The Clark Howard Podcast

By Clark Howard

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Subscribers: 2268
Reviews: 6

 Sep 18, 2020

 Apr 24, 2019
Never miss an episode, as Clark Howard always seems to have something helpful to share.

 Nov 18, 2018

 Oct 23, 2018
Clark has saved me more money than I can count. My current cell phone bill alone is $110 for SIX phones, all unlimited. Thanks for all you do, Clark and the Team.

 Oct 20, 2018
Narrow-minded and lacks the ability to makes calls relevant to the broader audience as opposed to the singular caller.


Save more and spend less is more than just a motto for money expert Clark Howard; it’s a way of life. Clark and his crew — Team Clark — are on a mission to empower people to take control of their personal finances by providing money-saving tips, consumer advice, hot deals and economic news to help everyone achieve financial freedom. Clark is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and a consumer reporter for television stations around the country. His podcast, The Clark Howard Show, receives more than one million downloads each month and is a hub for listeners to get valuable advice on-demand any time. Clark answers questions on the most popular business and consumer topics including; how to buy a cars, financing a home, retirement planning, shopping for insurance and getting the most out of your savings. Join the conversation and submit your question to . Clark spearheads two free resources — and — to encourage consumers to save more, spend less and avoid ripoffs.

Episode Date
9.18.20 Why delaying social security payments is so important; Clark Stinks
A lot of Americans opt to take social security when they are first eligible. But this can cost you a whole lot of money in the long run. Clark discusses why it is so important to delay taking social security if that is possible in your life. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Want more money advice? Sign up for Clark’s free daily newsletter! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 18, 2020
9.17.20 The telemedicine boom; Good news for job seekers
Telemedicine is taking off right now. And it's actually better for your health, too. There are all sorts of positive signs in the job market. Clark talks about Hobby Lobby raising its minimum wage to $17 an hour, new job training programs, and more. Want more money advice? Sign up for Clark’s free daily newsletter! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 17, 2020
9.16.20 Employees love working from home, but many employers don't love it; Football is back!
Stats show that Americans who have been able to work from home during the pandemic would love to be able to continue doing so when things get back to normal. But a large number of employers are ready to bring their employees back into the office. Football is Clark's favorite sport. And he is so glad that it's back! Want more money advice? Sign up for Clark’s free daily newsletter! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 16, 2020
9.15.20 Americans are saving more right now; USPS prescription delivery delays
Many Americans who can are saving more of their income. This bodes well as the economy continues to recover as the spenders will be able to meaningfully support that recovery. USPS delays are having a real impact on the delivery of important medications. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 15, 2020
9.14.20 The wildfires in California; The cell phone price wars intensify
Clark talks about what has led to the wildfires in California and what policies need to be implemented to avoid such devastation in the future. Link for a listener - Marketwatch's Best Places to Retire tool. Verizon just bought Tracfone. This will intensify the price cutting in the industry. That's great news for consumers! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 14, 2020
9.11.20 Special Edition: Navigating Your Finances in the Pandemic Economy
Clark talks about how the economy has changed since Covid-19 became a reality in our lives. And his wife Lane joins him to pose your questions - all of which are related to how you should navigate the financial waters given the current state of things. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 11, 2020
9.10.20 Christmas sales in October; The used car shortage
Retailers are likely to start offering bargains earlier than normal this year. You could find some great bargains in October instead of having to wait until November! There is a used car shortage in our country which is pushing up the value of older vehicles. If you have an older car sitting around that you don't need, consider selling it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 10, 2020
9.9.20 Mint Mobile launches cheap unlimited cell plan; FedEx is hiring
If you need unlimited data, Mint Mobile just launched one of the best plans that is pretty inexpensive - only $30 a month when you pay up front. Check it out on their website. FedEx is going on a hiring spree ahead of the holidays. If you are looking for work, check out the job postings from FedEx. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 09, 2020
9.8.20 The unbalanced stock market; How the eviction moratorium works
The stock market has started to experience some volatility - particularly in the tech sector. Clark talks about how that should impact how you invest your money. If you cannot afford to pay your rent right now, you can avoid eviction by filling out this CDC form. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 08, 2020
9.7.20 New car recall tool; Dollar stores become more popular as consumers are still hurting
NHTSA has released a new free app that makes it easy for consumers to check for any outstanding recalls on their vehicle. Dollar store chains are starting to get more in-store traffic as a large segment of hurting consumers turn there for lower prices. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 07, 2020
9.4.20 Walmart Plus takes aim at Amazon Prime; Clark Stinks
Walmart Plus just launched with a $98 annual fee in an attempt to take market share from Amazon. The perks will include fast shipping on a lot of items - many of which you can get the same day you place the order! Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 04, 2020
9.3.20 Why you should wait to buy an iPhone; States are having financial difficulties
Apple will be releasing 5G iPhones in the Fall. Don't buy an iPhone until those are released! Clark talks about the states that are having the most financial difficulty right now and how that will affect you. Taxes could go up and services could get cut. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 03, 2020
9.2.20 Federal reserve won't worry about inflation; Companies forbid employees to talk about Covid diagnosis
The Federal reserve has signaled that it won't do much to reign in inflation right now. Clark discusses what that means for your money in the near future. Savers, in particular, are getting their clocks cleaned. Some companies are putting employees under a gag order if they have symptoms of Covid. Clark is not in favor of companies adopting these sorts of policies. They are unsafe! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 02, 2020
9.1.20 Executive order confusion and stimulus package progress; More airlines drop change fees + flying cars
Clark talks about how the executive orders are rolling out. And will there be another stimulus package? It's likely. But it's hard to know when Congress will come to an agreement. Delta, Alaska, and American Airlines join United in dropping airline change fees & a flying car was tested successfully in Japan! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sep 01, 2020
8.31.20 Clark talks prostate cancer and improving your eating habits; United scraps ticket change fees
Clark was diagnosed with prostate cancer over a decade ago. But he's in great health still. Staying healthy is important for so many reasons, and your eating habits are a major contributor to your overall health. Check out for more info on Clark's work with the Prostate Cancer Foundation. United Airlines is permanently getting rid of ticket-change fees. This is great news. Those fees are unnecessary. They also cause consumers a lot of frustration and cost them a lot of money. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 31, 2020
8.28.20 Now is an ideal rate to shop around for car/home insurance; Clark Stinks
Insurance companies are raking in the profit right now as crime is down and people are driving less. That makes this an excellent time for you to shop with multliple companies in order to score a better rate. You could save a LOT of money every year! Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 28, 2020
8.27.20 New refinance fee postponed; Why freezing your credit is SO important now
The new refi fee that Clark talked about last week is being postponed until December. And borrowers who are refinancing smaller loans won't see it at all! With an influx of Covid scams, freezing your credit is more important than ever. If you haven't frozen your credit, do it soon. It's incredibly quick and free! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 27, 2020
8.26.20 Knowing your home's flood risk; Rip-off schools
2311 is a great website that can help you assess your home's flood risk. And if you are at a higher risk, you can get flood insurance pretty inexpensively! There's a new way to get money to pay your tuition at for-profit schools. And no surprise, it's a rip-off too. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 26, 2020
8.25.20 IRS to stop sending tax notices for now; Schwab's new free planning tool
IRS will stop sending tax notices for now until it clears through a backlog of mailed in returns. Charles Schwab has a new tool to help with retirement planning. In about 15 minutes you can generate a helpful retirement plan based on your own goals and the probability of funding those goals based on your age and current asset allocation. You can check out the new free tool called Schwab Plan here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 25, 2020
8.24.20 Zoom crash this morning + alternatives; The K-shaped look of the economic recovery
Zoom experienced a big crash this morning on the east coast of the US. Clark discusses and talks about the importance of having backup video conferencing options. The K-shaped economy is increasing the level of income inequality in the country. Clark discusses how to change your income prospects as the Covid economy continues to create real hardship. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 24, 2020
8.21.20 Click & collect is the present and the future; Clark Stinks
Retailers like Target are crushing it right now - in large part because they have done an incredible job with click & collect. Clark loves buying stuff and picking them up at nearby national retailers. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 21, 2020
8.20.20 Amazon's sale of faulty goods; What's up with the next stimulus bill?
A court has just ruled that Amazon can be held responsible for faulty and unsafe good being sold on its website. Often many of the questionable items are sold by third party sellers but Clark calls on Amazon to clean things up on their site. The next stimulus bill is taking a while to put together. Clark talks about how the implementation of the recent executive orders is going and what we can expect from a stimulus bill at some point in the future. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 20, 2020
8.19.20 Stock market reaches new highs; Flexible leases are more common
The stock market has fully rebounded since its collapse in the Spring. Apple just hit a $2 trillion valuation while the S&P 500 hit a new milestone as well. Leases are traditionally one year long. But landlords are becoming more flexible due to the pandemic. So if you would prefer a shorter lease or even to rent month to month, you should ask for that now! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 19, 2020
8.18.20 New fees for refinancing; Apple & Google's monopolistic tendencies
Mortgage refinancing just got more expensive thanks to this new fee from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Apple and Google are acting more and more like a shared monopoly. Case in point, Fortnite has been pulled from both Google and Apple's store for attempting to bypass the fees they impose on sellers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 18, 2020
8.17.20 What's happening with the post office?; Student loan executive order details + a new proposal for student loan forgiveness
There are some big issues with the postal service right now and it has led to a political firestorm in Washington. But Clark wants to discuss the reforms that are actually needed as the USPS has seen declines in the mail they deliver. It looks like federal student loans will continue to see payment and interest deferral for the rest of the year due to the President's executive order. There's also a new proposal to change the way income based repayment works which would create some much needed simplification. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 17, 2020
8.14.20 Cutting items from your budget to save more; Clark Stinks
Clark encourages people to look over their spending for the past month or two. Are you still spending on gym memberships or other recurring subscriptions that you aren't really using right now? Cancel them out of your life! Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 14, 2020
8.13.20 iBonds could be a great savings vehicle; Grocery shortages
With rates dropping quickly for savers, iBonds could be a great place to put some money you want liquid in order to get a better return. Some items are still hard to find at the grocery store. Clark talks about what is going on and the price inflation we're starting to see on lots of grocery items. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 13, 2020
8.12.20 How unemployment benefits will work under the executive order; Prepaid cell phone plan deals
The President's executive order extends federal unemployment benefits. But what will that look like on the ground in the states? Clark discusses. Boost Mobile has a new $10 a month plan! Clark talks about that and some of the other best deals right now on cell service. You could save hundreds of dollars a year. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 12, 2020
8.11.20 Watch out for these bill scams; Insurance company access to your medical records
People are getting bill collection notifications via text or email that are scams. Especially in these emotional times, be vigilant for scam artists trying to get your personal or financial information. Life insurance companies want access to medical records in order to speed up life insurance purchases. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 11, 2020
8.10.20 Eviction fears & potential for stimulus action; Chaotic start to school year
Clark discusses the difficulty many are having as federal unemployment benefits run dry in the absence of another stimulus bill. It could lead to an increase in evictions if the federal government doesn't pass another bill soon. The school year is getting off to a rocky start in many places. As some kids are doing remote learning, others have gone back in person. And the difference in safety precautions varies greatly by school district. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 10, 2020
8.7.20 Gold and precious metals have been on a tear; Clark Stinks
Gold prices have been soaring. And the gold bugs are touting gold to the masses as the best investment strategy. Clark talks about how you should think about gold in your investment portfolio. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 07, 2020
8.6.20 Credit lines being cut; AT&T rapidly losing customers
Credit card limits are being cut for many customers by the banks. This is going to drastically hurt the credit scores of many - and in the midst of a pandemic. AT&T is having an incredibly tough time. The company is losing massive amounts of subscribers which is crushing revenue. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 06, 2020
8.5.20 Self storage units having a tough time; Half of Americans see income drop
With more Americans staying put and hunkering down, the storage unit industry is hurting in a big way. A new survey from Bankrate shows that almost 50% of Americans have had a reduction in income because of Covid. Pay cuts and furloughs have made things much harder on a lot of folks. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 05, 2020
8.4.20 Why Roth 401k's are better; Fast food rewards programs
Roth 401k's make more sense than traditional 401k's for a lot of people. Clark discusses why that is the case. Wendy's has launched a rewards program. Starbucks just made changes to its rewards program. Clark talks about which ones he uses and how he's able to use these rewards programs and apps in order to score discounts and free food. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 04, 2020
8.3.20 Qualifying for food stamps; Protecting your email privacy
Are you eligible for food stamps? Many more Americans might qualify right now. A new email service will charge you $100 a year for an email address but they offer you privacy in return. Clark has other free options that he shares also. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Aug 03, 2020
7.31.20 Overworked pharmacists making more prescription mistakes; Clark Stinks
CVS in Oklahoma was fined for prescription errors and poor staffing. Pharmacists need to be treated better! Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 31, 2020
7.30.20 Websites that help end of life planning; Major discounts available for monitored driving
Lantern and Cake are newer websites that do a great job helping people plan for the future and do some estate planning. If you will let your insurance company monitor your driving you can score some major discounts and save a lot of money. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 30, 2020
7.29.20 Amazon & Walmart changing checkout experience and robots that cook; Acorns Early to save for your child
Amazon has created a new shopping cart that allows you to skip the checkout line. Walmart is working on something similar that will create efficiency and limit human contact. Acorns has created Acorns Early to help you start invest for your child's future. If you have a child born in 2020 the account is free until they turn 18! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 29, 2020
7.28.20 How to handle health insurance if you've been laid off; Is now a good time to buy a home?
In some states, almost 1/4 of citizens are without health coverage due to the pandemic and having lost their job. Clark talks about where to look for healthcare coverage. You should specifically look to the healthcare exchange at You may be eligible for a heavily subsidized policy if your income has been drastically reduced. Clark discusses the state of the housing market and how things are shaping up in regards to inventory and pricing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 28, 2020
7.27.20 Walgreens is adding doctors offices across the country; Credit card debt is shrinking
Pharmaceutical chain Walgreens will be adding doctors offices to stores around the country. The Walgreens model will be unique as you'll be able to see a primary care doctor there. People are paying down credit card debt in a big way since the pandemic began. This is great news. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 27, 2020
7.24.20 Garmin breach has major ramifications; Clark Stinks
Garmin services went down after a ransomware attack. This affects user data for Garmin users but the implications of this breach go even further. Clark discusses. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 24, 2020
7.23.20 Unemployment & possible stimulus measures; Instacart customer data leak
Stimulus bill talks are heating up in Washington. As Covid cases are increasing in many states, legislators are starting to talk about what it should look like to provide further financial relief to affected Americans. Buzzfeed News is reporting that the personal information of Instacart shoppers is being sold online. This includes names, addresses, credit card data, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 23, 2020
7.22.20 Walmart won't be open on Thanksgiving; College tuition cuts
Black Friday is going to be very different this year. Walmart has announced that they won't be open on Thanksgiving and that will likely cause a lot of other retailers to follow suit. Some universities are offering tuition discounts this year. Others aren't. Clark gives alternatives to consider if the school you or your child attends isn't offering a Covid discount. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 22, 2020
7.21.20 Getting out of a lease; Crowded flights
As states and municipalities begin to do away with eviction moratoriums, it's important to know how to protect yourself. Clark discusses how you can work with your landlord to potentially get out of a lease. Flights are getting more crowded as more people get back onto airplanes. Clark discusses the specific airline passenger limits and what you need to know before you fly. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 21, 2020
7.20.20 Potential Covid stimulus package; Retailer mask requirements
Different stimulus proposals are making the rounds. Clark discusses what he believes will be a part of the next relief package. Major retailers are now requiring that you wear a mask in order to shop in person. And as the biggest retailers in the country have developed policies, many smaller businesses are following suit. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 20, 2020
7.17.20 Mortgage rates decline further; Clark Stinks
Mortgage rates have fallen. And you can now get a 30-year mortgage under 3%! Clark is a big fan of 15-year mortgages though because of the even lower rates those carry. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 17, 2020
7.16.20 Bitcoin scam hacks prominent Twitter users; Small business bankruptcy tips
Hackers broke into the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians and business leaders to send a message about a Bitcoin scam that claimed to double people's money. It's easier than ever for small businesses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Clark tells you what you need to know if your business is in big financial trouble right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 16, 2020
7.15.20 Walmart now requiring masks to be worn; New data on the economic recovery
Walmart is going to require customers to wear masks starting July 20. Clark discusses new data on the economic recovery. He talks about which sectors are doing well and which ones aren't - and how that's affecting jobs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 15, 2020
7.14.20 The economy, jobs, and the potential for more stimulus; Travel safety and booking
Clark talks about what is currently happening in the economy as Covid cases rise in many states. Booking travel is still fraught with issues right now. Clark discusses how to think about safety when traveling and booking travel in the midst of the pandemic. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 14, 2020
7.13.20 Tax filing deadline quickly approaching; Ford promises to buy back cars if you lose your job
The deadline to file your taxes is on Wednesday. And Clark discusses the importance of filing a return no matter what your situation is. Auto manufacturer Ford promises to take back any Ford car that you buy if you lose your job - as long as you finance your vehicle with Ford as well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 13, 2020
7.10.20 Why you need to drive your car even if you have nowhere to go; Getting conference calls right
Because of Covid, cars are being driven a lot less. And some animals are finding a new home. So Clark discusses how to take care of your car and keep it in good shape even if you don't have anywhere you need to drive. Conference calls can be a frustrating new part of your daily life. Clark talks about how you can make them easier and less annoying. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 10, 2020
7.9.20 People are adopting pandemic puppies; Investing gets cheaper as fund fees fall
People are buying a lot of puppies and other pets because of the pandemic. And scammers are coming out of the woodwork to prey on those people. Investing continues to get cheaper for the average American. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 09, 2020
7.8.20 How you bank will change because of Covid; How restaurants will survive - takeout
It seems like every sector of the economy is impacted by Covid in one way or another. Banking is no different. Clark talks about how your relationship with your bank will change because of the virus. Takeout is becoming incredibly important to the survival of local restaurants. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 08, 2020
7.7.20 Companies now doing curbside pickup; 71% of Americans think their retirement is destroyed
Curbside pickup is becoming more normal these days. And even major companies like Aldi and Sam's Club have both started doing curbside pickup. A large percentage of Americans feel like their retirement has been destroyed because of Covid's effects on the economy and the stock market. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 07, 2020
7.6.20 Best customer service cell phone companies; Cities redesigning streets for bike commuting
The ACSI just came out and lists the cell phone companies that have the best customer service. Covid-19 has caused some cities to look at how they design for alternative forms of transportation - and many are prioritizing bike commuting right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 06, 2020
7.3.20 Community college saves you money; Clark Stinks
Community college is a big time money saver. And it might make even more sense for lots of kids in the Fall. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 03, 2020
7.2.20 Millions of loan payments being skipped; How to approach investing if you are near retirement
Millions of loan payments aren't being made right now. But it's actually not as bad as some people thought it might be. Many near-retirees are having a hard time thinking about how they should handle their investments right now. Clark gives his thoughts. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 02, 2020
7.1.20 Travel insurance problems; People are moving all across the country
The travel insurance industry has had massive problems during the pandemic. Clark tells you how to buy travel insurance moving forward. People are moving across the country in much greater numbers right now for more opportunities or a better life. Remote work is definitely contributing to this as well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jul 01, 2020
