Kiplinger’s Personal Finance vs. Money Magazine: Pros & Cons of Both


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How many times do we hear that successful people read a lot? While there’s some truth to that claim, it’s also true that successful people are very selective about what they read. There is no question that there is a battle between Kiplinger’s Personal Finance vs Money Magazine. Unfortunately, choosing what to read isn’t always easy, and you can attest to that if you’ve been trying to choose between two of the most popular personal finance magazines: Kiplinger’s and Money magazine.

Kiplinger’s is a better option for the informed reader because it offers more advanced content, while Money magazine is a better fit for people who prioritize mobile friendliness and affordability. However, both magazines present financial advice attractively using real-life stories and humor.

Of course, these are just the highlights. Comparing the two magazines is like comparing outstanding balance vs principal balance; it’s the same loan but each have different aspects. Read on for an in-depth discussion of each magazine’s pros and cons.

Is Kiplinger’s a Good Financial Magazine?

Kiplinger’s finance magazine is considered by many to offer the most comprehensive and in-depth financial advice. Kiplinger’s also provides a wealth of articles about investing, retirement planning, taxes, insurance, homeownership, instant online check cashing options, and other critical topics related to personal finance.

Kiplinger’s Readers

Kiplinger’s readers are typically older professionals with an average household income over $100,000 and an average age of 50. In addition, Kiplinger’s readers are relatively educated, with about 60% having at least a bachelor’s degree.

A Quick Overview of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

Kiplinger’s is a personal finance magazine that’s published monthly. Since W.M Kiplinger founded it in 1947, this publication has enlightened its readers on the various aspects of personal finance. It’s marketed as the first-ever American personal finance magazine to provide “sound, unbiased advice in clear, concise language.”

About ⅔ of Kiplinger’s content focuses on personal finance. The rest is about investing.

The specific categories covered in Kiplinger’s include:

  • Personal Finance – Money: Articles in this category tackle budgeting, taxes, saving, credit cards, and retirement. This category also includes content related to expenditures on items that are day-to-day necessities (like gas), require significant financial planning (like healthcare and college), or may enhance or protect your wealth (like insurance and real estate). There are some general financial topics covered such as is it possible to cash a check made in someone else’s name.
  • Personal Finance – Spending: Content in this category primarily profiles discretionary consumer products that you don’t necessarily need and have no benefit how to build wealth from nothing.
  • Investing – Outlook: This category consists of analysis, outlooks, or recommendations on various markets. Most of the recommendations focused on mutual funds, but there’s a substantial number of stocks profiled. There’s also the once-in-a-while mention of less-mainstream choices, such as commodities.
  • Investing – Method: This content category boasts profiles of various investment products and strategies to help investors. Some of the most popular topics covered in the past include options vs. futures, timing the market, ETF, and index funds.

Pros of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

kiplingers personal finance magazine pros

Having reviewed what Kiplinger’s is all about, let’s find out what’s good about the magazine with a few pros. 

It Doesn’t Have Too Much Advertising

Whenever you devote your time (and money, in this case) to subscribe to reading a magazine, you want the sense that the information provided is in your best interests. In other words, you want it to provide valuable information, in-depth analysis and not just bombard you with ads. Unfortunately for readers, this describes most print edition publications out there; all (or most) of the pages are ads.

Unlike these magazines, Kiplinger’s isn’t all one big advertisement scheme. By the way, we have nothing against ads (and no reader should). Ads are how finance (even world news and small business) publications make money from their content.

However, there’s a difference between encountering an ad or two every few pages and having ads that take up most of the magazine’s space. 

Ideally, you want the publisher to tastefully space advertisements between valuable content, and that’s the case with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

It Provides Actionable Financial Advice for Readers of Different Ages

Generally, people think Kiplinger’s Personal Finance is more for middle-aged GenX families and individuals nearing retirement events. But while there’s some truth to this, the magazine is now publishing more content geared towards millennials. They cover specific topics such as how to save for a house fast.

Plus, some of the financial advice cuts across the entire age spectrum. For a prime example of this, consider the insights on stocks and mutual funds, low-cost investing, and long-term investment. These can be helpful to any investor regardless of age in the world. In addition, any investor needs to understand related investing advice. 

It’s Reasonably Priced

The pocket-friendly subscription fee is a significant selling point for Kiplinger’s. For an annual price of about $30, you get access to a magazine that guides you through investing, real estate, insurance, taxes, retirement, and so much more. Kiplinger’s gives you a taste of everything and does that well without draining your pocket.

It’s Easy to Understand

One thing that makes Kiplinger’s Personal Finance an excellent option for novice investors is how it dissects complex financial topics. It explains the technical details in a simple, clear, and concise language that even people who aren’t well versed in personal finance topics can understand. This way, you can appreciate their recommendations and use them to improve your financial situation.

It also helps that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance incorporates some humor into some of their reads. Personal finance isn’t the most exciting topic for most people (let alone an investor), especially those who don’t know much about it. 

