At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Tag: buy stamps online

Seven Ways to Find More Time

If you think your tech wastes more time than it’s worth, you’re not alone. But if you look around, you can find suggestions on how your tech can actually improve your day. I’ve gathered seven tips to share…

If you think your tech wastes more time than it’s worth, you’re not alone. But if you look around, you can find suggestions on how your tech can actually improve your day. I’ve gathered seven tips to share…

The irony is all of your home tech is supposed to save you time and ‘enhance’ your life. But technology also can be a huge time suck.

A piece of advice…
Don’t get distracted (too much) by the many lures of your tech.
Keep it working for you!

Here are seven ways I use my own tech to help squeeze a little more time out of my week…

1. Always Know the Time as You Sleep
You wake up in the dead of night and wonder what time it is. If you’re like me, you’ve long retired your clock radio. Now, only your smartphone hangs out on your bedside table. But you’ve got to reach over and activate it if you want to see what time it is. How annoying is that? Wouldn’t it be great if you could quickly just peer up at the ceiling to see what time it is?

Well you can… with a projection alarm clock!
I’ve got one made by Electrohome.

2. More Impulse Buying on Amazon
Do you keep forgetting to get maple syrup at the supermarket for Sunday pancakes? Just putting it on a list for the next time you hit Stew Leonards will delay you until you actually make that trip.

I say order the replacement item on Amazon Prime as soon as you run out.
With ‘Prime,’ you don’t waste money on extra shipping charges with this one-off scattered shopping approach.
(Organic Maple Syrup. Click.)

So yes, this falls under the category of impulse buying…but only for your kitchen staples.

3. Keep your Home Cozy from Anywhere
Did you forget to turn down the heat before you left the house this morning?
No worries. You don’t have to turn around to check.

If you have a smart thermostat like a Nest, you can adjust the temperature from an app on your iPhone from anywhere in the world.

4. Catch the Train with Your Smartphone
Running late to your Metro North train at Grand Central Terminal for your evening commute out of New York City? And a few saved seconds can make the difference whether you make your train or not?
(Yes, that’s how I roll.)
No problem!

Your TrainTime app on your smartphone will quickly inform you which gate your train is leaving from.

And you can quickly buy a digital train ticket using the MTA eTix app, instead of waiting on line at a ticket kiosk to purchase a physical one.
(And that app is going to be especially handy in the dead of winter when you encounter an exposed and frozen ticket kiosk that’s malfunctioning.)

5. Stop Going to the Post Office
Why would you ever choose to waste even a fraction of your existence at the post office buying stamps? The lines are endless. It’s like Purgatory in there.
Even the stamp-dispensing square autobot will drain your life force.
Why not simply purchase your stamps from the convenience of your home computer?

It’s wicked quick at store.usps.com…
(Sure, you pay a $1.25 shipping charge for a roll of 100 Forever stamps. But I say that’s more than worth it for the convenience.)

6. Avoid Greeting Card Aisles
Do you still feel like you have to troll for greeting cards at the local CVS or Walgreens to get the ‘perfect card?’
Well, STOP IT!

You know what I mean… searching up and down that forest of disorganized generic thoughts. Finding that perfect card, only to realize there’s no matching envelope, and having to start all over again.

It’s no longer a badge of honor to say to your loved one… “I spent an hour looking for the perfect card!”
(My mom used to always to say that to me.)

There’s got to be a better way!
Well, of course there is…

Here are three online destinations you can visit-

These websites contain virtually all the greeting cards you could ever want.
Plus they’ll mail them for you!

Whoah…. Now that’s really a paradigm shift.

7. Get E-ZPass or Bust
All right, who here doesn’t have E-ZPass yet?
What? You’re still waiting on long lines in your car at tollbooths?
Please stand up and walk upstairs.
Now go to bed…. There’s no dinner for you.
(And here’s something to ponder as you drift off…
Technology is quickly killing off the tollbooth.)

The rest of you can sleep soundly knowing your E-ZPass is working hard to save you time. But before you start your snooze, you might want to check in on your E-ZPass account just to make sure it’s current.
You don’t want E-ZPass to list the car you owned a decade ago.

Enough said.

How Did It Get So Late So Soon?
Look, I’m not saying you should stop wasting your precious time checking Facebook twenty times or spending hours on a Sunday night combing through your weekend family photos using Lightroom.

I get it.
Believe me…

Guilty.

I’m just pointing out how you should also be very deliberate to find ways to use your tech to save you time.

And maybe… just maybe… at the end…

You’ll break even.

Hello, I’d Like to Buy 10,000 Stamps

Online at the post office beats waiting on line at the post office. But is that the best site to buy enough stamps to keep your bills paid?

Online at the post office beats waiting on line at the post office.
But is that the best site to buy enough stamps to keep your bills paid?

It seems I’m always dangerously close to running out of stamps.
And I inevitably have to prepare myself for another ‘adventure’ to the post office.

So, sure… I know we live in a paperless society where so much of our commerce is transacted digitally. But please tell that to the owners of all the bills I still receive in the mail. Yes, I’m a huge fan of online bill payments, but it takes a big commitment to get everyone into the ‘system.’

