The cost of a first-class stamp will increase to 42 cents on May 12. But between now and May 11, it's possible to lock in lower rates by purchasing ''Forever stamps.'' Introduced in April 2007, Forever stamps are valid first-class stamps regardless of future price increases.
Forever stamps purchased in April 2008 for 41 cents can be used to mail a first-class letter without additional postage even after the new rate kicks in.
''In this case, forever means forever. There is no fine print,'' says David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the U.S Postal service.
"The Forever stamp is a big hit for us.''
The Post Office already has sold five billion Forever stamps and plans to issue another five billion to fill demand. They are sold at the Post Office, over the Internet (http://www.usps.com/) and by phone (1-800-stamp24).
Some financial speculators spot a long-term investment ploy that involves purchasing and hoarding large quantities of Forever stamps and watching the value of those stamps appreciate as a result of future rate hikes.
As an investment, however, Forever stamps may not yield a practical return, according to www.pennysaved.com/. See post: For the love of God, do not invest in forever stamps (top 5 reasons why not) Storing and cashing out on large quantities of stamps may not be realistic. Other investments -- stocks, bonds and money market accounts -- offer potentially higher rates of return.
The stamps definitely have an ''economic value,'' but convenience is the main selling point, Partenheimer said, adding that Forever stamps eliminate the need to scramble for additional penny stamps when postal rates increase.
Here's a a short roundup of posts on forever stamps:
From Living Almost Large: Thrifty Tip: Buy Forever Stamps
From I've Paid For This Twice Already: Forever Stamps - Why Buy Anything Else?
From Blueprint for Financial Prosperity: USPS Price Hike - Stamps to 42 Cents
From Zen Personal Finance: Stock Up on Forever Stamps and Save Penny After Penny!
SMELL THE COFFEE
I received several emails about my recent newspaper column on coffee makers: Saving Money with Home Brewed Coffee Some took issue with the $900 Francis Francis, a 13-inch espresso machine featured as a frugal, step-saving alternative to espresso machines costing $3,000 and up. ''Hardly frugal,'' wrote a South Florida reader Elizabeth Smith, who uses a paper cone filter and boiling water to make a single cup of coffee.
Other coffee fans lobbied for Bodum or French press coffee makers ($20), in which hot water is poured and filtered over ground coffee. (Later this week, I'll write an extended piece about coffee maker tips from readers.)
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.