On this episode of How To Money, Matt and Joel talk with one of the biggest names in personal finance, Clark Howard, about everything from his fascinating backstory to how to be your own consumer advocate to finding the best deals for travel. Clark says he always thought his parents were pretty rich when he was growing up, but in his freshman year of college, his father told him he’d just lost his job, and there might not be enough money for another semester. “I didn’t realize they spent everything that came in,” he says. Ever since then, creating financial security has been Clark’s guiding star: “I wanted money to create security for me, not fear.”
Joel and Matt already compare some of their financial decisions in their “Frugal or Cheap?” segment, but Clark has always proudly embraced the “cheap guy” moniker. He says it’s simple: “Possessions make you poorer….Money that you invest and that you can live on….is what creates financial security.” Fortunately, investing has only gotten easier through the years; there used to be huge fees for trading stocks that don’t exist anymore, allowing people with as little as a single dollar to get into the stock market. On the flip side, that has created a need for drama; many would-be or new investors buy and sell rapidly, or speculate. Many younger people want to get involved in meme stocks or cryptocurrency, and have no conception of what a “long-term hold” really means. “It’s hard to get people focused on just worrying about the fundamentals….when it’s so much more fun to get on Robin Hood and gamify investing,” he says. Index and mutual funds, held for decades, are still the way to go for long-term security. Clark says if you really want to create comfort in your life, you’ll set aside 20¢ of every dollar you make; if you do that, you can be “as foolish as you want to be” with the other 80¢.
He also has some travel tips for the best airfare and lodging, and says he just took “the best cruise of my life” for cheap as well; but the biggest travel tip he has is “to get the car rental first.” During the pandemic, so many car rental agencies sold off their fleets to make payroll, so now that travel is roaring back, they’re short of cars, making rentals not only very expensive, but hard to attain. Before spending any non-refundable airfare or hotel reservation money, make sure you can get the car (if you need it) first. It’ll save a lot of headaches. Plus, why scammers are going after younger people now, how to get huge faceless corporations to hear your complaints and do something about them, and much more with the giant of personal finance on this episode of How To Money.
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