Saving Money at the Post Office
Saving money at the United States Post Office is easier than most people think. For me the key to saving money shipping items is to plan ahead. Try to ship things together when possible. For instance, in my brother-in-law's family, three of the four members have birthdays within one month of each other. When I went shopping for the gift for birthday number one, I also purchased gifts for the other two members as well. The sole reason I did this is so that I could ship the items together. This saves money on postage as well as saving my time and gas money to get to the post office. I only had to make that trip one time, not three.
Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of time to ship items. Parcel post generally takes a few days longer than priority mail, but it will save you money by shipping this way. Also look into media mail. If you are shipping a book or video, this qualifies for the media mail rate. This method of shipping will take the longest to get where it is going, but it is by far the cheapest. $2 to ship a heavy book is a great deal, you just have to plan to allow two or more weeks for it to get where it is going. I have found that it generally doesn't take this long, but you do need to allow for that.
Print and pay for postage at home from your computer, and get free delivery confirmation. Many people like to have delivery confirmation, especially if they are selling something, or shipping to someone they don't know. Delivery confirmation is either $.50 or $.60 depending on how you are shipping and you can get this free if you print your shipping label yourself for Priority Mail shipping.
Ship packages from your home. The Post Office has a great service that allows you to ship items without leaving your home. This does require Priority Mail or Express Mail shipping, but it allows you to print the postage from your computer and schedule a pick up of the items needing to be shipped. This free service is very easy to do and your regular postal worker will pick up your packages when he or she delivers your mail.
Do not purchase boxes. Get boxes from the Post Office. You can even get tape from the Post Office as well. When I was selling on Ebay a lot, I placed an order through the USPS website for boxes of all sizes as well as tape and labels. These supplies are free and for Prioirity Mail or Express Mail only. The only catch is these products come in large quantities, as in 25 of each size box. Many people might not need that many boxes, but if you ship a lot, it is certainly worth looking into. If you are going to be shipping something via Priority Mail or Express Mail ask at your local post office, they should have the supplies on hand to ship it, and it won't cost you any money.
When buying a gift that has to be shipped, think about how heavy or awkard it is. Buying gifts for people is a lot of fun, but thinking ahead to how much it will cost to ship it is a good idea. If you purchase something that can be shipped media mail, that will be your cheapest option. Something that doesn't weigh very much will be much cheaper than something that is heavy, like a bowling ball. It just make sense to take these things into consideration when you know you will have to ship it.
So next time you need to ship something think about these ideas that can save you money. It really isn't hard to do, it just takes some planninng ahead.