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Living frugally involves seeking out new ways of saving money. One of the things that very few people realize is that you can actually save money on your mail as well. It’s true, there are a number of tips and techniques that can save you a few dollars every time you visit your local post office or stuff another bill in your mailbox.
Here are my top tips for how to save money on your mail.
Shipping via Media Mail.
Few understand the concept of media mail. In my experience, this is because nobody at the post office is willing to tell you. Let’s say I have a book that I need to ship from Texas to Tennessee. If I decide to just pack it up in a box and drop it off at my local post office without specifying it’s a book, I may be charged $15 in shipping.
I’m being charged to ship the item by distance, several hundred miles.
In contrast, if I tell them I’m shipping via media mail, it’s likely to cost me somewhere around $5. This is because media mail gets a lower rate. It’s billed by weight.
The catch is that you have to ensure the ever-pleasant post office worker that the box is actually full of media. Only books, DVDs, and CDs qualify here.
Once, I had a post office worker threaten to X-ray my package (She didn’t believe it was a book. It was. I had sold a college textbook online), so you need to be truthful here. Don’t try to lie to a federal agency. It typically doesn’t end well.
Stock those stamps!
The cool thing about Forever stamps is that as long as you have one on your envelope (and the envelope is within the appropriate weight), you can ship whatever. Stamps increase in price as time goes on. However, older Forever stamps which you bought before the price increase are still suitable for shipping letters.
This means if I bought 20 books of stamps (each book holding 20 stamps) in 2018, at 50 cents per stamp, I would have paid $200. If I bought 20 books of stamps today in 2022, when stamps are now 58 cents each, I would pay $238.
You’ll notice on American flag Forever stamps that there is no price listed. It simply says ‘Forever’. Slap a stamp on there from 5 years ago, and you can still mail a letter today. The price of stamps is only going to continue to rise as time goes on (have you seen how meat prices are climbing?), so this is a good way to save yourself a couple of bucks in the future, today.
Flat Rate Boxes absolutely rock.
There are times where you can save money by using one of the post office’s Flat Rate boxes rather than supplying your own. Not only does this save you the cost of buying your own box at Walmart, but it can also save you money in the shipping cost as well.
Flat Rate boxes ship for a, ahem, flat rate regardless of how much they weigh (up to 70 pounds, anyway). This means you have quite a bit of leeway for what you ship and you’re liable to only pay around $8 or so (that’s how much it normally costs me) to ship your package from Point A to Point B.
It doesn’t matter if you’re shipping from Florida to California, if you use a Flat Rate box, the cost is the same. You can find these boxes in a variety of sizes by the cashier of your local post office. The small ones cost less than the larger ones, and I’ve found that the medium size box works great for just about everything I need to ship.
Use First Class on packages less than 13 ounces.
This is one of those strange post office rules that really doesn’t make any sense, but can save you quite a chunk of change if you do a lot of shipping throughout the year. Let’s say you have an online eBay business selling jewelry you’ve picked up at flea markets and estate sales.
Over the course of the year, you can rack up quite a shipping cost, particularly if you’re shipping via the typical Priority Mail. However, since your packages are likely to weigh less than 13 ounces, you can ship them via First Class cheaper than Priority Mail, and the packages will arrive within the same time window (1-3 days) as would Priority Mail.
Lower cost for the exact same results. This is a no-brainer. Considering more people than ever are looking for at-home income, this is definitely something to look into.
Post office boxes are cheapest at the Post Office.
If you shop around for a post office box, you’ll be astounded at some of the prices. In my experience, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking at UPS, FedEx, USPS, or some other post office box service. USPS seems to always offer the lowest contract fee/year.
Should you find something cheaper, let us know in the comments below, but I don’t think you will.
Saving money on your postage is both easy and possible.
Shipping costs can easily add up over the course of a year, whether you’re mailing packages for a business, as gifts, or simply mailing bills. When in college, I sold roughly 20 books/year online. Nobody told me about media mail until I had graduated. Let’s say that I paid $5 more in shipping for each book than I would have had I used media mail.
Over the course of four years, this means I would have sold 80 books and been out $400 I could have used to pay tuition, food, or for rent. So you can see how this money saved at the post office can easily add up.
What are your thoughts though? Are there other little-known ways to save money on your mail that nobody knows about? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com. Along with being a freelance writer, he also works part-time on his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.