Buy Your Forever Stamps Now, Price Going Up In May

The USPS is raising stamp prices in May, so stock up on your “Forever Stamps” before the hike. Starting May 11, the price for a first-class mail stamp will go from $0.42 to $0.44.

“Forever Stamps” will still work, there will be no need for extra postage.

“The Forever Stamp is always honored for a 1-ounce letter with no need for additional postage,” spokesman Stephen M. Kearney said.

Cost of stamps to go up 2 cents [CNN]
(Photo:dM.nyc)

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  1. GuJiaXian says:

    My understanding is that Forever Stamps are a bad deal. I remember that, when they were first released, the Consumerist noted that part of the legislation governing them says that their price increases are tied to inflation (yeah, yeah, I’m probably getting the details wrong–it’s been a while). Basically, because of inflation, a regularly priced stamp would be cheaper.

    I think I just confused myself, but I’m sure that way back when it all made sense. Someone care to either tell me I’m being an idiot or actually validate my ramblings?

    • K-Bo says:

      @GuJiaXian: Bad deal to buy enough now for the rest of your life, but to grab them for your near future stamp needs could save you a few cents.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @GuJiaXian: While yes, they are tied to inflation, it’s not a smooth scale. Inflation is happening all the time to a certain extent while stamps are locked to increases at 1 or 2 cents at a time. Over the period of time during a particular fixed price, forever stamps purchased before the increase represent the best savings around the beginning of the increase and that value diminishes as it gets close to another adjustment.

      If you’re buying enough stamps where percentages of a fraction of a penny counts, you probably should be metering your mail instead and saving considerably more.

      • ecwis says:

        @Applekid: We’re likely going to experience deflation soon rather than inflation. The inflation for 2008 was only 0.1%.

        • ecwis says:

          @ecwis: December 2008, not 2008

        • orlo says:

          @ecwis: Inflation rate of real estate and oil? Food, electricity, health care, education all increased 10-30%.

          • Wombatish says:

            @orlo: Who looks at stamps as this big of an investment??

            What this story said to me was “Hey! Stamp prices are going up. Go buy 20 or so of those forever stamps and stick them in a drawer somewhere in case you -actually- need a stamp sometime soon, so you don’t have to hunt around and buy some 2 cent stamps later.”

            I did not read it as “OH MY GOD! Go hurry up an buy all the stamps you will need for the rest of your life right now!!! RIGHT NOW!!! HURRRRRRRRYYYYYYY!!!!”

            Apparently, I am the only one.

            (Besides, add in the gas that it takes to make a second trip to the post office in May to get a roll of 2 cent stamps, and suddenly a few Forever Stamps are an even better deal.)

            • goodywitch says:

              @Wombatish: exactly. The post office even tells you this. I had applications a few years ago, and while I was there I asked about stamps. Each time (until I finally got them) they said they were only good for infrequent posters. They aren’t an investment, but a convenience.

          • ecwis says:

            @orlo: The inflation rate is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which would include everything a household would need to live on basically.

            [en.wikipedia.org]

    • Anonymous says:

      @GuJiaXian: When buying stamps, I always go for the forever stamps but, I don’t “stock up.” They’re not a good investment vehicle, but aside from collectors, I don’t know of anyone who might base their financial future on the value of their stamps.

      The forever stamp helps you avoid having to buy a bunch of 2 cent stamps later.

    • ArgusRun says:

      @GuJiaXian: You are right. Forever stamps are a bad deal. Postage lags behind inflation. This means that the relative price of postage has been going down for years. Therefore the value of your forever stamps are decreasing over time, not increasing.

      You would be better off saving the money and getting some interest out of it.

      The only instance in which it would be advantageous is if you bought right before a rate hike that would take the price of regular postage above that of forever postage, and then buy only as much as you are going to use in a month’s time or so.

      Come on Consumerist! You’re better than this. Stop pimping for the USPS.

  2. Gregory Underwood says:

    Damn the man…Save the empire!!!

  3. jamesdenver says:

    Fortunately I rarely use stamps. I have online banking, and use Chase where I can send checks out via my account. Still sucks though.

  4. heybtbm says:

    Good luck getting your “Forever” stamps today. They usually sell out on the day these things are announced.

    All you’ll find at your local Post Office today are bumper to bumper Buicks and hundreds of elderly waiting in line to buy one book of stamps. The automatic stamp vending machine is scary, you know.

    • mbz32190 says:

      @heybtbm: Try getting them at a local market then. I know mine sells forever stamps, but they really don’t have anything indicating they sell stamps at all besides a small sticker on the door.

    • calquist says:

      @heybtbm: I’ve seen signs at the post office about this rate hike for a long time.

    • MissPeacock says:

      @heybtbm: The automatic machines at a couple of my local postal branches are ALWAYS out of order, forcing you to stand in the interminable line for stamps. So frustrating, and yet another reason to do most of my business online.

      • redskull says:

        @MissPeacock: Same here. There’s a Post Orifice 4 or 5 blocks from my house, and the stamp machine there was broken a good 75% of the time. A couple of months ago they finally took it out and posted a sign that said the stamp machine “had reached the end of its useful life” and they didn’t feel there was any monetary justification in replacing it.

        Well of course not. No one who uses the Post Office would ever have a need to buy stamps now, would they?

