Stamping out mail

Starting today, a nickel postcard costs 34 cents to mail.

Perhaps it has been a while since we bought or mailed a postcard, but 34 cents seems like an awful lot of money to send Gramma a “Lucky Me I’m In Hawaii” card with a picture of an umbrella on a beach on it.

Actually, today’s rate is only a penny more than yesterday’s – a modest 3 percent increase in postage. It is a much better deal than sending a first-class letter – that rate went up 3 cents to 49 cents, a whopping 6.5 percent increase.

Gramma would prefer the picture with the beach on it, anyway.

The United States Postal Service has also announced that most package or parcel rates are going up in the neighborhood of 3 to 6 percent beginning today.

Here are a couple of mailing tips from Small Business Trends ( to help you save money:

* Stock up on Forever stamps, if you mostly do onesy-twosy mailings. The Forever stamp will be good for a first-class letter, no matter what you paid for it or when you use it. Example: if you purchased 5,000 Forever stamps before the rate hike kicks in (at a cost of $2,450) you’d save $150.

* Use a postage meter or online postage. The changes include a new category, called the “First-Class Meter.” You get a 1-cent discount off the single-piece rate for all first-class letters, up to 3.5 ounces. That equates to a 2 percent savings. But you must use a postage meter, online postage or a commercial mailing permit.

By the way, lest you be discouraged by this increase, it is only temporary. According to The Washington Post, the rate hike will expire in two years. It was approved to allow the USPS to recapture revenue it lost during the recessionary years of 2008-2011.

We would caution, though, that if history is any judge, upon expiration the “temporary” hike of 3 cents on a first-class stamp will be replaced with another “temporary” one that will make you yearn for the days of 3-cent hikes.

And the cost of sending Gramma to Hawaii will edge closer to the price of mailing her a postcard.

(P.S. The term “onesy-twosy mailings” is from Small Business Trends, not out of our clouded mind.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.