I’ll would like to share with you a personal story of finding the best price on Money Magazine and give specific tips on how to save money on magazine subscriptions. You’ll miss out on a few details, but you may want to skip ahead to the saving tips.
My quick recommendation for cheaper magazine subscriptions is Magazine Price Search.
My Money Magazine Subscription Story
I was a loyal subscriber to Money Magazine until recently. Their expiration mailers and cover notifications said the renewal was $40 per year. I decided to let my subscription expire at that price.
By chance, I followed Nickel’s link to Amazon in the post about the Consumer Reports Finance newsletter. I was surprised to see in the related suggested items, Money Magazine was available for $20. It is also available for $30 for two years. So a loyal reader of seven years is asked to pay double (or more) the price available on Amazon.
I tried to find my old Money magazines to scan in proof of the $40 per year offer, but my wife runs a clean house and they have already landed in file 13. I did find a copy of Money Magazine that my parents gave me recently. I was shocked to see that Money Magazine was offering my parents a subscription for $10 per year for up to three years. Below is the insert. As it says, that is 79% off the cover price. The phone number is 800-762-6614.
I called and they offered two years for $20 and after you give some personal information, you can sign up for three years for $30. If you sign up with a credit card (and maybe otherwise), you will be offered three free three-month subscription to Golf, Maxim, Time, Consumer Reports, Men’s Health, This Old House and a few other magazines. Those will bill your credit card automatically, unless you cancel, but they will send you advanced notice.
I took a subscription to Men’s Health and Consumer Reports, but I will cancel before they auto-bill based upon my below research on finding the cheapest magazine subscription prices. The default for Money Magazine is to auto-bill at the end of your subscription, but you can request to turn off the auto-bill. Remember to take action if you want to cancel the subscription for the three free magazines if you do not want to keep them at approximately 50% off the cover price.
There are various ways to save on magazine subscriptions. Some of my tips range from frugal (free) to who to search out the best deal.
- Is the magazine subscription is available free on-line? Money Magazine is actually available for free, but there are a few magazines that I prefer in paper format and this is one of them.
- Read the magazine at your local public library for free. Your local library likely has many magazines and newspapers for free. My public library is two blocks from work, so I really should use this option more. Since I don’t follow my own advice on this one, I understand if you do not either.
- Is the magazine available for a reduced price on-line? Some magazines are not free on-line, but they are offered at a reduced price to the print version. For example, Consumer Reports is available for $20 per year which is about 30% less than a subscription to the paper version. In my opinion, the on-line version is worth more in the case of Consumer Reports because I use it to search product recommendations and reviews.
- Swap subscriptions with friends. Does a friend subscribe to Fortune and you to Money? Trade them when you have finished reading them. You might miss an issue or two per year, but is that really going to hurt? I could do this with my parents since they also subscribe to Money Magazine. Actually, that was my plan until I found it available for $10 per year.
- Write down when you renew and what the length of the renewal period is. Magazines are constantly attempting to encourage you to extend your subscription. If you do not pay attention, you will soon be paid ahead 10 years for your favorite magazine.
- Sign up for multiple years if you know you like the magazine.Often you can save an additional 50% by signing up for multiple years. And if you find a really good deal like I did for Money Magazine, you might want to sign up for the maximum allowed time period.
- Shop around for the best subscription price. I have already checked and the deal offered when I subscribed to Money magazine. It is not the best for either Men’s Health or Consumer Reports. I found Men’s Health for two years for $35 vs one year for $25. I searched over 20 on-line stores for the best price search based upon Google search results and the advertisements. The best site for cheap magazine subscriptions that I found was Magazine Price Search. Another good Site for cheap magazines is Best Deal Magazines. These two sites found the cheapest subscription to both Consumer Reports and Men’s Health. And that is advice you will probably never read in Consumer Reports.
Bonus Advice: Search the web for “coupons for Best Deal Magazines“. I found some that had recently expired that would have sweetened the best price.
- Do not be so attached to a magazine that you cannot let is expire. If I had followed the inserts and the cover notices warning me of the expiration, I might now be paying $40 per year for Money Magazine rather than $30 for three years.
- Evaluate if the information in your subscriptions is actionable. In your spreadsheet where you list when your renewals (tip #5), you may also want to note each time you take a specific action based upon the information in the magazine. If the magazine is providing little actionable information, cancel it. There is likely more actionable information in financial blogs, but take those (along with magazines) with a grain of salt.
- Call and ask if they are running specials or if you can get a reduced price. If you are not happy with the renewal rate, call and ask for a better price. They may be running a special or offer you a cut rate to not cancel. Remember magazines love readers because a magazine is an advertising delivery device. Your subscription adds to the number of subscribers which helps the magazine charge higher advertising rates.
- My final recommendation, is to not subscribe to a magazine at all. Many of them sell their readership on The-Sky-Is-Falling information which rarely turns out to be true. You may take actions based upon their scary predictions that could actually cost you money.
I tried to think of all the reasons that you might not want to go with free magazine subscriptions. The first reason to not take the free subscription is if the information is immediately actionable and waiting to receive it until it is available free is detrimental to you. For example, if the information is published earlier in print and timing is important in cases such as trading a stock, free might not be a good idea. Money Magazine posts the articles on-line several weeks after they have come out in print. However, this is of no consequence to me since I do not (and would not recommend) trading stocks based on a magazine tip.
The second reason to subscribe to the paper version despite a free versions on-line, is if you find the paper version more useful or valuable for some other reason. I like to read some magazines off-line due to the length of the articles. There is nothing wrong with preferring the paper version, but ensure that you are receiving the cheapest subscription price.
To summarize, do not subscribe or extend a magazine subscription without research and evaluation. It could save you $30-40 per year on one magazine alone.
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