Shop the dollar store
Ralph Smith for Reader's Digest
Need shipping supplies? Dollar stores sell a range of inexpensive bubble mailers, envelopes, packaging tape, and mailing labels for far less than the post office or a shipping center.
Get a month of service up front
Websites like shoprunner.com and amazon.com/prime offer memberships with free two-day shipping. Sign up for a 30-day trial, then decide if you want to keep the membership after the holidays.
'Insure" expensive gifts
To ship costly goods through FedEx, consider paying the 90-cent charge (per $100 of value) to declare their worth. FedEx doesn’t offer insurance but will pay the declared amount if an item is lost or damaged. UPS covers packages valued up to $100 and has similar pricing to declare the value of more-expensive goods.
Send books on the cheap
Gifting a good read? Mail educational items such as books and DVDs through the USPS Media Mail, starting at $2.72, typically the cheapest shipping option.
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Don't miss "Free Shipping Day"
Hundreds of retailers offer to send at no cost gifts purchased online on December 18, 2015. Check freeshippingday.com for a list of participating vendors.
Sources: Lauren Greutman, a frugal-living expert and founder of iamthatlady.com, a consumer savings website; freeshippingday.com;
fedex.com; usps.com; ups.com