Gary Brown: It probably cost me money to save money on postage stamps

Gary Brown

I waited what seemed to be forever Saturday to buy four books of “Forever” stamps.

When postage went up Monday I figure I saved $1.60.

It doesn’t seem like as much of a deal today as it did three days ago. I watched a segment on personal finances Monday on one of the network morning newscasts. Maybe that gave me a better grasp of the error in my reasoning than I had when I was actually standing there in the line at the post office, with other penny-pinchers.

For all the work I put into it, I made quite a bit less than minimum wage. And from that I have to deduct gasoline used during the drive to the post office. It probably cost me money to save money.

I’m starting to sound like Postmaster General Yogi Berra.

Why do we put ourselves through this sort of futile effort to be economical? We are reminded early in the weekend that “postage is going up two cents Monday” and we run out and spend three cents a stamp to beat the deadline. This is the sort of financial decision-making that could add a couple of years to my personal recession. A couple of more choices like that and I’ll be in a depression.

“Do you also have 2-cent stamps with a picture of President Hoover on them? ...”

I bought two-cent stamps when I purchased the books of “Forever” stamps. No savings there. It didn’t really matter what day I put my two cents worth in. The only reason I bought them before the deadline is that I still have some holiday stamps left over. Now I’m all set to celebrate “Christmas in May, June and July” with anybody who sends me a bill.

The “Forever” stamps are for the future.

So that’s why I was standing in the line at the post office about noon Saturday wondering whether I wanted to make “Forever” last one book, two books, three books or four books. Buying any more than that would have made me look as though I wanted to be immortal.

I stood there as the line inched forward. About half-way through my wait I began to wonder if I was wasting time, but by then I already had wasted half of it. I figured I might as well throw the rest of it away and have something to show for it.

I could have bought stamps from one of the machines at the post office when I first got there, but then I would have missed the camaraderie of the wait. As one woman put it as she left, “You know, everybody in line is standing here to save $2.” She obviously thought “Forever” was five books. I admire an optimist.

One thing I discovered from my wait, when you get to the front of the line, when you’re next in line, you get a feeling of satisfaction. You’ll be tempted to look back at those in line behind you. Do not offend them by smiling.

Stupid people need to stick together.

Gary Brown writes for the Canton Repository. Contact him at gary.brown@cantonrep.com