With less than two months left until 2013, people are probably starting to consider their New Year’s resolutions: giving up smoking, going on a diet, spending less money or more time with their families. A lot of these will fall by the wayside by spring, but here’s one new commitment Americans will have no choice but to keep: paying more for postage.
The Postal Regulatory Commission has approved a 1-cent increase, effective Jan. 27, for mailing first-class letters on Friday, the Associated Press reported. The penny hike raises the price of a first-class domestic stamp — also known as a “Forever” stamp — used to send a one-ounce letter from 45 to 46 cents. Postcards will also cost an extra penny to mail, boosting the price to 33 cents.
The U.S. Postal Service, which proposed the price increase last month, will also debut a global “Forever” stamp, allowing consumers to send mail anywhere in the world for a set price of $1.10. Although the cost of mailing letters internationally varies, the new stamp will raise the price for most locations by 5 cents. Customers whose mail travels to Mexico and Canada will cough up an additional 25 cents, Reuters reported.
The uptick in postage costs is basically enough to cover inflation and will therefore hardly benefit the struggling Postal Service. The agency, whose revenues come almost entirely from the sale of postage and other items, as Reuters reported — not tax dollars — is being forced to adjust as digital communications increasingly replace snail mail. The agency lost a record $15.9 billion this year and defaulted twice on Congress-required payments. Now that the election is over, reforming the postal system is expected to be on Congress’ agenda. Legislators have been working for more than a year to deal with USPS’ financial problems, and the agency’s officials have proposed a greater increase in postage price and eliminating Saturday mail service to cut costs.
Those reluctant to part with their pennies have a few choices. One option is to treat this price hike, the second of its kind in two years, as an opportunity to minimize snail mail transactions and to embrace (if you haven’t already) social media, email and online bill payment systems. If modern technology isn’t your thing, rest assured: you still have two months to hoard 45-cent “Forever” stamps, which are valid for all of eternity even if postage costs rise.