ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Saving On Mail And Shipping Costs: Cost Saving Ideas On Mail And Shipping

Updated on March 13, 2011


This is a subject I know quite a bit about at the moment.  As the holidays wound down this past season, I’m still thinking about the $130 we spent to ship presents around the country in time for Christmas.  The shipping costs were not part of my holiday budget!

After ordering quite a few of my Christmas gift picks on line and saving money on tax and shipping costs (I only buy if there is free shipping online), I turned around and sunk $130 into mailing them out.  That was after wrapping each and every one of the gifts, finding boxes to fit the 10 different packages, and then wrapping them again in mailing paper, taping them up and addressing them all, then lugging them to the post office to stand in line and mail them out!

While it was part of the Christmas "what we do", I think in retrospect, I could have used my $130 to better advantage.  It was a learning experience and here are some of the things I plan to do next holiday season!



Weight can be a positive or a negative. It depends on how you’re shipping. If you’re shipping from home in a flat-rate box from the US Postal Service, weight doesn’t really factor into the equation. You can stuff a box for instance with the heaviest books you can find and send it off for $10. But if you have an oversized coffeemaker (which I did) and you want to send that through the USPS, good luck with that on the cost. We finally sent the heavier gifts through UPS and FedEx, and the lighter gifts through the USPS.

Don’t waste money on boxes. Sure, now I find out! You can order all kinds of different box sizes from the US Postal Service (or pick them up at your local post office). The boxes are for flat-rate shipping but again, come in many sizes and each has a flat-rate shipping rate. You can also get free boxes at UPS and FedEx. So never buy a box again. Luckily, I don’t actually buy boxes. I store them up before the holidays so I generally have a nice selection on hand. I also can make my own boxes if I’m sending an oddly shaped item using just cardboard and packing tape. However, those in the long run will cost you more dough to ship!

Think lightweight as much as possible. Hmm….again with the heavy coffeemaker and a few other items that I sent that felt like I was shipping rocks. Stuffing heavy items into flat-rate boxes, good idea. Mailing appliances, not a good idea. Think how much a gift card for the same item would have cost to ship! Or a gift card to a book store, appliance store, Home Depot, etc. What was I thinking?

On-line shopping. Ordering gifts on line can save you a lot of money over shopping in bricks and mortar stores. I actually got the best prices on line at Macy’s (the store later told me they would have matched the price and mailed it for me for free) and at I could have paid for gift wrapping and the shipping fee and come out much further ahead than having all the gifts shipped here, wrapping them myself and then shipping them back out again! Live and learn. I know what to do in the future!

Cheapest shipping rates for overseas. If you have things to ship overseas, ask for the slowest boat to China option. You can do that for items shipped here in the United States as well although they do not actually toss that up to you right generally have to look stunned and say "it's going to cost HOW much to ship it to the Midwest?" Just allow an ample amount of time for your gift to arrive. Then pick the slowest option possible (usually 7-10 days in the US) and save money that way.

Christmas card mailings.  Sending out Christmas cards can also add to your holiday budgeting expenses.   Make your Christmas card list before you buy or have Christmas photo cards made.  Think about how long you’ve heard from a person or if you even get a Christmas card in return.  Trim down your list and save money on cards and postage.  Consider the option of Christmas postcards and save money on postage.  Don’t buy oversized cards that will cost you extra postage! 

Also consider not buying "specialty cards" or buy them for $1 each rather than $4.95 or so per card!  The postage is always extra on oversized Hallmark cards whereas if you want to send a "to my daughter" card, you can find cards for $1!  They are standard size and won’t cost you extra in postage. 

Also think about your options for ordering Christmas cards or purchasing them.  Buy after Christmas for the best deals for next year’s cards.....or make your own digital cards but price shop on that as well.  I paid more last year at Walmart whereas this year I ordered 50 photo Christmas cards on line at Costco for $15 including envelopes and 4 digital photo calendars.  I ordered on line, didn’t pay a dime and they were ready for me within 2 days when I did pay! 



