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SmartMoney Magazine Shuts Down!

by J. Money on Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SmartMoney Magazine Shuts Down

Nooooooo… SmartMoney was one of my favorite personal finance mags! Right up there with Kiplinger and Money, jeez… 20 years of publishing and that’s that. I don’t know if this was in the works for a while or not (after researching a little, it looks like they made the announcement in June?), but either way it’s a sad day for the publishing world indeed… as well as my magazine addiction :(

SmartMoney was one of the first finance magazines I ever picked up a good 7+ years ago, and they had one of my favorite columns of the group too – “Dumb Money.” Remember those? Where they’d highlight crazy-ass products like $1,000 doggy perfume and $50k diamond cell phones? Haha… They always cracked me up. I also became fond of their special retirement edition cover pictures too, as they always seemed to capture that dream lifestyle. You know, the ones with a good looking couple sitting on the beach with no care in the world? They were always hand-picked stock pics of course, but they never ceased to grab my attention and get me sifting through ‘em even faster ;)

But alas, it seems the digital age finally killed them, and now they’ll only be functioning at SmartMoney.com. Booooo… I know the online world is THE place to be these days, especially running a finance blog myself!, but the truth is I’d MUCH rather prefer reading everything in print when possible and flipping through real physical pages. I feel like one day health scientists are gonna tell us that too many hours staring at screens will eventually melt our eyeballs or something equally as scary. It already hurts if you stare for more than 4-5 hours, right?! Or is that just me?

The only cool thing about them shutting down was the way they compared the last 20 years of our financial world in their last ever commemorative issue. Like how pensions were still pretty common, and no one trusting places online especially with banking (okay I threw that last one in there myself, but it’s still true. Remember when people would freak out if they had to enter personal info online? And you couldn’t attribute any resources you found there in any school papers? Haha… good times…).

Here’s how they led into their final piece, Parting Lessons From SmartMoney Magazine:

“When SmartMoney launched in 1992, the youngest baby boomers were in their 20s, the Dow was under 3500, the 401(k) was a novelty, and nobody had ever heard of a smartphone. Here are eight of the most important lessons we’ve learned along the way – the ones we’re most confident will remain true 20 years down the road.”

Pretty interesting stuff, you should totally give it a read when you’re done here. They also shared some other fascinating facts from life back in 1992 (their inaugural year):

  • Gas was $1.14 a gallon (!!!)
  • A movie ticket cost $4.15
  • You had to pick up a phone to make a stock trade (and talk with a real live person ;))
  • Apple shares were $11 a piece (Now they’re over $650)
  • The S&P 500 was at 403 (compared to over 1,400 now)
  • The yield on a 10-year Treasury Bond was at 7.7% – way different than the 1.5% today
  • The largest company by market cap was Wal-Mart at $120 Billion (Now it’s Apple at $565 Billion)
  • And our national debt was at a “low” $4.0 trillion dollars, compared to today’s $15.8 Trillion :(

Makes you wonder what the next 20 years will bring too, eh? I feel like that if you’re paying attention to your money year in and year out, though, it won’t really affect our overall game plan much. The basics of finance have remained the same for hundreds and thousands of years: save your money, stay out of debt, and always invest in your future. And of course, the ever popular “spend less than you make” rule – one of the simplest ones around, however always the hardest to follow.

smartmoney tweet shut down
Business-wise, this shut down also brings up other questions I now have:

  • What happens to all those advertising deals? Do they just go away or move online?
  • What about customers’ pre-paid mag subscriptions? Do I just lose all future months now?
  • What happens to all the employees? Do they move online too or to other areas of the parent company (Dow Jones)?
  • And even more importantly, is this a sign of what’s to come in the future? Will our other beloved magazines go down in flames next??

Overall a lot of freaky stuff if you ask me. Seems like the internet will continue to cause a lot of trouble over the years as it grows and adapts, but hopefully the benefits continue to surpass the fall outs at the rate it’s currently going. I’m gonna greatly miss SmartMoney, but at the end of the day I can’t complain too much cuz after all, my job depends on it :)


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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance @ Money Life and More August 21, 2012 at 7:05 am

That stinks the magazine is going away. I hadn’t ever heard of it but I do subscribe to Money. I am assuming you just lose your remaining months of magazines which stinks but at least it isn’t like a cable/internet subscription paid in full a year in advance (not like anyone does that anyway).

