Why do you think greeting cards have gotten so expensive lately? I went to buy a birthday card for my sister the other day and I turned it over to check the price. It was $7.99!
I was aghast. I kept thinking about what else I could buy for $7.99. My grocery store has the cards next to the floral department, and there were bouquets of carnations on sale for $6.99. I could buy a bouquet of flowers and take them to my sister, or I could send her a piece of cardboard for more money. I really think I want to stop buying cards completely and wonder what you think of this.”
I agree that the cost of greeting cards has risen a great deal over the past few years, and like you, I have trouble spending close to ten dollars on a card. (Truth be told, I have difficulty even spending five dollars on a card!)
With the rise of social media, many people are wishing each other “Happy Birthday” and the like by sending an electronic message or text instead of a physical card. Of course, most electronic greetings are free, which has significantly cut into the physical greeting card business. WCCO CBS Minnesota recently did a report on this very issue, and they noted greeting card companies have created more expensive cards partially in response to people buying fewer cards. When people aren’t buying as many cards, the price goes up.
Interestingly, back in 2013, the Greeting Card Association lobbied the U.S. Postal Service against increasing the cost of a First-Class stamp. At that time, they argued a postal rate hike would have a negative effect on the postal service itself, as people would be discouraged from sending as many greeting cards if the cost of a stamp went up.
Each stamp-cost increase typically amounts to a few cents though. In fact, in April 2016, the cost of a first-class stamp went down to 47 cents, dropping from its former 49-cent price. Yet, the price of greeting cards has escalated far beyond stamp price fluctuations.
I still enjoy sending and receiving greeting cards, though I do look for the best prices on them. I was raised to appreciate the etiquette of sending physical greeting and thank you cards. My local supermarket has a .99-to-$2.99 card area, though I’ve noticed these cards often are displayed near the floor. (The more expensive cards get the eye-catching, eye-level rack space!)
If you have a dollar store in your area, I recommend checking out their greeting card selection. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. In my area, we have several national-chain dollar stores that sell individual greeting cards for 50 cents to $1. Think about that — for the price of the $7.99 card my reader found, I can buy eight to sixteen cards at the dollar store.
I’ve also found that eight-to-10 packs of thank you cards and party invitations also are $1 at the dollar store — a much better deal than buying them at a supermarket or specialty card shop.
If you’re the kind of person that enjoys paper crafts, you also could explore making your own cards. Card making has grown in popularity, and you can find supplies at craft stores — everything from cardstock to ink stamps to stencils to specially inks. Or, with a home computer, you can print your own greeting cards. Greeting card studio software packages are available at prices starting at $10, and you can then print coupons for the cost of ink and cardstock.
I would never advise anyone to stop sending cards. In a world that’s largely gone digital, I do enjoy the personal touch of sending and receiving handwritten cards. Here’s another tip: Keep some greeting cards on hand at home so you don’t have to run to the store on short notice. I have a small assortment of dollar-store cards home for a handful of common occasions, which I store in a shoebox-sized plastic tote for easy access.
Jill Cataldo is a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three.