  • Flat Rate Envelope $4.90 (Size = 12-1/2" x 9-1/2")

  • Small Flat Rate Box $4.95 (Size = 8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8")

  • Medium Flat Rate Boxes $10.70 (Size = 13-5/8” x 11-7/8” x 3-3/8” and 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2"

  • Large Flat Rate Box $14.50 shipped to domestic addresses ---- (Size = 12" x 12" x 5-1/2")
  • APO/FPO/DPO $12.50 (APO/FPO destinations)
    Large Flat Rate Box (Size = 12" x 12" x 5-1/2")

These rates are available when using USPS produced Flat Rate Envelopes and Boxes. You cannot stretch the envelopes or boxes in any way - so in other words, the material you are sending has to fit perfectly within the confines (creases) of these containers. You can apply tape to flaps and folds but you cannot change the normal folds.



  • 70 pounds.


  • 4 lbs for the Flat Rate Envelope or Small Flat Rate Box
  • 20 lbs for the Medium and Large Flat Rate Box

Order free packing supplies at or get more information on priority mail by visiting


Figure out shipping rates and methods here at the United States Postal Service

Here’s a great website (Shipping and where you can calculate what the cheapest way to send your package is!  Just plug in the size of the package (length, height, width) and weight and it will tell you which option is more economical – DHL, UPS, FedEx, the USPS or TNT



The costs of shipping and mailings in any form just keep going up, in part due to the high cost of fuel to drive or fly your packages from hither to yon.  It pays (literally) in the long run to consider other options.  Check the ship rate if you’re ordering on line and the tax rate, even the gift wrapping charge, and plan accordingly.  Don’t be like me and realize after the fact that you spent all that time and money and you could have done it differently. 

It does pay to do your homework and find out the best way to ship or mail before you get caught with your wallet open! 

Another great option is if you happen to know someone going to the place where you’re shipping or mailing…..super saver~!  Send the packages or stuff along with them and save the whole cost of mailing and shipping. 

Order on line but don’t do what I do and have it shipped to you.  Have it shipped directly to the person you're buying for. 

Another great option for Christmas cards is to use ecards rather than spending money on Christmas cards – it’s free!  No postage required. 

If you consider these options, you actually are creating a greener, environmentally friendlier Christmas because you’re not using fuel to get the packages run across the country twice! 

You can find cheaper shipping rates if you do your homework (note to self) and you can also trim your costs by thinking in terms of weight or ordering on line instead. 

There are many great ways to beat the high cost of mailing and shipping and these are just a few.  If you know of more ways to save on shipping and mailing, please share your tips with us here in the comments section below.  I for one learned my lesson on this subject the hard way!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • bruzzbuzz profile image

      bruzzbuzz 6 years ago from Texas , USA

      This is an outstanding hub with a great deal of detail about shipping. This Christmas, I shopped online and found free shipping and I had my gifts wrapped and shipped to the people I was giving them to. I am voting this hub way up.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Susie Duzy - You bet!

    • SUSIE DUZY profile image

      SUSIE DUZY 7 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Thanks for the good information.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping by Katie and taking the time to share your comment - love getting packages, too!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Thanks for the tips on saving on shipping cost as I love to ship packages to loved ones. Its just so much fun to receive something in the mail. I love this hub. Thanks :) Katie

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Hanna for always being there!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Another more than helpful hub. It can easily run into a lot of money whichis unnecessary.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Mepperly - Thanks!

    • mepperly profile image

      Shelly Epperly 7 years ago from Vancouver,WA

      Great Article, just added your link to my eBay hub.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      LLW - I hear you and what a great gift! Add me to your list, would you? Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Darski - great information and you'd think as much as I do on line I'd have figured a way past NOT spending that much at Christmas on shipping!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Excellent hub Audrey, I do all my shipping on line, with an online business, I have the post office at my finger tips and ship right from home, with a set price per package. Thanks for this fantastic hub as usual. rate up love & peace darski

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      You've made a lot of valid points here. I've been giving books as gifts for some years now, but always have them shipped to the recipient. True, there is no pretty wrapping paper, but for kids, their parents can wrap the books. And for adults, well, let's just hope they are adult enough to understand.