Nobody pinches a penny quite like consumer champ Clark Howard. Below are some of his most famous — or should we say infamous — cheapo exploits!
Buying a better (and cheaper) burger
Prices at fast food restaurants have changed over the years. When it’s been more expensive to buy a double hamburger than two single hamburgers, Clark is known to do exactly what you’d expect him to: He buys two single and then combines the patties to enjoy a double!
More recently, the consumer champ was at Krystal and asked the cashier to ring his 5 burgers up at the standard price of 79 cents a piece instead of the ‘deal price’ of 5 for $5.
The end result? Instead of paying $5.40 under the promotional pricing plan, he only paid $3.95 plus tax.
Sure, it was only a savings of $1.13, but ‘every single penny and every single dollar matters,’ Clark says.
Making a 17-cent razor last for 12 months
Years ago, a listener told Clark that by drying a disposable razor after each use, he could make it last for months or even a year. Blades degrade from moisture, as the man explained, not so much from the actual friction or wear of shaving stubble.
Clark has been a convert ever since trying it. It’s gotten to the point that people know its part of his shtick.
‘A few years ago, I was doing an affiliate radio station visit in Greensboro, N.C. and a morning show guy gave me ‘a lifetime supply’ of 10 disposable blades because he thought my whole deal with using a razor for so long was funny,’ Clark confesses.
The consumer champ has since graduated from that 10-pack on to a 55-count disposable razor package that he got on clearance at a warehouse club.
‘The money I’m saving on razors feels better in my wallet than in Gillette’s or Schick’s,’ he says.
Clark expects the 55-count package will last him the rest of his life and that he’ll never have to buy a razor again!
Wearing cheap eyeglasses
Why spend hundreds of dollars on prescription eyeglasses when you can get them starting at $7?
Even at a place as cheap as Costco’s optical department, you’ll still wind up paying $184 as the median price for lenses and frames. That’s according to new numbers from Consumer Reports. And if you get your glasses at a national chain like LensCrafters? You’ll face a median out-of-pocket cost of $369.
Contrast that with ZenniOptical.com. Basic prescription glasses start at $6.95 for frames and lenses and shipping is just $4.95. It is possible to run the price up higher if you want fancier frames or have special optical needs. Clark’s first pair of glasses with progressive lenses from Zenni cost him $41.
But that’s still a huge savings if you’re willing to think outside of the box and get cheap Chinese-made glasses online like Clark!
Read more: 10 best places to get eyeglasses
Buying the airfare deal first, then figuring out why he wants to go there later
This is Clark’s #1 rule of cheap travel!
‘It’s really pretty simple: I don’t pick a destination that I have to go to. I wait for a deal somewhere, buy the deal and then figure out why I want to go there,’ he says. ‘By following that simple rule, I’ve been able to visit every continent except Antarctica and every state except North Dakota. And I’ve done it all on a dime.’
One of Clark’s favorite tools to use to find deals this way is Kayak Explore. You simply select how much you’re willing to pay, and then available destinations in your price range pop up on a world map. Another feature of Kayak Explore is a price forecast that tells you whether to buy the ticket at current prices or wait for the price to drop.
Flying with only a carry-on to avoid bag fees
Rather than paying baggage fees, Clark travels only with what an airline permits free as a single carry-on.
‘Another plus is that he never worries about the airline losing my baggage,’ Clark says.
Sometimes getting everything you need into a carry-on can be an extreme test. Once when in Europe, Clark needed his carry-on to be less than 22 pounds or he’d have to pay a nearly $50 fee to check it in at the airport.
‘I had to wear multiple layers of clothing in Dublin, Ireland to make sure I avoided that hefty $50 fee!’ Clark recalls. ‘That meant three layers of clothing so that my bag would be less than 22 pounds. I put on three pairs of pants, two shirts and a sweatshirt on top of that while flying.’
BONUS: This one’s not really true, but it sure is a fun little story!
Retired radio host Neal Boortz writes in his 2013 memoir Maybe I Should Just Shut Up and Go Away! about how Clark avoids the high price of dry cleaning.
The story goes that Clark simply drops his shirts off at a Goodwill. They supposedly dry clean the shirts before putting them out on the floor for sale. Then Clark goes back the next morning and buys the shirts back at a lower price than it would have cost him to have them professionally dry cleaned!
While this story is hilarious and Boortz is fond to retelling it, Clark says it isn’t true. Additionally, Goodwill encourage donors themselves to dry clean clothing before donation. They do not wash anything before putting it out for sale.