Stamp collecting doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. You can enjoy collecting stamps with limited financial resources. Here are 10 really low-cost ways to start stamp collecting.
1. Ask your friends to use commemorative stamps on their mail when they write to you. Commemorative stamps are generally larger than regular stamps and are issued to honor famous people, places, or events. Because commemorative stamps are usually issued in lesser quantities than common smaller stamps, they are of much more interest to collectors. Tell your friends that you are a stamp collector and ask them to request commemorative stamps at the post office.
2. When you send away for offers that require postage or self-addressed, stamped envelopes, use commemorative stamps. You’ll get them back when the envelopes are returned to you.
3. Ask your neighbors, friends, and relatives to save their used stamps for you. You’ll find that most people will be happy to save their stamps for you when they learn that you are a collector.
4. If you know someone who gets letters from other countries, ask them to save those stamps. Always be on the lookout for potentially good stamp contacts, and don't be afraid to ask them to go through their mail for you before they throw away all the envelopes.
5. Ask friends and family to save the envelopes from their office mail for you. Many businesses get a lot of foreign mail and regularly throw away stamps that have interest and value to a collector.
6. Ask your parents if they have any old letters with stamps on the envelopes. Don’t peel the stamp off the envelope. This will cause thin spots or tears, both of which ruin a stamp's appearance and lessen its value to collectors. Always tear off the envelope corner so that there is paper all around the stamp, and make sure that all of the perforations are undamaged.
7. If you know other stamp collectors, ask them if they have duplicates that they are willing to give or sell to you. Many collectors have thousands of duplicates and they are often willing to help get new philatelists get started by giving them stamps or by selling them packets of stamps much more cheaply than can be purchased in stores or by mail.
8. Look for free stamps advertised by stamp companies. Free stamps are often offered along with “approvals,” an assortment of other stamps that you must either buy or return. This can be a convenient way to buy stamps. Note, however, that you usually have to pay the return postage if you return the approval stamps.
9. Check out stamp clubs in your area. Clubs may offer stamps as prizes, or have inexpensive stamps you can afford to buy. Some stamp clubs sponsor junior clubs the local community center, YMCA, or schools.
10. Consider starting a stamp club if one doesn’t already exist in your area. It only takes four or five other stamp collectors who are interested in getting together to learn about and trade stamps and ideas.
With free stamps and a few inexpensive accessories, such as a small album and a package of stamp hinges, even collectors with little money can have a great time.
So, what are you waiting for? Start collecting stamps today!