6.30.20 Keep your food fresh longer; Is now a good time to re-balance your retirement portfolio?
There are ways to keep your food fresh for longer. And it's more important as grocery prices continue to rise. Re-balancing your portfolio can be important from time to time. And right after stocks have moved a good bit might mean it's wise to check your holding. But remember, it's important to keep your time horizon in mind before you make any changes too. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 30, 2020
6.29.20 New 401k rules could wreak havoc on your account; Asking for a raise
New 401k rules allow for individual investors to invest in private equity. Clark is not a fan of this. Clark gives suggestions on how to ask for a raise...and actually get one. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 29, 2020
6.26.20 Americans are returning to car dealerships; Clark Stinks
Most people thought that car buying would take place online in the future - in large part as a response to the pandemic. But Americans are already returning to car dealerships! Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 26, 2020
6.25.20 Walmart expands education benefit to include skilled trades; Vanguard's super-cheap digital advisor
Walmart is offering its workers increased access to education benefits that go beyond just getting a college degree. Vanguard's digital advisor service is making robo-advising even cheaper and more accessible for people. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 25, 2020
6.24.20 Banks took in $11 billion in overdraft fees in 2019; Pay cuts are becoming more common
Overdraft fees are the worst. Mostly because they can be avoided! Pay cuts have become more common during the pandemic. Many employers are choosing pay reductions instead of letting employees go completely. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 24, 2020
6.23.20 Watch out for unused gift cards; Debt collectors increase aggressive tactics
Unused gift cards need to be used as soon as possible. As more retailers file for bankruptcy those gift cards become worthless. Debt collectors are taking more aggressive tactics to claw back money from people that owe. Clark tells you what to watch out for. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 23, 2020
6.22.20 Beware credit card fraud; Renter background checks are flawed
As we do more shopping online, scammers are more likely to take over individual credit card accounts. So freeze your credit and check your statements and watch out for phishing scams. Renter background checks help landlords decide who they will rent to. But they aren't always accurate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 22, 2020
6.19.20 Last-minute Father's Day thoughts; Clark Stinks
Clark talks about what to do for your dad in the middle of a pandemic. Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 19, 2020
6.18.20 Spending from high-income earners is down; Getting PPP forgiveness and getting your stimulus money
Clark discusses the current state of the economy including what is happening with unemployment. Also, high earners in society have been spending a whole lot less which isn't helping the recovery. Getting PPP forgiveness will be easier for small businesses with smaller PPP loans. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 18, 2020
6.17.20 Target raising minimum wage to $15 an hour; T-Mobile outage and communicating when networks go down
Target is raising the minimum wage. Pay has gotten much better for retail workers in recent years and that trend is continuing. T-Mobile experienced a massive network outage yesterday. Clark talks about what went down and how you should look to communicate in case your internet or cell network goes down. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 17, 2020
6.16.20 Retail sales are up; EIDL loans are again available for small business owners
Retail sales rose a record 18% in May. That's the biggest monthly increase since 1992. Clark discusses what this means for the economy. The SBA EIDL program has been hard to follow with rules that have changed frequently. But the SBA just re-opened EIDL loans for small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic. You can call 1-800-659-2955 or email for more information. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 16, 2020
6.15.20 Hertz selling off cars in its fleet; The riskiest activities to partake in during Covid-19 pandemic
Hertz is selling off cars. But should you buy one? Clark tells you what to watch out for and what is important when buying a used car. Certain activities are riskier right now. Clark talks about how to weigh the pros and cons of partaking in some activities as Covid-19 is still a real issue. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 15, 2020
6.12.20 Monitoring your credit score is even more important right now; Clark Stinks
With many payments being deferred right now some creditors are making inaccurate reports to the credit bureaus. So watch your credit score closely! Kim and Joel share the Clark Stinks posted on the web and share with Clark. Submit yours to: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 12, 2020
6.11.20 Why the stock market fell today; Amazon creates small business lines of credit
The stock market took a big dip today. There are a few reasons for this and Clark explains. Amazon and Goldman Sachs have joined together to offer small business lines of credit. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 11, 2020
6.10.20 So many good deals right now!; Small investors are taking big risks
2300 has been busy because deals currently abound. Clark talks about the best deals he's currently seeing. Small investors are buying incredibly risky stocks right now. There's a strong chance that will come back to bite them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 10, 2020
6.9.20 Car prices are going up; Some stimulus payments coming via debit card
Used car prices had fallen a good bit recently because of the pandemic. But the time for used car deals is over as demand has skyrocketed. Some people have accidentally thrown away their stimulus money. That's because it came in the form of a debit card in an unmarked envelope. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 09, 2020
6.8.20 Are we still in a recession?; Ticketmaster's new refund policy
Some economists are saying that we aren't in a recession any longer. That's hard to understand when unemployment is still off the charts. Clark discusses the current situation of our economy. Ticketmaster has a new refund policy. Clark explains the details. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 08, 2020
6.5.20 Should kids go back to school?; Why CD's might be a great place for your money right now
Clark talks about the great dilemma of whether or not schools should open in the Fall. Rates for taking on student loans in the Fall have plummeted. And CD's might be better than a savings account right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 05, 2020
6.4.20 Employers can allow you to change your health plan; Popular pandemic scams
The CARES Act allows employers to make a decision on whether or not you can change the healthcare plan you are currently enrolled in. There are more scams floating around right now. Clark tells you what scams are popular right now and how to avoid getting taken. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 04, 2020
6.3.20 Store brands are having a moment; Paying your rent
Store brands and generics are doing incredibly well right now. But they have always been a good money saving idea. A lot of people are having a tough time right now. But almost 9 out of 10 people have been able to pay rent on time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 03, 2020
6.2.20 Amazon is releasing a new Fire HD tablet; PayPal's new credit card is actually great
Amazon has solid tablets at really great prices. And they have just released a new version. PayPal's older credit card offering just wasn't that great. But the new one is definitely worth considering! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 02, 2020
6.1.20 Advice for people looking for a job; People are driving again in bigger numbers
Clark discusses how you should go about job hunting in today's environment. People are starting to drive again in larger numbers. Gas prices are lower than they were before the lockdown began so that's a silver lining. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jun 01, 2020
5.29.20 Small businesses ditching delivery services; Avoid using these apps for payments especially with current Covid scams
Delivery services cost small businesses money. So many are opting to ditch the delivery services and Clark discusses how you can continue to support them. Using app like Venmo and Cash app are great for paying people that you know. But scammers are using these apps to swindle people out of their money. Clark tells you what to watch out for. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 29, 2020
5.28.20 Average monthly expenses survey; What foods are making a comeback right now
Clark goes over a survey that shows what the average monthly expenses are for Americans. Some of the big food products, especially snack foods, are coming back in vogue these days. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 28, 2020
5.27.20 Staying safe in hotels this Summer; Fiduciary disclosure coming to your mailbox
When you are traveling this Summer, if you are staying in a hotel, it's important to stay safe. Clark tells you how to do that. An awkward and opaque letter will be coming to investors in the coming weeks. Clark bring some clarity to what this fiduciary disclosure means. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 27, 2020
5.26.20 Navigating Cobra insurance benefits; How students should think about school in the Fall
Cobra benefits are going to be offered to you if you lose your job in many cases. But those benefits can be EXPENSIVE. Clark discusses what the decision to get Cobra should entail. Should you go back to school in the Fall? That's a very real question. You might not be getting what you are paying for if Zoom calls are the likely classroom. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 26, 2020
5.25.20 Walmart Express offers 2-hour delivery; Home prices are actually rising right now
Walmart just launched Walmart Express which promises 2-hour delivery. Many people assumed that home prices would fall as a result of the pandemic and increased unemployment. But home prices have actually gone up. Clark explains. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 25, 2020
5.22.20 Restaurants incur higher expenses start surcharging customers; Clark Stinks
Some restaurants have come under fire for charging Covid-related surcharges. But the revenue is down and expenses are up for most local restaurants. Clark Stinks makes a return to the show this week! If you have a Clark Stinks to share go to Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 22, 2020
5.21.20 How the life insurance industry is changing; Where the hiring is actually happening
At-home exams for life insurance are starting to become the norm instead of being the exception to the rule. Buy life insurance on the internet in order to avoid the hassle. A lot of hiring isn't going to take place on the giant career websites. Look to horizontal job platforms for sector-specific job opportunities during the recovery. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 21, 2020
5.20.20 Getting debt relief from financial institutions is hard right now; Second home communities will hurt for a while
The phone lines could be tied up at your bank or lender as MANY people are seeking relief. Clark tells you what to do. Second home communities will likely have a tough time for a while. Prices will likely go down for homes in these locations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 20, 2020
5.19.20 Walmart earnings soar; Cyber insurance is more necessary now - and more costly
Walmart has been one of the biggest quarantine winners as earnings have gone up substantially. Cyber insurance is becoming an even bigger necessity as more people are working from home. But it's also getting more expensive. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 19, 2020
5.18.20 New mortgage forbearance rules; Stock market pivoting positive on vaccination progress
New mortgage forbearance rules are great for people who are having a hard time paying their mortgage right now. The stock market is doing well today thanks to progress on a potential vaccine for Covid. This shows how much we all want good news right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 18, 2020
5.15.20 Retail sales plummet 16% in April; Clark Stinks
Retail sales were even worse in April than economists expected. Clark Stinks is back! You can contribute to this segment by sharing the ways you think Clark Stinks at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 15, 2020
5.14.20 New PPP loan guidance; Credit report protections in the CARES Act
Some really helpful guidance on the PPP loans just came out. In particular, the SBA is providing safe harbor for PPP loans under $2 million. Your credit should not be negatively affected if you can't pay your bill right now. If you've seen your credit score take a hit, stand up for your rights. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 14, 2020
5.13.20 Grocery costs have soared; Watch out for Coronavirus misinformation
Clark talks about how consumer purchasing has changed...and groceries have quickly gotten more expensive. Misinformation about the virus is rampant - in particular on social media sites. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 13, 2020
5.12.20 New safety rules when traveling; Student loan forbearance affecting people's credit
Airlines and airports are instituting safety requirements if you plan to travel in the near future. Student loan forbearance has been great for people with student loans. But some people are having their credit negatively affected. Not good. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 12, 2020
5.11.20 Manufacturing plants opening back up; Life insurance is harder to get right now
Unemployment has climbed and is worse than the headline number shows. Clark also discusses how manufacturing is opening back up. Some Americans are being turned away from buying life insurance. Overall, life insurance is harder to get than it was just last month. The ClarkRave today mentioned Rhonda Roland Shearer's GoFundMe to cut red tape for heroes. You can find that here. Clark also mentions how to return an economic income payment on this episode. Check out FAQ #41 on in order to find out more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 11, 2020
5.8.20 What to do when mortgage forbearance is over; Clark Stinks; Bikes are selling like hot cakes
Planning ahead for how to handle the end of mortgage forbearance is smart. Clark tells you how to talk to your mortgage provider if you need more time too. Clark Stinks makes a return to the show this week! If you have a Clark Stinks to share go to Consumer spending has been different since the pandemic hit. In particular, home workout equipment and bicycles are incredibly popular. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 08, 2020
5.7.20 Private student loan compact; Contact tracing improvements; Masks required at many businesses
Millions of people are covered by a multi-state agreement that will allow individuals with private student loans to put a pause on payments for 90 days. Google and Apple are helping in a big way with their contact tracing app. Clark discusses what they've done and the potential privacy issues you could encounter. Many businesses are now requiring that customers wear masks in order to shop there. This has created a really strong backlash in some cases. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 07, 2020
5.6.20 Meat shortage; Humana waiving copays; Travel reward cards are offering additional incentives.
Costco and some grocery stores are limiting meat purchases as we're experiencing a meat shortage in the country. Humana is waiving copays for members right now. Travel reward credit cards are having a hard time getting customers to renew. So they are having to offer additional benefits to keep customers around. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 06, 2020
5.5.20 Spending habit changes during Covid; Age discrimination more prevalent; Americans saving money; Maintaining your car during quarantine
Spending habits have changed during the coronavirus outbreak. But it appears that everyone has cut spending no matter what your state's approach has been to locking things down. Age discrimination could become an even bigger issue post-Covid. Americans are saving a much bigger chunk of their money right now. This is good! How can you keep your car in good running order if you aren't driving it!? Clark discusses. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 05, 2020
5.4.20 Corporate liability shields; Airline stocks hammered; Micro businesses; Cash-out refi or 401k withdrawal?
Employers fear liability from as they bring employees back into the office. Virtual volunteering might be a great use of your time right now. Warren Buffet has sold all shares in the major airlines. Their stocks are getting hit hard. Clark talks about the long-term projections for air travel. Micro businesses are helping keep people afloat in difficult financial times. Starting a super-small side hustle might make sense for you. Should you take cash out of your home or out of your retirement account? Neither is best. But if those are your choices be sure to listen to what Clark has to say. Clark mentioned this link to Ticketmaster's blog with their refund terms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 04, 2020
5.1.20 Clark's quarantine life; People avoiding doctor offices; Truck drivers face big hurdles; Don't take money from your 403b
Clark talks about what his life looks like right now and how his family is handling being cooped up together. There have been some positive benefits! People are avoiding doctors or going to the hospital right now. That is not safe! Truck drivers have done a great job keeping the supply chain going but it hasn't been without a lot of hardships and obstacles. Taking money from your 403b is a particularly terrible idea. You could face massive surrender charges in addition to the taxes you'll have to pay. If you enjoyed this episode of the Clark Howard Show please hit the subscribe button. And also consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts - it helps others see the value that this show is providing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 01, 2020
4.30.20 What to do about Summer vacation; Private business safety rules; Market-timing Millennials; Air travel is on the rise
Should you still go on Summer vacation? That's the question on a lot of people's minds. Clark talks about how you should think about your upcoming Summer travel. Costco is making all customers wear face masks if they want to shop in the store. This is making some customers upset. But we're going to have to get used to more and more safety rules being implemented by private businesses. Some people are trying to time the market right now and are getting burned - in particular by sectors they don't understand very well before they start investing cash. People are starting to hop back on airplanes. Clark discusses what he thinks a resurgence of air travel should look like. If you enjoyed this episode of the Clark Howard Show please hit the subscribe button. And also consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts - it helps others see the value that this show is providing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 30, 2020
4.29.20 Unemployment compensation is still not going well; New consumer spending data; Where to cash your stimulus check; CVS & Walgreens testing stations
Florida is doing a terrible job getting unemployment payments to citizens who have applied. California is having a tough time funds to independent contractors, gig workers, and the self employed who are eligible. Consumer spending has fallen off a cliff. Clark talks about some of the numbers that are coming in and where the American economy stands right now. Walmart and Paypal are two of the best places to cash your physical stimulus check in order to avoid exorbitant fees. CVS & Walgreens are ramping up free Covid testing outside stores. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 29, 2020
4.28.20 Paper goods hit shelves + beef & pork shortage; Tech late-fee policies; Avoid getting cash from predatory lenders; Covid has accelerated economic changes
Beef and pork prices are likely to rise soon because of the shortage due to Covid. Also, paper goods are making a reappearance on store shelves...finally. Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast aren't terminating anyone who can't pay through the month of June. They won't charge late fees either. If you have to take on more debt right now in order to put food on the table, make sure you do it wisely. Clark gives recommendations for where to go to avoid predatory loans that will make your financial situation even worse. Covid is rapidly changing our economy. The virus is accelerating the decline of businesses that were already having a tough time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 28, 2020
4.27.20 Investing in gold; Ideal car buying window; Is the FIRE movement over?; What to do with your old 401k
People are getting ripped off buying physical gold right now. Buy a precious metals ETF instead! The car market has changed rapidly. Clark tells you when the ideal car buying window is. Has Covid-19 killed the FIRE movement? Lots of headlines suggest that it has, but Clark disagrees. If you lose or leave your job, what should you do with that old 401k? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 27, 2020
4.24.20 Unemployment payment mishaps; Google's new ad policy; Credit card limits being cut; Banks approaching mortgage forbearance poorly
Some of the states are handling unemployment claims incredibly poorly. Clark talks about how Florida and Texas are having major issues disbursing those funds to people who have lost their jobs. Google is verifying ad buyers to prevent Covid scams. Credit card issuers are cutting limits on consumer credit cards. This could make getting through this pandemic even more difficult for many people. Banks are being stingy when it comes to forbearance terms. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 24, 2020
4.23.20 SBA barring big companies from fresh PPP funds; Stimulus check hacking; Preparing your finances now; Mortgage forbearance requests have increased
The SBA has issued a press release clarifying that bigger companies should not be filing to receive PPP funds. This is good news for small businesses who desperately need the money. Scam artists have figured out how to steal stimulus checks. Clark tells you how they are doing it and what can be done about it. It's important to be prepared with your financial information now. Make sure your loved ones know how to access necessary financial documents in the case of emergency. The housing market is going through an interesting time. Clark discusses that and the increased requests for mortgage forbearance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 23, 2020
4.22.20 Small business loan funding set to increase; Free weekly credit reports; Increased poisoning from cleaning agents; Google searches have dramatically changed
Congress is on the verge of passing a bill to provide more funding for small businesses. Clark also talks about how many bigger companies took a large chunk of the first round of PPP loans. The big three U.S. Credit reporting agencies help Americans with more frequent access to credit histories for one year. Great news for consumers! Americans are poisoning themselves as they attempt to fight the virus through increased cleaning efforts. Google searches have changed in a big way since a year ago. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 22, 2020
4.21.20 What's happening with the oil markets?; Economy re-opening; Dealerships won't take leased cars back; Checking real-time story busyness
Oil prices are cratering. Clark talks about why this is happening and what it means for consumers. Some states are making the decision to re-open parts of the economy. But how quickly things will actually recover will be up to individuals and how safe they feel. Dealerships aren't taking leased cars back. They are flat out refusing. How busy is the grocery store? Google has a way to help you find out when the store has fewer people. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 21, 2020
4.20.20 More PPP small business money coming; Ticketmaster changes refund stance; Poor college grads; Pro-rated unemployment
PPP money ran out towards the end of last week. But a deal is close to secure more funding for loans to help small businesses. Ticketmaster will be giving refunds for rescheduled or cancelled shows...finally. College graduates will be entering the toughest job environment since The Great Depression. Clark has some thoughts. Why pro-rated unemployment is something worth considering. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 20, 2020
4.17.20 Stay the course investing; You are not alone; Erratic economic predictions; Apple's new cheaper phone
People have not altered their approach to 401k investing. This is good news! Also, here's the link for non-filers to submit stimulus payment info. Clark talks about how we are going through this together - you are not alone right now. The headline writers are predicting doom and gloom. But this is unrealistic and it's creating anxiety for no reason. Apple is releasing a new cheaper SE phone. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 17, 2020
4.16.20 PPP loan disastrous results; Germany's soft reopening; How working from home impacts your taxes; Robot improvements
PPP and EIDL are complete failures. Clark talks about why these programs went so horribly wrong. Germany is attempting a soft reopening of its economy. Clark thinks they are approaching it well. A lot more of us are working from home now. But will you get a tax break for it? Clark discusses - and this article is worth reading on the subject. Robots are improving. And some cleaning robots could save lives and prevent humans from having slowly clean. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 16, 2020
4.15.20 The airlines are getting bailed out; Telemedicine; Customer no service is a regular occurrence right now; Free streaming options
Clark discusses the specifics of the airline bailout. Telemedicine is becoming more and more important. Make sure to not forego necessary medical visits right now...just have them remotely! Customer no service is a regular problem in the age of Covid-19. Government agencies and many companies are responding in a much less timely manner. We're all streaming more TV these days. Clark tells you where you can go to stream for FREE! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 15, 2020
4.14.20 Google & Apple working together on contact tracing; Grocery workers at higher risk; Car buying in Covid-19 era; Lending standards are tightening
Google & Apple are working together on a contact tracing app. This could help as we seek to remain safe as businesses reopen around the country. We will still need to up our abilities to test people for the virus. Grocery store workers find themselves at higher risk right now just by going to work. Clark talks about how these workers are being treated. As they put their health at risk, we should be particularly appreciative of their work. Car buying is undergoing a massive shift as buyers want to avoid face to face negotiations at local dealerships. Lending standards are starting to tighten. We saw this in the aftermath of the Great Recession and we'll see tighter standards implemented by many lending institutions in the coming months. Also, you can apply for a PPP loan with Paypal now via this link. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 14, 2020
4.13.20 Allocating your stimulus money; Car insurance rebates; Ticketmaster/StubHub terrible refund policies; Investing in today's market
Stimulus checks are starting to hit bank accounts. But how should you handle the money you receive? Clark gives his thoughts. Car insurance companies are sending rebates to customers. Clark gives the specifics on which companies are doling out these refunds. Ticketmaster and StubHub are not treating their customers well right now. How should you be investing right now? The market is volatile. Clark discusses. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 13, 2020
4.10.20 Clark's thoughts on getting people back to work; The PPP and EIDL rollouts are going poorly; Grocery store safety; Covid-19 scams abound
When will people be able to go back to work? Clark talks about a potential timeline and what it will look like as the economy attempts to rebound. The PPP and EIDL loan programs are failing small businesses. And the goalposts keep moving on lending amounts. Also, the big banks need to do a better job at getting this money into the hands of local small business owners. How can you stay safe at the grocery store? Clark discusses what it should look like the next time you go shopping. It's pretty hard to watch scams proliferate right now. But that is exactly what's happening. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 10, 2020
4.9.20 Unemployment number skyrocket + PPP update; Feds aiding mid-size businesses; Exercising from home; Improving your work from home abilities
Unemployment numbers are up big today. Clark talks about when the increased unemployment checks will arrive. Also, fintechs are starting to lend to small businesses as part of the PPP program. Online lender Kabbage is taking applications and has a great guide to the PPP for business owners. The Federal Reserve unveiled a program to offer support to mid-size businesses just this morning. Exercising during quarantine is so important. It's good for your mental and physical health. Working from home is standard for many people now. Clark tells you how to do it well - and where to buy new equipment that might help you work better from home for the long-term. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 09, 2020
4.8.20 What to do if you can't pay rent; SBA lending progress update; What is happening in the housing market; Private student loan forbearance
Clark tells you how to handle a scenario in which you can't pay rent. The key is communication. The SBA lending progress is still tied up. Clark talks about what is happening on the ground and the changes he would like to see implemented. The housing market is experiencing a bit of turmoil right now. Many buyers are putting off their search right now. But Clark doesn't think that the housing market will experience a prolonged downturn. Some private student loan lenders are extending forbearance to borrowers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 08, 2020
4.7.20 Clark interviews SBA rep; Unemployment relief updates; Free mental health resources; Getting mortgage relief
Clark interviews Ashley Bell from the SBA in order to find out more on the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The DOL has issued guidelines to states on unemployment relief. States will now have to write new code on their sites in order to handle the requests There are great free resources out there for people suffering mental health consequences due to Covid-19. Clark discusses how to reach out for mortgage relief. If you have a loan with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and have lost your job or faced reduced income because of Covid-19 you qualify for loan forbearance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 07, 2020
4.6.20 PPP slow roll-out; Stimulus check updates; Companies helping people; Creating a will right now
