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Sifting for bargains in a post paper world

Newsweek offers

The world is changing.

Like all world citizens, Sacramentans are going digital and shifting away from paper publications. If you’re reading Sacramento Press right now, you’re part of the march into the future.

But getting rid of all magazine subscriptions is something I just can’t do. My wonderful mate is a political junkie, sucking up information daily on Huffington Post, the major newspapers, The Sacramento Bee and every latest politico quit-and-tell. I can always tell what type of day it will be by the sound of paper. Mornings filled with fast, furious page flicks, angry newspaper rattles and hard keyboard pecks — oh boy! LOOK OUT.

So when the subscription renewal came up for Newsweek, I toyed with the idea of canceling. Most of the news it covered was duplicated in other subscriptions. It was the frugal thing to do but not the politically smart thing in my household. Not even something I should bring to the table. Newsweek is the people’s magazine, a popular culture pulse that must be checked weekly! God forbid it silently disappear.

Out of curiosity, I let their solicitations for renewal pile up, hoping to ferret out the best price. Their mailings started in January for a May expiration date. Here’s the chain of offers from Newsweek:

(For those of you who may not know, Newsweek is a weekly magazine with a newsstand price of $4.95 or $272.25 per year.) [That math doesn’t add up. 4.95×52=257.40]

• January 10: Courtesy Renewal, $85/two years, $50/one year

• February 28: Priority Renewal with fake stamp attached to remind me that postage was free on the return envelope, $70/two years, $40/one year

• March 21: Renewal with fancy serrated receipt, $70/two years highlighted, $40/one year in small print, extra month offered

• April 11: Priority Renewal Discount Form, $40/one year, account number printed with a warning of service interruption

• April 17: Courtesy Savings Renewal, $40/year, $70/two years, warning that lower prices will not be offered in future mailings

• April 25: Renewal, $40/one year and a gift mailing for $35/one year

Not satisfied that $40 per year was the cheapest, I began to hunt. There are many gimmicky ways to get magazine subscriptions for free, sort of. Trial subscriptions and shady eBay offers are available, but I wanted something that would come every week on Wednesday and not be part of some tiresome renewal and reorder scheme. And I wanted it cheaper than usual.

OK, so I’m a teacher and this does give me access to University Subscription Service, Inc. This is a discount service for teachers and students (yes, students at any level). The summer promo Newsweek subscription rate at USS was $30/year. I took it.

I was always curious to let the magazine offers play out, and now I know the secret answer: Don’t renew or order through the magazine. Find a professional organization or trade group service and order through them.

And for crying out loud, never cancel a subscription without having a family meeting. 

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