Forever stamps: Start hoarding now

The U.S. Postal Service's "forever" stamp booklet is displayed in May 2007.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: Nevermind that sending mail through the post office is becoming old school these days, and that you can make money, perhaps, through investments such as stocks and bonds. Or at the very least a simple savings account. Fortune Magazine's Allan Sloan says he wants to start the week talking about a way to get a nice, assured tax-free return on something that sounds so square. He's with us now. Hi Allan.

Allan Sloan: Hi Steve!

Chiotakis: So what are you talking about?

Sloan: I'm talking about forever stamps, and this has to do with the rate increase. And if you sit and crunch the numbers, you'll realize that's a 4.5 percent increase over the current rate. So if you buy forever stamps now and you start using them next year, your annual return is 8 [percent] or 9 percent tax-free. Which these days is not bad.

Chiotakis: Now these forever stamps, Allan, were marketed by the post office as a way to -- OK, you can get in on whatever the stamps cost now, and never have to pay the increase as long as you have these forever stamps. Did they anticipate that people would be buying these and hoarding them like yourself?

Sloan: They anticipated that people would be buying them, and the other thing they want is they don't want everybody showing up at the post office the day the rate goes up buying two-cent stamps. So this makes their life easier, plus they get paid upfront.

Chiotakis: What's the point, then, in raising the rate if people are just going to buy forever stamps?

Sloan: Well the point is not everyone is going to buy a forever stamp, and other rates are going up as well -- packages and express mail.

Chiotakis: And what else are they talking about to raise some money? I know they were, what, $3.5 [billion], $4 billion in debt last year. What else are they doing to sort of shore things up?

Sloan: Well as you know, they're talking about cutting Saturday service, which I suspect in the end they're not going to get to do for political reasons.

Chiotakis: Political reasons, what do you mean political reasons?

Sloan: Well Congress has to approve cutting this, and a lot of businesses don't want mail delivered less frequently. And I suspect an average person would rather get mailed delivered six days than five.

Chiotakis: So Allan Sloan says "yay" to collecting and hoarding forever stamps from the post office, but "nay" to nixing Saturday deliver service, is that right?

Sloan: That would be my prediction. But I'm just being a good journalist and trying to figure out how we can make a buck off of this.

Chiotakis: Haha. Fortune Magazine's Allan Sloan with us. Allan, thank you.

Sloan: You're welcome, Steve.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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