The PPP is off to a really slow start. Clark discusses. We've got more information on stimulus checks. Clark discusses what we know now. Some companies are doing great work right now helping their customers. Clark highlights a few. Creating a will is a great idea right now. Clark tells you how to proceed. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 07, 2020
4.3.20 Important Covid-19 economic updates; Sheltering in place works; Zoom privacy issues and alternatives; Robo Advisors
Clark talks about the important updates on how PPP is being implemented and what the latest is with unemployment insurance claims. Sheltering in places works to keep us safer...and it's better for the future of our economy. Zoom has gotten some flack for their lack of proper privacy protections for users. Clark mentions some alternatives you should consider. Robo advisors are seeing people sign up in droves. They do a good job helping people allocate their investments properly. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 03, 2020
4.2.20 Stimulus check updates; Unemployment compensation problems; Fake Covid-19 remedies; Stores stepping up delivery abilities
Clarifications have been made about who will receive stimulus money from the government and when that money will come. State unemployment agencies are still trying to figure out how they process all of the new unemployment claims. Some people are touting Covid-19 remedies that don't work. Watch out for this. Stores are stepping up deliveries. Clark talks about how Walgreens is expanding its delivery services right now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 02, 2020
4.1.20 Paycheck Protection Program and SBA disaster relief; What happens if you can't pay rent; Health insurers waive individual Covid-19 health costs; AirBnb helping hosts
The details of the PPP and EIDL programs are a little murky. Clark brings as much clarity as possible to a situation that is rapidly moving trying to help small businesses stay afloat during these difficult times. This article from the Wall Street Journal gives some important details on Paycheck Protection. You can also learn more on the SBA website about PPP here. And if you qualify for an EIDL, this is where you can apply for that relief loan. What happens if you can't pay rent? Clark tells you how to talk to your landlord and what rights you have right now. This USA Today article offers some important details on your rights as a renter right now. The three major health insurers are waiving individual health costs incurred due to Covid-19. Some welcome news in these troubled times. AirBnb is helping hosts cover their costs right now. It's a very different stance from the one VRBO is taking. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Apr 01, 2020
3.31.20 Going to for small business relief money; Employees walking out on the job; Juggling your finances until stimulus money kicks in; Covid-19 scams proliferate
2741 is the place to apply for economic injury disaster loans. And $10k in funds can be received in the form of a grant if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased business costs due to Coronavirus disruption, and mortgage or lease obligations that can't currently be met. Amazon, Whole Foods, and Instacart employees are not happy about current working conditions. Some are walking out on the job. Amazon employees are saying that they aren't being given proper safety aids like masks, gloves, and antiseptics. Clark talks about how you handle your money until the Stimulus bill funds get into our hands. Scams are on the rise as Coronavirus worries abound. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 31, 2020
3.30.20 More unemployment details; Stock market volatility; Real ID implementation delayed; 401k disbursements part of stimulus bill
Funds will soon be flowing to the states for Americans filing for unemployment. Clark discusses more of the details we now know. The stock market continues to be volatile. Clark tells you what this means for your investments. Gas prices are down although Americans are driving far less these days. And the Real ID law implementation has been delayed for a year. Thanks to the stimulus bill, you can take money out of your 401k without penalty. But should you? Probably not. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 30, 2020
3.27.20 Small business and non-profit stimulus relief; Getting travel refunds; Barren grocery store shelves will be filling soon
Small businesses and non-profits are seeing real financial relief in the recent stimulus bill. Clark talks about some of the details. Some of the travel refunds being offered by the airlines aren't that great. Clark tells you how to approach the conversation to get the refund you deserve. The supply chain is still in working order. It's consumer pre-buying that has led to barren grocery store shelves. But that is a temporary problem that will soon be remedied. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 27, 2020
3.26.20 Helicopter $ and unemployment compensation details; Student loan stimulus details; IRS filing updates; Taking care of those around you
Stimulus checks are coming. Clark details the Senate bill and what these stimulus payments will look like and who will receive them. The stimulus bill also includes provisions for everyone who has a federal student loan. Clark details the benefit for those people too. You don't have to file your taxes until July 15 now. But what about the contribution deadline for an IRA? The IRS has clarified some of the specifics about filing taxes this year and Clark discusses. It's so important to take care of those closest to you right now. Clark has thoughts on how to do that and how to do it well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 26, 2020
3.25.20 Specifics on relief bill; Talking to your credit card company; Healthcare exchanges reopening; Which companies are hiring
Clark discusses the stimulus bill deal that finally came together on Wednesday morning. It has not yet become law but some of the details of what this bill looks like have become clear. If you need relief from credit card bills right now Clark has advice for having that conversation with your credit card company. Healthcare exchanges might reopen in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Job losses are mounting. But some employers have stepped up their hiring right now. Clark gives you the information. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 25, 2020
3.24.20 Senate relief bill implications; Automakers making ventilators; Handling student loans; Volunteer efforts will ramp up
Clark talks about the Senate relief bill that is still being negotiated. It looks like American families will be receiving direct payments from the government. But how long until we get them in our bank accounts? That is still up in the air. Automakers are stepping up their efforts to help by making respirators instead of cars. Clark talks about how to approach your student loans right now. There's help for people with federal student loans but you might have to press to get any help from a private lender. Volunteer efforts will likely start mobilizing in April to help victims of Coronavirus. Clark discusses what he thinks those efforts will entail. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 24, 2020
3.23.20 Which companies are hiring right now; Fed supporting markets; Beware work from home scams; Finding a work from home routine
In a tsunami of economic turmoil, Clark talks about the companies that are hiring and where to turn if you are in need of work. The Fed announced this morning that they will be supporting the markets with massive amounts of quantitative easing. Work from home scams are popping up in a big way right now. What to watch out for. Working from home with kids is hard - especially since you are likely having to help them with their schoolwork too. Clark talks about finding a family rhythm during this time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 23, 2020
3.20.20 Places handling coronavirus threat well, quarantine leading to more economic difficulties; Mortgage market update
Clark talks about how Taiwan is handling Covid 19. There's a lot of uncertainty right now and economic difficulties are increasing in light of the stricter quarantine situations. Clark talks about how the mortgage market has changed in recent days. Rates have actually swung UP a good bit - but they won't stay up for long. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 20, 2020
3.19.20 Stock market volatility and your 401k; Government passes a Coronavirus relief bill
The market is still experiencing a lot of volatility. Clark discusses how you should approach your retirement account in light of the current turmoil. Clark discusses what the Coronavirus relief bill means for the American public. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 19, 2020
3.18.20 Supply chain updates & human resiliency as Covid 19 spreads; How travel companies are responding to customers
Clark discusses how the grocery stores are doing and the unique way human beings come together in crisis. Some travel companies are doing a good job of responding to their customers. Others, not so much. Clark talks about how to approach the travel bookings you already have. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 18, 2020
3.17.20 Coronavirus causes recession, major job market dysfunction; How government relief is coming during economic upheaval
Clark continues to talk about the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic. There won't be a way of avoiding a recession, and many American jobs and small businesses are at risk right now. The government is working on ways to prop up the economy during the pandemic. But they seem to be more focused on big business than individual Americans. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 17, 2020
3.16.20 Coronavirus special: Clark's stock market reaction, small business difficulties, and how to handle your personal finances
The stock market had a rough day. But the impacts of the Coronavirus extend far beyond that. Clark discusses stock market reaction, small business difficulties, and how to handle your personal finances in these uncertain times. Clark also discusses the Fed injecting cash into the economy, mortgage refinancing, and the current travel situation as well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 16, 2020
3.13.20 Why savings bonds are GREAT!; Ikea dresser recall
Savings bonds are great place to put money these days. They could be a better option for you instead of a savings account or CD. Ikea is recalling more dressers. Clark tells you what to watch out for and how to keep your kids safe. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 13, 2020
3.12.20 Historically low mortgage rates; Fifth Third bank in hot water; Officially in a bear market
Mortgage rates have sunk to historic lows. But there's a LOT you need to know before you pull the trigger on a refinance. Fifth Third Bank is being sued by the CFPB stating that the bank opened up fraudulent accounts in customers names without their knowledge. Sounds like Fifth Third took a page out of the Wells Fargo playbook! We officially hit bear market territory yesterday. Clark tells you what to do with your investments and how to think about Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 12, 2020
3.11.20 Coronavirus wide-ranging impacts; Travel cancellation policies changing
As the WHO has called coronavirus a pandemic, there are many ways this impacts individual Americans. Clark says that our politicians are failing us and should be putting a higher priority on public health. He also talks about how we should approach our personal finances in light of the current scary health conditions. Travel companies are having a difficult time and the travel cancellation policies are being changed as coronavirus facts come in. Clark tells you what you need to know. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 11, 2020
3.10.20 Hidden advisor fees; Hoarding in the wake of coronavirus; Keep your internet browsing private
It's hard to know how your financial advisor is being paid. And it recently became even more difficult to figure it out. The CFP board is no longer noting how planners are paid on the site Since the CFP board isn't going to help consumers out, you'll need to help yourself and ask your advisor specific questions before you enter into a relationship. And make sure that any planner you choose to work with is a fee-only planner who has a fiduciary responsibility to his or her clients. ‘Limit 5 per member’ – seen at Costco regarding sanitation wipes as people were trying to buy entire palette quantities. In times of uncertainty, people tend to hoard. There’s been a run on hand sanitizers and toilet paper as well. Think through what you actually need. We need to make sure there’s enough for all. Hoarders create false shortages. Manufacturers catch up and supplies are restored so don’t take on more than you need. Think before you buy too much. Cable monopolies are fighting new regulation to restrict their spying on consumer internet activity for sale. Receiving free Google services in return for data sales is one thing. But most of us are prisoners of a monopoly internet provider. We’re paying huge money for access while they’re spying on all we do and selling it off. Google at least now allows you to see and delete their collected info on you and set up auto deletion. Maine passed a law requiring privacy and the state is being sued by the cable monopolies, alleging Maine is discriminating against them. Firefox to the rescue with a new, free encrypted service to cut off almost all spying from the cable monopolies. Defeat their lobbying power in a now corrupted Congress by using the Firefox encrypted browser and surf in relative privacy. Those who said the only way to preserve privacy is to carry no tech and separate from the grid have turned out to be right. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 10, 2020
3.9.20 Coronavirus market impact; Coronvirus scams proliferate; Avoid AT&T TV
The market is now past a 52 week low and global markets are in panic mode. Global markets are related to an undeclared war between Putin and the U.S. The U.S. has become the world’s most important energy market - natural gas and oil combined. Putin is exploiting the outbreak to undermine the U.S. economy in an attempt to destroy the U.S. hydraulic fracking industry by flooding the world market with oil Russian can produce at a cheaper price per barrel. Putin has engineered a collapse in the price of oil by making it clear he’ll flood the market beyond demand to starve the U.S. oil industry for revenue. This has led markets to expect recession. Oil prices collapsed by unprecedented amounts today. Unless this corrects in the next several days, we’ll see a 30 to 50 cent per gallon drop in gas prices over the next few weeks. But Putin’s long game is to destabilize the U.S. using the backdrop of depressed demand for fuel due to the outbreak, as a way to drive a dagger through the U.S. economy. The SEC has released several warnings about phony emails circulating claiming treatments and cures for coronavirus. These ‘pumps and dumps’ are occurring heavily in social media and elsewhere, claiming biomedical breakthroughs. In reality, crooks buy stock in a failed enterprise and try to bid up the price by lying to people. As soon as they run the price up, they sell their shares and investors are left with nothing. Be wary of ‘incredible opportunities’ to score money. State and federal authorities are also warning against fake charities soliciting to provide relief to coronavirus victims. Only give to organizations you know are real to avoid the scams. AT&T TV is being heavily marketed at $49.99 – but after clicking to sign up, the junk fees kick in. There are massive penalties to cancel a 2 year contract. No other streaming service asks that. Sleazy, underhanded, deceptive and wrong. Driven by fear and desperation, they impose a 2 year contract and only tell you the price for the first year, but you can’t get out of the second year at double price + junk fees – without paying a massive termination fee. Ridiculous. DirecTV and AT&T internet customers will get the pitch. Know it’s garbage and there are much better alternatives. Hopefully AT&T will come to its senses and compete with integrity. Rebuttal welcome. This is a lousy way to treat brand loyal customers and others. Their other streaming service, AT&T TV NOW gives you the ability to cancel with no penalty. Confusing much? See our streaming guide   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 09, 2020
3.6.20 Investing in real estate online; Clark Stinks
Pitches to get into private real estate ventures are prevalent now. Investors own percentages of several properties from dozens to thousands. With little disclosure required in private placements vs. publically traded ventures, the big pitch promises boosted returns. When you put your money in, you're relying on their promises and you can not get your money out of these illiquid investments. Often there are huge commission fees involved. If you don't care to own and manage individual properties, buy public investments from low cost Vanguard, Schwab or Fidelity. They all offer REITs you can buy in and out of at will, no commissions. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 06, 2020
3.5.20 How to shop for life insurance; Show some love to your 401k
Life insurance agents are only there to pitch policies with some kind of add-on - the equivalent of a savings or investment account, or something they claim can be used for retirement, will ultimately pay for itself, etc. They have to push ultra-complicated policies to gain more commissions. A straight up policy isn't worth their time. Complicated policies have very high commissions and high costs for consumers. Think whole life, variable life, universal variable life, index universal life etc. When the name gets long, it gets bad for your wallet. For those of use who earn less than $400k, level term life insurance makes sense - derisively referred to by agents as 'just death insurance'. The purpose of life insurance is to provide for the living after you're gone - replacement of income for family. And nothing does that more efficiently or cheaper than level term insurance. In general, buy 10 times what you earn per year. Level term offers coverage for 10 to 30 years that pays only if you die during the term. If you outlive it, it pays out nothing. But premiums are hyper cheap and won't impact your living standard. See our buying guide to insure and protect your family. For investors, fears of market losses are common. The market bottomed in 2009, essentially tripled by 2016 and has risen since. Many believe we're on borrowed time. Investing goes through cycles, and some investors are compelled to move their money into safe, stable choices, like CDs. But even if the market fell off a cliff next week and stayed that way for a few years, for anyone in their 40s or younger, this would have no long term effect. It might actually make you more money to just stay the course and leave your money well diversified. The easiest answer for most of us is the target retirement fund closest to the year of your retirement. Remember when the market tanks, every contribution buys more shares for the same money. When the market eventually recovers, it boomerangs to give you more money than you would have had in a steady market. Declines are your friend the younger you are. Closer to retirement your portfolio should be more conservative, but you don't stop putting money into the market. Just dial back risk at 60, as you may live another 30 years. Being older doesn't mean you bag investing. You simply reduce risk, done automatically by target retirement funds, while maintaining opportunity for meaningful gain over time.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 05, 2020
3.4.20 Home renovations that pay off; Buying used clothing and furniture
We’re moving into the home renovation season. The National Association of Realtors and National Association of the Remodeling Industry | NARI conduct value studies and have found that a homeowner will get back 50 cents on the dollar for a kitchen remodel. So a 10k kitchen redo will increase the value of your home $5900 at best. The return on adding a master bedroom suite also yields around half. What does pay? Hardwood flooring, HVAC updates and insulating come close to recovering costs. Clark’s simple rule: The reason you renovate or add on to a home is enjoyment. Don’t con yourself into thinking you’re investing for a positive return in cash. People are stretching their dollars by taking advantage of how much things depreciate from new to used, particularly in the area of high end women’s clothing. Nordstrom is now actively selling used clothes, joining Macy’s and others. Independents include ThredUp, and TheRealReal. Used furniture is another high depreciation category – not so much for upholstered furniture. If relocating, check Freecycle and Craigslist for furniture.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 04, 2020
3.3.20 Roth conversions post SECURE Act; Making your employees feel appreciated
The SECURE act has brought changes to how retirement accounts work, how they're taxed and inherited. Pre-taxed money goes into traditional IRAs. Contributions + earnings are all taxable upon withdrawal. With SECURE Act changes and tax rates only expected to rise in the future due to massive budget deficits, there's a big advantage to convert money over time from traditional to Roth IRAs. Once you pay the taxes at today's lower rates, that money becomes tax free for the rest of your life. Also, it's best for beneficiaries to inherit a Roth IRA vs. a traditional. If you have IRA money and can pay the tax, come up with a plan to steadily move the money over years. Exception: those who make more than $350k a year. Everyone else will see benefit from moving money to a Roth.  Business owners have the responsibility to treat employees well and let them know their voices are heard. Truth: Most employers aren't very good at truly appreciating the people who work for them. But valuing employees is key to success. You treat employees well, they in turn treat the customers well - everybody wins. Lip service doesn't count. Actions do. How do you let your workers know they're truly valued? Interests have to be aligned. Employees need to understand how they benefit from the success of the business. A paycheck isn't enough. Many workers now need to know that what they're doing benefits society. If you as a worker feel you're not valued and the workplace is unpleasant or the culture is corrosive, search the strong job market and find a place that really does value you.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 03, 2020
3.2.20 Pharmacies exiting supermarkets; Cheapest cell phone plans for low usage
The pharmacy business is shifting and market share is moving to a smaller number of players. CVS and Walgreens are taking a huge volume of prescriptions. Many with employer insurance use mail order pharmacies. Others are free agents using supermarkets, warehouse clubs or independent pharmacies. If you don't have pharmacy benefits, check your options. Take Walmart's $4 Rx list with you to doctor appointments for direct prescribing there and save. Know that the cheapest overall place is Costco pharmacy, and Good Rx provides transparency and potential discounts. Some pharmaceutical manufacturers provide help with costly prescriptions. Some PBM - pharmacy benefit managers via employment - will not approve some costly meds. If you have an Rx benefit that turns you down for coverage, many drug companies offer enormous help with a coupon to obtain that med free for a year or at a monthly discount. The more questions you ask and the more you look around, the more you'll save. See our continually updated cell phone plan guide to pay as little as you can for reliable service. Now there's a plan offering unlimited talk and text for free, via ads- from TextNow, with a $10 SIM card. Unlimited data with Wi-Fi, otherwise talk & text only when roaming. TING allows use over multiple networks including Verizon and Sprint, and offers purchase of minutes and text blocks for under $10 a month. You can also buy data, but it's not a deal if you need a lot.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mar 02, 2020
2.28.20 Don't put your tax refund on a gift card; Clark Stinks
Recently Clark discussed how AT&T issues refunds on stored value cards. These cards are intentionally tricky to spend down – disallowing partial payments by design to keep some of your money through ‘breakage’. Several tax preparation services are now trying to sell customers on accepting their refunds on stored value cards or even Amazon gift cards. These cards have ridiculous junk fees – monthly fees, per transaction fees etc. Putting a tax refund on any kind of spending card is a bad idea. The best use of a tax refund is to pay down debt or contribute to a Roth. Don’t fall for these pitches. They’re all about you spending, paying fees, and giving them the ‘breakage’ money left on the card that you end up forfeiting. It’s your money!  Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 28, 2020
2.27.20 Apartments with no lease; MGM data breach; Saving on prescription drugs
Being stuck in an apartment lease when you need to move quickly is a long time problem. Very few leases have any kind of out. Now, a company called Landing, designed around the lifestyles of young adults, rents through membership agreements. You rent an apartment within their system, and are allowed to move to any other property in the Landing system on 3 days’ notice – no penalty. This allows the nomad in you to wander. You pay $200 a year for this advantage. If you choose to move outside Landing, you need to give 30 days’ notice – still no penalty. Landing operates in several states now with plans to be in most major cities by year’s end. Wouldn’t this work well for retirees as well as a way to travel and experience new places? Landing provides ultimate flexibility. Units come furnished so moving is easy. MGM resorts has been hit by a massive data breach affecting roughly 11 million people. Criminals got email, phone numbers and physical addresses – ‘phone book information’. Marriot suffered a large breach a year and a half ago. Potentially half a billion people around the world are exposed through hotel chain hacks. Consider having a specialized email address. Don’t compromise your main personal email at the heart of your life and data. Have a separate email address for commercial activity. The core to saving on meds is to be proactive. Before a provider writes a script, you can check costs and offer an alternative. Have a pricelist from your pharmacy, check your prescription drug plan. You can use a discount program like GoodRx and spend less by not going through insurance. See our guide comparing 5 major prescription drug programs: SingleCare, GoodRx, Blink Health, RxSaver and WellRx. Among the 15 common meds tested, RxSaver was consistently the cheapest, but that doesn’t mean it will always be. GoodRx came in next. We discovered that using 2 of these is likely to get you the best price. Clark checks his insurance coverage and then otherwise. It’s surprising how often meds are cheaper outside insurance using a discount program. There’s great advantage to checking up front before a med is prescribed. Medical professionals don’t know costs. It’s up to us to manage what we pay. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 27, 2020
2.26.20 Discount brokerage consolidation; Check scam hitting millennials; Beware bad car-buying advice
The investment industry is going through consolidation that will lead to fewer players. Weakened mutual fund companies, stock brokerages and investment houses are merging. A small number of huge players will emerge. All this has come about because of the enormous strength of the big 3 discounters. Vanguard, Fidelity and Schwab have essentially demolished the competition. Traditionally, investors paid massive fees to bank investment arms or full commission stock brokers. Some still do but the movement is to lower costs. Full commission outfit Morgan Stanley is buying discounter E*Trade, ostensibly to sell E*Trade customers on their products. It’s important to know what you’re buying with any organization you invest with. Understand what you’re getting and what you’re paying. The FTC warns the phony check scam is roaring back, now successfully targeting young adults – those in their 20s and 30s who have never been check writers. They’re less likely to suspect a check is bogus, especially if it clears. In addition to elder loved ones, make sure the young adults in your life know that if they get a UFO check with instructions to deposit, keep part of the money and do something else with the rest, they’re about to get scammed big time. The check that cleared will usually bounce in 4 to 6 weeks, and they’re liable for all that money.    Right now there are various disasters associated with trading in a car. Simple rule: DON’T trade in a car that is not paid off. Around 30 – 40% of people are dumping cars they’re upside down in. Danger zone. There are dishonest car dealers that know they can’t get a loan to cover an upside down trade, so they’ll encourage the customer to buy a new car with a fresh loan, and just default on the vehicle they wanted to trade in, and turn it in to the lender. In the auto industry, this is called ‘kicking the trade’. These dealers are NOT telling people that allowing a repossession will ruin their credit for 7 years. The lender sells the vehicle at auction, and in most states you’re liable for the difference between what it sold for and your balance plus expenses. You no longer have the vehicle, your credit is ruined and you’re responsible for all the money the lender lost. This eats up your future. If you hate your car and owe on it, tough it out, keep driving it and pay off that loan. Get out of the cycle of owing more on vehicles than what they’re worth. Long loans leave you upside down, and paying way too much interest. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 26, 2020
2.25.20 Personal preparation for economic slowdown; Wells Fargo settlement; Best value supermarkets
The coronavirus is spreading but know fatality rates are very low. It is creating enormous impact on economies around the world. The U.S. travel industry is hard hit. Airline and cruise line stocks are down and Expedia is laying off 3,000 people. Expect more lay off announcements as part of a response to economic slowdown. It’s unlikely we’ll follow much of the rest of the world into a recession cycle this year, because it’s an election year. But the tremendous job engine we’ve seen in the last 9 years will slow, pause or reverse. This is our signal to do what we can to prepare by getting our finances in order. Rethink impulse purchases. Build up a reserve of cash. Consider how you’d handle fewer work hours or a lay off. We may go into a growth recession, wherein technically the economy is still growing but the job market is weak. This is a yellow caution light moment in the economy. Interest rates are an economic tell more than stocks, and expectations are for lower interest rates moving forward. Look at what you’re spending and what you owe. Think through what you can do to get your finances in order to prepare. Wells Fargo committed criminal acts against its own customers for a full generation, with cheating scandals that go back to 1998 according to Federal prosecutors. In the court filing they only admitted to unlawfully misusing customers’ sensitive, personal information. They paid a $3B fine and avoided criminal conviction, prosecution deferred. If Wells Fargo doesn’t engage in anymore such activity over the next 36 months they will not face criminal prosecution. WF engaged in massive ID theft, cheated their auto loan and mortgage customers and cheated their checking and investing customers over a generation and no one is going to prison. If you rob a bank, you get 20 years. But if a bank robs you, the executive leaves with $millions in their private jets for the country club – no jail. Around 5 regional supermarket chains have filed for bankruptcy over the last month. Many will disappear. Americans have changed our profile on how we buy foods, now more price focused. Supermarkets at all price points are pushing private labels more than ever. Most feared is Aldi – which is around 93% private label. An industry survey reveals Aldi is the cheapest place to shop, with a 40% price advantage over traditional mainstream supermarkets. Competitors are cutting hours to lower their costs. New England based Market Basket follows, WinCo is 3. Lidl is 4 in pricing followed by Trader Joe’s, a corporate sibling to Aldi. Amazon is also trying to complete. They’ve just opened their first of what they hope to be a chain of cashier free stores. They reportedly intend to sell this technology platform to other retailers to eliminate check-out lines, a convenience for shoppers and cost saver for retailers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 25, 2020
