The Real Value of Forever Stamps
I’m horribly unorganized to the untrained eye. I’m a “stacker”, which means that while I know the general vicinity of any given piece of paper, it must be culled from a heaping pile of similarly-group items before I can use it. It’s my own method of organization, one that gives my husband the heebie-jeebies. It’s also the reason that just recently I’ve vowed to forever and always purchase the forever stamps.
What are forever stamps? For those who don’t know, they are first-class postage stamps that never decrease in their supposed value. If I buy them today at 42cents, they are good for first-class letters. If I keep them until the price of sending the letter goes up to 43cents, they are still good for first-class letters – no need to hunt down those pesky penny add-on stamps to legitimize my mailing.
Are they a good investment? There’s much debate to this topic. Financial experts claim that it’s an investment better made in something else (like canned goods, maybe?) I agree that postage stamps probably won’t be the next big investment vehicle; they only earn you something when you don’t use them, and then the price of postage goes up enough to justify buying scads of them in the first place. If you’re not a heavy mailer, you’ve really saved nothing.
But if you are a hopeless paper-collector (like myself), they may have a value above and beyond what can be measured by your annual postage budget. There is a certain “I did it again” factor that can be completely avoided by buying these puppies. Here’s how it works:
I am searching frantically for a stamp. Any stamp will do. (It doesn’t have to have Disney princesses or the latest wildlife habitat to tickle my fancy. It just has to be worth 42 cents.) The mail is arriving in 10-20 minutes, and since I’m located 6 miles from the nearest civilization, I’m hoping to find precious postage that will keep me from having to make the drive to town. (Back in the golden days, I could put an unstamped letter and pocket change right in the mailbox, and my postman would mail it for me.) After finding a crumpled-up sheet of stamps, I realize that I don’t know how much they are worth. They simply say “First-Class” but don’t have a monetary value printed on them. I head to the USPS website and do a search on their online store for a stamp that looks like mine, only to find that it is worth 41cents (or possibly even 40cents.) I continue rummaging through my files to find a 1cent stamp that I remember buying just a few months ago. Nothing.
Why o’ why didn’t I just buy forever stamps? (Or maybe you’re wondering why I don’t put my stamps in a special place where I can always find them.) Since it’s easier to change one purchasing habit than it is to reprogram my filing style, I have vowed to do just that. There is one catch:
Some post offices are reluctant to sell them. They won’t deny them to you. They just won’t offer them, either. Similar to other forms of cheap postage (like parcel post), they won’t suggestively sell this budget-friendly option. When I ask to buy a book of stamps, they whip out the beautifully-rendered holiday nutcracker stamps or my weakness, the Jim Henson Muppets series. I usually don’t even consider asking for “forever stamps.”
But all that will change. While many New Year’s Resolutions involve vows to eat less carbs, I’ll promise myself to always buy forever stamps. It will save a few pennies here and there, but it will also save some face. I’m investing in my self-esteem here.