Unless you bought the "forever" stamps, you may need some 1 cent stamps. Starting today, the cost of a first-class stamp increases to 44 cents.
"The long and short of it is that rates are going up because our costs are going up," said Michael Miles, a spokesman for the Atlanta District of the United States Postal Service. "Like any other business, as our costs go up we have to pass those along to our customers."
Miles said people often confuse the postal service for a government-funded agency.
"We don’t get tax dollars as some people think," he said.
Postage rates were also raised last May, from 41 cents to 42 cents per ounce.
"We are looking at raising the rates regularly each year in May, which is pretty much in line with what UPS and FedEx and what other shipping companies do," Miles said.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act states that the U.S. Postal Service will adjust prices for mailing services every May. The postal service says it will provide 90 days notice before the annual change. The act, which was signed into law December 2006, states that rate increases must be consistent with the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
Miles said by increasing the price of stamps yearly, the rate will only increase by 1 or 2 cents at a time.
But those who bought the forever stamps before today are in luck.
"Any forever stamp you purchased prior to the increase will still be good even after the price goes up," Miles said. "Regardless of the price when you buy them, they will always be good."
Miles said since the forever stamps were introduced in 2007, "they’ve been extremely popular."
Among the new 44 cent stamps to be released are "The Simpsons" stamps, featuring the characters from the beloved animated TV show— Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.
According to the United States Postal Service, "The Simpsons" is the only television show to be featured as the sole subject of a stamp set while still in prime-time production.
"That show has proved to be one of the most popular TV series ever," Miles said.
Through Thursday, you also can go online to the postal service Web site to vote on your favorite Simpsons stamp.