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2 Greg@ClubThrifty August 21, 2012 at 7:11 am

Wow, I hadn’t heard that. It is sad to watch some of these huge publications start to fade away. Unfortunately, I think that paper newspapers and magazines are soon going to be a thing of the past.

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3 Call Me What You Want Even Cheap August 21, 2012 at 7:29 am

That sucks, I like SmartMoney magazine, but I agree with Greg, we’re heading to a paperless society.

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4 J. Money August 21, 2012 at 8:16 am

Noooooo!!! I’m gonna keep starting magazines then if they all go under – I like my print papers!! Let’s get Budgets Are Sexy Mag up and running, who’s with me?? :)

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5 Kate Horrell August 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

Booooo…I like my paper magazines. A sad day for us PF junkies.

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6 Jim at Bargaineering August 21, 2012 at 8:40 am

I was sad to see that it was being shut down when I got the latest issue. :(

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7 K @ Get Worth August 21, 2012 at 8:49 am

It’s kind of funny, I just started getting Smart Money again. Got my first issue, really enjoyed it was looking forward to the next and bam, final issue ever. I had to skip a paragraph in your post to keep away from the spoilers since I haven’t finished it yet :D My last issue had a card to pick whether I wanted to receive Barron’s or Wall Street Journal Weekend for the remainder of my subscription. I’ve never read either but I’m leaning towards Barron’s.

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8 LB August 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

I love magazine subscriptions only because they are $10 for two years now! It is a sign of the times, when magazines are that low. It proves magazines are getting the hint and moving on from print. Sad really, but anyone with a smartphone or iPad could have guess a few years ago print would start fading.

You know, I wish Newspapers and phone books would go away. I had the ink and paper they use and if they don’t dry them right they make my fingers itch. Yuck! Other than those two I wish some magazines would stick around like the cool pet ones at the Vet’s office or National Geographic and money mags at my regular Dr.’s office (sorry but I don’t want to read how to lose weight and about kids every freaking time I go! Not doing either!)

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9 Lauren @ LBee and the Money Tree August 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

Quite a beautiful send off for them and for you. Sorry you are losing your favorite mag!

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10 Norman August 21, 2012 at 10:10 am

SmartMoney was one of the first finance magazines that I started reading, but I won’t miss them. I quit subscribing to printed magazines a long time ago. I like reading online much better than having all that paper to toss in the trash.

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11 J. Money August 21, 2012 at 10:17 am

I know, indeed a sad day for us PF’ers :(

@K @ Get Worth – Ahhhh I guess that’s what they’re doing for all people who have months left then – what sucky timing for you! Haha… I actually just threw that portion in the trash thinking it was another upsell kinda thing, and then read it a few days later only to realize it was the end! I wish I’d have kept it now for a collector’s item one day, haha… we gotta buy the very first one now so we can have the first and last! ;)

@LB – Yeah, why do they still put out phone books? That one I’d be totally happy about getting rid of – I hate getting them and then throwing ‘em away that same day, so wasteful.

@Norman – That’s one of the pros to going all digital for sure – a lot better for the environment. I always forget about that ;)

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12 RichUncle EL August 21, 2012 at 11:05 am

I gotta pick up the last issue and most likely it will be worth something in 30 years. Just like comic books.

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13 Jason August 21, 2012 at 11:21 am

I was at Barnes and Noble over the weekend and looked at their mag rack. It’s CRAZY how many magazines that are out there. How is it possible for 200+ to stay in business?

I’m not surprised that SM is stopping the print issues and I definitely think that’s the way of the future. The newer generations are growing up on tech gadgets and eventually I’m not even sure they’ll know that books were once-upon-a-time printed on paper.

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14 Melissa August 21, 2012 at 11:42 am

I’m hoping those last questions weren’t rhetorical because I thought I’d try and address them – although this if from my magazine experience, not associated with SmartMoney specifically.

What happens to all those advertising deals? Do they just go away or move online?
Most of the advertisers were probably contacted before the announcement in June to determine if they wanted to transfer their ad dollars over to the site, or get reduced rates for the remaining runs. Typically online/offline ads are managed through different ad sales departments with drastically different rates, so the advertiser would have the option of how to utilize those bucks.

What about customers’ pre-paid mag subscriptions? Do I just lose all future months now?
As mentioned above, they will likely try and offer discounts to other products that the company owns, to try and limit as much return-money exposure (and a ridiculous amount of calculations). If the customer doesn’t go with another product, the company could offer partial buy-outs or a free gift in exchange for the trouble.