For such readers, a well-placed joke isn’t just a way to avoid getting bored; it can make a difference in their learning process. How? Well, humor improves learning in several ways, and science agrees with that.

A significant body of research agrees that we’re more likely to remember things that make us laugh. Neuroscience research, for instance, has established that humor systematically activates our brain’s dopamine-based reward system. 

Cognitive studies have established that dopamine is essential for long-term memory and goal-oriented motivation. Meanwhile, educational research has shown that humor effectively boosts retention in learners of different ages, from kindergarten to college.

These studies point to one thing: Kiplinger’s whimsical editorial illustrations transform a seemingly dull topic for some investors into a fun read. They also improve your chances of remembering the important personal finance lessons covered in each article.

It’s Supplemented With Newsletters & Email Service

Even though Kiplinger’s is a monthly publication, the publishers supplement it with weekly online digital newsletters covering various subjects ranging from taxes to handling/planning for retirement. The “Kiplinger’s Tax Letter,” in particular, is an excellent resource for anyone looking to ensure that they’re handling their taxes according to the various legal stipulations. 

Another mention-worthy supplement is Kiplinger’s Alerts. This is a tie-in email service that delivers actionable financial tips and hacks to your computer or mobile device. Lastly, the publisher’s website is also an excellent online resource for learning about virtually all the topics covered in Kiplinger’s monthly issue. 

Cons of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

Like every other publication, Kiplinger’s has its fair share of flaws.

Kiplingers Personal Finance Cons

Here are two of the most apparent cons worth noting:

It’s a Monthly Publication

Usually, this isn’t too big of a problem until you need to use the magazine’s insights to make a time-sensitive investment or money management decision. (This is where a digital version is best for investors).

In some cases, like when you’re dealing with volatile stocks, some of the stock analysis and information could be outdated when you receive your issue.

In other instances, the information you’ve paid for through your subscription might be readily available for free by the time you get the magazine because much of their content is available for free on their website online a few weeks after publication.

Additionally, you may be able to find another analysis on the stock market from Forbes, Bloomberg, Barron’s, or Businessweek for free online.

The upside of having a monthly issue is that you get enough time to process and act on the information provided. Also, you won’t always be using the magazine to make time-sensitive personal finance decisions. 

Some of the Information May Be Too General

If you have an above-average understanding of personal finance, some of the content may seem obvious and somewhat fluffy. For example, while Kiplinger’s Personal Finance offers good macro commentary, it sometimes falls short on the micro details, especially on markets. You might notice the same in their stock picks: they’re not bad, just not specific enough to put in your portfolio.

If we use other similar magazines as a benchmark, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance would be somewhere between novice-level magazines like Money and advanced publications like the Economist. It targets individuals who are slightly more ahead of the game than the average person (think people with 401k or an IRA) and are looking to save for retirement but want to improve. 

If you read personal finance magazines primarily for investment ideas and market analysis advice, you’ll likely have an issue with Kiplinger’s Investing section because it’s focused almost solely on mutual funds. Of course, there’s always a bit of content on individual stocks, but most of the investing articles are on mutual funds and the macroeconomy. On the bright side, the offered advice on mutual fund investment is pretty solid.

Is Money Magazine a Good Financial Magazine?

Many investors who actively invest think Money magazine is a solid publication for investment ideas and advice. The magazine also publishes a lot of content on individual stocks, which Kiplinger doesn’t do much of. This is a massive plus for a lot of investors who want to learn about stock markets.

If you read Money Magazine more as light reading to keep up-to-date with current events in the world economy, then it’s worth subscribing to both.

A Quick Overview of Money Magazine

Unlike Kiplinger’s, Money magazine is exclusively available in digital format, so no print copies. You can’t subscribe to print, online only. However, that’s virtually the only difference between these two magazines. Like Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, Money magazine offers financial advice on topics that cover saving, retirement, taxes, and investing. It also provides practical tips on lifestyle topics like credit, career improvement, paying for college (think income share agreements pros and cons), and home improvement.

Established and aspiring investors can read up on insurance rates, the stock market, what’s new in the economy, loans, and much more. In addition, individuals planning for their retirement get to enjoy fascinating articles that showcase real-life stories and case studies.

Money magazine was first published in 1972 by its founder, Time Inc. The founder-owned and operated the publication up until 2018, before Meredith Corporation acquired it. After the acquisition, Money magazine was put up for sale but couldn’t find a buyer. With no willing buyers, Meredith Corporation opted to stop Money’s print publication due to cost and instead invested in Money.com, the brand’s online digital component.

The last print issue edition of Money magazine came in June 2019. At the time, there were still about 400,000 subscribers to the magazine’s print issue. These subscribers were moved on to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. In October 2019, Meredith Corporation struck a deal with Ad Practitioners LLC to sell the Money brand and website. Seemingly, the Puerto Rico-based company doesn’t have any plans to resurrect the print version of money. 

