Banking with USPS

Banking with USPS

It’s a beautiful, sunny day with a slight, crisp chill in the autumn air. You arrive at the local Post Office, package in hand, and step into the warm lobby. The clerk at the counter greets you with a smile and asks, “How may I help you?”

After processing the package and determining postage, you reach into your pocketbook and withdraw your Postal Savings debit card for payment. The interest you earned on your savings has more than paid for the price of postage for the package, and you happily swipe the card in the reader.

In the early half of the 20th century, customers routinely deposited money into their Postal Savings account, earning interest on its balance. Though the Postal Savings System ended in 1966, many Post Offices around the world continue to operate a similar system.

Post Offices in India, Japan, South Korea, and many others offer their customers a variety of financial services, expanding both their customer base and income stream. These services come with the backing of the Post Office and the brand image associated with a trusted company.

USPS is one of the most trusted organizations in the United States. Its reputation and world-class services are well known, and its customers know that there is no better value for their shipping solutions than their local Post Office. Reintegrating banking services into the Postal Service could have the effect of increasing its revenue base from financial services while simultaneously expanding its mailing business from increased foot traffic in its local branches.

The endeavor wouldn’t be a quick solution to increasing postal revenue as there are many infrastructure enhancements and procedures to establish to ensure necessary financial rules and regulations are followed. Still, the long-term prospects of a renewed Postal Savings System could be lucrative enough to reestablish the once thriving service.

If the Postal Service were to return to offering savings accounts for customers, what other types of financial services do you think it could offer?

Borrowing from the Future

Borrowing from the future

With a pinch of luck and a little planning, retirement is something most people look forward to after a long journey. There are many different ways to plan for that retirement, and saving money in a 401k type plan is certain one of the more popular ones. When that money becomes a tempting piece of fruit on the tree before retirement, is it worth picking?

Making the choice to withdraw funds from a retirement account has its benefits and disadvantages. Taking a low-interest loan from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to pay off significantly higher interest rates on debt can potentially lead to great cost savings. Then again, the benefits may not be what one expects at the end of the day.

Any earnings that money withdrawn from the TSP could have earned had it remained in the account might be greater than the savings realized from interest on other loans. If a 2 percent loan from the TSP replaces a 20 percent loan on a credit card, but the stock market yields a 25 percent return that year, then the net effect is less money in the TSP at retirement. If the stock market performs poorly and loses 10 percent, then the move was beneficial.

Nobody knows exactly which direction the market will travel in a given year, much less by what degree. When making the decision to take a TSP loan, the best resource you can draw upon is your own judgment.

If a difficult financial situation is making it hard to sleep at night, and a TSP loan can alleviate that issue, it might be worth consideration. If the money from a TSP loan is used to buy a new boat, RV, TV, or other toys, it might not be the best use of retirement assets.

What do you think about TSP loans?

No Liability for Loss in Foreign Post

No liability for loss in foreign post

“I never received it,” is a reason some postal patrons have for requesting compensation for lost items. “It wasn’t lost within our borders,” is the response one postal organization has for not offering compensation for the lost value.

In 2006, a gentleman in Alto Dabolim, India, sent two money orders to his son in Nepal. He claims they were never received, and requested reimbursement for the loss. India Post questioned whether the items were truly lost in the mail, but opted to base its defense on the fact that the loss was not incurred in India.

The India Post Office Act of 1898 states that liability ceases within the borders of India. Any loss incurred by a foreign post was not the responsibility of India Post, and therefore it has no obligation to offer compensation for missing items. This conclusion was confirmed recently by the redressal commission in India that oversees these matters.

Do you think a Post Office has an obligation to offer reimbursement for the loss of a postal money order oversees?

Scholarships for Federal Employees

Scholarships

Saving for a college educations is something many parents begin the day their children are born. Receiving a college diploma is not only becoming more of a necessity to compete in today’s job market, it’s also more of a monetary challenge than ever before. When savings are in short supply to fund that education, receiving a scholarship can make a big difference in choosing where and what length of time someone can go to college.