What happens to all the employees? Do they move online too or to other areas of the parent company (Dow Jones)?
Most likely, they have been whittling down the print staff for some time in preparation for this close. The people who are left will be offered packages or moved to the parent company – some with choice, some without. Remember that the magazine was produced/published several months ago as monthly editions can take up to three months to come to market. So most of the writers/employees from that last issue have already moved on to other assignments.

Hope that provides a little insight…

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15 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager August 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I’m sorry for your loss, J$ :(

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16 Brent Pittman August 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I have a different take on why Smart Money left print first…they got beat by the other magazines and publications. Capitalism and competition won in the end. Sorry to be harsh J. Money, but they shut down because others were better and won more votes and $. I had a two year subscription a few years ago but didn’t renew. I’d thumb through their articles, but rarely read any…I guess others did too.

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17 Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy August 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

RIP, Smart Money, how I’ll always remember how fondly I pored over your glossy pages at the library. Will books be the next by-gone era? eBooks are all the rage now apparently.

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18 SavvyFinancialLatina August 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I actually read the article a couple of weeks ago. In 1992, I was barely two years old!!! It made me rethink how to choose my 401K funds.

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19 J. Money August 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I wonder how long it will take for me to stop grieving over this? It’s only been a day and I’m already feeling a tad bit better, haha…

@RichUncle EL – I ended up doing the same, haha… just to have a pure one without any mailing labels on it ;) Ya never know?
@Jason – I don’t know if they’ll ALL go away, but I’m sure 80% of them will… the population outside of the younger people are still pretty big :) Now maybe in 70 years?
@Melissa – It does, thank you! I was halfway asking them just out of curiousity, but also I was hoping for someone to really answer them for us :) So thanks! Didn’t realize print and online ad rates could be so different, or handled by different teams even, but it totally makes sense. You rock.
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Hopefully I’ll get over it ;)
@Brent Pittman – Haha… that’s also a very possible reason ;)
@Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy – They better not be!! I’m hoarding them in my personal library just in case though – you can’t have *everything* digital!
@SavvyFinancialLatina – Wowwwww, now that is crazy to think about! You youngin’ you :)

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20 Jason Price August 24, 2012 at 12:50 am

Geez, can’t hardly believe such a well known publication with so much history is shutting down. I’ve picked up copies of SmartMoney for years and enjoyed reading it. I know everything is going electronic and fast, but there is something about sitting around with a good magazine in hand on a Saturday morning drinking a cup of coffee you’ll never get from your iPad. Personally, I’m a subscriber of Money, so not all is lost. At least not yet.

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21 J. Money January 23, 2013 at 9:45 am

I know, right? Sad indeed… and now Newsweek is gone too, so I just pray Money doesn’t go that route anytime soon!

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22 Lori January 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I am a very dissatisfied customer. I’m STILL WAITING (since the Sept 2012 last issue of Smart Money) for the conversion of the rest of my subscription to Barron’s magazine. I called on Nov 6th, 2012 and was told that it would be done by the end of November. It is now Jan 22, 2013 and I spoke to two customer representatives today (Kevin and Wilbert) who couldn’t give me a date of when the remainder of my subscription (from Sept 2012-Jan 2014) would be fulfilled. So I asked to speak to a manager (Michelle) and requested a refund. She said she would send it to the back office. I also left the #SMY number on my magazine label and my phone number with a request for follow-up. I have no way of confirming this is being done.

FIrst I’m told (without my consent) that my nearly 2 yr subscription for Smart Money will be converted to another magazine (Barron’s). And then I don’t even receive it. This company needs to give a refund or provide another magazine subscription promptly. I’ve been waiting 4 months! It has cost me time (numerous calls to customer service) and money and I have nothing to show for it. THey could’ve had a new Barron’s customer but instead they have a disgruntled customer who tells everyone to avoid anything to do with Dow Jones & Co. Terrible customer service.

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23 J. Money January 23, 2013 at 9:48 am

Ouch!! That sucks BIG time I’m sorry to hear :( It really is the worst when we have to waste our own time to fix problems that others have created. Especially when we have no choice unless we just wanted to forfeit the money!

The whole thing is sad w/ Smart Money… I hope you get an answer/refund soon! Let us know when you do, and maybe the number you were calling so others in the same boat can be helped :) Appreciate you sharing your story with us.

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