In February, we’re talking all things Household Management, and focusing in this week on The Invisible Chores. Today, I’ll share some tips about sending things off through the mail.
When I was a kid, administrative household tasks like paying the bills and preparing things to send through the mail were done behind closed doors. I get why—these things are relatively boring to kids and require focus. But this resulted in my showing up at the post office one day, hoping to mail something in the wrong kind of envelope, without any postage in hand. The person at the post office was really kind about it, and took some time to walk me through what I needed to do differently, but I was still embarrassed and I sill wish that had never happened.
Today we’ll talk four categories of mail supplies that every adult should have on hand so you’re prepared to do unexpected mail tasks at the drop of a hat, but not over purchasing every little thing.
These four categories are: Information, Contents, Containers, and Payment.
Let’s start with category 1: Information. So many times I have found myself looking for the same address repeatedly. I am not the kind of person to keep a hard copy address book, because I am the kind of person who ruins people’s address books by moving every year. So, I have a spreadsheet (I’m sure you’re shocked). I keep a spreadsheet in my Google Drive with full names, birthdays, complete addresses (with street, city, state, and zip code columns). I send birthday cards out to some people in my life, and Christmas cards to the same group, and keeping this list digitally allows me to update info when a friend moves. I save business addresses that I need into the contacts list in my phone, or I just google them. Having a system of some sort, whatever sort works for you, is critical for not hating mailing things.
Category 2: Contents. The contents can be the forms you had to print out and mail for that retirement transfer or student loan forgiveness refund. They could be the only check you’ve mailed in years to put a deposit in on that rental home. They could be a really cute tap dancing cat card that you’re sending to your niece for her birthday. Forms and papers don’t need anything additional with their contents as longs as they have all of your contact information on them (so, that would be your name, address, and phone number). But if you’re sending money of any kind, you need to be able to tuck it into a blank notecard or wrap it in a printed letter. So, you’ll need a stash of blank notecards around. I keep a very small amount of these (like, a dozen a year) for sending money just-in-case. I’m going to be your pushy aunt for a second and tell you that YOU NEED TO KEEP THANK YOU CARDS AND ACTUALLY SEND THEM OUT WHEN SOMEONE DOES SOMETHING NICE FOR YOU. I keep about a 24 pack of these annually and use them allllll up. I keep professional Thank You cards, because I send more work-related than gift related cards, but you do you. Finally, I buy birthday cards quarterly for my birthday card list, and keep them at home so I can keep up with things more conveniently than running to the store for every individual birthday.
Category 3: Containers. You’ll need to have a container for your contents. We most often think of envelopes, and you should keep a small stash of standard letter-sized envelopes around. I just bought my second 50-pack of these in my adult life, and I’m 31. So don’t go crazy. But when you need them, it’s annoying to not have them. Blank notecards, thank you cards, and birthday cards will all come with a sized-to-fit envelope. Note that weird shapes of cards could require extra postage—this is usually marked on the envelope, so just be mindful when you’re purchasing. For mailing packages, I save up to 3 small and medium cardboard boxes at a time from packages I order to repurpose. If you online shop, ever, there’s no reason to buy new boxes for shipping. Bubble envelopes are the only container I make a special purchase for, because I use them so rarely, I’m willing to pay to not have to store them. Plop your item in the container, pad it with a little packing paper (aka paper bags from the grocery or that crumpled up love letter your ex sent you), tape it up, and slap the address and return address on it in a way that’s clearly visible and secure.
Category 4: Payment. For letters and cards I keep a rotation of pretty forever stamps around, because it makes me happy to essentially use grown up stickers featuring winter birds, orchids, rivers of the world, or vintage Santas. I try to swing by the post office and get these in person when they’re not too busy, but you can order them online, too. For all other types of payment, I just take my package to the post office, FedEx, or UPS—whatever is most convenient for that day’s other errands—and have them price it out for me by weight. So, remember, books are freaking expensive to mail because they’re heavy.
And that’s it, friends. I keep all of my mail supplies in a plastic shoebox that I got for $2 at Target, with the exception of the broken down boxes, which I’ve started tucking under the guest bed. Having these supplies on hand has made it less of an ordeal to mail something, and simplicity is important to my actually doing things like complete official forms and get my money where I want it. I hope that you’re able to find a little joy mailing physical things in a digital world, too.
What have you had to unexpectedly mail recently? Let me know on Instagram @nowthatimnotyourteacher, and if you connected with this episode, I would love for you to share it with a friend.
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Now That I'm Not Your Teacher is a podcast that offers insight about the real world stuff that teachers often want to say, but either don't have time to or really shouldn't because: professionalism.