2.24.20 Fraudulent tax returns; Get a Real ID; Coronavirus affect on markets
The IRS has announced they’re going to send out revenue agents to homes and business of people who owe or who have failed to file. Crooks see this as a huge opportunity to impersonate agents and fake demands for money. The IRS is targeting business owners and those who make over $100K a year. But the crooks will go after anyone. The IRS claims their agents will be highly trained and will not require the purchase of any type of prepaid card – which is a scam tipoff. The IRS is short staffed. If someone shows up at your door, the odds are it’s a scamster. A real agent would at most ask for a check made out to the U.S. Treasury. Legit visit or scam, do not be intimidated. Knocking on people’s doors is wrong, mean and stupid. Meanwhile, Tax ID thieves are circumventing the IRS fraud indicators by going for more refunds with lower amounts, going now for hundreds vs. thousands per refund. If you can’t file, you may be a victim of tax ID fraud, and will need to go through a separate, manual IRS procedure to process your return.  Real ID started 15 years ago with the final deadline repeatedly delayed. After the deadline, you cannot fly without Real ID. Compliant licenses display some form of star logo. Only around 30% of Americans have a compliant license. The Dept. of Homeland Security has a new procedure allowing application online. Individual states will have to design systems to allow this. Flying will require Real ID DL, or a passport, military ID – some form of verified ID. In person DL renewal requires special documentation now. Know what you’ll need before you go or apply online. In the wake of spreading illness and loss of life, coronavirus is having a devastating effect of economic activity in concentrated areas of Asia, moving into Europe and Iran. There is potential for continuing spread of this virus. Economic effects are increasingly global. Markets that have been highly valued in the U.S. could see a breather from these inflated values. If coronavirus becomes a risk to health and life in the U.S and Canada, markets will be affected. Keep funding your retirement funds. With dollar cost averaging, a stock market decline in 2020 means you’re buying more shares and should make more money over time as those shares recover. If you’ve got money in savings including online banks, those rates are likely headed lower. For money you won’t need soon, lock your money in a one year CD to preserve a better interest rate with an online bank or credit union, never a traditional bank. Mortgage rates are also in decline, making now a good time to refinance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 24, 2020
2.21.20 How to live longer and healthier; Clark Stinks
Harvard University researchers began a health study in 1980. Time Magazines reports subject lifestyle factors were tracked for 40 years. Healthy lifestyle factors include no smoking, no excessive alcohol, regular exercise, healthy weight and a low-fat, plant-based diet. Findings indicate those who practiced 4 out of these 5 healthy lifestyle choices enjoyed more disease-free years - After age 50, 10 more years for women, 8 more for men. Women's lifespans increased by 14 years, men's by 12. So both quality and quantity of life are enhanced with healthy lifestyles. Diabetes, heart disease and cancer were the areas of risk examined. CA HMO Kaiser Permanente has been testing Samsung heart monitoring watches. Among the 4,000 distributed so far, KP finds that after a year of monitoring, the readmission rate for program members is much improved over non users. Those without monitors were 5 to 8 times more likely to have a recurrence of heart trouble. This monitoring program is set to expand. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 21, 2020
2.20.20 Side hustles becoming more popular; Car dealerships faking income to sell cars; Extended warranties
California has passed a law requiring gig employers to classify most workers as employees vs. independents. A Gallup survey reveals this may be a mistake. Over 90% of tax filers have W2 income. One in 4 workers has a side gig in addition, in order to earn more money. Half work extra simply because they want to. More tax filers than ever are working side hustles in addition to regular income. There are cases where large companies lay people off to hire independent workers to avoid paying benefits. But for the most part, we're doing side jobs for the money and by choice, so it's likely best to keep government regulation out of side job classification. Perhaps in trying to do the right thing, California did the wrong thing in this case. Workers are driving the trend in supplemental self-employment. According to the NYT story: "Some politicians and places, like California have sought to curb self-employment, on the theory that employers have created the gig economy in an effort to evade their tax and regulatory obligations. The reality is more complicated." It's gotten difficult for dealers to sell vehicles and they're desperate. So fraud on loan applications has become a big problem that could land you - the buyer - in jail. Dealership finance departments are more tempted to put down false incomes, that the buyer unwittingly signs. The WSJ reports nearly 1 in 4 auto loan apps have inflated income numbers to facilitate approval. Remember, you're on the hook if later you can't pay and they say you lied about your income. If you're working a deal, read the paperwork and don't sign your name to a lie on income, because you could end up as a defendant.  Long time listeners know Clark despises extended warranties. These are peddled mostly on electronics and appliances, but can extend to products like running shoes! Clark has new math on TV warranties, heavily pushed by retailers. UPA and Northwestern University research found that people assume things will break often, so at least 1 in 5 consumers will buy into the "protect your investment" warranty pitch, paying 1/4th the cost of the item extra on average. Over a 6 year period, these researchers tracked 45,000 TV purchases. The fail rate was roughly 5 out of 100. So people are spending 25% more for a 5% fail rate. NOPE. Electronics are far more reliable than we realize. The failure rate on appliances is higher, while the warranty purchase rate is lower. We're not as excited about appliances. Either way, forgo warranties. You're better off paying for repair or replacement than for warranties. These purchases are not investments. They're consumption.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 20, 2020
2.19.20 Loaning money to friends; Outrageous hospital bills; Cancer rates declining
Bankrate did a survey on outcomes from lending to family or friends, cosigning for them or giving them your credit card. 4 out of 10 lenders to family and friends report they didn't get paid back. Someone comes to the bank of family or friend because they can't get the money elsewhere, so that borrower is ultra-high risk. There are times we'll give out of obligation or love. Clark's 2 part rule for lending to family or friends: One time only IF you can afford it. And, look at it as a gift, not a loan. Clark's been tilting at windmills lately consulting with the hospital industry about billing problems. The industry filed suit against the government ruling to disclose prices up front. Kaiser Health News (KHN) reports on a case of hospital billing that illustrates the problem. The big problem in American healthcare is rapidly escalating hospital prices, and the industry fights so hard against price disclosure in advance. This must be fixed to get costs under control. We need to force hospitals to do the right thing. The American Cancer Society reports there's a decline in cancer death rates over one generation and over the past couple of years for specific cancers. In one generation, deaths from lung cancer, which is the deadliest form, declined precipitously. The main reason is a decline in smoking, down to 13%, clearly cause and effect. In addition, there's been great improvement in survivability of lung cancer due to early detection. Smokers are encouraged to be checked out as lung cancer is symptomless in initial stages. Colon cancer deaths are way down due to colonoscopy early detection. The fatality rate is 50% higher in men because men are less likely to see doctors. The survival rates are much higher for women due to early detection. Survival rates are much improved with both breast and prostate cancer. USA Today reports melanoma survival rates are much improved. This good news all starts with each of us getting appropriate checkups and screenings. If you can't remember the last time you saw a medical professional, maybe that's something you need to change.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 19, 2020
2.18.20 Reverse mortgages are disastrous; Fake high-interest bank accounts; Money-saving travel tips
Reverse mortgages have been a caller topic for Clark for 2 decades. When people are house rich and cash poor, reverse mortgage -wherein the mortgage company sends you a check every month while you still live in the home, appears to be a solution. Routinely Clark goes through a checklist to determine the severity of the financial situation, and warns of the high fees involved. USA Today investigated the industry, finding many bad players looking to steal people’s homes via foreclosures. This opened a floodgate of people confirming this was their experience. The reverse mortgage market has been dirty forever. Ads with trusted spokespersons lure people into this. There are situations where a reverse mortgage does make sense. But any legit lender has you go through independent third party financial counseling for evaluation to see if reverse mortgage really is appropriate. Have a knowledgeable family member or lawyer review any documents before signing up for a reverse mortgage because of thievery is so prevalent. Shame upon them. They know this is wrong and do not care.  Special Warning: Ads in print and online for CDs with high interest rates are appearing. But they’re not really CDs and the rates of 4.5 to 5.5% aren’t that high historically. These are NOT CDs, NOT FDIC insured. Your money is at risk. This is a version of a promissory note and many people over the years have been burned by this. Some of these offerings are from crooks, others from fly by night outfits. In either case you can end up losing ALL the money. Clark went into the travel agency business at age 25, sold out his chain of agencies at 31 and essentially retired. Circumstances brought him into broadcasting. The industry has changed greatly since he sold his agency in 1987. Travel is much more popular today, and we can book ourselves. But most of us travel infrequently and become bogged down in details when trying to plan travel. See our updated guide to make planning easier, the Clark Howard way. Barring work travel, Clark’s key rule is that everything is driven by finding a deal. By so doing, he has been to every continent except Antarctica. For those with wanderlust – there are so many deals! Follow the bargains, have to guts to go to new places and see the world. Follow deals so great you’ve got to buy them. That’s the Clark Howard way! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 18, 2020
2.17.20 Becoming a boring investor; TV's spying on us; What to do after a car accident
Carl Richards, "Sketch Guy" columnist for the NYTimes, breaks down financial advice to simple sketches and is able to address motivation and how we work against ourselves. Clark is unapologetically dull and believes creating financial security should be dull as well, achieved slow and steady like a turtle. Many are always looking for the big score, the hot tip. So Clark's favorite Sketch Guy message: "The path to long term change is slow, simple and boring". Your investing should be boring so that you can have an exciting life. If your goal is to become a millionaire, if you start in your early 20s, it can be done by retirement. That goal is a heavier lift the longer you wait to start. But you start when you start investing what you can. The earlier you start and the more money you add over time, the more financial security you create for your life. Start early in a Roth or your retirement plan at work. Many bought smart TVs on sale over the holidays. Many of these TVs are vulnerable to hackers getting into your home system. Dig out the owners manual and implement a secure password - replacing the default password. You may have brought a potential trojan horse into your home. Secondly, cover up the camera. You do NOT want a hacker able to spy on you.  What to do after a car accident to ensure your safety and best consider insurance options. Check out Clark's online guide here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 17, 2020
2.14.20 Where to get cheap eye exams; Clark Stinks
Optometrists are independent. Even as they’re renting space in a Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart or Target – the remain independent. This results in different prices within a retail chain. But as a general rule, the cost of getting a full eye exam and prescription averages around $70. If you go to an optometrist in a traditional office or an ophthalmologist, the price goes up. With a prescription plan through work, a once a year eye exam may be covered with just a copay for most practices. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 14, 2020
2.13.20 Insurance companies are ripping teachers off; Bitcoin ponzi scheme; Jobs that don't require a college degree
Teachers, non-profit workers and some hospital workers are shuttled into inferior 403b retirement plans. 401ks have gotten more affordable with steadily lower costs for employees, lead by Vanguard and Fidelity. Teachers on the other hand get cheated repeatedly. 403b plans are often sold by insurance company sales reps, selling ultra high cost plans often wrapped in annuities. A WSJ investigation has uncovered just how dirty this system is, rife with horrendous kickbacks paid for by the 403b workers without disclosure. Worse still, an analysis reveals the same contributions over time in a typical 401k adding up to $250K in retirement savings, would only yield $155K in a comparable 403b, ravaged by expenses. A private sector 401K with $500K is equivalent to a 403b of $310K - all contributions being equal, typical expenses on both. A 401k One million vs $620K in a 403b having made the same contributions - all because of rip off fees in 403bs. While members of the House and Senate indulge in partisan fits, they could be stopping the rip off of teachers by insurance companies. Allegedly, $722 million has been stolen in a cryptocurrency Ponzi known as BitClub Network, which for 6 years solicited funds from would-be investors to go into cryptocurrency mining pools. There were big money incentives to recruit others into the network. 5 men are charged with running a scheme "built off the backs of idiots" - to use their words, NBC reports. Recall the cryptocurrency mania of recent years. That money evaporated as it became hot with con artists. Be careful jumping on bandwagons.   New federal data shows the change in the nature of work is so extreme, you ignore it at your peril. College is not a normal path in every family. The latest data shows nearly half of all factory workers have a college degree. As recently as a generation ago, factory and manufacturing jobs did not require higher education, but the nature of manufacturing has changed. The manufacturing industry has roared back in the U.S. But employment in this sector is minimal as advanced robotics and computer tech is increasingly engaged. The human jobs in factories now require highly skilled workers with advanced tech educations. Well-paying jobs require thoughtful, strategic levels of education - not necessarily college. The idea that education ends isn't compatible with the pace of technological change. We need to be prepared for the nature of work to steadily morph. To sit still is to fall behind. Stay in an education and training cycle through your working lifetime to maintain career mobility. State technical colleges should design curriculum in concert with what employers are looking for, anticipating where jobs are and where they're going, and offering affordable training for those jobs.    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 13, 2020
2.12.20 Amazon vs Costco; Maxing out your credit cards; Cheap home security options expanded
Wall Street analysts predicted the demise of Costco Wholesale not that long ago, believing it had no chance against Amazon. But Costco and Sam’s Club are doing well. In fact Costco is booming. People willingly pay membership fees. The Krazy Coupon Lady reports that consistently across items, Costco and Sam’s Club are 10 to 15% cheaper than Amazon. Many use both warehouse clubs and Amazon. Though Costco offers savings, they also offer temptation to buy more. Clark’s answer: Not cart. Hands only shopping limits the purchase and preserves the savings. Outstanding credit card debt has gone up roughly 50% in the last 8 years in the U.S. A Wallethub survey reports more than a third of card users have maxed out their credit cards. Another third are afraid of doing so. This is NOT good for your long term financial health. The average card carries an interest rate of 16 – 18%. Buying on credit when you can pay the bill in full monthly is great. But maxing out your credit card costs you big in interest and demolishes your credit score. Seriously think this through before you pull out a credit card and charge it. Clark reported on his experience going from a professional home burglar alarm to a self-install system. Clark chose Ring and took 3 hours to install it. Monitoring works out to $8 a month when paid annually. Feedback centered on privacy issues with Ring, owned by Amazon. Back to the drawing board. Independent alternatives are getting good reviews. Google’s Nest and Simplisafe charge around $300 a year for monitoring. Kangaroo - Kangaroo Home Security | Simple and affordable alarms and sensors rotates specials and like Ring, costs around $100 a year for monitoring. Kangaroo’s equipment is comparable, but independent from giant ecosystems. TechHive reviews Minut Smart Home Alarm - a very different system using heat technology. Instead of arming the doors and windows, it senses intruders to trigger the alarm. Minut monitoring is $8 a month, sold around the world – quick and easy to install. Technology is a big disrupter in this industry. Traditional systems have high equipment and monitoring costs and often come with contracts you should never sign.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 12, 2020
2.11.20 T-Mobile and Sprint Merger; Businesses profit sharing; Password management tools
The merger between wireless giants T-Mobile and Sprint has cleared a major hurdle as a federal judge ruled in favor of the deal. Clark explains his take for consumers, including information about the impact on home internet service. Today, we pause to salute companies that value their employees. One great way to do so is profit sharing. Especially in a service businesses, workers are core and key to progress. Delta has paid huge bonuses, having profited from the grounding of the Boeing Max, while Southwest suffered losses from the Max grounding, but still made a profit and gave their employees bonuses equal to about 6 weeks pay. Only 1/3 of companies share their profits. Business doesn't exist without employees. Rewarding workers with a share of what they made happen is KEY to motivating them. The companies that do best take care of their employees first. No matter what industry you’re in, its ultimately about serving the customer. Rewarded employees are more committed. The word ‘password’ has been used as a password. It’s important for security to do better. Firefox and Google Chrome users have access to password managers. More sophisticated password managers generated unique passwords as needed. We creatures of habit tend to use the same passwords, which basic pw managers simply echo. More advanced programs offer more protection, including Dashlane and LastPass. Many more have entered the market. A WIRED review rates 1Password as the best overall manager, which auto generates unique passwords for $36 per year per person, $60 for a family. Bitwarden gets great reviews for free. These tools help place a barrier between you and a hacker. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 11, 2020
2.10.20 Tesla stock massive fluctuations; No-good debit cards; Small business ransomware needs skyrocketing
Some have lost a tremendous amount of their savings betting on Tesla. Know that betting on any one enterprise is risky – Apple, Amazon – stocks that become stories. Amazon went through a cycle that wiped some stock holders out. When you invest in an individual company, you’re creating risk. You could come out ahead, or lose a great deal or both. First build a base and create a strong core in funds wherein your money is well spread out. The U.S. represents 3% of the world’s population and 22% of the world’s economic activity and declining. Make sure your diversification includes international funds. Schwab teaches to build core investments first. Only then should you chance individual stocks with money you’re not depending on. Protect the future you’re building. Live on less than what you make, and protect the rest of that money going forward.   Clark was given a fake debit card from AT&T for dropping DirecTV. He was issued a partial refund on a debit card - receiving a check is not an option. Clark’s card kept being declined. He then registered the card and was texted the balance. The declines came because the balance was less than attempted purchases. It won’t allow another form of payment! Clark tried to get it to 0, and now it’s expired with .72 cents left on the table. So the company keeps that money – what’s known as breakage. This is why many companies use debits - knowing it won’t all be spent and they’ll get that much back. Clarkrageous that companies think this way, instead of doing right by their customers. A type of data breach has become a life and death threat for many businesses. Many ransomware attacks don’t hit the news unless the company must publicly disclose they’ve been hacked. School boards and local governments must disclose. But we usually don’t hear about it from companies, who often have to pay to get their operations back. This crime is escalating, hitting companies of all sizes and can destroy a business. Have automatic backup of your data daily on a hard drive or cloud service. This can help restore your business activities. Have cyber insurance added to your business liability coverage. Backup data every 24 hours and have cyber insurance. The insurer will want to know what steps you’re already taking to protect your business. Take the time to make these things happen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 10, 2020
2.7.20 Mortgage rates are incredibly low right now; Clark Stinks
Mortgage rates have plummeted recently. This is creating even more competition in the housing market. If you are planning on staying in your home for a while you could save a lot of money in interest payments by refinancing soon. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 07, 2020
2.6.20 Trading in a car that isn't paid off; US Bank fired employee for good deed; Save $ on Valentine's Day
There's a major problem happening all across the country. People are trading in cars that aren't paid off. This can lead to a whole lot of issues. Never trade in a car that you haven't finished paying on. US Bank fired an employee who spent her own money to help a customer on Christmas Eve. Clark thinks this is ridiculous! Clark is a romantic at heart. But he also likes to save money. So he gives you his favorite tips for saving money around Valentine's Day. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 06, 2020
2.5.20 Free tax filing options; Student loan company makes stupid mistake; Visa changing processing fees
Most taxpayers are eligible to free file. But only 2% who qualify use the IRS free file site. Most software vendors are in the IRS Free File program, but tout their paid software instead. Go to - Free File: Do Your Federal Taxes for Free | Internal Revenue Service. Some of the software includes free state tax filings as well. If you don’t like the one you’ve selected, you can bail and try another. If you make over $69K a year, you’re not eligible for Free File. In that case, try Credit Karma Tax to file for free. They want that info to target you for offers. Business owners or those with complicated tax situations need a pro. Small business owners can consider hiring an enrolled agent or your CPA who does tax. Warning: there’s been a steady increase in the number of unqualified people doing tax returns. No certification is required. Anyone can claim to be a tax preparer. Many have turned out to be con artists and thieves, who lie to generate a big refund directed into their account. Make sure your preparer signs the return and look it over. If you see false information, do not sign your name to that return. Dan of Cleveland got a notice from the post office to come pick up more mail than can be delivered. He arrives to a pile of 55,000 letters! His lender, the College Avenue Student Loan Company, sent him the same statement for his daughter’s tuition 55,000 times. Postage alone was around $11k and the information in the letter wasn’t even correct. The student loan industry is in disarray, rife with incompetence and abysmal record keeping. The industry is flat out broken. Keep your records. Run your own amortization schedule and track your loan. Make sure the balances and interest rates are correct and that payments are properly reflected on time. Watch them like a hawk. VISA - the most powerful of the 4 credit card networks (Visa, MC, AMEX, Discover) – will roll out fee structure changes this spring and fall. They’ll begin charging higher merchant fees where credit cards are dominant, and lower fees in low use sectors in an effort to manipulate buying behavior. Merchants that accept Visa won’t have a choice, unless they’re large enough to negotiate their own processing rates, like Amazon and Walmart. Everyone else will be at the mercy of Visa. The cost for online merchants will go up. Smaller businesses may have to bump up prices to deal with this. Online purchases will potentially cost more than in-store. Tuition payment by credit card can cost 2.9% more. That’s an industry with low market share for Visa, so they’ll be dropping those rates and subsidizing them with higher fees charged elsewhere to try to get market share in student tuition payment for private schools, pre-schools and colleges. Visa/MC cartel fees are typically the second largest expense for merchants. Remember you can offer customers a deal for paying with cash and giving them part of what you save as a way to reduce expenses. Visa may be trial ballooning, waiting to see what the other card networks will do. Consumers may see different pricings for different payment methods. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 05, 2020
2.4.20 Prevent prescription drug mistakes; Winter clothing deals; Student loan forgiveness update
Pharmacy mistakes filling prescriptions are becoming more common as volume increases on a small number of players who allegedly put the pharmacists under unsafe quotas. Investigative reporting by the NYT reveals that pharmacists with the major chains are under pressure to fill prescriptions and the resulting errors. Another recent report states 1.5 million people have been adversely affected by Rx mistakes. Oversight by state pharmacy boards has failed. Marketplace pressures being applied to pharmacists is creating unsafe conditions, putting the public at risk. Simple prevention tips: Pharmacists are human. Always look at the prescription before you leave the store. Packaging describes the shape, size, color and markings of the medication. The same med may look different from different manufacturers. When a med goes off patent to generic, it’s appearance can change. Look at the name on the label first as many drug names are similar. Then check the actual medication and be very careful verifying you have the right prescription. We can make sure the medicine we receive are correct as best we can tell. Check before you leave the pharmacy and have them verify before you leave. Take these steps to protect your and your family’s health. Clothing manufacturers and retailers are in full clearance mode on winter goods. From light to heavy weight, this is the week to start looking for great deals on winter wear. Scandal has rocked the U.S. Dept. of Education because they have failed to honor the law on forgiving student loans for public service workers including police officers, fire fighters, teachers and others that work in nonprofit or service capacities. Certain public service professionals were promised Federal loan forgiveness after 10 years of on-time payments. The rules were drawn in a way that triggered denials due to technicalities for 99% of applicants. This caused such an uproar that the Dept. of Education has passed new rules that will allow around 3/4s of those declined to now receive their loan forgiveness. This is not widely reported so spread the word to those you know who may be affected. Those declined should apply again. Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) is how many will qualify for loan forgiveness. Don’t give up and great thanks for your community service. This was a promise made that should be kept. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 05, 2020
2.3.20 Zero-commission trading becoming standard; Fake bank email scam; Fixing our loneliness problem
Last year there was the mad rush of discount stockbrokers to cut commissions on various kinds of trades to zero. Nobody's laughing anymore at the once obscure app Robinhood. Now millions use the app to trade stocks at no commission. Finally Chuck Schwab had enough and decided to stop charging commissions as- which set off an earthquake. The stocks of various discount (now free) brokers just collapsed because the investment community thought this was financial suicide. It wasn't, because brokers earn money offering other services including checking accounts and credit cards - services superior to banks. Thus money has migrated out of stodgy, high-cost, low-service banks into credit unions, online banks and no cost brokers. Brokerage stocks recovered from the zero commission earthquake and new money coming in has shot through the roof. Know you can do a checking account with a zero cost broker. Bank shares are included in some index funds meaning you make money from them vs. the other way around, as they're in the business of looting your wallet. Special Warning. For years we've faced fake emails pretending to come from banks so most people are aware of that approach. Now we see reports that criminals have figured out how to take it a step further. They now send a notification that an account has been compromised, including a duplicate banking landing page, now with code that transfers your input to the REAL banking site. You'll get the 2 factor authentication text, and enter that number - which they also duplicate, giving the criminals full access to your account. Anytime you get an email you think is from your bank or any financial institution, never click a link. Go separately to the official bank site. If there is an issue, you'll be on the real site and know if all is well or if there's an issue. Screen time can be isolating. Clark's banned gadgets at the family dinner table. No point in being alone together. Turns out our constant companion cell phone induces human loneliness. Having grown up in the digital era, young adults report greater degree of loneliness. It's not the same communicating online vs face to face. The WSJ reports how young adults in the workplace report greater loneliness. When all communication is digital - young workers report feeling twice as lonely as older workers who grew up analog and are more likely to talk to co-workers face to face. In person contact can create a warmer, more fully connected work environment. Whether at work or in your social life - being around people can make you a happier, more connected person. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Feb 03, 2020
