Personal Financial Wellness
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© 2018-2020 Shake Your Money Tree


Remember bookstores? The brick-and-mortar ones that housed thousands of books, just waiting to be explored? If you're anything like me, you have fond memories of walking into one and having the waft of paper hit your nose, reminding you that you were in a land of adventure, knowledge, and romance.


And I loved perusing the teeny-bopper magazines sitting on the rack, daydreaming about dating one of the hunks on the front cover. Later on in life, my magazine interests evolved of course… to Young Miss and Seventeen, then Glamour and Cosmo, and finally settling into Health, Real Simple, Consumer Reports and a few more.


I'm definitely one of those people who still subscribe to real magazines… the ones that come in the mail, that you can hold, write in, and tear out the pages of. I love checking my mail and seeing a new issue waiting for me to dive in. These days, when most of the mail is junk, it's nice to get something you're anticipating. I get some of my best tips, recipes, and ideas from magazines, and while I don't subscribe to nearly as many as I used to, I find that reading one is a great way to pass the time while on a plane during the window of take-off and landing when electronics are forbidden.


About 4 years ago though I started noticing the renewal notices coming in sooner than expected. And I started to think I was losing my mind because I could swear I'd just paid up.


They'd arrive in envelopes with windows that looked like an arriving bill and inside would be a reminder with big red block letters warning me "pay up now or lose out on upcoming issues!"


Right then and there I decided to start tracking when subscriptions were due. I'd add the renewal information into my task app, Wunderlist, and then wait to see when those renewal notices started rolling in.


And you know what? They'd start arriving about 6 months before the actual renewal was due. In the case of one magazine, that shall remain nameless, I'd signed up for a 3-year subscription, and the following year started getting renewal notices already.  Jeez!


And it appears I'm not the only one who noticed this trend.


In fact, the Attorneys General took notice as well and put out an alert notifying consumers of this practice. These notices look like past due bills or invoices that are due upon receipt. They're stamped with huge red block text on the front saying "REMINDER: RENEWAL NOTICE DUE", making it appear we're delinquent on paying our bills. And God forbid, I miss out on receiving even one issue.


I realize that sometimes there may be a big benefit to renewing early if discounts are offered, but if not... what's a magazine-loving girl to do?


Here are some tips I'm passing along to you so you can avoid being charged for more subscription than you want:



It's only when I started tracking when my subscriptions were actually due that I started tossing those renewal notices and relying solely on when my tracker told me a magazine payment was due. The next time you get a magazine delivered, take notice of the label.


It should look something like this:




And if you miss the label, which is sometimes printed on the plastic covering the magazine is lovingly housed in, you can always find the publisher's renewal site by simply googling "(name of magazine) magazine renewal". What I did is copy and paste the URL in Wunderlist so I didn't have to re-google it every time I wanted to check on my renewal status.


Once you've arrived on the publisher's landing page for renewal info, you'll need to log in or create a login based on either your account number or email address combined with your mailing zip code.


You'll then be taken to a page that looks similar to this one:



Here, you'll see your account details, including when your magazine actually expires, the expiration issue (which in this screenshot is Mar 1, 2019), the last payment amount, subscription term (which are the # of issues you signed up to receive), and when you last paid.


Tips for keeping track:

I added some of the renewal info into my Wunderlist tracker for each magazine and would set a reminder date for when I should renew the next term, which I set at 2 months prior to the expiration date. This negates any worry about whether I've neglected to pay a renewal notice when one comes in the mail.


I also noticed that my subscription cost for one magazine nearly doubled upon renewal, so keep track of subscription costs year over year. This happened more than once, so what I did for one magazine was simply call customer service and request a lower rate, which they gave me, and for another who wasn't so accommodating, I simply let the subscription expire, then found a new subscription offer online and re-subscribed at the original rate I'd been paying.


Sure, I missed out on a few issues, but for the 5 minutes it took me to re-subscribe at half the cost, it was well worth the temporary loss. But don't forget to record your new account number and changed renewal info.





Some magazine offers come by way of third-party companies that are affiliated with a publisher, such as or These can be convenient services to use, and oftentimes offer a discount, but buyer beware.


Some third-party services imply that they represent the magazine publisher, but end up charging more for a subscription than what you could get if you went direct. Other companies offer subscription packages or offer subscriptions that are paid for with airline miles or are offered free of charge because you're already a customer of another company. Depending on the service, these could be good deals or take you for a ride.


How do you know whether it's a deal? Simply go to the magazine publishers' website directly to look for the subscription rate and compare costs and terms.


Any way you slice it, if you subscribe via one of these companies, know that your renewal information still houses with the publisher, and you have every right to cancel your subscription at any time. But also know you probably won't get a refund of unsent issues regardless of where you subscribe.


Don't fall prey to phone calls from companies asking you to renew early! If you rely on the system I'm sharing with you today, you'll never have to worry about missing a renewal or paying too early.






While I'm not one to like using auto-renewal and payment features, I know some people aren't as Type A as I am and can forget to pay bills. So if this is you, auto-renewal and payment could work in your favor. But remember that subscriptions can get lost in the sea of payments, leaving you paying for something you no longer use or having a deduction hit your account for which you weren't prepared for.


And don't forget to update your address immediately when you move because magazines do not automatically forward. I can't tell you how many issues I've lost out on reading because I moved and they got delivered to my old address. Which I guess was a bonus for the next person who moved in, but not cool for me. It's easy to update your address online, so chalk one up for saving that customer service URL to make it easier on you!


Which leads me to a final suggestion…






If you find yourself receiving a magazine you just don't have interest in anymore, or can't seem to find the time to read, then just cancel it. If you end up realizing you miss it, you can always re-subscribe down the road.


Also, determine whether the magazine cost is within your entertainment budget. If it is, and you want to keep reading it, then keep it, but if not, then canceling is as simple as calling customer service and requesting a cancellation.


You can also look for inexpensive or free alternatives. Most magazines also post their articles online, and while some publishers limit the number of articles you can read for free each month, most publish their content free of charge, or at a reduced "digital-only" subscription rate.


I use the Feedly app on my phone to get an RSS feed of interests and have seen the same exact article I just read in a magazine available for free on the mag's website. So if you don't read a magazine extensively, making use of free or reduced cost online content may just be the sweet spot for your needs.




In the end, if you're like me and love to read magazines, then it's important to keep track of when subscription renewals are due so you can avoid paying for a longer-term than you want, or avoid overpaying at renewal time.


Hit me up by commenting below! What are some of your fave magazines that you can't live without? And when do you find time to read them? Do you read in digital-only format, or do you like to get physical mags in the mail?


P.S. If you found the content in this post of interest, and think someone else might get value from it, please forward it to them and/or share on your social media!


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