Welcome to a special edition of The Clark Howard Show where I’m celebrating the launch of Living Large in Lean Times from Dayton, Ohio.
This book took longer to write than any of my prior eight books. It was actually harder to do because we’re in a different era. My goal was to make coming up with a new way to handle money as easy as could be.
Living Large in Lean Times is divided into three major components. The first chapter is called “Help Me Now, Clark” and it focuses on things you can do to improve your personal finances in one week. It’s kind of our tour de force opener that’s intended to really grab your attention.
Then throughout the remainder of the book, I have tips that address two kinds of things: monthly bills, so you can take back control of money in your daily life; and what you can do to build long-term security.
A lot of us have monthly bills that control us instead of us controlling them. The bill comes in and we pay it, almost by rote. I want you to upset the apple cart. I want to show you how to look at each bill and figure out how to lower it.
Our monthlies can be anything from our cell phone to what we do for TV. I want to take a moment to look back in history at those two things.
TVs are everywhere these days, but it wasn’t always that way. I remember being a kid and when we got third TV channel, it was big deal! I even recall in 1964 going to the home of the only family we knew with a color TV to watch it. Unfortunately, the three stations weren’t doing color programming yet! TV was a lot simpler and you paid zero for programming. Today, however, it’s routine for people to pay $80 or more per month. That’s $1,000 annually!
Look at your cell phone. They weren’t always around either. I remember the first car phones back in the 1980s. They used to cost hundreds for installation. Then you paid a 35 cent connection fee every time you picked it up and that much per minute to use it. But cell phones are routine today. It’s become an automatic bill in our lives. Ditto for an Internet connection. Who ever heard of that before 1990?!
Maybe you love the cell phone you have, or maybe you don’t want to ditch pay TV. But maybe you do want to go a different route and try something like Netflix for $8 a month.
So that’s what I wrote about: How do you look at the things you’re doing and free up more money each month? That’s what Living Large in Lean Times is all about.
Editor’s note: This segment originally aired Aug. 15, 2011