamps, meaning they can be used at any time in the future, even when the cost of postage rises. So having a few extra booklets on hand won’t create problems in the future. But not all Forever stamps are the exact cost of postage. Some that support a specific cause (heart disease, animal shelters, etc.) cost more, with the proceeds going towards non-profit organizations. Also, stamps you create yourself and are personalized with words or photographs cost more than traditional postage.
  4. Use a postcard. Sure, the cost to mail a First Class letter is less than two quarters, but the cost of a postcard is only 32 cents! If you have 50 Christmas Cards to mail this year, why not make them postcards instead? This instantly saves $6.50 in shipping cost (not to mention the unnecessary paper waste from all those envelopes). Note: The maximum size for a regularly-sized postcard with the USPS is 6 inches long by 4 ¼ inches high by .016 inch thick.
  5. Consider add-ons carefully. Whenever I visit my local Postal counter, the clerk always tries to sell me on insurance, tracking, overnight delivery, etc. The cost of these services can increase the standard shipping price by 100%, 200%, even 500% and more! Plan ahead and send packages on time so it is easier to say “no” to these additional expenditures.
  6. Don’t guess on postage. Ever placed eight stamps in the corner of a package just to make sure the cost is covered just to avoid going to the Post Office? A Krazy Coupon Lady should never throw away money like that! Instead, use the free online USPS Postal Explorer tool to help determine mailer information and the cost to send a package.
  7. Cut-down on what you send. In today’s world of automatic bill-pay options, electronic funds transfer services, and online communication tools, perhaps some of what you send via “snail mail” isn’t necessary. Take stock of what you send for a month, and you may find that some of what you are paying to do could be handled for free electronically.

This is a guest post by Audrey from Texas
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