How Personal-Finance Advice Has Changed Over the Past 70 Years
The guidance may have changed, but the dedication to our readers has remained constant.
“The Republicans are back in Washington, all set to take control of the new Congress.” News ripped out of today’s headlines? Actually, those words appeared in the first issue of the Kiplinger Magazine in January 1947. Other stories from those early years also have a familiar ring: “But What Kind of Tax Cut?”; “Buy Stock in Investment Trusts?”; “Retirement by Easy Stages”; “How to Buy a House” (see our current housing outlook); “Be Prudent About Inflation” (see our inflation story); “Your Income Tax: Do It Right This Year” (see tips for lowering your 2016 tax bill); “ ‘No-Load’ Mutual Funds”; “The Way to Buy Stocks Today”; “The High Cost of Drugs.”
Some stories were eerily prescient. In November 1947 we published a special section on life in the future, in which we foresaw a convertible car that would boast such amenities as an “underseat toilet, television receiver … and a compartment for telephone and directory. It is hard to escape the telephone anywhere. …” Except for the underseat toilet (are you listening, Elon Musk?), we were right on the money.
We missed by a mile, however, with our infamous “What Dewey Will Do” issue in November 1948. Thanks to speedier production technology, we did much better in November 2016, when we were able to rewrite our entire January 2017 cover story to reflect Donald Trump’s surprise win.
Foreshadowing our Healthy Living section, we published stories about dealing with alcoholism. And in October 1950, we offered help for insomniacs (“Have Trouble Sleeping?”), just as we did last month in What’s Keeping You Up at Night?
Then as now, we were concerned with teaching kids about money (“Should Children Get an Allowance?”). But there has been a sea change in our coverage of women’s finances. Back then we wrote about women and money from the perspective of their husbands: “What Every Woman Should Know About Her Husband’s Finances”; “Money Quiz for Wives Only”; “Wife’s Guide to the Stock Market.” Today we address women directly in our Money Smart Women column.
Our passion. One thing that has remained constant over 70 years is our dedication to our readers. Our mission is to provide trustworthy advice that real people can act on to take control of their finances. And because we are a family-owned company, that mission is personal. “Providing useful advice to the American people for 70 years has been more than just a business for those of us in the Kiplinger family and to our colleagues here,” says editor in chief Knight Kiplinger. “It’s our calling, our passion. Nothing gives me more pleasure than hearing from longtime readers that our counsel has helped their families achieve real financial security. That’s what we’re all about.”
And hear from readers we do, such as this note from Matt Millard in Flower Mound, Texas: “We have had the magazine across multiple generations and it has had quite an impact on our family’s life. My Grandma Foster first gave Kiplinger’s to my late father in the early 1990s, and today we represent three generations of subscribers. Thanks for 25 years, Kiplinger’s, and here’s to many more!”
Our cover story this month is a reflection of the passion Knight referred to. It’s a collaboration among our entire staff, who at first suggested nearly 300 ideas. Senior editor Mark Solheim took the lead in culling and editing them to a manageable 70, and art director Stacie Harrison is responsible for the elegant cover and lush layout. We invite you to benefit from our 70 years of experience as we tell you the best ways to build, protect, preserve and enjoy your wealth.