For millions of Americans, Clark Howard is the man on the radio who helps people with their money problems.
To me, he has been a personal mentor.
I worked alongside Clark Howard on a TV show called “Evening Express” on HLN, CNN’s sister network.
My role was to produce Clark’s segments, but Clark needed little producing. I quickly learned that Clark knows the answer to pretty much any financial question you could ever have!
Now, here’s a look at 7 things money expert Clark Howard taught me:
START SAVING EARLY
It’s simple, but true. If you want to get ahead or retire early, you need to adopt a savings mentality ASAP. When your company offers a 401k match, or “free money” as Clark would say, take it.
EMBRACE NEW TECHNOLOGY
I remember when Clark first told me about Republic Wireless, which is now my cell phone carrier. At first, I wasn’t willing to leave Verizon (and my iPhone) for this scrappy little provider. But after hearing more about it on Clark’s radio show, I made the switch to a Moto X phone and a $25/month unlimited talk, text and data plan. Sometimes you have to try new things in order to get ahead.
IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS
At one point we started taking phone calls on the TV show. We always got a lot of calls from people who became victims of phone or email scams. Use common sense and protect those in your life who may be vulnerable to these types of scams, particularly the elderly.
TRAVEL PRICE FORECAST
I remember the day Clark came over to my desk to show me an online tool that predicts whether a current airfare will go up or down. It helps you decide if now is the right time to book. The tool was called Farecast, which I don’t think is around any longer. However, Kayak now offers a price trend feature when you search for flights. It’s just as useful!
DON’T GET A TIMESHARE
I’m not sure if Clark ever came out and told people not to get a timeshare, but I will. Listening to voicemails from viewers, this is the topic that generated the most phone calls. Nearly all of the people who called were stuck with timeshares they couldn’t get rid of. Don’t do it.
SEARCH FOR THE BEST DEAL
Clark has never been one to tell people they can’t shop. He just wants them to shop smarter. This is something I’ve always done, but it was fun to see what Clark thought was a “screamin’ deal.” Pay attention to how much things cost and do your research to identify sales worth jumping on.
MONEY = FREEDOM
When you save more and spend less, Clark told me you have the freedom to do what you want in life. Of course, money also makes it easier to leave a job or a relationship that doesn’t suit you. Even without money, I would suggest doing whatever you can to get out of a situation that’s affecting your happiness. Life is too short. Money just makes it easier to take the leap.
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