1.31.20 Variable pricing gets crazier with travel sites; Clark Stinks
Variable pricing has made it even harder for consumers to book travel. But there are some important things to know when you are looking to book airfare, hotels, and rental cars. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 31, 2020
1.30.20 Paying surrender fees is worth it to ditch high costs; Ford owes drivers millions after court settlement
Nonprofit and hospital workers, teachers and other 403b workers suffer much confusion from this rip off form of retirement plan. It’s a scandal that we give teachers a plan so inferior to the 401k. The surrender charge is how 403b insurance companies handcuff people  to the plans. This often massive penalty fee is imposed for exiting their rip-off plan to put money in a low cost IRA – costing about 1/40th what the 403b takes. Remember 403b = rip off! A financial planning firm found that a young worker would be better off paying a 40% surrender charge to the insurance company to invest at lower cost elsewhere. Over that working lifetime, that worker would still make more money than paying the rip-off fees imposed by the 403b. Some surrender charges are only 15%. If you’ve got 10 years or more working life, it’s generally worth it to pay the surrender charge to get out of a 403b. Clark reported months ago on an investigative series from the Detroit Free Press about severe problems with the Ford Focus and Fiesta. 2 million people have now been affected by vehicles with defective transmissions. A class action lawsuit was filed 8 years ago on this matter. Possibly the Free Press series finally pushed forward a settlement. There’s no cap on payouts to these car owners. Ford has to pay to make people whole who owned or own a Fiesta or Focus who have filed a claim. Also revealed, Ford knew about the problems on model years 2011 – 2016 and had a procedure in place to BLAME THE CONSUMER as a strategy to avoid paying for repairs. Even though the great recession reportedly ended in 2009, the job market remained terrible until 2012. We’ve been on a steady economic and employment upswing since. But there are times when all seems lost, and a worker must reinvent their role in the marketplace. After a job loss, Clark advises that you draw on what you know. Your best opportunity in your next chapter draws on your education and experience. The Detroit Free Press profiled car salesman Brian. This family man worked extremely long days and was abruptly let go. Knowing that people hate going to dealerships, Brian decided to become a car buying concierge. He gets paid regular commission by the dealerships he uses for clients, and charges the buyers nothing. He sells around 35 vehicles a month via word of mouth, gets more time at home with family and makes more money. He helps clients determine the right vehicle for them through a questionnaire. He delivers, helps with the paperwork and either takes in their trade-in or Ubers from their home. We often undervalue what we know and how we can serve others. Businesses have a hard time changing, which means opportunity for experienced individuals who come up with a way to serve people better. You may be your best boss ever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 30, 2020
1.29.20 Cheap eyeglasses and contacts; FDA condemns Purell claims; Delete info Facebook has on you
We tend to just accept that prescription glasses are costly. There is an international cartel that’s been buying up both retailers and frame manufacturers for eyeglasses in order to corner the market and take prices through the roof. BUT, when there’s market concentration to push prices up, there’s always a rebound effect. Now there’s a fast growing marketplace of discounters offering eyeglasses at a fraction of cartel prices. Frames and lenses complete can be had for as little as $15. Consumer Reports has put together ratings for the discounters. Number 1 - Costco Optical, 2 – Warby Parker, 3 - Zenni Optical. In fact, every single discounter rated got at least a good score. Know you can get good eyeglasses for under $100 – even for bifocals, trifocals and progressive lenses. -For contacts, 1800Contacts is now offering a free online eye exam for contacts, with an eyeglass Rx. See our guide. There are enormous price differences for contacts. Beware merchants pushing high cost lenses. Many of us use hand sanitizers thinking we’re protecting ourselves from germs. If using Purell, you may even think you’re protected from the flu. The company has even claimed the product can prevent Ebola! No more says the FDA. They’re reclassifying Purell as an unapproved drug because of these outlandish claims. The real advice from the FDA and the CDC is to simply wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Only default to hand sanitizer when there’s no alternative. Also we worry about catching colds and flu on airplanes. The Journal of the National Academy of Sciences finds you have to be within 3 feet of a sick person for them to be a potential hazard to your health. Don’t worry the whole plane is contagious. Via permissions, Facebook tracks you OUTSIDE of Facebook, when you’re not using Facebook or any of their services. Under pressure, in an effort to stave off legislation that would restrict their tracking activities much more, Facebook now offers the tool, Off Facebook Activity, allowing you to see and curtail this tracking. At sign up we unwittingly give Facebook permission to spy on us everywhere we go online. They know all. Third party apps are reporting to Fb what you’re doing online. They know what articles you read, podcasts you listen to, music etc. They can then build an ultra-deep dossier for sale and for targeted ads. Producer Joel used the new tool to delete the info and found it very easy.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 29, 2020
1.28.20 Google ad result confusing changes; Car insurance auto rates rising
Google search results now present in a way making it more difficult to distinguish between results and ads. Anyone can be buying those ads which could be scams, rip offs and fake companies. Legit ads are also there but you should know what’s an ad. There’s almost no delineation anymore to tell you something is an ad. “Ad” is in tiny type and they can be mistaken for search results. You need to know to look past those. Also, we generally don’t get past the first page of search results. Take more time to refine your search. Or use DuckDuckGo as your default search engine for clean search results, no tracking. MarketWatch reports a huge number of homeless veterans are eligible for special housing vouchers designed for vets from the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. 11,000 of the vouchers now go unused. Veterans need to know there is this great voucher program available from the VA. Make sure any vets you know are aware of the housing voucher program. Auto insurance rates have gone up roughly 50% in 8 years. For a time, fatality rates were way up due to device distraction, subsiding now with state texting-while-driving laws. WIRED points out a new pain point. If you’re cited for texting while driving your insurance rates will go up 20 – 25%. Another rate hike factor involves the high safety tech in cars today. Vehicles now have so many safety devices that accidents are less severe, happening less often. But ironically, a simple fender bender can render a vehicle totaled by the insurance company, as so much tech is in the fender, they don’t want to repair it. Often a single airbag will deploy, and they’ll total the vehicle out. All these totals is having an impact on rates. As vehicles turn over in the fleet, cars get safer overall. In 2021 Ford will install tech allowing vehicles to communicate. The problem of sun glare will be addressed by red light dash warnings. Safety measures so much a part of the future, will bend this curve on insurance rates. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 28, 2020
1.27.20 Coronavirus impact; FedEx email scam; FICO credit score changes
We face unknowns with the Coronavirus outbreak. Some practical matters to be aware of. Historically, odds favor the virus not becoming widespread in the U.S and Canada. The travel industry is in ongoing response mode. Isolation has begun with Chinese cruises generally canceled around affected areas. Airline policies vary including refunds on flights to China and other parts of Asia. The stock market - especially travel companies - are being hit hard right now in the wake of the Coronavirus too. FedEx and UPS have issued warnings in the last 24 hours to be aware of receiving a text or email claiming you have a package scheduled for delivery. These phony messages contain viruses. If you click and answer the questions, criminals get your personal info. Set up your own personal account with FedEx and UPS to receive for clear notifications that don’t require you to click to open. New factors will be weighed more heavily in the new FICO scoring model. Lenders are starting to get nervous as more people carry debt. Here we are with low unemployment yet more people carry debt. There are hundreds of credit scores. Even using the same scoring model, the credit bureaus will come up with different scores from different items on credit reports. These scores indicate a general direction. All this only amplifies previous advice about how to protect your credit reputation. Come up with an effective way to make sure every bill gets paid on time, every month. Also, lowering your utilization rate will be even more impactful moving forward. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 27, 2020
1.24.20 Clark's self-installed $8 a month security system; Clark Stinks
Clark’s quote for a modern home security system came in at $2700 + $25 a month monitoring or $300 a year. Meanwhile, Clark’s been touting self-install systems for years so he decided to give it a try. Clark looked at Nest, Ring and Simply Safe on cost and features. Clark bought the Ring system for $179 on sale at Costco, complete with motion sensors, sound alarm, enough door/window coverage & keypad. He already had Ring doorbells and cameras that would fully integrate - $100 a year for professional monitoring. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 24, 2020
1.23.20 Planning for retirement; Employer pays off employee mortgage; Income share agreements instead of student loans
Clark discusses the expenses many retirees don't consider when they are planning for retirement. Some call them "stealth expenses." It's important to have a plan as you get closer to your retirement date and to have your eyes open about what your incoming and outgoing funds will look like. An auto shop owner paid off his long-time employee's mortgage to help him retire. How cool is that!? More and more universities are offering income share agreements. This means that graduates will pay a portion of their salary for quite a few years post graduation. It's a different approach to the traditional student loan market. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 23, 2020
1.22.20 Internet privacy law for minors; Paper check fraud grows; Socially responsible investing
Other than recent initiatives in California, the U.S. is lagging when it comes to internet privacy protections. This spring, strict online privacy rules for anyone under 18 will go into effect in Britain. For underage citizens, personal information will be private. If a kid is using YouTube, Google can’t track that use. No tracking, data mining or subsequent targeted advertising to kids can take place. We need such a law in the U.S. In addition to Google and Facebook, gaming companies, and other social media are using our kids as fodder to develop massive databases for targeted ads. Naturally adults should have privacy rights as well. Affected companies are under so much pressure to grow revenue, the moral ethical equation gets pushed aside. These are powerful companies that can buy off U.S. politicians to work in their favor. We should have clear privacy protections for children. The British are using a market-based approach, allowing users to set up default privacy settings for all users, or go through a process of age verification. And this has real teeth. If a company violates the law, the fine is 4% of their worldwide revenues. That’d be gigantic for Facebook or Google. At last, a strong way to deal with reckless big tech. An American Bankers Association survey finds that attempted check fraud has gone up 60% in the last 2 years. One of the great vulnerabilities in the banking system is a traditional paper checks – an analog device that does not provide adequate security in a modern digital era – already banned in some countries. If you routinely carry a checkbook with you, stop doing so. If a single check of yours falls into the wrong hands, the danger to you is can include jail time for check fraud. Also business are a big target for check fraud. It’s safer to operate electronically. Lots of investors are becoming interested in socially responsible investing. They don’t want their retirement money going into ‘bad’ companies. But the criteria is hard to define. Tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, coal, oil are company areas some define as bad. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing principles is one criteria, but can be defined very differently among fund managers. Before you choose a socially responsible fund, understand how that is defined. It may omit companies you champion. Facebook is loved by some investors. Others love to hate it. Also, when you start slicing and dicing, you shrink the pool of companies eligible to be part of an investment. Before you jump into this, see how ‘socially responsible’ is defined by the fund choice available to you. And look at the expenses. Often investment houses will charge more in expenses for these funds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 22, 2020
1.21.20 Natural gas prices plummet; Restore faith in Capitalism; Hottest job markets
In some states people are able to shop their natural gas service. Regardless of state, know that natural gas prices have collapsed. Projections are this will be a mild winter, with an oversupply of natural gas available. The price at wholesale has collapsed to now 1/8th of what it was just 15 years ago. Other than electronics, prices tend to move up over time. But energy has gone way down. If you live in a state where you can negotiate, this is a time to shop the market. With prices this low, lock in for 2 years if allowed. In states with no choice, the good news is that generally wholesale costs are passed on to consumers. Overall, energy prices have steadily gone down, making the case for deregulation. Many states are under a corrupt process wherein politicians decide who will provide electricity and what they charge. Better to emulate the free market system used in Texas, creating very low energy costs as the market provides the most efficient energy available. In the case of Texas, overwhelmingly it’s wind power. In D.C - hot air. A new survey reveals a basic distrust of capitalism has taken hold among Americans. Public-relations firm Edelman conducted its 20th annual analysis of public trust in major institutions, surveying 34,000 people in 27 countries and Hong Kong. Here we are in the midst of a long economic expansion begun in 2012, yet the majority surveyed no longer believe in capitalism. Americans are down on the free enterprise system. No one was ever punished for the banking scandals of last decade. Income inequality also undermines faith in the system. But becoming a socialist paradise doesn’t tend to play out well over time. We need to improve how capitalism works in the U.S. We have much to fix. The reality is nothing in human history has ever worked as well as giving people the opportunity to create new ideas, products or services people want to buy, creating greater wealth for both society and those individuals. If you’re willing to move, you can benefit from job opportunities across the nation. Economic opportunities abound in other cities and states for people of all sorts of different work backgrounds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 21, 2020
1.20.20 Even wealthy Americans struggling with debt; What to know about store closings and liquidation sales
A Bankrate survey has found that of those with $100k to $200K net worth, more than half are carrying credit card debt. The psychology of this is important. There’s an old expression that describes this: Keeping up with the Joneses. When someone lives in an affluent neighborhood and drives an older car, they may feel like the odd person out, and seek to buy a new one to fit in. It feels only natural to match the environment. It’s a matter of being too influenced by those around us, and creating expectations for ourselves. This mentality takes hold in an insular culture. We are influenced by others, often in positive ways. But when it comes to possessions, trouble follows. Remember that those who have the greatest net worth are those that live a modest life, seemingly below their means. They are building long term wealth. Nobody ever got rich paying Visa or Mastercard 18% interest on debt. The Christmas season was rough for many retailers as evidenced by store vacancies happening all over America. The U.S. has been ‘over-stored’ for years, with more retail space per person than elsewhere in the world. A correction has begun. Retailers are closing for many reasons, leading to GOB (going out of business) sales. Know that these sales are not necessarily a deal for you. The companies that specialize in running these liquidation sales are expert at manipulating buying behavior. Much of the merchandise in a given GOB comes from previous clearance sales, designed to give the perception you’re getting a great deal. Know that most of the discounts are an illusion. If you shop a GOB, let your smartphone be your friend. Use it to price check and comparison shop. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 20, 2020
1.17.20 Cars that people keep at least 15 years; Clark Stinks
Vehicles are one of the largest purchases in life. To protect your finances, drive your car till the wheels fall off. Certain vehicles stand the test of time. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 17, 2020
1.16.20 Grandparent scam; Retirement account hacking; Homeowner's insurance rates rising
A senior gets a call from someone pretending to be a relative in trouble asking for money. This scam preys on seniors desire to help loved ones, resulting in millions of dollars in losses to seniors every year. Should banks and other financial firms be doing more to protect seniors? Banks are required by law to put through a lawful transaction. Lazarus suggests bank tellers simply ask the person if they’re familiar with the grandparent scam as a brief intervention to hopefully prevent loss. In some states, tellers and bank officers are trained to spot scams and ask questions. This is a reasonable responsibility to expect from banks. Make sure your aging relatives are aware of this scam and verify with relatives. If the caller refuses to let them hang up to do so, that’s a scam red flag. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has published an investigative report on how criminals are targeting retirement accounts. No federal law protects our retirement accounts from hacking but many of the providers do. Still, you can’t count of administrator protections since it’s not law. Monitor your retirement account at least in tandem with quarterly statements, and set up 2 factor authentication. Virtually every 401k provider offers this additional security step. Protect your life savings. Due to the increase in extreme weather and natural disasters, we’ll see homeowners insurance rate increases. Normally, home and auto insurers go through cycles where they’re either into market share or profit margin. But extreme weather is a third factor upending actuarial assumptions about what losses insurers will see. Insurers also depend on financial industry ratings of their strength. Thus they must maintain certain levels of financial strength, now tested by increasing claims from catastrophic weather. The greatest vulnerability is in coastal regions. Coastal residents will see a reduction in the quality of home insurance available as in less coverage and higher deductibles. Your mortgage may have limitations on the deductible you’re allowed to carry and that may force a change in who insures you. Otherwise your mortgage company will rip you off with ‘force placed insurance’ which cost from 10 to 100 times what regular insurance cost. This is a big profit center for banks. Different insurers are facing different pressures. If you’re hit with a notice of a large rate increase, take it as a signal to shop the market. Coastal dwellers may have a hard time finding robust coverage at an affordable price. Know that behind the scenes, home insurers are facing significant financial pressures. Due to the increased violence and frequency of storms the market must calculate higher risk levels. Be aware and prepared. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 16, 2020
1.15.20 New CA privacy law impacts; Windows security patch; Smile Direct Club issues
Many younger adults have no expectation of privacy. For others, there’s a clear expectation of privacy. Know when you download an app there’s the risk they’re packaging, selling and reselling your information. Californians now have a clear right to control what info is collected about them and what is done with it. The good news Clark shared last week is that the rest of us can use the California law to our advantage as many sites provide the same privacy rights to all to be in compliance with California and Europe. We’ve received complaints from those who, when they’ve tried to use provisions of the new CA law to delete personal info or see their digital dossiers, have had to provide more personal info including their driver’s license or state issued ID. These sites and apps must verify the identity of someone requesting their file, so ID is necessary. If you want to restrict data out there on you, use provisions of the new law and be ready to prove you’re you. The National Security Agency found a major flaw in Windows 10 – a very dominant OS. The NSA informed Microsoft who has provided a patch via the latest update. Those who receive auto updates got theirs last night. If you don’t have your computer set up for automatic updates, go to settings, update and security – check for updates, download and install right away. We spoke with 2 IT security experts who confirm this a key update you should be sure to get. Clark Deals’ Charis joins Clark to discuss her teeth straightening quest. SmileDirectClub has been controversial as the more DIY choice. Invisalign aligns with orthodontists. Now SmileDiretClub will sell both ways – directly and through dental professionals. Charis had braces as a kid but her teeth shifted from not wearing the retainer. Charis consulted a traditional orthodontist and went to a SmileDirect location to price compare, and received basically the same 3D imaging at both places. Invisalign via an orthodontist typically cost $5k+. Charis’s SmileDirect cost: $1895. Charis’s research of other users finds that those with complex concerns can have problems in the absence of regular monitoring by an orthodontist. She had some bumps in the road as well. SmileDirect has spawned Facebook groups for success stories and for bad outcomes . Some are overjoyed, other suffer loose teeth and other problems. Smile Direct is a money saver, but with risks. Charis is seeing good results so far in her 10 month program. So much in medical is moving more to self-service blends with traditional care. If you have pre existing dental issues, doing a self-serve straightening is likely not a good choice. And all users need to strictly comply with their plan for a better chance of success. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 15, 2020
1.14.20 Is college worth it?; Honey browser extension rocks; Clark discusses P2P lending profits
In November Clark reported on the anti-college mindset and provided stats on how much more a person makes over time with any level of post-high school education and training. The numbers were starkly in favor of further education. A counterpoint has emerged from a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The study tracked net worth and found that college for better income wasn’t a given IF there was a large student loan burden. This further makes the case that having to borrow to go to a certain dream college is NOT worth it. Top tier college snobs snipe at others who go to ‘directional college’ (Ga Southern for example). What matters is your education and training without enormous debt upon graduation. The value of a college education remains unassailable. BUT follow Clark’s rule: Graduate with less debt than you’ll earn in your first year on the job. Make the first year’s income in your chosen field the ceiling on what you borrow. Amazon has changed its business model. They’re more about convenience than price, and starting to get nervous about comparison shoppers realizing they’re not cheap anymore. Many use browser extension Honey to comparison shop, Clark recommended along with CamelCamelCamel. Amazon is so freaked out they’re telling people that Honey is not safe to use and should be uninstalled. That is just not true. Use Honey and CamelCamelCamel to know if a purchase really is a deal or not. There’s been great interest in peer-to-peer lenders Prospers and Lending Club over the years. Borrowers can submit their loan request and members decide what % they want to finance. Clark wanted to check both out as an investor. 3 years ago Clark put $5K each in Prosper and Lending Club. Instead of picking the individual loans, he used their automated system based on risk level. With Both p2ps, 50% of Clark’s loans were going to very low-risk borrowers – those with great credit scores. The other half went to subprime borrowers presenting varying levels of risk. 3 years later, Clark’s annualized net return is 4.76 and 4.77% - a better return than with savings or CDs but with clear risks. People who don’t pay their notes have to be written off. Many use statistical analysis to invest in higher risk loans of their choice. Clark plays it bland. For borrowers, this is a potentially cheaper option than elsewhere because they cut out the banker in the middle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 14, 2020
1.13.20 Employers paying you to relocate; Former Boeing CEO's insane payday; Verizon ditches TV contracts
A large percent of publicly traded companies are losing money right now, even in a decade-long strong economy. But we’re moving into a feast / famine cycle of employment and what you know can help you. The general trend now is that big companies are reducing headcount by attrition. They’re not filling open positions. Meanwhile the smaller local and regional companies not involved in international trading – are generally doing well and bidding for workers. Topeka Kansas is offering incentives of up to $15 to get people to move there for work. The WSJ reports companies are offering relocation bonuses to attract new workers – a perk common 15 years ago now returning. Focus on opportunity to find real advantage in the marketplace. We creatures of habit need to look out the window. Because of rotation in the corporate environment, this is a time of big wage disparity. Your skills may be worth more to another company than you’re getting now. Take advantage of education and training, so important to finding the best opportunities. If you feel dead ended, explore further training. Boeing's CEO was fired for undermining a culture of safety that ultimately caused two crashes and cost hundreds of lives. He’s getting severance between $62M and $82M for failing. Newly released memos further expose a chaotic culture of eroding safety standards. Internally, many knew the plane was unsafe and some laughed at being able to con the FAA in approving the Max. Failure is rewarded handsomely in the executive suites of big publicly traded corporate America. Hundreds died due to gross negligence by Boeing and the CEO is scoring millions. Why is no one being charged criminally – with manslaughter at least – in this circumstance? Disputes between local network affiliates and operators about carry provisions and payment are ongoing. It’s a great idea to have an antenna for local channels. If you get a good signal, it may be all you need for NO monthly fee. If you stream content, having an antenna is great as well. AntennaWeb - Antenna Signal Prediction – Antenna Web has updated their site and revised their search tool for local channels and antenna recommendations based on address including topography. If you live in a high-rise facing broadcast towers, any antenna may due. Other residents may need heftier attic antennas, or easy TV boxes. Locast is a non-profit for streaming local channels. Verizon and the cable monsters have all pushed packages. Now, Verizon is dropping contracts. Great news for consumers! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 13, 2020
1.10.20 Small business loans are fraught with pitfalls; Clark Stinks
Since the Truth in Lending Act does not apply to small business, instant loans to small businesses is a major rip off area around the country. There’s no requirement to disclose junk fees or interest rates on these loans. As a small business owner, Clark receives about 10 offers a week. Though there are ethical lenders, there are too many bad players out there taking advantage of small business cash flow needs, charging gigantic interest rates for quick money. If you’re a small business owner, do NOT bite on these loan offers until you know the fees and rates. If you can’t get a straight answer, stay away. While Congress lies about how much they care about small business, they ONLY care about their corporate contributors. Nobody’s looking out for the small business owners, with no laws governing proper disclosure of loan terms. Also, the Supreme Court ruled that states can charge sales tax to small businesses selling across state lines online. For big retailers, that’s no big deal, but for small business, compliance is a nightmare. They need a simplified tax procedure in place governing online sales below a designated threshold. Candidates should come up with real agendas for small business. Big company lobbyists feeding in cash are the only ones heard. When can we get leaders who represent the people of the U.S. in the people’s White House? Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 10, 2020
1.9.20 Big discounts in January; Free file your taxes; CA privacy law ripple affects for you
