Yes, finding a real bargain is tough. A new car cost MUCH more than they used to and even the modest cheap hamburger isn’t much of a bargain anymore. A cup of coffee at Starbucks definitely is no bargain so what (in my humble opinion) is one of the greatest bargains you can still find in the US? The modest first class postage stamp of course is the single greatest bargain anywhere BAR NONE!
This of course also requires that you actually send mail to someone else at another address and no, I don’t mean email because that doesn’t count.
Consider this: What would you expect to pay for a teenager to carry a slip of paper inside of an envelope across the street to your neighbor? A dollar? Good luck with that. They’d likely want a minimum of $5 and there would be no guarantees the letter would even arrive unopened if it even arrived at all. Chances are the letter would wind up in the trash and your $5 spent on some nefarious teenager stuff. Look, I’m not writing an indictment of all teenagers. There are still a few honest kids out there willing to waste their time carrying your letters across the street for a fair price and there are still adults more than willing to take advantage of teenage labor. That’s not the point. There really is no point except to say that for a mere 50 cents you get a LOT of options.
Suppose you live in the great state of Maine in the town of Caribou which is pretty close to as far northeast in the continental US as you can get. You can get a bit closer, but for demonstration purposes we’ll settle for Caribou and you want to mail a regular letter (under 1 ounce) to your new best friend who just moved to Puuwai, Hawaii, the furthest west town in Hawaii. (not even the continental US) Mailing the same letter cost exactly the same, 50 cents as the same letter you might want to mail to directly across the street to Aunt Mildred. So for all intents and purposes you could theoretically be living in a Caribou mansion living the high life and mail a letter to your poor new best friend living in a slum in Puuwai on the worst day of the year, during a riot and for 50 cents the USPS will still deliver your letter right to their front door as if you paid a heavily armed courier a few thousand bucks to do the same thing. (Assuming your friend in Puuwai even has a front door or even a mailbox)
Then consider that at some point in your life you probably purchased a forever stamp when the price was even lower, 39 cents when they were first introduced in 2007. If you purchaced forever stamps in 2007 and still have some laying around unused they’re still worth exactly the same as the 50 cent first class postage stamp of today.
So why did the USPS decide to issue forever stamps in the first place? Simple, it meant they no longer had to issue millions upon millions of 1, 2 and 3 cent stamps which at the time were never worth the price of the face value of them. And also, back in 2007 by giving them your thirty nine cents then, you basically allowed them to use that money immediately while you might not use those stamps for a very long time. This period allows the postal service to maximize the use of those stamps*. Everyone, including you and the post office won out on the deal and yes, you can send a letter to me addressed to: Martin Amell
114 Briarcliffe East
Elgin, SC 29045 and I will probably read it.
And poor Aunt Mildred? Walk across the street and knock on her door to say hello. She’ll probably think your letter is junk mail anyway.
* A little more on the economics of the Forever Stamp