Clark Howard is America’s profit prophet, master miser, preeminent penny pincher, supreme skinflint, and chief cheapskate. For those unfamiliar with the name, where have you been?!? The consumer advisor preaches ways to save more, spend less, and avoid getting ripped off.
Howard’s syndicated radio show can be heard on WSB 750 AM. He also has a web site that is creatively named www.clarkhoward.com.
Clark Howard is the consummate consumer commando. His expertise spans the spectrum of economic issues. On one phone call, Clark addresses faulty dipstick tubes in hot water heaters. Then in the next segment he knowledgeably discusses 401K plans and Roth IRAs. In between, he talks about legitimate investments and illegitimate frauds.
Howard proudly admits that he sometimes goes to extremes, pinching a penny until Abraham Lincoln screams. He once appeared on national television dressed in a dollar suit bought at a thrift store. The radio personality will walk a mile rather than pay for parking. He also refuses to shop at malls because of the high overhead.
Some simple truths underlie Clark Howard’s consumer advice. Spend less money than made. Save more money than spent. Avoid get rich quick schemes. If it is too good to be true, then it is probably too good to be true.
However, Clark Howard’s advice is nothing new. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, also gave consumer advice. The Anglican priest believed that financial faithfulness was a mark of Christian discipleship.
Wesley gave this simple admonition to parishioners: Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.
LESSON ONE: Make all you can.
No one would argue with this tenet. One of the most misquoted verses of the Bible is: “Money is the root of all evil.” What 1 Timothy actually says is: “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” Material resources are a good gift given by a loving God. It is not a question of whether we have a little money; instead, it is a question of whether a little money has us.
LESSON TWO: Save all you can.
Here is where the financial train often leaves the tracks. Spending has a way of expanding to meet or exceed income. People have a difficult time distinguishing between “needs” and “wants.” We are bombarded with credit applications and product enticements. Only the truly disciplined can spend less than they make in order to save.
LESSON THREE: Give all you can.
We are stewards of God’s wealth. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out. When have you ever seen a U-Haul trailer in a funeral profession or a hearse with a luggage rack? Humanity is entrusted with God’s goods in order to help others. We should give until it hurts—then give more until it feels good.
All of us need to get Clark smart and Wesley wise. Make all you can. Spend less. Save all you can. Avoid getting ripped off. Give all you can.
It just makes sense . . . and cents.