Every time I mention I need to buy stamps, someone always scoffs, “Who uses stamps anymore?”
But every time I go to the post office, I end up in a line six or eight deep.
Mailing stuff is still big business. But it’s about to get a little more expensive.
Less than a year ago, the U.S. Postal Service gave us a 2-cent break on stamp prices. But this month, prices are going back up, to 49 cents per stamp.
What gives? Is the Postal Service just wishy-washy?
There a method to the math, but Penny Hoarders know what this change really means: The best time to buy postage is right now.
Why You Should Buy Stamps This Week
Unless you’re looking for a special edition postage stamp, most stamps are now labeled “Forever” instead of with a monetary value; you can use them regardless of the fluctuating price of stamps.
On Sunday, Jan. 22, the price for those Forever stamps will increase 2 cents. Here are the mailing price changes you need to know:
- Letters: 47 cents to 49 cents
- Small Priority flat-rate box: $6.80 to $7.15
- Medium Priority flat-rate box: $13.45 to $13.60
- Large Priority flat-rate box: $18.75 to $18.85
- Large APO/FPO flat-rate box: $16.75 to $17.35
- Regular flat-rate Priority envelope: $6.45 to $6.65
- Legal flat-rate Priority envelope: $6.45 to $6.95
- Padded flat-rate Priority envelope: $6.80 to $7.20
If you fall into one of these categories, you should probably get in line to buy stamps or Priority postage right now:
1.You Actually Send Letters
If you buy a book of 20 stamps this week, you’ll pay $9.40. Next week, a book of stamps will cost $9.80. Two cents per stamp doesn’t seem like much, but think about how many letters you mail in an average year. If it’s more than 20 — people who still pay rent by mail, sing it with me — it’s worth stocking up now and saving 40 cents per book.
2. You Sell on Etsy, eBay or Another Online Platform
If you sell anything online, you’ll probably see a small increase in the cost of mailing each package. A cent here or there? No big deal. But over the course of a year, the increase can mean hundreds in additional business costs.
Make plans now to adjust your prices to account for the postage increase. Then, buy whatever supplies you can before the price goes up on stamps or Priority flat-rate postage.
3. You’re Getting Married
Letters heavier than 1 ounce cost an extra 21 cents, which means your fancy-dancy wedding invitations could cost 70 cents each to mail instead of 68. Plus, you’re probably putting stamps on the invitation-response cards. And the save-the-dates. And all those thank-you cards you’re totally going to write within three months of the wedding.
I’m not saying you have to send all those items to have a fun wedding celebration. I’m just saying that if you plan to mail any of them, you’re about to pay a bit more.
4. You Want to Make Some Extra Cash
Did you know you can buy and sell unused postage stamps on eBay? Buy a bunch at 47 cents each now and sell them later as the price continues to increase. Bonus tip: Don’t just buy whatever stamp the guy behind the counter offers you. Ask for the cool stamps that collectors or letter-writing fanatics might be looking for later. Your profits may be small, but a small profit is way better than no profit.
What’s Up With All the Price Changes on Stamps? They’re Just Stamps
The price changes are actually more calculated than you might think.
In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service got permission to raise stamp prices by 3 cents (from 46 cents to 49 cents) for a two-year period. The hike was essentially a fundraiser for the Postal Service, which doesn’t receive any government funding. Instead, it makes all its money off us mailing things.
Stamp prices are typically tied to the rate of inflation, so when the two-year special increase expired in spring of 2016, stamp prices dropped back to 47 cents — which was in accordance with the inflation rate.
This month’s increase is just another turn in the inflation game, but it seems more severe because we just played this back-and-forth game.
Your Turn: Will you buy postage stamps before the rate increase?
Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.