I like to save money like everyone, and when it comes to shipping costs, I look for every possible way to save! If you are online much at all, you will need to deal with shipping whether you are sending or receiving at some point. My friend and I were just talking about this, so here are a few savings tips I've learned that I thought might be helpful to others.
*Whether shipping with Paypal or USPS.com, Priority Mail Flat Rate is a great option. It's comparatively very reasonably priced and USPS offers free boxes and envelopes for their Flat Rate options. You will be amazed by how much you can fit in even the smaller ones! You don't even have to go to the P.O. to pick up the boxes. That's right, you can order them straight from their website and they will bring them right to your door. Let me tell you, as a mother of 5, anything that keeps me from having to drag the troops to the P.O. is a very, very good thing!!!! :)
*PRINT YOUR LABELS ONLINE!!! Seriously. This not only keeps you from having to make that extra trip to the P.O., but it's also cheaper. You can print right on paper and tape it to your package or buy labels inexpensively from places like Uline if you ship a lot. Your postal person can pick up the packages when they drop your mail. I don't ship enough to request a free regular pick up, they offer that option when you print your label, but I did have hubs install us a larger mailbox to accommodate the size packages I most often have coming and going. It has been so great!
*Check out the new Regional Rate Boxes by USPS. These offer a great size package for lower rates when mailed closer to home. The pricing is broken up by region and I have found these to be a HUGE savings even from the regular Flat Rate options. Also, the new Padded Flat Rate Envelopes will expand to hold more for the same Flat Rate Envelope price. Some P.O.s prefer the regular envelope only be used for documents.
*Weight matters! Packages up to 13oz. can be mailed First Class. First class will become Parcel Post after that and it is often cheaper to go with a Flat Rate option at that point. It isn't necessary of course, but I purchased a postage scale for less than $20 on ebay. This has saved me money by allowing me to weigh and check the prices of all my shipping options online. Also another one of the things that prevents extra P.O. trips.
*Don't forget Media Mail! If you are shipping books, magazines, DVDs or the like, Media Mail is often the least expensive option for shipping.
*Larger boxes are less expensive when shipped with UPS or FedEx. Anytime I'm shipping something especially large or heavy, I usually go with one of these.
*I always look for options to have items shipped to me via Flat or Regional Rate.
*COMBINED SHIPPING!!! When ordering from online resources like ebay or etsy where the shipping for items is individually priced, I always ask the seller whether they offer a combined shipping discount for multiple items. In my experience almost all sellers will....often the site just doesn't offer a way for the seller to provide this otherwise.
*Watch for free shipping offers. Many shops offer free shipping when your order reaches a certain point. If you haven't reached that point, maybe an extra yard of fabric will get you there and you are still spending the same amount! If not, consider waiting to place your order until you can get the discount if time allows. I'd much rather spend my money on product than shipping!
There are guidelines for all of these options and further information about domestic and international shipping at USPS.com. Hope this is helpful to someone. :)