Whether you’re trying to make a little bit of extra money on eBay or you’re running your own full-time business, shipping costs can eat into your profits. Even people who just want to ship Christmas presents to relatives in other states can find themselves frustrated over how much the process costs. Shipping doesn’t have to be this monster that eats away your budget, however. With some smart shopping and a little preparation, you can bring your shipping costs down.

Shipping Time: How To Save Money When Sending Packages

Know Your Options

Too many people, including business owners, let the post office decide how they will ship their packages. The USPS exists in a funny sort of purgatory between government agency and private business. While they are supposed to be run on a revenue-neutral basis, they are still more interested in up selling consumers than finding them the best possible price. Do your own research. For some, UPS may be cheaper under certain circumstances. For others, FedEx may provide the perfect balance of cost and efficiency. And for many, the U.S. Postal Service will be just fine. Find the company that matches your needs and then find the services they offer that will keep your shipping costs low.

Avoid Professional Labels

Unless you’re a business that depends on making the most professional impression possible, there’s little need to spend extra money on those sticky address labels. You can make your own with a printer and a computer, saving quite a bit of money in the process. Just tape each label to the box and you’ll be fine. If you’re returning online purchases or shipping through eBay, you can often print a label online and use that.

Give Yourself Some Time

This is a good tip both for people who want to save on their own shipping costs and those who want to reduce the costs of their online purchases. Don’t procrastinate. The sooner you order something, the more you can save on shipping. Think about it. How many times have you been forced to buy expensive shipping for Christmas presents? You know when the holiday is, so don’t wait until the last minute to get your stuff in the mail. By mailing early, you’ll also avoid the crush of holiday shipping traffic, making it much more likely that your shipment will find its destination in time.

Know Your Postage

For people or businesses that ship in high quantities, a postage meter may make sense. You’re not going to make back your investment if you’re only shipping a few packages a year, but high-volume shippers can really save on postage if they have one handy. This is especially true if you’re not keen on heading to your shipping provider in person every time you want to send a package. Pitney Bowes estimates small business owners can save as much as 20 percent every year on postage with one of these meters. While this piece of advice could be approached skeptically considering the source, business owners who tend to over-stamp their packages to avoid inconvenience can undoubtedly save some money.