I'm 28 and I've just become a stamp collector! I have just bought 200 second-class stamps for a whopping £72.
"Why on earth did you do that?" I hear you cry. Well, there's method in my madness. Royal Mail's been given the green light to set its first-class stamp prices at whatever level it sees fit. So, from the end of April, they'll cost – wait for it – 60p. That's an increase of more than 30%. And for my stamp of choice, although the price rise is capped for the next seven years, there's still an increase of nearly 40%. A second-class stamp will cost 50p once the new pricing structure comes in, up from 36p.
So what's behind the biggest rise in stamp prices for 37 years? The fact is that the way we communicate has changed massively over the past 15 years or so, thanks to the email and text message revolution. As a result, Royal Mail says it's lost nearly £1 billion in the past four years.
Ok, so I'm not really becoming a philatelist – a display of 200 blue second-class stamps would surely be the most boring stamp collection on earth. The reason I've just splashed out in the Post Office is because I've reached an important life stage. I'm getting married.
The wedding's not until summer 2013, but from here on in, Royal Mail and I are going to be working more closely. I have 150 guests I need to warn of my Sunday nuptials in case they want to book the following day off work to recover, so I'll have to post them ‘save the date' cards. Then around two months before the wedding itself, I'll have to send out the invites. And a couple of weeks after our big day, we'll need to follow up with thank you cards.
So by getting in the Post Office queue early – and yes, there was a big queue at my local branch the day news of the price hike emerged – I've saved myself £28. It's not a massive saving, but this wedding's already costing an arm and a leg – and £28 saved in stamps is £28 to spend on something prettier.