Nobody pinches a penny quite like money expert Clark Howard. Below are some of his most famous — or should we say infamous — cheapo exploits!
5 Easy Ways to Clark Your Life
1. 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!
And then there’s the time Clark was at Krystal and asked the cashier to ring up his five burgers at the standard price of 79 cents apiece instead of the “deal price” of five for $5.
The end result? Instead of paying $5.40 under the promotional “deal,” he only paid $3.95 plus tax.
Sure, it was a savings of only $1.13, but as Clark says, “Every single penny and every single dollar matters.”
2. 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 it’s part of his shtick.
“A few years ago, I was doing an affiliate radio station visit in Greensboro, North Carolina, 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.
He has since graduated from that 10-pack 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,” Clark says.
He says expects the 55-count package will last him the rest of his life and that he’ll never have to buy a razor again!
3. 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 wind up paying $184 as the median price for lenses and frames. That’s according to recent numbers from Consumer Reports (subscription required).
How about if you get your glasses at the national chain LensCrafters? You’ll face a median out-of-pocket cost of $369!
It is possible to run the price up 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!
Looking for the best places to buy glasses online or in a store? Check out our list here.
4. Buying the Airfare Deal First, Then Figuring Out Why He Wants to Go There
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 find deals this way is Kayak Explore. You simply select how much you’re willing to pay, and available destinations in your price range pop up on a world map on your screen. Another feature of Kayak Explore is a price forecast that tells you whether to buy the ticket at the current price or wait for it to drop.
Clark has three methods in particular that he uses to find travel deals. Read about them here.
5. Flying With Only a Carry-On To Avoid Bag Fees
Rather than paying baggage fees, Clark travels with only what an airline permits free as a single carry-on.
“Another plus is that I never worry about the airline losing my baggage,” he says.
Sometimes getting everything you need into a carry-on can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve got 5 steps to pack a carry-on bag for a five-day trip here.
Once on a trip to Europe, the airline Clark flew required his carry-on to weigh than 22 pounds — or he’d have to pay a nearly $50 fee to check the bag.
“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 of retelling it, Clark says it isn’t true. Additionally, Goodwill encourages donors to dry clean clothing before donation. They do not wash anything before putting it out for sale.