Friday, December 12, 2008

Frugal Friday: Mail

At this time of year many of us are sending letters, cards, and packages. With letters at 42cents each, it's an expensive proposition! Here are a few ideas that can help you save your pennies.

  • Consider sending a digital (email) Christmas letter. You can make it as long as you want, include photos, and even music or recorded voice messages!
  • If you like mailing (and receiving) cards that can go on the wall, consider postcards, which are much cheaper to mail. You can have photo postcards printed, or print your own images and text on cardstock and then cut them apart.
  • If you prefer to send traditional cards, choose them thoughtfully--remember that oversize cards cost extra postage.
  • The US Postal Service is typically cheaper than FedEx or UPS
  • Recycle your packaging--wrap packages in brown packing paper, black-out or cover-up prior labeling and re-use envelopes or boxes that you've received. It not only saves you money on supplies, it's good for the planet too. ☺
  • Remember that you are paying by the ounce, so if you can make a lighter package, it is cheaper to mail.
  • Use envelopes instead of boxes if you can. If you don't have one the right size, cut down a bigger one and tape it. Packing tape is your friend! One roll will pay for itself after just a few recycled packages
  • If you need a box, try to find a lightweight one (cereal boxes can be split on the seam, turned insideout, and's a nice lightweight box and hey, you probably already had it sitting around!)
  • Ship via first class if your package is under 1lb--it's much cheaper than priority, and nearly as fast.
  • For heavier packages (over 1lb) send them early and use parcel post--it's MUCH cheaper than priority or express.
  • If you are sending something heavy, consider the flat rate priority mail boxes (the boxes are free, and are the same price no matter how heavy they are). By the way, while flat-rate boxes are convenient, they are usually NOT cheaper than sending the same items via regular priority mail...Flat rate boxes are good for heavy things, but otherwise they are popular for the convenience, not because they are actually a good deal.
Saving Time
If you're concerned about waiting in lines (hey, this is being frugal with your time, right?!)
  • Go to the post office in the morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (Mondays, weekends, lunch breaks, and afternoons/evenings are busiest)
  • Use flat rate boxes (ordered here and delivered to your home) you can buy and print off the flat rate postage here.


Becky said...

Our Post Office is ALWAYS busy. I kid you not. I've tried all the days and several different times. And the time that works best for me is about two minutes before they close. They probably hate me, but hey, there's no line.

Tim said...

Another tip:
CDs and DVDs are usually cheaper to send first class, but books can be sent more cheaply by designating them as media mail.

Becky N. said...

Post office is USUALLY cheaper, but not always. I had a particularly large box to send this year, and I decided to cut down the number of errands and just ship is USPS with the rest of my packages. It cost almost $38 - its dimensions or weight, or maybe both? prevented it from being sent parcel post. It had to go priority as the cheapest option. I later plugged in the weight and dimensions at UPS, and I would have saved almost $8 to use their Ground shipping. Still... I think I'd rather fork over $8 thank make another mailing errand with 3 kids in tow.

I did manage to use nothing but reused paper/boxes/packing peanuts/air-filled protection this year for shipping, though, which was really cool! :)

Jessica said...

I realized this year that when you need to mail a gift is a great time to "give experiences, not stuff."
We're sending my nephew (in Texas) tickets to a production of Stella Luna at children's theater. Since he's five I wanted to give him a package to open so I made a little toy bat out of felt. Once everything was wrapped I was pleasantly surprised at how light the package was!
Another option, if you are sending a gift to a young child, is to send a gift card to their mom or dad and have them go pick up the gift for you!
Sorry it's so long... just had to add my two cents.

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