Budget Living Says Adios

Word in the publishing community is that Budget Living magazine has folded. Editorially, this went from being a pretty interesting and offbeat magazine appealing to both sexes to a very girly, downscale version of a zillion other women’s magazines. Instead of dishing out advice about fashion, makeup, and entertaining, it gave cheap advice about fashion, make-up, and entertaining.

Budget Living folds I don’t think this transformation is what led to its demise, however. Reality is that it is just really hard to put out anything budget-related and still do well with advertisers. Everyone wants to appeal to the free-spending and the aspirational among us, not to the frugal and penny-pinching.

There’s an important lesson here for the world of travel as well. As I note in my upcoming book, Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune (out July 28 on Travelers’ Tales), very few magazines for budget travelers survive over time. There are plenty of frugal independent travelers who are voracious readers, but the advertisers don’t care about reaching them. They would rather reach the aspirational traveler who spends freely and will contribute a lot to the bottom line in a hurry.

Arthur Frommer?s Budget Travel has done a good job of showing the mainstream reader how to get a better deal, but its circulation is dwarfed by that of Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Travel, magazines that are really aimed at the most affluent citizens of the world’s most affluent country. Big city newspapers such as the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune contain some great travel writing, but only a fraction of the typical Sunday travel section pays more than passing attention to finding the best values. When they do give a nod to value, their “bargain” tips usually focus on how to get a $400 hotel for $250, or how to get a package deal to Fiji for less than two grand. You see lots of luxury, luxury, luxury, as if every couple boarding a plane is on their way to a five-star hotel and a spa treatment. Over time, this warps readers’ perceptions and makes them think every vacation has to cost a fortune.

If you’re loaded and have the money to do whatever you want, then these magazines and articles are right up your alley. But if you’re not buying diamond watches at Tiffany’s and shopping at Sak’s for your work outfits, then don’t look to Travel & Leisure or Town & Country Travel for advice on where to go and what to do. Do you own digging–just not in Budget Living anymore…

  1. Annemarie

    I loved “Budget Living” mainly because there were some pretty darn good ideas/articles that I would have NEVER found in your run-o-the-mill magazine. This was a refreshing change from what every OTHER magazine offers….(boring) — which are just REHASHED cheesey womens’ articles telling us all how to improve ourselves to impress the opposite sex (like we are not ALREADY smashing, dahling…puh-lease…) THIS was a magazine for those who are COMFORTABLE with themselves & don’t need a fancy label to boost their image. It’s for those of us who actually CREATE our own style instead of follow what these useless Hollywood stars wear. Why spend $5,000 on a bag when you can find one similar for $50??? Just think about this for a minute – If you buy the $50 bag then you’d have $4,950 to spend on something else – boy, what a CONCEPT!!….Needless to say — this was a magazine for SMART/SAVY, creative women…and men too. What a shame! I will dearly MISS this magazine. Offbeat & different. A rare breed!!!

  2. Tim L.

    I agree AnneMarie. Most women’s magazines seem to thrive on the idea that you can’t look good and feel good unless you’re spending a fortune on a regular basis. Fortunately for my gender, we seem to be hard-wired to rejecting that notion. Lucky magazine does great, but its male counterpart Cargo just folded. Not enough metrosexuals out there after all I guess.

    I did think Budget Living met a need. I just liked it better when it was more unisex.

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