There's a heavy wave of discounts this January in addition to historical discount patterns for this time of year. Fitness equipment is a deal now. Buy used and check out Craigslist and Facebook neighborhood groups. CES is pushing the latest high tech TVs. But unsold Christmas TVs are deal right now both online and in-store. Housewares and bedding are a January deal. Toys: there’s a lot of unsold inventory right now – a good time to buy birthday gifts. Winter clothing is more heavily discounted this year. The grounding of the Boeing Max makes January sales less aggressive, but travel deals for spring and early summer are available now. The IRS reports that only 3 out of every 100 eligible for Free File are using it. Free tax prep and filing is there for anyone who earns $70k or less annually. Many services provide free state tax filing as well. But no one knows. Don’t get sucked into paying. Many websites and apps are afraid of California, the only state with an online privacy protection law in place. For many companies, real compliance with CA means de facto privacy protection for all 50 states. Microsoft is among this first, with many following. You’re likely seeing new privacy links from sites and apps, allowing you create privacy settings and prevent them from selling off your personal data. Most sites and apps sell off our personal info in various ways all day long. California has designed a system allowing consumers to opt-out of their data being sold. The LA Times reports on how different sites are handling this. Some come with the dire warning that IF you opt-out of the sale of your personal info, they will not be able to offer you personalized ads. OH NO! Actually that’s what you want. This should be the national standard. It’s an abject failure in Washington that this isn’t already national law. California has essentially set a standard affecting the entire country. If you’re creeped out by the microtargeting of you and selling and reselling of your personal info, pay attention to these privacy notices and set the most restrictive measures allowed to protect your privacy as much as possible. Sure seems like Congress doesn’t care about U.S. citizens, when what should be longstanding national policy has to come from one state. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 09, 2020
1.8.20 Travel deals & paying too much for internet; Teacher retirement plans; Be careful paying at the pump
January bring a LOT of travel deals. Clark talks about how to grab them. If you get internet from cable and there’s an increase, check out what the monopoly phone company charges. Be very wary if you still get legacy cable TV. Those rates are going way up to compensate for cord cutters. While your at it, consider going to streaming to save money. The WSJ has investigated large cable companies and analyzed data filed with the FCC, and found that the cable companies are lying about internet speeds. People aren’t getting what they’re paying for.Because of the structural deficiencies created by monopolies, we pay much higher rates than other developed countries, for less internet service. That gap is about to close. Consumers will FINALLY have real choice at much lower prices. Clark guarantees it!     For over a year Clark’s been pounding the injustices of public service employees, government workers and teachers getting ripped off in their retirement plans, usually 403bs. A WSJ investigative report reveals teacher and public employee unions are taking huge kickbacks from insurance companies for favoring their plans. The NEA teachers union takes $Millions in kickbacks from the companies providing retirement plans that cost up to 100 times in fees what a low cost Roth IRA or 401k would cost. These unions are selling out their own members. The WSJ reports while the NEA is recommending ultra-expensive 403b plans to teacher members, their own employees are in low cost Vanguard plans. Rise up at your union teachers and force them to stop cheating you on your own retirement future. VISA has issued a warning about how exposed consumers are at gas stations, which remain inside a 5 year delay for implementing payment processing security rules. The danger is enhanced in the remaining year of non-compliance with current standard payment security measures. A more secure payment phase-in begins this year. In the meantime, criminals have a target on every gas station they can hack and skim. This ongoing problem gets bigger in 2020. If you pay at the pump, know it’s a roulette game with a high chance your card will be compromised. Big danger to debit users. Within minutes, criminals can empty a debit account. Credit cards offer more protections. If you must pay with a debit card, go inside to pay, reducing fraud risk. Another precaution, if app pay is available at the pump, choose that option for enhanced security. Otherwise use a credit card NOT a debit card. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 08, 2020
1.7.20 New retirement account changes; 2020 scam to watch out for; Returns are crushing retailers
Congress just passed the SECURE Act which modifies how retirement plans work. The RMD – required minimum distribution has changed the age requirement from 70.5 to 72. Also, small employers can now ban together to offer low cost 401k plans to employees. This capacity will gradually emerge over the next year, putting small employers on a more equal footing with large companies in their ability to offer retirement plans. Also, excluding part-timers from participating in 401k plans will be outlawed. Starting next year, employers will have to make 401ks available to part-timers. And employers will have more power to automatically enroll workers. Generally, Americans allow spending to rise to income levels and beyond. Mandatory enrollment will be more prevalent, with options for workers to modify contributions. Since Social Security alone is not adequate income and many will be physically unable to work their entire old age, these new rules facilitating increased retirement planning are a benefit to society. Technically the new decade starts Jan. 1, 2021, but we’re in the 20s – a new beginning. We commonly write 2 digits each for month, day and year. But now that it’s 2020, there are warnings to write the year in all 4 digits. On any document – contracts, leases, checks etc., if you only put down /20 – anyone can easily backdate it by adding 2 numbers. Write out all 4 digits for the year. Get in the habit to prevent hazard. This January and February will be the biggest post-holiday clearance months we’ve seen – and 2020 the biggest clearance year yet overall. That’s unusual in a strong economy, but this year broke pattern. Retailers are in shock over the unprecedented number of returns. Many of the items coming back have no value for theretailer. As a result, clearance sales are the real deal, especially on apparel. It’s a double whammy for clothing retailers as spring items are already on the shelves and online. Now comes overwhelming winter returns. Mark downs are off the charts. This was the first Christmas season that a big percentage of clothing was bought online, creating return rates stunning to everyone in retail. The FT reports that online purchases are being returned at 3 times the rate of in-store purchases. Retailers are forced to rent trailers and warehouse space to house the returns, overwhelming staff. Hence it will take longer to get the goods back out for sale, driving down values even more. So THIS year, we’ll continue to see clearance sales into February with significant markdowns. Next holiday season will have to be different because retailers can’t deal. Wide return rights have boomeranged on retailers into a tsunami of returns. All to the point that phenomenal bargains can be had for the next several weeks. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 07, 2020
1.6.20 Upside down vehicle loans stink; Door to door investment salespeople; Lemonade insurance expands
2299 research covering the first 9 months of last year finds that 1 in 3 who traded in a car at a dealership were upside down on the trade-in car. They owed more than the trade-in was worth, averaging $5K. They rolled that debt into a new deal, and leave even more upside down on a different car. This is a disaster. A year ago a dealership F&I man - head of financing & insurance - angrily approached Clark, accusing him of killing business. He'd run into customers who'd gotten Clark's message not to roll negative equity into a new purchase. If you're tired of your car, have it cleaned & detailed. Learn to love it again, pay it off, own it free and clear and drive it debt free. Don't trap yourself by rolling old debt into new debt. This has lead to more repossessions. It doesn't end well. Edward Jones is knocking on doors to sell investments. A new trend is a real danger zone for our senior citizens. A Clark staffer's 97 year-old Mom was solicited at her door by someone trying to sell investments. Commissioned sales people are hitting neighborhood streets. Morningstar writer Christine Benz reports on finding her intellectually disabled sister being solicited at their home. The elderly are targeted. This is NOT a safe way to buy investments. Make sure the seniors in your life know not to answer the door on this!  Clark first talked about Lemonade insurance over a year ago when it was an experiment in one state. Time for an update. Lemonade is a coop for homeowners and renters insurance. That's all they sell. When you file a claim, it's not an adversarial process. They use automated claims processing. About 1/3rd of claims are simple enough for automated approval in under a minute! That's different! So far we've had no complaints. Lemonade is now available in roughly half the nation's states. Find out if your state is included at Pay potentially lower premiums and not to be treated like a criminal when you make a claim. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 06, 2020
1.3.20 The impact of running even just a little; The most reliable vehicles
The CDC reports a massive decline in the smoking, down to 13% of the adult population. The same week, a dramatic decline in lung cancer was reported recently. And more people are living 5 years+ after diagnosis. In addition, the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds that if you run, even just once a week, you reduce the risk of early death from any cause by 27%, from heart disease by 30%, from cancer by 25%. Lifestyle changes make a big difference. Running twice or more a week doesn't dramatically increase the benefit! So get your weekly run on to dramatically improve your health and lifespan.  After housing, transportation is our biggest expense. So it's important to choose the most reliable vehicle. The vehicle market is way overstocked. Carmakers are suffering sluggish sales and bloated inventory. There are deals all over. But, it's not a deal if the car isn't reliable. Consumer Reports does a deep dive for their annual automobile reliability survey. Again, LEXUS emerges as the most reliable vehicle, followed by Mazda, Toyota, Porsche, Hyundai's Genesis, Hyundai, Subaru, Dodge, KIA, Mini, Nissan & Honda. There are specific models listed within these makes. Lexus, Toyota and Mazda have 3 out of 10 each, Hyundai has the last 5. Consider reliability when buying a vehicle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 03, 2020
1.2.20 Finding a free ATM; Beware bogus side hustles
2 months ago Clark shared a Bankrate survey finding ATM charges have hit an all time high. Banks are looking for every possible way to take advantage of account holders, charging $4.75 on average for ATM use. You have alternatives. Discount broker Charles Schwab offers banking services, a pioneer in 0 fee ATMs worldwide + no foreign currency junk fees. Their checking is a straight up clean deal. The online banks offer a wide network of ATMs you can use fee free. Online bank apps can show ATMs near you to help you avoid fees. Online banks have no branch overhead, and pass the savings onto customers.  Post holiday is prime time for side hustles to get out of Christmas debt. January brings a steady stream of emails and social media posted opportunities to pick up part-time money. Be aware of solicitations for a job as a 'drop shipper'. Your home address is used as a delivery point. You're paid commission to resend packages to addresses provided. That's receiving stolen property to send overseas. Being paid makes you an accessory to a criminal ring moving stolen goods. You could do hard time! These crooks use stolen credit cards to buy merchandise, they send it to you to send further out. That leaves you holding the bag. Also next month, expect to see a push in MLM schemes. Legit multi-level-marketing are all about selling a product or service, NOT about recruiting. If the emphasis is on recruiting, the MLM is likely a pyramid scheme. But even when legit sales are involved, 2/3rds to 3/4ths of participants make 0 net dollars from the effort. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 02, 2020
1.1.20 Healthier snack options; Buying a money-saving car
Some workplaces now have the open vending room, equipped with digital cameras. You can register a credit card via fingerprint for ongoing charges, or pay per use. Half the options available are fresh, healthy choices. Improved vending choices is a trend around the country. The industry national association has an agreement to self regulate and make 1 out of 3 choices healthy in 2020. Much of this trend is being driven by consumers. People are choosing fruit, protein bars and other healthier snacks. Also the industry is terrified of the kind regulation or prohibitions surrounding soft drinks.   Barron's published an article about how difficult it is for Uber & Lyft drivers to make money, unless they buy a used, high fuel economy vehicle. With a 4 year old Toyota Prius at $13 - 14K averaging 50 miles a gallon, it's possible to make a decent living as a gig driver. The cost of the wheels and fuel is core to being profitable as a driver. This also pertains to sales workers given driving allowances. The Tesla Effect is also in play. Tesla has been so popular with luxury drivers, it's devastated the resale value of used European and German luxury vehicles. Today you can find a 3 year old lux car priced in the mid-teens. This is a unique situation in the market. Figure in the overall slowdown in vehicles sales as well, used vehicles are a great deal now. The oversupply of new vehicles piling up on dealers lots means you may be able to buy new for the price of a 1 or 2 year old used vehicle. Use the current distortions in the market right now to your advantage. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jan 01, 2020
12.31.19 Planning a cheap ski vacation; Why credit unions rock
Snow skiing is a very expensive hobby. There are many bargains available for getting to the slopes and skiing. CO and UT are the 2 biggest ski zones. Because of extreme airfare competition in the Denver hub, it's ultra inexpensive to fly to CO. Plus there's been a massive expansion of limited service interstate hotels in CO. So skip the fancy lodges to save. If you stay along a freeway in close proximity to a ski mountain - that's a big savings. For UT, there are 9 ski mountains within close proximity to the Salt Lake City airport, but as a Delta hub, airfare is pricey. But once you get there, there are many affordable hotel options in the Salt Lake Valley close to mountains. Aspen, Vail or Deer Valley lift tickets run around $200 per day, but many other mountains have affordable lift ticket prices. offers lift ticket bargains. Skiing doesn't have to be so costly. In both markets locals rent ski equipment at better prices than found at the mountains. Clark has called Wells Fargo "a criminal enterprise impersonating a bank". Hopefully new leadership will end the illegal culture there, but even so, Wells Fargo is a big, traditional bank. The bigs, BOA, WF, Chase and Citi have roughly 50% of market share in the U.S. These are high cost operations under pressure to show profits to stockholders. Their business model is to see how much they can take from customers every month. As a result of how the federal government handled the banking scandals last decade, the smaller banks were hollowed out and are mostly gone, changing the equilibrium of banking. More tech sophistication from online banks allows them to offer better deals, and make a competitive impact in the marketplace. If you have money in traditional bank saving or CDs, you're cheating yourself. Because of these factors, credit unions have gone through radical transformation as well, with the smaller players merging into larger ones big enough to get their tech up to date. Younger customers are looking for great apps and online banking features - modern in every sense. The cultural difference a credit union offers remains - a co-op owned by and serving its members. The biggest credit unions offer a mix of online banking assets, branches AND a focus on service. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 31, 2019
12.30.19 How to get great customer service; College degrees that earn the most
If you have a need to call customer service, be aware they have a great deal of info on their callers. They may know everything you ever purchased from them, how profitable you are, complaint history etc. Your profitability index score determines how much customer service you'll get. Ultimately the big data that companies keep and buy, means we know nothing about them but they know plenty about us. If you're not a high volume customer, you may find going in person to a store gets you better results. The higher your profitability index score, the better customer service you'll receive by phone. Jobs in tech and engineering generally yield high pay. For others, the big question is whether their education will pay off. The federal government has compiled deep data on the payback on particular courses of study at specific schools. No one school emerges as best or worst value. The desired field of study is key. An interactive tool available in the WSJ adopted from the federal database allows you to pick a school and course of study, and see cost vs earnings payback. Parents and students can see if a degree from a certain school will be worth it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 30, 2019
12.27.19 Americans are moving less; Healthcare costs are a major American concern
Historically, 1 in 5 Americans move each year. But the Census Bureau finds we are relocating at a much lower rate today, closer to 1 in 10 moving each year. People are staying put, primarily because dual incomes make it more difficult to move. This save people money over time. There's enormous cost in both selling and buying a home - generally 10% in and 10% out. One important exception: It's better for your net worth bottom line to move out of a deteriorating neighborhood. It's worth it to sell and move on because it can take decades for neighborhood home values to recover.  The Financial Times of London did a poll concerning American attitudes about healthcare. Premiums, copays and deductibles have gotten huge, so even with coverage, we're exposed to how unbelievably expensive healthcare is in the U.S. The FT survey found healthcare cost is considered the number one economic threat to our nation in many states. Healthcare consumes 20% of the nation's economy. We can not prosper as a nation in global competition with 1 of every 5 dollars of economic output being swiped by healthcare, It's one out of $10 -$12 elsewhere. That gap is devastating to us. We must address this. Hospitals are freaking over new cost disclosure rules. We should have the right to know costs in advance.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 27, 2019
12.26.19 Compelling electric vehicles; Save $1000 challenge for 2020
Coming next year: the electric Ford Mustang SUV - faster than any Mustang muscle car before. Electric vehicles will get steadily cheaper with longer range. The baseline Mustang SUV will cost what any average SUV costs in the U.S. - around $36K. In the next few years, hundreds of electric vehicles will be introduced. They cost almost nothing to operate and maintain, They typical electric vehicle will get the equivalent of 120 miles per gallon. In TN, VW will be introducing a large variety of electric vehicles. The cost of owning and operating a vehicle will collapse with electric cars. Warning: Electric vehicles are much faster than what we're used to driving. Tesla has developed tech to allow parents to suppress horsepower to protect young drivers. Hopefully other car makers will do the same. A decade out it will be routine to buy electric vehicles because they'll be so much cheaper. Most people could come up with an extra grand a year by taking the time to go through their expenses and make cuts, capturing the money we burn without intending to. This is easier today because we have so many tech and subscription services. Start thinking about the $1000 challenge. Many could save hundreds a year just by changing their cell phone plan. There's virtually no one who can't generate hundreds in savings by reviewing how they watch video content. Look a what you're subscribed to. Are you using it? Gyms, video streaming services - go over expenses. Grocery shopping is an area where you can save. Think through what you spend, how you spend, where you bank. Go through checking and credit card statements and look where your money is going. Create a checklist of what you can do to save $1k in 2020. You CAN do it! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 26, 2019
12.25.19 Car subscriptions services; Making money online
People have become comfortable subscribing to most anything. But cars is a new frontier. The first efforts at car subscription services appeared in 2017, all aimed at the luxury market. $1 - $2K a month bought a rotating fleet of vehicles as desired. Current services limit changeouts. There are now subscription services competitive with typical vehicle costs. The cost of having a vehicle all in averages around $700 a month. Now car subscription services are appearing that include insurance, maintenance and all fees with no long term commitment for $500- to $700 a month. This allows you to flex vehicle needs from sedans to trucks. At this price level, these will be typical vehicles. This could be a good choice for convenience leasers. The best answer remains buying a used car and driving it until the wheels fall off.   Clark’s has talked about Mechanical Turk (MTurk), now the subject of a NYT report, claiming it’s a waste of time paying .97cents an hour. Our own investigation found you could average making around $7 an hour. True, many surveys on the site are a waste of time. But there’s a plugin we recommend to figure out which surveys are worth your time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 25, 2019
12.24.19 Senior citizens and student living together; Tech companies enter banking sphere
One Minnesota senior living center is renting out vacancies to nearby college students. Students in residence volunteer hours to senior citizens for discounted food and lodging. Winona State students and seniors benefit alike - Win - win! The mutual benefits of this cross generational opportunity are immeasurable. Meanwhile the predicted demand for senior housing could be exaggerated, as more seniors choose to age in place, accommodated by technology. Adult children can monitor their aging parents from across the country. Apple and Samsung watches provide the capacity for shared health alerts. New services provide a level of care through home visits at a much lower cost than residing in institutional settings.  Tech firms are going heavily into banking services. Fintechs offer new ways to handle, save and invest your money. A survey found that of the big 4 tech companies, people trust Amazon the most to handle their money. They've yet to enter that sector. But The WSJ reports Google is setting up banking operations in a joint venture with Citibank and a credit union. Google enjoys a financial trust level greater than Apple. The survey reports the least trust in Facebook, which has trashed its own reputation. Facebook has not shown respect for user privacy - a long term issue that undermines its credibility. Google is trusted 2 to 1 to handle money vs Facebook. The big news for consumers is that change comes from outside this industry. New and improved deals are coming from competitors outside traditional banking. Around 15 years ago, European ING Direct pioneered online banking options we enjoy today, offering superior rates on saving. Traditional banks are limited by legacy computer systems and mergers, leaving them with antiquated, high cost operating systems. Consumers will have more choice from innovators. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 24, 2019
12.23.19 Google Flights to save on travel; Don't carry these things in your wallet
Google has the most sophisticated search tool for finding travel bargains because they acquired a key industry database. That combined with Google's data capabilities yields up-to-the-second info. They've added a feature allowing you to shop flights to adjacent airports while shopping flights between selected airports. is able to shop all fares for months at a time for selected and neighboring airports. You can pull up a calendar and see day by day, month by month the cheapest fares.  Let's go back a decade + and talk analog financial crime - stolen wallets. It still happens. NEVER NEVER NOT EVER carry a checkbook unless you're on your way to a house closing. If your checks are stolen and a criminal writes checks as if they're you, when those checks pass - YOU get arrested for the bad check. You end up with a record, and having to hire a defense attorney. You have to prove innocence. It's an abuse the way the law works here. 2. Purge all the cards you really don't need. Limit the damage by scaling down your wallet. NEVER carry your social security card around.      Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 23, 2019
12.20.19 Retailers using secret consumer scores; Clark Stinks
Retailers now use third party data services to determine whether you get to return an item, regardless of their return policy. "Machine learning" big data companies are crunching data on us all different ways and issuing secret scores, very different from credit scores. The NYT reports on these outfits including Retail Equation, and one called Sift which analyzes 16,000 different factors on an individual to come up with a Sift score for sale. Clark has requested his data from one such company called Zeta Global. Many of these have operated in the shadows, only marketing to companies while stonewalling curious consumers. But California's new privacy law takes effect in January, giving consumers the right to access such data and have it removed. Some of the services are already complying nationwide. They're all terrified of states passing such statutes with differing requirements. We should have the right to control and delete dossiers on us. What happens when these companies get hit with data breaches and all our info is further exposed? Clark will share his requested data files, let you know what you need to access and what rights you have with your own data. Creepy that all these organizations are developing secret scores on us using their own methodologies. Where is privacy? It's not written into our Constitution because early America was so rural, connection was the goal. Privacy is a modern concept that now must be adopted as a national effort comparable to European privacy law which is working well.  Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 20, 2019
12.19.19 Commission-free investing; Social security scams; Getting rid of a timeshare
In Clark's almost 33 years on the air, an unmistakable trend has emerged. In his first 15 years, there weren't questions about saving and spending in retirement. Since then, retirement questions have increasingly arisen. Why no questions early on? In the 1980s and 90s, people retired with pensions. Today almost nobody has a pension. People know it's up to them to make retirement possible. There are those in the financial industry that thrive on confusion surrounding retirement planning, offering their services to handle it for you. Don't be a sitting duck. Overcome your confusion. Many self-serve low-cost investment companies now offer various forms of service to help you plan. Fidelity has a virtual reality tool. Vanguard and Schwab have programs as well, making it easy for you to invest, commission free at ultra-low cost. You don't need a salesperson. There are wonderful low cost choices. The NY Post reports scams involving crooks trying to pry social security and other personal info out of you are up 23 fold in the last year. DO NOT ENGAGE anyone in conversation who claims to be from the social security administration. They're not calling. Crooks are, and they're calling people of all ages with all kinds of fish stories about why you need to cough up your personal info or pay them to protect your social security. Ignore, hang up, delete. When you own a timeshare you want to get rid of, you face a challenge. Most timeshares have basically no value in the marketplace once purchased from the developers. Marketing costs, commissions are costs down the drain. Think about the overhead involved in selling a condo unit 50 times vs. 1 time to 1 owner. Real estate value is eviscerated by multiple selling costs. So you're selling an obligation for the next buyer to pay around a grand a year for one week at a condo. Easier to pay hotels and have no obligation. If you no longer love your timeshare, there is the rare chance the original marketer/developer will buy it back. Big hotel chains in this business don't want want the word out about how little that week is worth. They don't want their timeshares on resell sites with you offering money for someone to take it, while they're trying to sell new weeks for $25- $30K. So if they're still marketing active weeks, they may be willing to buy back from you, likely at minimal cost. is the developers' preferred place for you to list your timeshare. It preserves value for them and helps protect sellers as well. If you're developer is gone, check out the Timeshare Users Group, a $20 a year membership co-op site with a selling forum allowing you to post a week. The best potential buyers are other timeshare owners looking for additional time. Do a traditional closing and have no further legal obligation on that property.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 19, 2019
12.18.19 Budgeting apps rock; Social media casting calls; Tap water safety
A week out from Christmas, many have put themselves in a financial bind. Clark felt that those who used budgeting apps were the type who really didn't need them. But research shows a clear benefit to these apps for problem spenders. People who employ spending apps immediately cut back on food and beverage costs by almost 20%. Overall spending drops 15% for app users tracking spending. There is an advantage to tracking your spending. Mint and similar apps help you know where the money goes. If that doesn't work, go ALL CASH. In severe cases, living within a finite amount of cash means spending drops dramatically. You manage to get by on what you've got. It works.  Clark first wrote about this scam in 1993. Exploiting the desire for fame, the fake casting call scam appears mostly via social media these days. A hopeful shows up to great praise, urged to sign a contract and pay money to spark their career. Don't fall for it. If you've got the goods, you get paid.  Americans are buying bottled water in larger numbers as trust in public services and government has declined. A Consumer Reports investigation found two thirds of all bottled water comes from tap water. Municipal water supplies are tested multiple times daily. People assume bottled water is safer. The Flint MI water scandal damaged the people's trust in tap water all over the country. 60% of Americans think bottled is safer than tap, but there's more proof to the contrary. Consider using filter pitchers in your home. Consumer Reports found The Stream Rapids Brita and Pure Ultimate with lead reduction, both at $30, improved water taste. Essentially, 2/3rds of bottled water is similarly filtered. So think this through. Drinking bottled water typically costs $1K per year, vs. $30 for tap water you can easily filter yourself - and save - while being just as safe. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 18, 2019
