This may not seem strange to those who have embraced the technological age, but many people still haven’t fully grasped how much they can save on postage in the electronic age. Even those who have embraced technology often overlook postage as an area for savings. It’s such a little thing but when you add in the cost of stamps, shipping fees, envelopes, and mailers, it can get expensive.
Out of curiosity, I looked up my postage expenses the other day (personal, not business). In 2001, before the Internet became so entrenched, I spent about $400 on various postage products. Stamps, envelopes, shipping charges, and mailers all added up. In comparison, I spent under $20 in 2010 and part of that was to send in some DVD’s I sold to a resale site. If you want to save on postage, here are ways to eliminate/reduce postage costs.
Electronic greeting cards: Card stores make a fortune selling paper cards but you can now find many attractive electronic greeting cards for prices equal to or less than paper cards. While you have to pay for the card, you don’t have to put a stamp on it.
Send electronic gift certificates: When it comes time to give gifts, send electronic gift certificates rather than physical presents. Most retailers now offer an electronic option that the recipient can either print out and take to the store or use online. You only pay for the gift, not the shipping costs.
Online bill pay: This one saves you a ton on postage. Rather than writing checks for all of your bills, pay them electronically. You can usually either pay through the provider’s site or your own bank. Even if the biller mails you a physical bill, chances are you don’t have to pay it by mail. Go to their website and see if they have online payment options. Some places still make you send in a check, but those are becoming fewer every day.
Email: Rather than writing letters, send email. Most people and businesses are becoming much more open to email and no longer view it as inferior or too informal. You can attach any documents to email, as well, making it easy to send pictures, contracts, manuals, and any other correspondence.
Online donations: When your favorite charity sends out their annual donation request, check to see if you can pay online. You probably can.
Online subscription renewals (or use postage paid envelope) When your magazine or newspaper subscriptions come due, check to see if you can pay it online. If you don’t want to pay online, many subscription renewals come with postage paid envelopes for you to use. If your magazine doesn’t offer online pay, see if you can pick up a subscription through an online reseller like Magazines.com. They’ll handle the payment processing for you online.
Fax: If you have to send something that’s been signed or for whatever reason you can’t use email to send a document, see if the recipient will accept a fax. There are online fax services now that don’t even require you to make a long distance call. You simply scan in what you need to send and then it’s faxed to the recipient.
If you’re paying for shipping anyway, have items shipped to the recipient not to yourself: When you buy things online, a lot of places charge shipping. It’s a bummer, but you only want to pay once. When you check out, have the items billed to you but shipped to your gift recipient. Some places even gift wrap. This way you don’t pay to have the items shipped to you and then turn around and pay to ship it to the recipient.
Use flat rate mailers and stuff them full: If you have a lot of things to send to one person, a flat rate mailer may be your best bet. We do this with family. We save up everything we want to send along and then send it all at once in a flat rate box. It’s far cheaper than sending things individually. It requires some patience from both parties, but it’s less expensive.
Plan ahead: Shipping things at the last minute always costs more. Give yourself more time and you can use cheaper, slower options.
Send electronic cash: If you need to send cash to someone, don’t mail them a check. Use an online payment service like PayPal to send the money from your bank account to theirs. Similarly, if you have kids in college and need to send them money for expenses, many big box retailers like WalMart and Target offer the ability to reload gift cards online. Just give your kid a card and then reload it from home rather than mailing them money.
Sometimes only a handwritten note or card will do and in those cases you’ll just have to pay postage. There is still an art to the handwritten thank you, for example. But for many other things in daily life you can avoid paying any postage at all, or greatly reduce the amount you need to pay. It may seem foreign or dangerous to do so much online to those who haven’t yet embraced the Internet, but the savings can be substantial.