Time Management Mastery: The Postal Service Maze

October 2007 Family Fun MagazineBy C. Hope Clark
A busy writer who learns the ins and outs of the U.S. Postal Service can save hundreds of dollars in the course of a year. While it seems that  post office employees ask way more questions than necessary when you wait in line, in actuality, they may not ask all the questions needed to obtain the best rate for your mailings. Here are some tips for how to make the most of your USPS experience–and your budget.

First, request Media Mail (a lower rate for a slower delivery) if your package contains magazines, books, manuscripts, sound recordings, recorded videotapes, printed music, or recorded computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes). Media Mail cannot contain advertising except for incidental announcements of books. The maximum weight is 70 lbs, and the delivery time is usually ten days.

For magazines, newsletters and newspapers mailed at least four times a year, you have another lower cost called the Periodicals Rate. You need to apply to the Post Office to receive this rate.

Bound Printed Rate is another reduced expense rate for advertising, promotional, directory, or editorial material securely bound and not in a loose-leaf binder. It cannot contain personal correspondence or stationery.

Parcel Post is the standard way to send a package. It’s a higher rate usually than Media Mail, but these days the determinants for postage are based not only on weight but also on the shape and size of the package. The same weight in two different boxes can vary in cost. If you don’t want to wait the ten days for Media Mail, consider this rate.

If you are mailing books, sometimes Priority Flat Rate is best. Using the Postal Service’s Flat Rate mailing supplies, you get the same rate no matter how full you pack the box or envelope or how much it weighs. They charge nothing for these boxes, and you can keep a supply on hand.

Finding all these names and rates confusing? Want to make sure that you get the best rate? Visit the user friendly Postal Service website.

And while you’re shopping and educating yourself about postal options, don’t forget UPS, Federal Express and others. They offer competitive rates in many cases. (Note, however, they do not offer a reduced Media Rate.)

C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.


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