12.17.19 Fast food breakfast wars; Elderly scams; Streaming local stations for free with Locast
2020 will bring deals on breakfast. More people eat breakfast away from home. McDonalds and Starbucks account for almost half of breakfast buys, and other fast food chains want a piece of that market. Wendy's is giving breakfast another go. In the new year, there will be more competition for your breakfast dollar, expect discounts galore through 2020. Pay attention to discounts from your favorite restaurants through their apps.  AARP reports on financial exploitation of the elderly. Research put the average take at $120K over time. Bank account rip offs average just under $50K. One third of the victims are 80 and older. Often it's a family member / caregiver taking advantage of an aging relative. The holidays bring families together. Adult children need to know what's happening with their aging relatives. Scattered families facilitate this crime, so take time to understand what's going on. You don't want to regret not protecting your loved one. Please remember to be nosy and ask questions. In massive numbers, people are cutting the cord - canning pay TV from the cable, phone or satellite companies for streaming. Streaming offerings and charges are changing all the time. In 2019, many streaming offerings have been free. But for many, getting local channels has been a roadblock to cord cutting. now covers more than half the population of the U.S. This non-profit provides streaming for local channels. If you can't put an antenna up or get a good signal, you're able to get local channels streamed via Locast. The traditional pay TV bundle will soon be so last century as it becomes more efficient and cheaper to stream TV.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 17, 2019
12.16.19 Jobs that don't require a college degree; Lending money to friends; New dental technology
So many are languishing in low paying jobs, unable to get ahead. See the story on jobs that don't require college degrees and pay at least $70k per year. The Bureau of Labor statistics provides the data. The number one job - Air traffic controller - does require 2 years of training and retirement at age 55 - $125k per year. That may be too stressful for many. Job number 2 - Logistics (transportation, storage or distribution) manager at $95K. Police department supervisor - wages vary by location - $90K on average. See the full list including required training and education.  A Bankrate survey reveals that more than 1/3 of those who have lent money to or cosigned for family or friends, have suffered financially with their credit ruined, money lost and/or the relationship damaged or destroyed. True example: Someone who cosigned for a friend's vehicle later had to pay for a repossession for a vehicle that had no benefit from, which ruined their credit for years. If you lend money to a friend or family member, think of it as a gift. Do not expect to get paid back. If they were good for it, they'd use a bank. Secondly, don't ever cosign a loan unless you can afford to deal with the consequences if the borrower chooses not to pay. And make sure you're aware in real time whether the payments are being made on time. If not, step in and pay, because you're fully legally responsible, no matter what.  At January's CES convention Clark reported on app-based toothbrushes. It seems that both children and adults generally do an inadequate job of brushing. Expect to see app-based toothbrush systems peddled over the holidays. These systems vary but generally monitor and guide brushing. Prevention is key. This could save you dental trouble. Also, dentist are migrating to precisioned designed, near perfect 3-D printed crowns, which can be completed in one visit. This technology is in use for only about 15% of dental practitioners, but as more adopt, it gets cheaper and better. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 16, 2019
12.13.19 Apps for buying local; Clark Stinks
Clark discusses some newer apps that help you shop at local businesses. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 13, 2019
12.12.19 Emerging jobs to consider; Avoiding fund mistakes when investing
LinkedIn has published a list of the top 10 emerging jobs. The trend is clear: STEM jobs are happening. 7 out of 10 are related to tech, computers and science. Don’t go STEM if you have no aptitude. But if so, the career paths are wide open. Some for profit schools have taken advantage of students, recruiting them with false promises. The University of Phoenix has historically enjoyed a good reputation. Now the school must absorb a $50 M penalty and $141 in student loan debt from students who attended under false pretenses, having been told the school had corporate partners directly hiring graduates. The FTC found that was all made up. False advertising to this effect started in 2012. Students enrolling based on those false promises of corporate partnerships are eligible to apply for having their loans wiped out. A Financial Review study looks at how people choose the funds in a 401k. An employer will supply a list of fund choices. People are most likely to put money into the first 4 funds they see on the list. If you’re not into investing and your plan offers a target retirement funds, that’s the easiest, wisest choice to make. Pick the year closes to your projected retirement and the fund adjusts accordingly over time. For Roth investing, also do the target retirement fund. Keep it simple. If your company 401k offering doesn’t have target retirement funds, if you’re under age 45, put the money a total stock market index fund, or a 500 stock index fund. You could also put some of your money into a total international index fund. Conservative investors should consider putting 20% in a total bond index fund. 3 funds could get your money widely allocated to lower risk in times of decline. Choose target retirement funds when available. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 12, 2019
12.11.19 Clark gets customer no service; Healthcare scam; Christmas spirit stories
Clark NEVER ever settles a personal score in any public forum. But he will share how he’s been able to solve a problem. Last year Clark bought a deal on a new MacBook for his son’s school work from Woot. When the keyboard malfunctioned, Clark took it in for repair and was informed the computer had been refurbished. Customer service at Woot is moot – Clark’s attempts at reaching them ignored. Clark filed a complaint with the BBB. Clark received a response from Woot offering a full refund after sending back the computer. The response gave no admission of guilt – but a full refund. When you have a customer service issue, don’t give up. Keep trying different approaches to get to a result. There are many different levers you can pull. Had they ignored the BBB, Clark would have attempted the arbitration. Fraudsters are selling snake oil cures to the desperate terminally ill. Clinics have opened up around the country promising stem cell treatment cancer cures. The Washington Post reports one such clinic claimed an 80% cure rate, when actually they cured no one. The FDA is trying to go after these clinics but they morph to survive. Stem cell treatment become bogus blood treatments. Better to find a university based research center doing advanced work on the illness at hand. The Atlanta Constitution reports on how a rideshare passenger and driver impacted each other’s lives. After getting acquainted during the ride, the benefactor passenger paid for the driver to finish her degree at GA State University. She worked 2 jobs, raised 3 sons and had run out of funds to finish her education. Passenger Kevin was so impressed with her life story, he was inspired to help her. He made his way to the registrar’s office, paid off her tuition and paid forward for the rest of her education. Now at 43, she has completed her degree. Now she aspires to attend law school! Story 2: USA Today reports how a MD real estate firm doled out bonuses to employees at total of $10M at the company Christmas party last weekend. Employees received $50K on average. The smartest capitalists share success with those who make it happen. Many in business who have a great year don’t think beyond themselves. But nothing substitutes for making an employee feel like an owner sharing in success. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 11, 2019
12.10.19 How to return items; Wells Fargo is awful; End of year tax help
The lines for returns start Dec. 26. Often you’ll get a gift card to use at that retailer to shop. The week between Christmas and New Year’s has become one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year, and an expensive one as well. Lines, crowds and higher prices. Better idea: January 6th or later is when to return items, unless that retailer has a tighter window on returns. By January 6th and later, shoppers have evaporated and excess merchandise and previous returns all get marked down. No crowds, no lines, lower prices. Amazon gifts can come with return vouchers. Make sure when you open a gift delivered by Amazon, you find the gift receipt in order to do a return if need be. Yes it’s hard to consider switching banks but Wells Fargo continues to prove it’s a criminal enterprise posing as a bank, unworthy of being trusted with you money. Follow up on a previous story – $2.5M of a widow’s inheritance was stolen by her Wells Fargo broker trading at Wells Fargo. The broker is alleged to have forged documents to generate massive fees. The only recourse: arbitration. Concurrently, the Office of the Controller of the Currency has sanctioned WF for ignoring employee grievances. They’re doing nothing to investigate employee complaints. You are at risk if you do business with this company that REFUSES to do right by people. About 1 in 8 of us are self-employed or have some kind of side gig. Tax is not being withheld with this type of work and you could get hit hard at tax time. You’re expected to pay 15.3% to social security and make estimated tax payments 4 times a year. If you don’t, you’ve under withheld and are penalized. If you also have a regular job, do maximum withholding, averaged out over the year by the IRS, to reduce penalties for not having paid through the course of the year. If solely self-employed, pay the IRS the sooner the better to stop the interest and penalty clock. You’re expected to make estimated payments 4 times a year, state and federal. For the solo self-employed, you can do a solo or self-employed 401K with generous limits to reduce your tax bill. For high earners, a SEP has a limit around $57K per year you can set aside for retirement, fee free – all to reduce the tax you’d owe otherwise. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 10, 2019
12.9.19 Unemployment is low but so is pay; Tipping during the Holidays
Clark discusses the current economic situation. Unemployment is low. Hooray! But pay has not gone up as much as it should have considering the current unemployment numbers. How much should you tip during the Holidays? Clark talks about who you should consider being generous with this time of year and what amounts to a fair tip amount. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 09, 2019
12.6.19 Big travel deals around the corner; Clark Stinks
Next year we’ll see many great airfare bargains domestic and international. Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit, the 3 hard discount airlines are having a big impact on airfares all over the country. When they come into a marketplace with a flight even just twice a week, airfares in that market on other airlines decline. According to Hopper, there’s a 17% rate drop when a new flight comes in from a discounter. Another factor for lower airfares in 2020: Eventually the Boeing Max is going back in the air. The influx of more aircraft will have an effect. The Southwest effect: Fares drop by over 60% when that airline enters a market. As Southwest gets the Max back, there should be a bargain affect. When a new route is introduced, deals appear. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 06, 2019
12.5.19 Stopping robocalls; Public pension problems; Deterring porch pirates
One recent study reports a record 5.7 billion robocalls were made in Oct. alone, up 25% from the month before. That translates into 182 million robocalls per day, or over 2 thousand per second. Experts predicts by year’s end, Americans will have received about 60 billion for the year. Phone companies make money from robocalls. The FCC is putting heat of telecom to address the problem by the end of the year. The industry solution – Shaken/Stir, could take years to meaningfully remedy the problem. Shaken/Stir will reduce robocalls at best but the problem will not go away. Filters like NoMoRobo can only block numbers known to be spam, while robocallers & scammers keep switching lines to get around filters, or commit spoofing. Most workers don’t receive pensions anymore, except for many state and local employees, many of whom are underpaid. Generous pensions are promised in return for years of service. The Economist reports state and local pension plans are underfunded. Either pension promises will be broken or taxes will have to go up. The real solution is better pay for state and local workers and 401K plans like workers in the private sector. Underfunded pension don’t work for taxpayers or government workers. About 1/4 of Christmas shopping is being done online.That means a massive number of packages circulating. Criminals are engaging in porch piracy on a scale never seen before. Many homeowners are putting in cameras. For theft prevention, several companies are selling connected package receiving boxes, accessed by delivery workers via one-time use codes, able to alert the owner to a delivery. The boxes can be at the street or at the front door. It’s become a burden for apartment and condo staffs to handle packages. Amazon is pushing their lockers in Whole Foods locations. Walmart and Target have package pickup. FedEx and UPS stores have pick up locations. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 05, 2019
12.4.19 Riskier consumer loans; Stop unplugging things; Unsafe toy list
It’s estimated 1 in 5 U.S. adults has a thin or no file by traditional credit reporting methods. A new regulation was issued yesterday giving the green light to new methods of measuring credit worthiness. Rent and utility payments can now be considered along with other behavioral analyses. Many young adults can benefit from this. What you spend vs what you earn is a new and very valid criteria for new scoring models. Do you live on less than what you make? Good saving habits are an indicator of a good bill payer. This hasn’t been a factor until now, to determine credit worthiness. The banking industry moves slow, so expect to see this first adopted by fintechs. Petal Card is among the first to use alternative scoring models. Many have made a habit of unplugging everything before leaving home for a few days, to cut down on power use and for safety reasons. Vampire electronics – Dracula devices are thought to eat up home energy. USA Today’s Know Your Stuff column reports that today’s modern appliances and electronics do not eat power when not in use. The energy consumption of at rest appliances and electronics is only 10% of what it used to be. If you’re going on a trip, consider unplugging power strips. The number one thing you should do to save on energy is use LED lighting. Smart thermostats auto adjust to maximum energy efficiency. These are simple ways to save on power.  Clark discusses which toys made the list of unsafe items this year. Be careful what you buy for your kiddos! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 04, 2019
12.3.19 Fake reviews online; Gift cards are awful; Revolutionary recycling techniques
There’s been a huge increase in the number of fake reviews. Consulting firm Pattern found for an item listed on Amazon, a one star higher rating leads to a 30% increase in sales. The marketplace incentives for fake reviews to boost a score are so enormous, fake reviews have infiltrated the retail landscape. According to Fakespot, in addition to Amazon this is a problem at There’s no reason to believe it’s not a problem across retail sites. 35% of all reviews on Amazon are fake, often generated by paid writers from overseas. This makes it important to read reviews because you can tell when they’re bogus. Most people only look at the number of stars. Red flag: when an item only has 5 stars be suspicious and read on. Check Consumer Reports rating for the most trustworthy assessments. Gift cards remain popular, but 40% of Americans no longer wish to receive them because of all the fraud. Criminals gain access to secret codes enabling them to empty the cards upon activation. LA Times columnist David Lazarus reports gift card fraud has gotten more sophisticated. Now hackers have compromised the entire gift card system, able to use a computer program to figure out secret codes and card numbers for most every card issued. They can now compromise cards at will, and generally the retailers don’t make good on the ripped cards. Caution! Know the risk has increased and retailers have failed to provide adequate security to protect gift card purchases. Dealing with trash is a huge expense for municipalities. But city and county recycling efforts are not profitable today and attempts to do so are burdening tax payers. There’s been a technological breakthrough developed by an Israeli company that’s gotten worldwide attention. Startup UBQ Materials is using a new method that’s achieving zero waste. New machinery can sort, chop, grind, shred, clean and heat garbage into a thick liquid, which can be turned into pellets and reused in manufacturing. Full upcycling has been achieved here. The conversion of all waste into a potentially valuable product has enormous advantage to society, including the elimination of landfills. Key: solutions must be economically sound to be sustainable. We face strong demands on water and other resources, disease from waste and other problems. Solving these problems in such a fashion will make it green (profitable) to be green.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 03, 2019
12.2.19 Clark tells his Black Friday experience; Personal loans for presents!?; Tenant screening goes futuristic
Stores were not crowded on Black Friday this year. Clark visited Costco, Target, Walmart, Microcenter, Ollie’s & Five Below just to get a feel for retail that day. There were no real crowds. Patterns have changed. Around 23% of holiday shopping during Black Friday month will be done online, up significantly from last year. So much of shopping has shifted to click and collect. It’s convenient for shoppers to order online and pick up their merchandise. Costco stepped up promotions this year with an emphasis on, but marketing got ahead of operations, resulting in a massive computer failure, crashing the site.   It’s gotten too easy for consumers to take out personal instant loans right on their smartphone. This is a booming business, with solicitations everywhere including on social media. The average loan is over $15K and as much as $30K. 20 million have done so thus far. These loans carry a moderately high interest rate. Many of these loans are being taken out for lifestyle. An Experian survey finds that 1 in 3 Americans acknowledge taking out a personal loan for Christmas shopping. Anytime you borrow for lifestyle, it comes back to burn you because it leaves no cushion in your life for the unexpected. Remember what really matters is time spent with loved ones. Bake or do something nice for someone in lieu of spending, because going into debt to keep up appearances is unwise, creating anxiety and financial pressure in your life. More than 1 in 3 Americans rent. The screening process is important to this 37% of U.S. adults. Historically a landlord would run a credit check and maybe check references. But today, large scale landlords are adopting more sophisticated tools using AI and deep data to come up with a renter score. Being judged on broader criteria can be a plus for those in the gig economy, no longer limited by traditional income ratios, and for those without traditional credit. The algorithms vary, but all use an array of factors – totally different than how screening has been done in the past. One model considers the type of debt an applicant has, weighing student loan debt less than credit card debt. Different factors are in play to determine suitable tenants. Small landlords generally are not using these models. Large corporate apartment complexes may be using several. One complex may reject you or require a large deposit, while another may give the go ahead. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Dec 02, 2019
11.29.19 Credit Karma bank account; Avoid cable modem monthly fees
We get many calls about online banks. Last December Clark was talking about stock trading app Robinhood launching a 3% checking account. That was shut down in 2 days by regulators because it was non-compliant with insurance rules. Robinhood has just launched a savings account paying 2%+ with a debit MC - this time with FDIC insurance of 1.25M. They followed the playbook of Seedrs (?) - a private program that allows you spread money over multiple institutions. Robinhood has 5 banks that have joined them in offering FDIC insured saving/spending accounts. Credit Karma has launched their savings account to their 100M members. If you get internet from a cable monopoly, they make you rent your modem from them. That's a ripoff of $10- $12 a month on a modem you can buy for $40- $60. Go to the company to search what modems are compatible with their internet service - and buy your own. Check speed requirements. Docsis 3.0 is an example of what you'll need. Also know if you get TV from a cable monopoly, they my quote you a package price of $59, and not to mention additional $40 junk fees. Look into streaming to save money. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 29, 2019
11.28.19 How Clark would fix healthcare; Americans are saving more
Clark promised recently to convey the key components for fixing healthcare in the U.S. He starts by asking how to align free market incentives with more efficiency and less cost. We have by far the highest % of national income going towards healthcare of any country in the world. It's shocking we spend 1/5 of our nation's wealth each year on healthcare. The next highest is 8 or 9% of a nation's output for healthcare. We must address cost first. How do we make healthcare more affordable? The industry doesn't think of patients as customers. The system is distorted with employer coverage creating corporate incentives. Big employers have a marketplace advantage, creating job lock. Employers being able to deduct employee health care from taxes should end right away. The best marketplace will happen when the customer is the buyer and chooses where to go for care. Healthcare cost will never come under control unless we get federally mandated price disclosure for any treatment in advance, to inform consumer decisions. Consumers should make the cost/benefit choice. In addition to requiring easy-to-read price lists - those prices must be guaranteed. No more surprise balance billing. The price is the price, period. ACCESS: Many American counties have no access to primary care providers. We need national law allowing Physician Assistants and NPs to set up their own practices independent of any doctor where needed. INSURANCE: More than half of all medical care comes through the government at federal, state and local levels, eliminating private marketplace incentives. The role of government should be providing reinsurance, after an insurance company cap is reached. This would get us away from insurers cynically manipulating the political process, selling fake policies full of exclusions and riddled with limits. Insurers could sells medigap like policies with clearly stated coverage and no requirement to buy. There could be no exclusions for any pre-existing conditions UNLESS the insurance was allowed to lapse for a period exceeding one year. Then they could exclude a pre-existing condition for a period of 6 months. This would create a marketplace incentive to stay covered. Selling insurance would be less risky if they capped it in the hundreds of thousands of dollars vs. the millions they now fear and refute. Having government in the reinsurance role would lower risk for the private market for routine healthcare. And allowing consumers to truly be shoppers changes the equation as well. There are many other elements to this including Rx. Know the arguments we've had in the prism of politics have looked at this as a zero sum game. Wrong. How do we make improvements to make healthcare more affordable and more predictable? That's the central question.  The Commerce Dept. has issued a new report indicating Americans now save the most % of their pay in a very long time - 8%. Last decade, Americans had a NEGATIVE net spending rate, spending $1.01 for every dollar earned. Today, people on average are living on .92 of every dollar made - greatness. But it's not evenly distributed. We're of 2 minds about money. Some shiftied their thinking after the Great Recession and have become savers. At the same time, we have record credit card debt. There are many circumstances that lead to deficit spending. But for some, it's lack of planning. Take Clark's 1% challenge. If you're not saving yet, just divert 1% to savings and step it up another 1% every 6 months. If no employer retirement plan, set up a savings account or Roth and have money automatically put in every pay period. We build new habits over time. Slow and steady wins the race. Ideally, work up to saving at least a dime of each dollar. It changes your future and lowers anxiety in your life.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 28, 2019
11.27.19 Lowest cost of living cities; Beware online micro-loans
2302 has published a new survey on the average cost of living in the 75 largest metros in the country. San Francisco is the most expensive city, costing over $4200 a month on average. The cheapest: El Paso at $1100 month - 1/4 the cost! Honolulu: $2600. Of the 75 metros surveyed, more than half require less than $2k a month to live comfortably. See list. Clark names each affordable metro because so many live in high cost cities where home ownership out of reach. If you're at an inflection point, be aware of affordable alternatives. Your future, your wallet - You're NOT stuck wherever you are.  More products and services have become available for purchase on a per use basis. Transportation via ride sharing or Zip car, renting vs. buying a home, music and video subscription services. Renting or paying via micro loans for various things is trending. But clothing? The WSJ reports many retailers are offering this option for inexpensive clothing items. You can finance a $30 pair of pants over 3 to 6 months, usually with interest. If there's a piece of fashion clothing you want and you can't afford to pay for it, you should wait until you can. If it's gone it's gone. Borrowing for lifestyle harms your financial future. When you RENT something like clothing, or pay with a microloan from the register - these are not good choices. Just as with a car, you don't lease because you can't afford to buy. Make good long term choices for your wallet, not just what feels good at the moment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 27, 2019
11.26.19 Is plant-based meat tasty?; Make your smartphone last longer
Clark loves the Impossible Burger - not a fan of Beyond or veggie burgers. Recent reports reveal the Impossible burger isn't particularly healthier. That high calorie meat taste comes from multiple plant fats. Experts initially thought these meat substitutes would only sell in white collar environments and high end restaurants. Turns out Carl's Jr. and Burger King are successfully selling meat substitute burgers and manufacturers are penetrating world markets. Just know it's not a guilt free card healthwise, but much greener on the manufacturing side. In addition to meat substitutes, expect lab grown meat on the market in the future. Lab grown diamonds are chemically the same, eliminating danger and cost. So lab meat will be real meat, but will not come directly from cows. Is it a deal - smart - to buy the latest greatest smartphone? Cell phone carrier contracts incentivised consumers to buy new phones every 18 months to 2 years. That's not the case anymore. We're out of contracts, making for happier customers. We're all free agents but we have to pay the real price for phones. So now we keep phones 3 years on average. Keeping phones longer - buying last year's model - makes sense. Clark buys various phones frequently to test and finds them all to be fantastic. Apple learned the hard way you can only drive up the price so much, and has regained initiative introducing the Apple 11 at $699 (The 10 / 10S was over a grand). Samsung has also adjusted pricing. Your phone will perform longer than you might think. As long as you can get the updates on the OS, there's no reason to prematurely dump your phone anymore. It's cheaper to just replace the battery when needed. It's AOK now to keep a phone 4 or 5 years. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 26, 2019
11.25.19 Workers fleeing big cities; Avoid this health insurance with terrible coverage
Even with solid education, skills and jobs, it's difficult for many in high-cost cities to live without wheezing financially all the time, often with dim prospects of home ownership. Especially in the NE, DC and the I5 corridor from Seattle to SanDiego - people work hard to just tread water. If this is your situation, think about relocating. Even taking a lower paying job in a community with a much lower cost of living can pay off, and allow for home ownership. If such a move buys you a better lifestyle and allows you to accomplish financial goals, it can be worth it. More companies are relocating or establishing branches in lower cost areas for their employees- who want an affordable life often not found on either coast. There’s a type of health insurance originally designed for young adults between jobs. These were designed as temporary policies. They exclude pre-existing conditions and generally don’t cover major illnesses. Because of a loophole in the law, unethical insurers are selling these policies to anyone, renewable up to 3 years. Only when someone is down do they find out they have no real coverage. These policies are cheap, don’t have big deductibles and cover routine care. So people think they’re great …. until. Stories have emerged of people facing huge medical bills forcing them into bankruptcies. Relatively brief hospital stays aren’t covered and can be billed in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are tight limits on what these policies cover and a long list of exclusions. These policies are marketed as health insurance, but are NOT real health insurance at all. They pretend to cover you, but the low premium you pay isn’t worth it. There’s not a free lunch. The real issue is dealing with the cost of health care itself. Clark will be forthcoming with his solutions to get the cost of healthcare down. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 25, 2019
11.22.19 When to use a travel agent when booking travel; Clark Stinks
Travel agents are a thing of the past, right? Nope! While booking travel online has become incredibly easy and also allows you to compare prices more easily, travel advisers still have a helpful role to play in how you book. Specifically, if you tend to book stays at more expensive hotels or love to go on cruises, booking via a travel agent can gain you perks and discounts that you wouldn't otherwise have been able to score booking on your own. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 22, 2019
