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"Money" magazine- my thoughts

September 11th, 2005 at 09:51 am

Yesterday, I went to Barnes and Noble with 2 gift cards a friend of mine had given me for my birthday and Christmas last year. I bought a novel, "Grunts" by Mary Gentle. I just finished "Ash, A Secret History", which she also wrote, and I loved it to pieces. I haven't started "Grunts" yet.

The other thing I bought, because one of my September goals is to learn more about mutual funds (by January, if I still have a job, I'm going to start a Roth IRA... So by that time I want to know what I should be investing in.), was "Money" magazine. I thought this (September) issue particularly apropos for me, because it deals with being self-employed, which I, technically, am.

A lot of the articles were very informative, and I feel like I'm learning the difference between value and growth stocks, and what small-cap, mid-cap, and large-cap mean. The list of top 50 mutual funds, in different categories, will, I think, help me a lot when I'm finally choosing which mutual fund to invest in.

The things I had a problem with were the "Spending" and "advice" articles. If I had to describe the philosophy of Money magazine towards debt, I would say it's something like "debt's OK". Me, (though I have a credit card I pay off every month), I'm more in the Dave Ramsey, debt's NOT OK camp. I mean, the advice they give to one family that was deeply in debt but just inherited $500,000 and a house with $700,000 equity: "The family has substantial debts, but the planners agree that's okay given the low rates on their mortgage (4.25%, interest only) and student loans (about 3%)."

OK, so they owe $1 million on their home (California) and $100,000 in student loans, and that's OK??? And instead of telling these people to pay off their $1,100,000 debt (or at least some of it!) the Money magazine financial planners are telling them to set up an emergency fund (OK, that I agree with), fully fund their retirements, and fully fund college accounts for their kids. Of course, their income is substantial, but if it were me, I would rather NOT be $1,000,000 in debt.

The second thing I had a problem with was their section on spending. Now, I know that most people reading Money have a net worth that's more than mine. I bet most of its readers have annual incomes greater than $40,000, too. But their section on spending... I like the concept- One purchase that will last a lifetime, or lots of economical things? But I guess it's just aimed at people with more money than me...

Their page on women's clothing, for example. It has a budget of $1000. That's way out of my price range, for one thing. My fall clothing budget's more like $200. So let's see what they reccommend...

The "spend smart on one essential" column has a beautiful "little black dress" for $1080. (OK, to start with, how is it OK to go $80 over budget?)

The "spend smart from head to toe" column has a black dress for $149. Pretty reasonable. Then it adds a coat ($70) jewelry ($21), a silk scarf ($320!), a Dooney & Bourke bag ($400 to RENT for 8 months) and $50 shoes.

That's actually pretty reasonable, without the scarf and the bag.

The "Home" section has a budget of about $2900 (no, not renovations, just making one room look nice) and the "Travel" section has a budget of $5000- which seems reasonable till you realize that doesn't include airfare. Their "Car" section has a budget of $30,000, with a choice between a new Lexus and a brand new Toyota Avalon.

If you have money, I don't begrudge people spending it. But these expenses are not realistic for me.

Should I subscribe? It's only $10 a year for first-time subscribers, and I do want to become more knowledgeable about investing. But maybe I should just buy a book... I kind of don't want a magazine telling me that it's OK to spend $1000 on clothes, or that it's OK to have debt as long as the interest rates are low.

So, those are my thoughts. I'll eventually decide whether or not to subscribe, but I'm still thinking about it.

Spending for Saturday, September 9:

$0.25- snack cake at the deli.

2 Responses to “"Money" magazine- my thoughts”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It sounds like that one magazine was a pretty good deal for you...it gave you some of the basics and sharpened your BS detector.
    Unfortunately, all magazines stay afloat not by their readers, but by their advertising base. Those are the people who will encourage you to go into debt and stay there. Smile
    If you are looking for investment basics, I'd really try poking around the free bits of the Motley Fool website. http://www.fool.com , Warren Buffett's shareholder letters http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.html and hitting the library for the personal finance magazines.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Personally I like Kiplinger's better than Money because I think their articles are aimed at a more normal, middle income group of people. But I read both of them at the library or borrow the back issues. If you are looking for a basic finance book you might try Sound Mind Investing by Austin Pryor. I think you'll find this book matches your thinking more than Money does. The book does a good job of explaining investments and giving you advice on what to invest in based on your personality and goals. He also emphasized no debt.

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