Pros of Money Magazine

Having reviewed Money magazine’s background information, let’s check a few of the publication’s pros to help you decide if it’s worth your subscription.

pros of money magazine

The Articles Are Practical & Easy To Understand

One of the things that is prominent with Money magazine is that it attractively presents financial advice. For instance, one of the popular posts published on Money magazine read, “Ok, you have $xxxx, here are some financial ideas of what to do with it.” Additional examples include best ways to invest 50k in real estate.

Although the article tackled complex issues like 401k, 529b, buying real estate, Roth IRA, etc., the attention-grabbing headline prompted reads from people who may otherwise not be interested in learning about things like 529b, helping teach them something new.

The writers also use real-life stories and case studies such as can you make a living by trading forex along with illustrations to make the content actionable. The language isn’t too complicated either, meaning you’ll rarely have to pause reading to look up the meaning of complex financial terms and Wall Street jargon.

These three traits are fundamental to readers who aren’t well versed in personal finance matters. 

Using real-life case studies and stories in illustrations paints a better picture of how you can use the provided financial advice to improve your financial situation. At the same time, attention-grabbing headlines encourage you to read content that you might otherwise skip. Meanwhile, keeping the language simple and concise makes it easier to understand complicated personal finance issues like tax laws, investment, savings, etc.

It’s Affordably Priced

Money magazine’s subscription fee isn’t too crazy. For about $20 a year, you get access to an educational resource that guides you through the intricacies of striking a balance between spending and saving, as well as investment and planning for major financial decisions. 

While you won’t find anything inside that you can’t find online or other personal finance blogs, it helps to have all your information in one place, and that’s what Money magazine does. Considering that the articles are pretty straightforward and that most other similar magazines are priced higher, there are worse ways to spend $20 a year in the world.

It Meets the Learning Needs of Different Readers

Understand that “different” doesn’t mean “everyone.” Generally, Money magazine is a valuable read for married people, college students, middle-aged people, seniors, homeowners, and people who travel. It’s beneficial to people in a standard American family with a vehicle, mortgages, multiple credit cards, and middle-aged individuals looking to plan for retirement. These family units are known as “Keeping Up With The Joneses.”

On the other hand, Money magazine may not be the best fit for individuals living in an apartment with no kids or those of us who are single, frugal, self-employed, freelancing, and not card-happy. There’s hardly anything in the magazine that these groups can relate to.

But while Money does miss a few readers’ categories, it accommodates the learning needs of a diverse group that subscribe, from seniors to college students. This makes sense because most of the American population is catered for. After all, it’s next to impossible for a magazine to cater to everyone and still offer valuable, actionable information at a reasonable cost.

It’s Mobile-Friendly

In the modern era, mobile is everything, and magazines are no exception. Sure, some of us may prefer the appeal of a printed physical magazine. But if you’re incredibly busy, you may appreciate having a digital magazine that you can read up on money matters and the market on the go. A digital format also means that you won’t have to browse through stacks of magazines trying to locate a past article. 

Money magazine’s digital edition is compatible with all kinds of mobile devices. It works well on Android and iOS devices. The publisher’s website is also optimized for mobile. 

Cons of Money Magazine

Having reviewed what’s good about Money magazine, let’s look at its cons before comparing it to Kiplinger’s.

cons of money magazine

Here are the two that’ll make the most apparent difference:

It Doesn’t Have the Most In-Depth Content

As we mentioned earlier, Money magazine doesn’t provide information that you can’t find in most personal finance blogs. Most of the information you’ll find in the magazine is meant for entry-level readers who are still familiarizing themselves with the various aspects of money (such as cashier’s check vs certified check) and wealth management. As such, it might not be the best fit for professionals investing or highly informed readers. 

Some of the Assumptions Are Misleading

Let’s get one thing straight: this isn’t something that happens all the time. With that said, Money magazine can sometimes ignore the effects of inflation when estimating the returns on some of the featured investments. In other words, the writers and editors disregard the impact of money’s time value, which leads them to make ridiculous assumptions regarding investment returns. That’s a big deal when investing. 

Another potentially misleading assumption made by Money magazine contributors is that social programs will be readily available to retirees in fifteen years. Unfortunately, if trends in Medicare and Social Security have proved anything in the past, it’s that they’re unpredictable. As such, you could be misled into making them part of your retirement planning and portfolio.

Bottom Line

First off, congrats for making it to the end of this relatively long read. Before we wind up, let’s establish some sort of a bottom line. If you’re trying to pick between Kiplinger’s Personal Finance vs Money Magazine, the right choice will depend on what you value most. If mobile-friendliness and affordability are top priorities, Money magazine is a better choice. 

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance may be a better fit for more informed readers because it provides more advanced financial advice for an investor than Money magazine. It may give a better choice and cover more for your portfolio. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your learning needs, and no one knows those better than you. 

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