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Financial Planning

We Welcome Your Feedback

Tell us your thoughts -- we are listening.

We live in a feedback-obsessed society. Nearly every time I make an online transaction, I’m invited to take a “brief” survey or review a product. On the increasingly rare occasions I pick up the phone to, say, call my credit card issuer or cell-phone provider, I’m asked to stay on the line to rate my experience.

 

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Join Kiplinger's Reader Feedback Panel

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I rarely participate in these instant surveys. Call it my quiet rebellion against an increasingly anonymous digital world in which quality is summed up with a rating of one to five stars. But I freely admit that I rely on reviews when I buy a product or service on the web, and I appreciate the people who leave detailed, thoughtful responses. Honest feedback helps a business improve.

At Kiplinger, the best feedback of all comes directly from you. One of the guiding principles of the Kiplinger family of publications is reader service. We aim to be as useful to you as possible and to respond when you reach out to us. That’s why I include my e-mail address at the end of my column, and it’s why articles now include writers’ e-mail addresses.

Since I invited you to write to me in my first column, in the October issue, nearly 200 of you have taken me up on it. You’ve introduced yourselves, shared details of your finances and made suggestions for articles, which we will consider at our next planning meeting. A number of you told me how much you love getting a print magazine and offered some friendly advice: Don’t mess this up. Don’t go overboard with changes. Don’t lose your older readers. I hear you.

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We have another key way to get your feedback: our reader panel, a group of several hundred readers who have volunteered to rate each issue. Every month we send the panel a survey that asks them to report how much of each article they read (“all” or “some”) and how useful it was, from “of no use to me” to “completely satisfying.” I have no idea how well these surveys represent our total audience, but because we know the panel consists of a group of dedicated readers, my staff and I use the results as a rough guide to what’s working and what’s not. Investing—in particular, income investing—and retirement stories tend to top the lists. Articles dealing with identity theft and taxes also resonate with the reader panel.

What scores the lowest? Stories about saving and paying for college and about buying and selling a home typically bring up the rear. For example, we know that our annual list of the best college values (see the article by Kaitlin Pitsker on our rankings of the top public and private universities and liberal arts colleges) will score low in the reader survey. The reason is simple: Most of you are at the stage of life when the kids have graduated. Most of you aren’t in the market for a new home, either. But the younger families in our readership need help with all their big money decisions, so I’m not messing with our mission. (We’d love to see what you think of each issue, too. If you’d like to become a member of our reader panel, go to Talktokiplinger.com.)

Tax overhaul. As I write this—and the magazine heads to press—the House and Senate have each passed a version of the tax bill, but many details still need to be worked out. That’s why the magazine is waiting until next month to offer our take on how the tax changes will affect you. Meanwhile, our tax team has been tracking the progress of the legislation on our website. Go to kiplinger.com/links/taxchanges to see the latest developments. If you want a deeper dive, you may want to subscribe to The Kiplinger Tax Letter.

 

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