Monday, December 19, 2011

Think Outside The Envelope

Here's a helpful tip for those of you who use the USPS to send letters. You can order postage stamps from the comfort and safety of your home by going online to USPS.COM and they will be delivered right to your door.

Most of my bills are paid online and virtually all of my correspondence is through electronic mail or social media. I rarely write checks, stuff them in an envelope and affix the required stamp any more. My bill paying service will send a physical check or transfer funds to a merchant on whatever date I schedule. Shopping online allows the use of credit cards or services like PayPal.

Posting to Facebook is a far easier, faster and more convenient way to stay in touch and share stories and pictures with family and friends. In fact, I confess that I often acknowledge a birthday using a wall post on Facebook or with another electronic form of message.

The electronic greeting card industry has exploded and who can argue with how clever or attractive these often animated cards can be. They include heartwarming sentiments, terrific graphics, catchy tunes and many times will make you laugh out loud. They are inexpensive, easy, fast and reliable. Many even offer choices of cards that are free.

But throughout the year and particularly during this holiday season, I prefer to send greeting cards and letters. Whether celebrating a birthday, wedding, birth of a child or the birth of Jesus, sending a greeting card is so much more personal and, in my mind, appropriate for the occasion.

Occasionally, it is necessary to mail a check or a set of documents, too.

For this reason I need a pile of stamps. This usually means a trip to the nearest post office with the envelopes in hand where I can purchase enough stamps to meet the postage requirements. International, over-sized or heavier envelopes may require more than a single first class stamp. Large envelopes and packages will, of course, demand greater postage.

A few years ago I discovered you could go to USPS.COM and by using a credit card you could purchase books or rolls of stamps. Spending most of my waking hours huddled over a keyboard I thought this was a great alternative. Sitting in the office or at the home computer, I can choose the traditional Liberty Bell or Holiday Baubles and order a book of 20 self-adhesive stamps. They are delivered right to my door within a couple of days.

Purchasing in bulk is not only convenient but can save you money as well. There is a large variety of styles to choose from and many of them are called "forever" stamps which are always good no matter what the first class postage rate may be. Stamps I have purchased over a year ago for 42 cents are still valid for first class postage even though the rate is now 44 cents and will be rising again shortly.

It's that time of year when I check my stash and decide to stock up. I'll be visiting the site today to choose and order a book or two of a couple of different styles. There is a $1 delivery fee but I would burn more than that in gas so I'm still ahead of the game.

Now, I realize many of my readers are outside of the United States and so this is not very useful for them. Perhaps, if you are one of those people you could add a comment indicating whether you can purchase postage online in your country and describe any experience you have had with the service.

It won't require any postage.

Captain Joe

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