Monday, January 23, 2006

Slash your magazine budget to nothing

I'm not a count-every-penny type, and I don’t expect to turn this blog into a compendium of frugal moneyscrimping tips like 'save $10 a month by reusing your coffee grounds for two or three days straight!' But some savings chances are too good to pass up -- like this tip pinched from PFblog: eBay your magazine subscriptions. The economics of why this works are completely beyond me (the circ side of magazine publishing is a very deep, very black information vortex), but you can reliably find dirt cheap subscriptions on eBay to almost any magazine listed with major distributors.

I've long used airline miles, media connections and discount mailers to avoid paying full price for my list of subscriptions, but eBay is putting even my methods to shame. The Time subscription I wrangle annually with Time Inc.'s customer service to get for $30 (the price they charge new subscribers -- charmingly, they try to hit existing customers for twice that to renew) is available on eBay for $14. New York magazine, perennially trying to jump its rate from around $18/annually to $40, goes for $6 on eBay. Even Wine Spectator, which digs its heels in hard on its steep $49.95 subscription rate, eBays cheap. You can grab it there for $10/year.

The caveat on this is that I haven't yet tried renewing any eBay-procured subscriptions. I imagine that renewals will only be offered at rack rates, which means that profiting from the cheap deals will require letting subscriptions lapse each year and restarting them afresh off eBay. That's somewhat painful. Still, for a $40 a year savings on Wine Spectator? Bring the pain.