        So now if I need to mail something I have to drive 2 or 3 miles to the next nearest station, instead of just down the street.

        I for one will be taking the day off from work in celebration on the glorious day the Post Office finally goes under.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      @heybtbm:

      Where else can you get the gold dollar coins as change?

      The banks never have enough. :(

  5. bduddy says:

    Hmm… buy at $.42, sell at $.43 a few weeks later…
    ???
    PROFIT!!!

  6. Michael Tyznik says:

    Consumer Reports said that forever stamps are a bad idea because postage increases at a slower rate than inflation, so although you can buy, say, a 45¢ stamp today that will be good in two years even when postage is 55¢, 55¢ will be worth less in two years than 45¢ is now.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @Michael Tyznik: They are a bad idea for the long term (meaning don’t buy enough to last you for the rest of your life), but ideal in the short term. If I buy 20 stamps for my needs over the next month, then I have saved a little money, but also the hassle of having to go get 1 cent stamps when I actually need them. Getting enough stamps to last 2 or 3 months isn’t a bad idea and they will be worth the same even if you can’t find them for several years.

      They aren’t a good investment vehicle, but are a good time and effort saving device.

    • ecwis says:

      @Michael Tyznik: At this rate, that is not true. The USPS is raising the stamp prices not due to inflation, but likely because of their decrease in volume. The inflation rate for 2008 was 0.1% and deflation is expected for 2009 so how does it make sense to raise the price of the stamp by 5%?

      • ecwis says:

        @ecwis: Correction: Inflation was 3.8% annually, 0.1% for December 2008 indicating that we are likely to enter a period of deflation.

        Stil a %5 increase when inflation is 3.8% isn’t justified.

  7. jdmba says:

    … except that the price has now gone up twice in the year since they came out. I am not so sure they were a bad deal.

    Also, the mail is unavoidable. Sure, you can pay your recurring expenses (mortgage, utilities, credit cards), but many things still require the mail and bill accordingly, such as insurance (particularly auto and unmbrella which require declarations to be mailed back), unemployment (a super waste of postage), medical billing, etc. I am surprised just how much mail I am forced to send out.

  8. s25843 says:

    Its funny. I was at the post office a little while ago, and the person in front of me bought 200 books ($1,680) and told the clerk he was putting them in his safe deposit box to save them.

    How sad.

  9. runchadrun says:

    I just happened to buy some Forever stamps on Saturday. Lucky me!

    It seems to me that the existence of the Forever stamps makes it easier for the USPS to raise rates without people noticing because you aren’t forced to buy 1- or 2- cent stamps every time there’s a rate increase. When you run out of the Forever stamps you just buy more, not even noticing that you just paid an extra 20 or 40 cents for that book of stamps.

  10. Plates says:

    I tend to get the Forever Stamps since I don’t mail that often and I am always finding old stamps laying around. This way I get the stamps and when I find them again five years from now I can still use them without adding postage.

  11. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Damnit. I’m only 24 and I remember when stamps were 24 cents!

  12. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    You can also sign up for a stamp subscription from the USPS: [shop.usps.com]

    Or just buy a scad of forever stamps online.

  13. jmndos says:

    You could make your own stamps and never pay those pesky fees again..

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wanted to let you know about a free tool (Forever-Stamps.com) that scans ebay to help find discounted forever stamps for sale.

    Check checked and a number of people are selling forever stamps at slightly below current postage rates. Makes sense, since they probably bought at the previous rates.

  15. Ragman says:

    I still have some forever stamps from a while back. I’ve done better by paying most everything ACH or online, which made finishing my last roll of $0.39 stamps take forever. Of course, I got hosed with the last major postage change, when USPS revamped first class mail. I’m stuck with $0.24 extra ounce stamps that don’t work out to exact postage anymore.

  16. esc27 says:

    I’m still using the one book I bought before the last price increase…

  17. kwsventures says:

    I read that the postal service lost a couple of billion bucks last year. So, therefore, raise the postal rates? How about cutting staff? How about mail delivery only 3 days per week? Do we really need 6-day postal service? How about offering businesses the opportunity to pay for advertising that appears on postal stamps? Get some revenue out of stamps. The bottom line is the postal service has no incentive to think outside the box and come up with new revenue ideas.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @kwsventures: If they cut mail delivery days that will make my netflix subscription pretty useless. I would cancel it in a heartbeat and I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one.

    • Jeff the Riffer says:

      @kwsventures: All of those options have been discussed, as Jack Potter recently testified to congress.

      The single biggest financial burden to USPS currently is a legally mandated retirement funding program. Quite frankly, if that had never been done than USPS would be in significantly better financial shape now.

  18. JamieSueAustin says:

    I’d be fine with 5 day delivery or with adverts on stamps (or postal markings) either way. I don’t even mind postal rate increases because I can’t pay someone 44cents to drive my letter to LA.

  19. ajlei says:

    I usually buy Forever stamps, but I’ve only ever bought two books (the first one was when they first came out, the second one was about two months ago) because I RARELY mail anything. I think the only thing I mail is my rent check.

  20. Anonymous says:

    If the postal service was interested in coming out with a stamp that plenty of people would hold onto and never use, this would’ve been the perfect time for them to create a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series.