Looking for a down-to-earth personal finance magazine written for everyday people?
Check out Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. With more than 2 million readers and a 60-plus year history, Kiplinger's is one of the most established and well-respected personal finance publications. Every issue of Kiplinger’s discusses money topics that relate to daily life, such as saving, investing, retirement planning, and smart consumer spending.
You’ll learn critical skills that aren’t taught in school: how to shop around for a better mortgage rate, negotiate the price of your car, start a 529 college savings plan and evaluate various types of life insurance.
I chatted by phone with Kiplinger Senior Editor Mark Solheim to discuss all the topics that affect your wallet, from tuition to taxes.
Q: There are plenty of personal finance magazines. What makes Kiplinger different?
We are sometimes hesitant to talk too much about our history ... we’ve been around since World War Two, and we’ve been sending business forecast newsletters since the 1920’s.
Today we’re a personal finance magazine aimed not just at business people but at average people, as well. We use “you” all the time, because we feel like we’re talking to the reader.
We make sure every [article] is action-oriented, as well. We rarely do “issue” pieces.
Q: I notice you offer an agriculture newsletter. Why?
That’s one of our business forecast newsletters. We also offer newsletters aimed at what’s going on in Washington – how it’ll affect you. We have a tax newsletter and a retirement newsletter.
Q: What are the most popular stories or topics on the Kiplinger website?
Retirement and retirement planning. This is often what compels people to come to our website.
Q: What are the most underreported personal finance stories?
At Kiplinger’s or in general?
Q: In general.
Insurance. It’s crucial, everyone needs it, but it’s a very dry topic.
Annuities don’t get a lot of coverage. Annuities have become a major part of people’s retirement. We write about it, but we tear our hair out because its so complicated.
Q: Your new iPad app is called the Top 100 Money-Saving Tips. Do you think the emphasis should be more on saving than on earning?
That’s an important question. We had a fairly long meeting over what we would call this app. Investing and earning doesn’t lend itself to short items. Saving has so many components we could feature in this app. Many of our investing tips tie into saving, like looking for low-fee funds.
Q: What’s your stance on that classic personal finance debate: debt snowball vs. debt stacking?
For the most part, we say, its better to pay off the highest interest rate first. But we recognize that people have different styles, and what works for some people won’t work for others. The most important thing is to start dealing with your debt.
Q: I interviewed Jean Chatzky about two weeks ago, and she made an interesting remark: she says people are more interested in personal finance when the markets are going up. Have you found that to be the case?
Yes, I’m afraid she’s right. When stocks are going up, people like to check their portfolio multiple times a day. When everything’s going down, people decide they don’t really need to check it right now.
We can tell ourselves, “the market’s going down, they [readers] need this [information] more than ever.” But people like to tune out when there’s bad news.
Q: Is borrowing for a college education the next bubble?
We’ve written about nightmare situations, students graduating with $100,000 in debt, carrying private student loans in addition to government-subsidized loans. This seems to be on everyone’s mind. The Occupy Wall St. protests certainly focused a lot on student loans.
Q: What do you think are the biggest issues ahead in 2012?
The Bush tax cuts are expiring at the end of the year. It may not be on people’s minds right now, but it will be a bigger issue as we get closer to November and December.
The federal deficit will also get a lot of attention this year. There are some signs that people think about their own debt and their own finances when there’s a lot of national conversation about the federal debt.