I ship something out of my office every day. People cringe when I tell them that and confess they would hate my job and never get around to shipping anything. Well, sometimes it is the little things that throw you but shipping is really not a big deal. I use the Internet, a cheap postal scale, and an inexpensive printer. It’s quick, easy, and rarely requires that I go any further than my front porch.

I pack things up and weigh them when I’m talking on the phone or otherwise have idle hands. And I spend 5 minutes choosing a carrier and printing a shipping label. Then I set the packages on my sheltered front porch, call for pickup, and forget about it till I get the delivery confirmation via email. If you don’t have a porch, you can also ask the shipper to ring the bell when he picks up. None of this is as expensive as it sounds and I’ve gotten to know a lot of very nice UPS, FedEx and DHL carriers.

Here are my top 10 tricks for never setting foot in a post office or shipping store.

  1. Fedex.com. People hear FedEx and think, “Expensive!” But shipping via FedEx Ground or the newer FedEx Home service is often very economical. It’s only the premium overnight services that cost a fortune. And the service from FedEx is outstanding so I ship this way more often than any other. You do need an account. And for that you will need a credit card. But the company doesn’t charge you a dime till you ship something and then they only charge for the cost of shipping. There are no monthly fees. They even deliver labels, boxes, and envelopes right to your door for free. I love the full-sheet labels and I use them to ship via UPS and USPS, too. (Don’t tell.) There isn’t even a charge for pickup service.

     

  2. UPS.com. For larger packages or those going to distant locations, UPS is sometimes cheaper than FedEx Ground. So I have an account here too. Again, the account costs nothing though you have to provide a credit card number. UPS will bring shipping supplies to you so if you need boxes or big envelopes you have only to ask. They do charge a small fee to pick a package up but since so many companies ship to me using UPS, I usually wait for the carrier to show up with something and hand him anything I have going out. No charge for that.

     

  3. USPS.com. Maybe you have a small package you want to ship quickly but don’t want to drop a fortune on? That’s when you use the USPS Priority overnight service. For this, you need an account at USPS.com. You will have to provide a credit card number here, too. And you can ask for supplies to be delivered to your house. Just log on to print labels, slap one on your package, and drop it in your mail box or hand it to your mail carrier.

     

  4. Stamps. Sometimes all you need is a stamp, right? But there is no need to go to the post office for that little errand. Just go to the USPS online store, choose what you want, and let your mail carrier bring it to you.

     

  5. The Right Postage. When it’s time to mail things, make sure you use the right postage by using the USPS online postage calculator. Just enter your zip code, the weight of your package or envelope, and its destination zip code to find out exactly how much postage it needs to get there.

     

  6. Endicia.com. The USPS won’t allow you to print postage for cheaper services like media mail or parcel post from their Web site. So if you are out of stamps—or ship this way frequently—you might want an account with this online shipping service. If you are just trying to get through the holidays, use the 30 day free service. Subscribe and download a little piece of software. Now when you want to send something, load this software, buy postage directly through it, and print labels to your printer. You can print directly to envelopes or whatever labels you happen to like. Very convenient.

     

  7. If you buy the right Dymo Label printer, you can use the Endicia service and forego the monthly fee. Plus you’ll have a cute little dedicated postage printer on your desk. These little printers start at $139 but keep in mind that you have to buy special printer cartridges for them. The Dymo LabelWriter Twin Turbo will print either package labels or envelope stamps.

     

  8. Stamps.com is a service much like Endicia except that it charges $15 a month instead of $9.95. You sign up, buy postage, and download a bit of software. Now you can print postage directly to envelopes or special labels you also buy from Stamps.com. This service does work well with Microsoft Word so, for the higher price, you can print envelopes with postage directly from your word processor.

     

  9. RedRoller integrates Fedex, DHL, USPS, and others so you can quickly see how much a particular package costs to ship via various services and how long it will take to get there so you can quickly decide which carrier is best for each situation. It then handles the shipping label and payment. It’s targeted at businesses and costs at least $14.95 a month but there is a 30-day trail so you could use it to get you through the holidays.

     

  10. PakMail.com. Have you gone crazy selling things on eBay and now have to find a way to ship the couch, monitor, desk chair, and bicycle you sold? If you don’t want to leave the house to do it, try Pakmail.com. They will pack up and ship anything and offer an estimator on their Web site so you can gauge how much it will cost before you list your item on eBay—or agree to ship furniture to your daughter in college.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Ways to Avoid the Post Office”

  1. The Dymo label printer I have (Dymo LabelWriter Turbo 400) doesn’t require print cartridges. I don’t think any of the Dymo printers used to print postage use ink or toner. It uses thermal printing. I have had mine for over two years and just plugged it in, installed it on my computer and “instant printing”.

  2. Very useful post. Thanks!

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