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Women's magazines: style vs. substance
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There's a lot to More magazine -- more than I can outline here -- including articles on beauty and fashion, people and places, body and mind, work and money. The body and mind section had features on bone health, depression and weight-training tips. In the people and places section, profiles of Virginia Madsen, CEO Carol Bartz, and a mother-daughter pair of writers (Perri Klass and Sheila Solomon Klass). It offers a lot in the human-interest department.

However, the work and money section left me wanting, well, more. The June issue featured two articles, one on the potentially awkward situation of working for a boss from Generation X or Y, and another of an artist who, at 60, finally landed her first solo exhibit at an art gallery.

Style: 17 percent
Substance: 83 percent

Real Simple -- The fluffiest of the bunch, this magazine's name should be changed to "Real Superfluous." It seems to be targeted to indolent spendthrifts. It's often hard to distinguish the editorial from the advertisements.

In its favor, I will say the graphic design is superior and the publication's size makes it suitable for the coffee table, but not practical for the bathroom. Though ostensibly its mission is to make life easier, it seems more geared to pushing products that will clutter your closets. Going to the beach? Don't forget your calypso flip-flops ($30), Helen Kaminski hat ($65), Aveeno sunblock ($11 -- OK, this one's important), Eddie Bauer tunic ($44.50), Company Store towel ($25), Tuffo blanket ($40), Crate & Barrel beach chair ($25), beach stakes and sand stakes ($15), first-aid kit ($10), Johnson's baby powder ($2), Avon bug guard ($10), Huggies wipes ($2.30), L.L. Bean bag ($37) -- you get the idea. If you buy all the products listed in the article, this trip to the beach will cost you more than $400. And carrying all the stuff doesn't make life simple.

Real Simple doesn't offer many money-saving suggestions. Its advice: Spend, spend, spend. Few articles offer depth; they're more for grazing. I guess it's the antithesis of Money magazine; both share the same corporate parent.

Style: 48 percent
Substance: 52 percent

Woman's Day -- This issue offers more in the money department than the others. The cover depicts frozen yogurt pops, but above its logo an eye-catching headline: "How to cut credit card debt." The article covers the basics well.

Other substantive matters: There's an interview with actress Blythe Danner, but after shooting the breeze about her role in Showtime drama "Huff," the interview turns to oral cancer, the disease that took her husband's life. The health section tackles heavier topics such as hypoglycemia, panic attacks, chronic pain and safe/unsafe foods. Of course, there are sections devoted to fashions, gardening, children and food.

The other work/money piece, "Show me the money," is targeted to at-home moms who are looking for part-time work. It offers good suggestions, including a sidebar on tax considerations.

Style: 29 percent
Substance: 71 percent

The average for these publications: 33 percent fluff, 67 percent substance. Does this reflect the typical American woman's psychic constitution? I like to think we're all substance, but some might disagree. Regardless, I hope editors of women's magazines heed the call to give their readers more to chew on in the personal-finance department.

Longtime financial journalist Barbara Mlotek Whelehan earned a certificate of specialization in financial planning.

If you have a comment or suggestion about this column, write to Boomer Bucks.If you have a particular financial problem that you would like addressed, please send your queries to Dr. Don, Tax Talk, the Real Estate Adviser or the Debt Adviser.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: June 28, 2006
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