To help promote higher learning for federal employees and their families, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) is offering education scholarships that can help alleviate part of the financial burden of paying for an education.

Originally formed by federal civilian employees in 1986, the organization specializes in helping federal employees, their spouses, and dependants receive monetary assistance in their pursuit of a college degree. Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program from an accredited college or university and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average to qualify.

Applications for 2013-14 FEEA scholarships must be postmarked no later than March 29, 2013.

For more information on FEEA, go to their website at: http://www.feea.org/index.php.

Difficulties in Spending Federal Tax Dollars

Federal Tax Dollars

A Continuing Resolution isn’t the typical subject of water cooler conversations. Since many stories in the news recently have focused on the subject, this is a good opportunity to figure out what it really is and where it comes from.

The President of the United States is responsible for creating a federal budget each fiscal year. After careful planning, he submits his budget request to Congress for approval. From there, it’s divided into 12 sections, known as appropriations bills. Each bill goes to a separate subcommittee in both the House and the Senate with jurisdiction over the content in a particular bill. A vote by Congress is then held on each section.

If all goes well, the final package is approved by both houses of Congress and is sent back to the President for his signature. When a disagreement over one or more provisions occurs, Congress can choose to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR). A CR extends the previous year’s budget into the next year to avoid any gaps in federal services.

A CR is meant to be a temporary measure to continue federal funding until an agreement can be made on the content of the budget. When Congress cannot agree on a budget, and they fail to create a CR to authorize federal spending, all but the most essential services in the impacted federal agencies and programs must shut down when the existing budget expires.

For the recent Continuing Resolution from September 24, 2012, click here.

For the 2013 Federal Budget, click here.

What do you think about the process of operating on a Continuing Resolution when an agreement on a budget can’t be reached?

Faxing Away Identity

The concept of fax machines has been around since the mid-19th century. While they existed in one form or another through the mid-20th century, they weren’t widely adopted until the 1970’s. In recent years, the graphical devices have taken on another role – that of borrowing your identity for nefarious purposes.

Letters have appeared in the trays of office fax machines that vaguely describe a mutually beneficial business proposal. The text identifies a situation where the offspring of a very wealthy leader requires help to gain access to an extremely large inheritance. The reader is urged to provide personal information so remove the money can be routed through them in order for the offspring to gain access to the cash. The money would then be shared by both parties.

The only thing shared between the target of this scam and the con artist is a one way ticket to trouble. The perpetrators of this scam will take the identities they acquire and use them to their own financial benefit. Victims will spend countless hours afterward gluing together the pieces of their good names. Don’t let this happen to you.

As with all scams, awareness is the key to prevention. Some of the questions asked in this particular scam include:

–         Name(s) in full

–         Residential address

–         Home number

–         Mobile number

–         E-mail address

–         Marital status

–         Date of birth

–         Name of employer

–         Position held

A scammer can cause a lot of harm with this information, so keep it guarded at all times.

What other facsimile scams have you received?

It Pays to be Upside Down

Standing on our heads isn’t something that’s usually seen as a way to make money. For this one particular stamp release in 1918, however, being upside down eventually became a million dollar sensation.

The popular Airmail Stamp, released on May 13, 1918, had a flaw with its first production run. The image of a Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” bi-plane was inadvertently printed upside down. The stamp release was supposed to commemorate the first airmail flight on May 15, but the printing flaw forced the destruction of the first eight sheets of stamps, each containing 100 of the 24 cent mistakes.

The Postal Service didn’t catch all of the misprints, however, as nine of the sheets were produced prior to the discovery. One sheet of stamps, sold to William Robey, leaked out before the flaw was discovered. He sold the sheet to a collector soon after his purchase and the special release began circulating through history.

Today, a single inverted Jenny is worth an estimated $1 million.

What special stamps have you come across in your travels?

  • Hello, I'm Benny the Blogger: I'm the world's most famous postal employee. My hobbies are snappy quotes, kite flying and publishing. I was born Jan. 17, 1706, but don't call me old.

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