Sometimes, it’s easier just to reach for a self-stick stamp.

I Want a Real Stamp!
I don’t know about you, but I do not find it especially convenient to just walk into a post office and buy a book of stamps.
(Waiting on line is so analog!)

And purchasing stamps from the automated touch-screen dispenser doesn’t give you the real deal. Recently, these machines have been ‘upgraded’ to spit out this freshly printed but very ordinary sheet of stamps.

Yes, they’re legit, but they seem so…generic.
Something almost out of a kindergarten art project.
Certainly non-collectibles…

Google for Your Stamps
The other morning, I peeled off a little 47-cent ‘Forever’ square and realized I only had two left.

It was time to jump into action.
But I was determined not to get out of my chair.
(Besides, it was still dark out.)

I turned on my iMac.
Its glow powered my resolve.

“Send me stamps,” I whispered evilly.

Nothing.

Then I realized I was momentarily caught in a temporal rift, and I was channeling my future self ten years out.

I sighed and looked around to see if anyone got the joke.
The rest of the family was still asleep.

Oh well…
I lifted my fingers to initiate some Googling…

Amazon’s Deal Isn’t Prime
I figured the U.S. Postal Service must sell stamps online.
And of course they do.
Buying stamps at usps.com… it seems so patriotic.

Problem solved, right?

Well, I happened to notice there would be a shipping fee.
(amount unknown)
And you have to sign up for an account to discover how much that would cost.

Hmmmm….

I’ve been so spoiled by the free shipping convenience of Amazon Prime.
(Though apparently their more expensive $99 Prime charge isn’t enough to prop up Amazon’s sickly profit margins.)

I immediately went to Amazon to find my stamps.
Yup, there they were!
Prime?
Check!

Price: $13.35 for 20 stamps.

My neurons powered up to do the short math.
(uhhhhh)
I reached for the calculator instead.

Their deal turned out to be a little more than 66 cents for a 47-cent stamp.

What?!
That’s a huge mark up!!

No thank you, Amazon.

Office Depot to the Rescue
I can’t be the first person out there looking for a good deal on stamps online.

Google. Google.
Google. Google. Google.

Wait… there!!
Officedepot.com sells stamps.

Their website offered a cool roll of 100 stamps for $47 with free delivery.
(And even I could do that simple math to know the price was right.)

But then I noticed there’s a $1 ‘Processing Fee’ added at checkout.
(D’oh!!)

But I still pulled the trigger, reluctantly.
The convenience of free home delivery was worth the dollar.
(if you can follow that logic)

Uncle Sam Can’t Be Beat
But I still wasn’t 100% satisfied.

So to quench my intellectual thirst,
I went back to Uncle Sam to check out his shipping costs.

Of course, usps.com offered the traditional Forever flag stamps.
(I half expected the site to offer me an apple pie if I spent $50.)

You can order in incremental strips of 20 or 25 stamps.

And in case you suddenly find the urgent need to buy 10,000 stamps, have no fear.
The United States Postal Service has got you covered.
It just takes a click and $4,700.00, and you’re ready to go.
(I’m not kidding.)

ten-thousand-47-cent-forever-stamps

I’m not so sure how many people are clicking for 10,000 stamps, but our government has got them at the ready to ship out to you!

Once I got over considering how long it would take me to go through all those stamps, (I don’t get that many bills!)
I got back to the shipping cost question.

I took the few minutes to sign up with the government.
(Don’t they already know me?)

I experimented by putting in a few different orders into the shopping cart.
And do you know what I discovered about the shipping charge?

  • 25 stamps – $1.25 shipping
  • 50 stamps – $1.25 shipping
  • 75 stamps – $1.25 shipping
  • 100 stamps – $1.25 shipping

The United States government apparently has this great flat-rate shipping deal going with our post office.

Who knew?!!

(Actually, I think it’s a little more to ship your 10,000 stamps.)

Plus, there’s no processing fee to infuriate you!!
(That just comes once a year in April.)

So I immediately felt buyer’s remorse.
But comparing officedepot.com to usps.com… the pricing is actually kind of a wash.

Click-N-Ship
Now I had become an honorary member of the U.S. Postal Service Fan Club,
I figured I should check out the rest of what usps.com had to offer.
And I discovered our nation’s digital post office had a few other tricks up its sleeve…

Did you know….?

  • You can schedule online a free package pickup
    (though it costs $20 if you ask for a specific time window)
  • You can also order mailing and shipping supplies for free
  • And print shipping labels with postage

So for many situations, you don’t ever have to go to the post office ever again!
(Whoah… what a concept.)

Invasion of the Stamp Snatchers
I think usps.com is going right into my favorites folder.

I prefer online artificial intelligence over pod people any day….
Come on… you know what I’m talking about.

It’s not everyone at the post office, mind you…
But every so often when you go up to the counter, the post office guy looks up,
and it’s Donald Sutherland!!

Come to think of it, when you’re online late at night at usps.com, it’s probably a wise move not to fall asleep.

You never know…

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