Money expert Clark Howard seems to delight in labeling himself as “cheap.”
In some ways, it seems that saving money is as much of a game to him as it is practical. If he can find an angle to save money or a deal on clothing, travel or shaving, he loves it.
But Clark has had a long and successful career. Why does he spend money as if he doesn’t have any?
That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Why Does Clark Howard Spend Money Like He’s Broke?
Clark Howard is a disciplined investor and a lifetime saver. Why, then, does he spend more like someone who’s living paycheck to paycheck?
That’s what a listener asked on the July 24 podcast.
Asked Richard in South Carolina: “Hi Clark. Love the podcast. My question: It’s obvious you are a good steward with your finances. So why do spend money as if you are broke?”
Clark used to use a single disposable razor for an entire year (he eventually switched to an electric razor). He uses “minuscule amounts” of laundry detergent when he washes his clothes. The anecdotes are plentiful.
Yet he will splurge on things that matter to him.
“I don’t [spend money as if I’m broke],” Clark says. “I’ve been driving a Tesla for 11 years. That’s a big expense. We live in a very nice house. I live a life not of deprivation. I travel all over the world.
“It’s all about priorities in life once you’re living on less than what you make. I have some priorities that really matter. Other [things] are not priorities. And when they’re not a priority, I’m going to be thrifty. That’s how I’m wired.
“On things that are not important to me, I spend as little money as possible. I don’t care about clothes at all. The pants I’m wearing, the shirt I’m wearing, combined cost me $12.
“I’m very careful when I buy groceries. My favorite grocery store is Aldi. I’m so careful with every dollar. Use coupons. Look for discounts through apps. Because why waste money?”
Clark’s No. 1 and No. 2 Biggest Expenses Each Year
After a follow-up question from Christa, who produces the podcast, Clark revealed the biggest recurring expense in his family’s life. It’s not surprising.
“Our No. 1 expense in our life is taxes,” Clark says. “Far and away. And No. 2 is charity. It means a lot to me to be able to give to causes that really matter to me. And so that is a higher priority to me than wearing some brand-name shirt.”
Clark’s financial philosophy is simple.
Live on less money than you make. Considerably less, if you can find a way to do so. Take care of your retirement by contributing the surplus you create to a 401(k), an IRA or both from a young age.
Once you take care of your retirement, you can pick and choose the priorities you want to value and go after them.
He’s all for splurging in a smart way, if your finances allow, on things you love and being thrifty on everything else.