There's an odd phenomenon in which one collecting field will have some things much more cheaply than in other fields, and some things much more expensively. Here are some ideas for using other types of stores, or other collecting fields' supplies, to help with stamp collecting, sorting, and shipping. There are of course converse cases, but those belong in other posts. :-)
- Padded 3-ring binders are much cheaper in trading card collecting than in stamp collecting, and sometimes even cheaper than non-padded ones from the office center. They're great if you don't mind a logo on the front (most have one) -- or those can be easily covered with a label.
- "Toploaders" -- hard cases -- are cheap and great for inserting a stamp or small pane or cutout into to mail cheaply, and are thin enough that they never get tampered with in customs. These are under 15¢ apiece. Look for these at Amazon.
- "Penny sleeves" -- thin archival plastic sleeves to securely hold a trading card -- are crystal clear (you can easily scan through them, for instance) and are great for stamps. They don't seal like most stamp bags do, but they are super-cheap (about $1 for 100 -- it's not just a clever nickname!) One can fold them over and hold them securely with sticky tape. Make sure to fold them -- you don't want stamps sliding up and touching tape adhesive! Here are some at Amazon.
- Comic "Bags & Boards" have lots of uses. Put a backing board into the mylar sleeve, slide a stamp sheet in front of it, fold the flap over and seal it. A "Current Comic" size cut into thirds fits perfectly into a #6¾ envelope; therefore they can be used to stiffen covers sent for first-day servicing or can stiffen FDC-size polybags and glassines. The bags themselves can hold panes. These are around 9¢ apiece for a pair of bag and board. Here are some at Amazon.
Office Supply Stores
- Letter filing and storage boxes are frequently much less expensive at office supply houses than through stamp supply mail-order houses. If you buy your envelopes in bulk, keep the boxes and store (a smaller number of) full envelopes inside. The cardboard will almost certainly be non-archival even if the envelopes are -- line them or make sure your envelopes are in archival plastic.
- "Archival mist" -- an aerosol can or pump bottle/can full of alkaline fluid to deter yellowing of acid paper -- can be a tenth of the cost at a craft store compared to stamp supplies. This is easier to get in a walk-in store than by mail order, too, because some have shipping restrictions.
Any other ideas for cost savings in philately? Add them as you like!