11.21.19 T-Mobile home internet adds competition; Juice jacking invades public charging ports; Five Below raises prices
Home internet has been way too expensive without much competition. Monopoly cable companies have cornered the market in most of the country. Clark predicts this is the last year we’ll be suffering that lack of competition. In 2020 & 2021, we’ll see the roll out of various forms of high speed home internet, changing the equation for consumers. T-Mobile has launched a wireless home internet service for a flat $50 a month, no contract – no data caps. It’s largely rural now with expansion expected. Over the next 2 years, overhyped 5g will be rolled out. For cellular customers, T-Mobile is launching 5g for about 2/3rd of the country’s population the first week of December, but certain phones are required. This will be for early adopters in the first wave. AT&T and Verizon will also roll out fast home internet, plus satellite internet will be an option. T-Mobile is out of the gate here early. Criminals have infiltrated courtesy USB charging stations in airports, café’s, hotel rooms etc. They have installed illegal reading devices that can skim the info from your device. Ports and cables now pose a risk. They can install malware allowing them to steal your data. Go back to charging your devices in a traditional outlet, with a charging brick or portable batty. Don’t use the easy USB port, cause they’re also easy for criminals to invade in order to drain your info. This Christmas season is the first that one of the nation’s fastest growing retailers has a presence in much of the country. Five Below – a shopping mecca for teens, offers affordable gifts. Most items are sold at $5. Five Below sources their own goods, overseeing the design and manufacturing of their private label merchandise. Hurt by tariffs, they now have ‘Ten Below’ corners within their stores, forced to break the $5 barrier. Five Below follows a business model perfected by Aldi. Aldi sources their private label goods as well, allowing consumers to save around 40% on groceries. Sourcing allows retailers to undercut the price of competitors’ goods. Five Below shoppers determine quality of goods over time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 21, 2019
11.20.19 Amazon expands free music; Buckle up this holiday season; Nursing home abuse tool
Clark has a Spotify family plan. $15 a month includes 5 different streams - $3 per person. Spotify faces competitive market threats from Apple Music. Pandora seems to be fading a bit. Now all face a new threat from Amazon. Amazon’s free, ad supported music service for Prime members has greatly expanded music offerings in an effort to hook users on the pay service. Joel’s already paying. This competition is a win for consumers. Maybe someday the artists and composers will win too. Unbelted passengers at impact in an automobile accident: Centrifugal force has no mercy. As we move into the holiday season, make sure backseat passengers wear seatbelts, as well as front seaters. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, many fatalities occur each year due to back seat passengers not wearing seatbelts. Uber and Lyft passengers typically ride in the back and seldom put on their seatbelts. This endangers all in the car. Buckle up for safety.  Episodically around the country, scandals of neglect and abuse emerge concerning nursing homes, assisted living and other senior facilities. When trying to find a suitable environment for a loved one needing care – it’s a shot in the dark. You’ll get a pitch designed to earn trust. But what goes on during the third shift? What’s actually happening in these places. You can hire a geriatric social worker for evaluation and placement consultation. They know which facilities do a good job. But most don’t go this route, and fly blind trying to choose a facility. Nursing Home Compare -  Find and compare Nursing Homes | Nursing Home Compare. Cited nursing homes are marked with a red icon as a warning to consumers. These homes have to be in compliance for a full year before they lose that red mark of shame. This helps consumers ferret out potentially harmful places. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 20, 2019
11.19.19 Wire transfer warning; No Christmas decorations!; Dollar Tree FDA warning
According to the FBI, wire transfer fraud is growing exponentially. Typically homeowners, small to mid-size business owners and nonprofits are targeted. When buying a home, you receive wire transfer instructions for the home closing from your real estate agent, escrow agent or closing attorney. Criminals are infiltrating email services, taking over the email of real estate agents, lawyers and escrow agents. They’re lurking. When they see a wire transfer instructions email, they wait until just before closing, go into the email and send a revised wiring instructions email. This diverts the wired money to them. You show up for the closing and they money has not been received – gone forever. The banking industry hasn’t come up with any security procedure to protect your money. This is having enormous consequences for consumers. Businesses and nonprofits have suppliers. Crooks lurk in email to discover payment patterns, duplicate payment instructions via ACH or wire, and money is sent to them on a one-way trip. Know that you cannot trust wiring or ACH instructions that come by email. Call the party and verify instructions over the phone using a verified phone number. Follow this procedure every time, because there is no way to recover money stolen this way. The New York Daily News reported on a family in San Antonia required by their HOA to pull down their Christmas décor because they put it up too early. Really! They decorated in November because the woman of the house is 8 months pregnant and wanted to get it done while she could. The couple told the HOA to sue them, they’re NOT taking down their decorations. HOA board members should anticipate being visited by 3 ghosts this Christmas Eve. Clark has long recommended buying OTC meds at Dollar Tree for a buck. The same items at chain drug stores go for $7 or $8. But Dollar Tree has harmed their reputation. The FDA has issued a warning to Dollar Tree for having foreign manufactured drugs on their shelves found to be adulterated. This pertains to topical medications on their health aisle – not any type of pills or medicine you take orally. Dollar Tree says they’re cooperating with the FDA. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 19, 2019
11.18.19 Healthcare price transparency; Gift exchange scam; Black Friday preview
The Trump administration has issued rules that has the medical industry in furious. New rules will require consumers have access upfront to costs for medical care and procedures. What other industry is so arrogant to think they could avoid price disclosure forever? They’ve hired lobbyist to spread money around to politicians, most pretending to be non-profits – all to hide their prices. Many consumers have suffered bankruptcy. Half of negative credit items are due to medical debt, while the industry works hard to keep costs secret, which leads to financial harm to people because it’s impossible to price shop. Hospitals will be required to show pricing per insurance provider and non-insured pricing. Consumers will be able to compare prices across all hospitals to make informed decisions on upcoming procedures. Last holiday season’s Secret Sister social media scam has roared back the BBB warns. You get a solicitation about a Secret Santa gift exchange. If you send cash or gifts to people on a provided list, you’ll be showered with money and gifts 36 fold! This is a pyramid and just a con. You’re just sending money / gifts to scammers. If you see this on social or receive a text or email, ignore and delete. Clark talks about the best current deals and also upcoming Black Friday deals with the Chief Deal Digger Charis from Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 18, 2019
11.15.19 Carry-on bag warning; Clark Stinks
Many fly only during the holiday period near the end of the year. Airlines gouge you on checking a bag, so many bring carry on bags. Airlines quickly run out of overhead bin space during boarding so – gate check - they seize and tag some of them at the gate. If you put everything important in your carry on, once it becomes a checked bag, airlines don’t cover anything of value. You are vulnerable to having things disappear with no compensation. If you do carry on, have a personal item that will fit under the seat in front of you, that will not be seized at the runway. That way you can keep your meds, jewelry, electronics and anything you valuable to you. If your bag is seized at the jetway, you only have to worry about losing clothing. If there’s a dishonest person, don’t tempt them with anything of value. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 15, 2019
11.14.19 Google gets into medical records; Designer purse lawsuit; iBuyer companies great for consumers
Google’s Project Nightingale is a huge initiative by the second largest hospital system in the U.S. Some are hostile to Google doing this. But this is an important initiative. With the tech available today, it’s ridiculous we don’t have solid medical databases for continuity of care. Patients themselves don’t keep track. It’s important this succeeds and expands. A woman at an exclusive country club in the tri-state has wine spilled on her $30K purse. She sues the country club, which in turn sues the waiter. Really? A $30K purse for starters, and the rest is Clarkrageous as well. Clark shared his iBuyer selling experience this summer. The iBuyer market uses deep data to establish an accurate selling price and make an offer, allowing the seller to choose their departure time. No showings or traditional hassle. They may front the money for repairs and updates the seller agrees to, and get the money back at closing. They’re own staff gets the work done and the home is listed. A recent analysis of Zillow and Open Door found the prices being offered are actually too good. After expenses and sell prices, they’re not making money. Zillow agrees. It’s very important to get offers from multiple companies, which include Knock, Zillow, OfferPad, Opendoor and more in different areas. They have to have the right data to make an offer. IBuyers are working the great middle of the market, eschew both the high and low end. Clark’s experience turned out great. Research suggests this is a fair deal for home sellers, offering certainty, and eliminating hassle. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 14, 2019
11.13.19 New privacy law and your data; Fake Costco coupon; Real ID law info
California passed a law that is having national impact. In the U.S. we lack any digital rights to privacy, while internet behemoths collect our data, compiling deep dossiers to sell off for marketing purposes. Due to the breakdown of political function in D.C., technology is moving faster than a do-nothing Congress. So California has emulated Europe’s privacy law, The Right to be Forgotten – which works magnificently there. Ironically, California has defied all it’s tech firms and passed a Right to be Forgotten law. Microsoft has announced they will follow, leading the way in the right direction. Other companies will hopefully follow the California standard in other states. Take caution over the next 6 weeks when you receive notifications by text, social, email or popups promising free coupons, gift cards or vouchers – assume it’s a scam with nothing good coming next. Last year there were fake Walmart gift card solicitations. When people clicked the link viruses were unleashed. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on a new one circulating all over the country claiming Costco is giving away $75 coupons. Costco cries SCAM! These are recurring hoaxes showing up as internet popups, websites and social posts. 100 million American adults don’t have Real ID yet. Without Real ID or a passport, you won’t be able to fly. 40% of Americans, 2 out of 5 are not compliant to fly. The full fare airlines – American, United and Delta are taking reservations past the deadline. Only American so far is alerting ticket buyers of the requirement. There should be an automatic popup when booking past the late summer deadline, warning people they will NOT be able to board without Real ID with an explanatory link. If you don’t have a star, call your DMV, make an appointment to have your identity verified. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 13, 2019
11.12.19 Managing a Waffle House; AT&T forces price increase; Scaling back on Christmas purchases
Waffle House has been in the news lately!One recent late night, only 1 cook showed up for his Birmingham Waffle House shift. So the customers pitched in taking & serving orders and washing dishes. The customers ran the joint for no pay. Waffle House acknowledged the incident as gracefully as possible, suggesting the customers fill out applications. What’s it take to work there? Ironically, the day before that happened, the WSJ ran a story about how working at Waffle House is great training for corporate management. Waffle House managers do every job that needs doing so employees know they’re all in it together. An experienced Waffle House manager can make $115K per year. But it’s not for the faint of heart. AT&T wireless customers in grandfathered plans are being moved to more expensive plans without being told. You don’t have to pay this. As AT&T struggles, you don’t have to suffer in the wallet. There are plans a lot cheaper with other players in the industry. Visible, T-Mobile and more – check the alternatives. Do not be a sitting duck for AT&T's financial problems. Money is tight this Christmas season for most of us. Before you spend out of obligation, consider alternatives. Forget deals if money is really tight and consider what people cherish most, like experiences together. Bake for a loved one. Don’t spend yourself into debt that takes months to pay off. If there are young kids in the family, buy for them, but not for the adults. This season you’ll see deals online at sites including Amazon, eBay, Craig’s List, Facebook marketplaces - where some items may be counterfeit or recalled. When a deal looks too good to be true, be suspicious. If it's new inbox electronics listed for way less than elsewhere, there’s a chance the item is stolen. Use your common sense.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 12, 2019
11.11.19 Veteran's Day; Disturbing Boeing revelations; Best streaming TV deals
Clark comes from an immigrant family. All 4 of his grandparents were born overseas. From the time they became citizens, serving in the military became part of the Howard family culture. Clark’s had the privilege of speaking at 3 Veterans Day events over the last 3 days. All gratitude to the brave people who have served our nation. The all-volunteer military structure today means only a small portion of the American people serve and are called upon time and time again to redeploy. We ask so much of so few to serve so many. Most members of Congress have never served and are clueless about military service. We’ve lost an understanding of each other in the U.S. because of this schism. On this Veteran’s Day, Clark expresses his belief that it would be an enormous benefit to America if we had 2 years compulsory public service. Young adults would work for nonprofits, charities or serve in the military, to work for the common good of all. This gives us the shared purpose we need to get back. People have become tribally divisive in America. We need to return to the core principle of America – an incredible republic offering religious and democratic freedoms and economic opportunity. We have a phenomenal country. Take a moment this Veterans Day to think about the freedoms we enjoy, that our veterans have served to protect. Hating those we disagree with makes us weak, narrow-minded and diminishes our world status as a beacon of hope. We’re approaching a year since Boeing 737 Max aircraft have been grounded after the 2 tragic crashes. A disturbing cultural problem at the root of Boeing emerges. Leaked information indicates Boeing is attempting legal maneuvers to reduce their financial risk and legal liability to the grieving families of those killed in Boeing crashes due to the company’s gross negligence. Boeing may have known as early as 2015 of design safety concerns, did nothing, covered up defective devices, and now they’re trying to shirk liability. When asked if he was aware of the liability avoidance, the Boeing CEO denied knowledge. Others dispute that. Either way, the CEO needs to go. This company seems to have no focus on safety. We are right at 500 different series being produced in the U.S. That’s up from 80 in 2014. There’s never been a time in the history of video with so much compelling content. This has created a battle for market share. Disney is launching its new streaming service tomorrow. Apple is in early stages. Netflix remains the behemoth and Comcast is launching Peacock. AT&T is launching HBO products in addition to their traditional streaming service. See our guide, continually updated. We’ll see more change in this area in the next 2 – 3 yeas than has existed since TV began, around 1953. Fast forward to 500 series available on demand, and they’re subsidizing us, while losing money for various reasons. Amazon’s losing on Prime instant video. Google’s is losing on YouTube TV trying to become dominant. Hulu is offering both on demand and live streaming – Yes it gets confusing. Be wary of signing up for programming packages with AT&T. In financial trouble, they have a tendency to raise prices without notice. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 11, 2019
11.8.19 How screen time affects your kids brain; Clark Stinks
A new study shows that the effects of screen time on small children could be physically changing their brains. The study which was published in JAMA reports a decline in "white matter integrity" of 3-5 year olds because of time spent using screens. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 08, 2019
11.7.19 Employers offering more freedom; How to refi student loans
The FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement was a hot topic last year. People set early retirement goals and modified lifestyle dramatically to make it happen. Now we can add the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) movement, giving people the freedom to work when and where they want. Many employers can’t handle this. But if you do task oriented work with measurable results, this can be liberating. For example, radiology is performed around the clock, so practices can hire radiologists across the globe in different time zones. An Australian radiologist can be on duty there for overnight needs here. The downside: Out of sight out of mind. Off location workers can be thought of differently and are unlikely to be promoted. But depending on the job and the employer, this can be a win-win. A follow-up on the discovery 5 years ago that AT&T was not honoring its claim of unlimited data. It took 5 full years for AT&T to be held to account for pennies on the dollar. AT&T has reached a deal with the FTC to pay restitution to the customers they lied to - a measly $60M for the 3.5 million affected. If you’re still with AT&T, you’ll get a mysterious credit on your bill one month. If you’re no longer a customer, they’ll send you a check. It’s real. It’s your money. But they shouldn’t have lied in the first place. So many are weighed down by student loan debt. Many questions are coming in about refinancing – a confusing area. First, know what kind of loans you have, how many and what rates you’re paying on each loan. Knowing the difference between federal and private loans is key. If you refi a federal student loan into a private loan, you lose all the borrower protections built into federal loans. Rules: If you find a deal to refi private loans into a new fixed rate loan, that’s probably a food idea. With federal loans, only refi if you can reduce the interest rate by 2 points or more, and have a secure, solid income. Then it may be worth it to give up the borrower protections. See the briefing at, which includes who is best to shop for student loan refinance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 07, 2019
11.6.19 Credit score help for licensed professionals; Krispy Kreme follow-up; Cancelling subscriptions
Roughly 20% of American adults have no credit file at all. There’s not enough data to establish credit risk. Around 25% of American adults have low credit scores. That’s 45% total. Lenders use different strategies to figure out who among them are worth taking a chance on. Data is more sophisticated today than traditional credit reporting. The Pedal Card uses proprietary criteria to issue credit cards to those with no/low credit. Last decade credit reporting and scores proved to be an inaccurate predictor of who would default or foreclose after the great recession. Many people with high scores defaulted on multiple debts at that difficult time. Experian is using a new score called “Lift” experimentally with a dozen lenders. The WSJ reports that Lift takes rent payments into account, and also – state issued professional licenses. More organizations are looking for different, non-traditional ways to decide who is credit worthy. The college student entrepreneur who worked importing Krispy Kreme donuts from Iowa to Minnesota was the topic of yesterday’s Clark Rage because Krispy Kreme shut him down, siting liability concerns. It appears media coverage made a difference here, and young Jason has been allowed to resume as an independent operator, gifted 500 boxes by the company to help him in his new sanctioned role. Jason can continue to work his way through college, bringing donut happiness to Minnesota. Recent reports point out how much we’re spending on subscription services. These charges hit automatically month after month, often with auto renewal. Until you get around to stopping them, the money keeps coming out of accounts. Subscriptions come in many forms. There’s even one for toothbrushes. Every 90 days with the change of season could be a marker to change your toothbrush. Clark despises subscriptions. Most of us forget what we’ve signed up for. When’s the last time you went to your gym your paying to be a member of? Video, razors, clothing all come via subscriptions now. Sit down with your statements and figure out what you’re being billed monthly for. If you’re not using the service, can it. When you call or try to cancel online, be sure to watch your next statement to make sure you’re truly canceled.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 06, 2019
11.5.19 Stay in your home longer; Krispy Kreme stops college-age entrepreneur; Ford to update vehicles over internet
Clark recommends a minimum ownership cycle of 7 years for houses and 10 years for condos. There’s enormous expense involved in both buying and selling a home – 10% in and 10% out. In addition to expenses in and out, condo values are more unstable than home values. So owning for a decade is best for your wallet. Historically, 7 years has been the typical amount of time people stay in a home. But according to Redfin, the ownership cycle now averages 13 years. People are choosing to stay longer and there are less job transfers. The untold story: The longer you stay in a home, the more profitable that home becomes because you’re not paying in and out costs. If your neighborhood is in decline, that’s a good reason to move. But as people stay longer and improve their homes, neighborhoods generally become more stable. Minnesota college student Jason Gonzales defrayed school costs by driving 2+ hours to the closest Krispy Kreme in Iowa, buying in bulk and bringing them back to Minnesota to resell. It’s not a crime to bootleg donuts. He received no bulk discount, and sold by the dozen in the original boxes. Jason made a markup importing and selling the donuts, not available in Minnesota. After a story was published about this young entrepreneur, Jason got shut down by Krispy Kreme because he was “creating a liability” for them. What about all the charities that buy in bulk and sell by the box? Better to appreciate Jason for keeping the love for Krispy Kreme alive in a place that doesn’t have them! For the last 7 years, Clark has had the privilege of driving a Tesla. The model 3 is one of the best selling vehicles in the U.S. now. The car is like a rolling computer. Tesla is always connected to the internet through cellular and home Wi-Fi, and sends regular software updates. You simply download updates as they come. Via these updates, Clark has seen the self-driving capabilities steadily improve to now extraordinary performance levels. This has been the envy of the automobile industry. Ford is now adopting this update capability starting in 2020. The vehicle that comes off the assembly line will evolve with updates. This is a game changer all automakers will likely adopt. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 05, 2019
11.4.19 USPS address change scams; FDA romaine lettuce debacle; Major issues with Airbnb
ID theft criminals are entering post offices with fake IDs and doing address changes. The USPS gets 37 million address changes each year. An unwitting pawn in ID theft, they say working to prevent false address changes, but determined criminals can get this done. If your mails suddenly stops coming, it’s 5 alarm fire drill time for your finances. Immediately freeze your credit with Equifax, Transunion and Experian. That prevents the crooks from applying from new credit as if they’re you. Meanwhile they get your existing account statements and can engage in account takeover fraud, and buy things as if they’re you. Watch account activity closely. Think through which bills you should be receiving and contact creditors. Go to the post office and make corrections. The faster you do this, the more you limit potential damage.   The FDA had information months ago concerning an E.coli outbreak in romaine lettuce that sickened people in a dozen states in July, August and September. The FDA kept this secret to protect farmers, because when this happened prior and the info was published, it devastated the farmers. The FDA and CDC were finally able to verify the source in October but still did not disclose until now for unknown reasons. This is NOT OK. We need to have confidence in the watchdogs for our nation’s food supply. Recently there’s been another outbreak of salmonella in 6 states involving ground beef that HAS been announced. We need confidence in our food supply and know there will be quick action when issues arise. At an Airbnb CA property last week, 5 were killed and several injured in a shooting at a Halloween party. Airbnb has been under a cloud concerning party house rentals. Individuals will troll listings, rent a house for 1 or 2 nights, and advertise a party on social media with paid entry. Party house rackets have been a problem in many cities, with Airbnb noncommittal on the subject. But now that fatalities have occurred, Airbnb says they will ban party houses. How we don’t know. Airbnb is going through an awkward adolescence, having trouble handling its growth. discovered crooked landlords, listing places on Airbnb that are either non-existent or owned by someone else. On arrival day the hapless renter gets notified of some terrible problem and is diverted to what’s in fact the real, far inferior rental to the bogus one advertised. This is happening in cities around the country. Airbnb does not stand behind the renters getting scammed this way. Airbnb needs to protect its platform. If people cannot trust that they’ll be treated honestly, the platform will lose validity in the marketplace. Operators need to beef up their investigative force and customer service operations to deal with problems as they happen and to weed out the crooks. 5 people are dead. Airbnb offers potentially great environments, they’ve got to make it work better. If you’re a renter, be cautious and read reviews thoroughly. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 04, 2019
11.1.19 New poll helps you plan your Christmas shopping; Clark Stinks
ClarkDeals has created a new poll that reveals some of the Holiday consumer shopping trends. Clark discusses the findings and how you should approach Holiday shopping in order to save the most money. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Nov 01, 2019
10.31.19 Best HSA providers; New TX 403b law is terrible for teachers; Student loan regrets
Clark talks about the best places to open an HSA. Some providers do a better job for people attempting to save money in their HSA while other providers do a better job helping people invest well inside of their HSA. Two of the best overall providers are Fidelity and Lively. A new TX law allows sky high fees inside of teacher 403b plans. This is Clarkrageous and will have a major impact on the overall amount that teachers will have saved in retirement. Most people taking out student loans will be paying on them for close to 20 years. Clark has recommendations for paying off your student loans more quickly and how to avoid student loan regret. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 31, 2019
10.30.19 Economic growth is slowing; Predatory online installment loans; Grocery delivery
Clark discusses the fed rate cut and how the economy is slowing. Online installment loans are rising to prominence. The interest rates are almost as high as payday loans. You should never sign up for an installment loan when attempting to purchase something online. Amazon has stopped charging grocery delivery fees for Amazon Prime members. Clark discusses the details and what this means for Amazon competitors also prioritizing home grocery delivery. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 30, 2019
10.29.19 Open enrollment info; Creepy new interview technology; Cutting real estate agent fees
Open enrollment is near for corporate workers and individuals on the federal exchange. Employers are facing major cost pressures providing healthcare for workers. Strategies to reduce costs include sending workers to seek out of state care, and in rare cases care outside the U.S. This is a result of the hospital system chokeholds in most metros. Employers may waive your deductible if you go out of market for specific care. Read your open enrollment kit carefully. Look closely at deductibles. You may be better off with a lower premium with higher out of pocket, depending on your situation. For individuals buying coverage, you’ll see more plans offered and insurers returning to exchanges in metro areas. This year, be aware there are fake sites. offers compliant plans with no limits and coverage for preexisting conditions. The Washington Post reports on how some employers are using an AI algorithm that scans faces during video interviews. Expressions, eye contact and enthusiasm is all analyzed, responses dissected – to help employers eliminate candidates. Applicants are not told their score on this algorithm. College career counseling centers now need to coach new grads on how to deal with this capability, called HireVue. The reality is almost all jobs are found via informal connections. Going through company AI with face scanning is garbage. Who you know is core and key to getting an opportunity with most companies. Real estate access to information for buyers and sellers is the best it’s ever been. Zillow, Trulia and others provide instant info on homes for sale. Pre-internet house hunting, Clark recommended the hundred home rule – See at least 20 out of 100 home selections. Today you can get a sense of real estate anywhere almost immediately, making the industry more transparent. But the transaction process is slower to change. Having an agent at a fixed commission of around 6% is now getting pushback and alternatives are emerging. Sellers can hire an a la carte agency or pay hourly fees. Many business models are coming alive. What has not changed: When doing a FSBO, protect the agent that brings you a buyer with 2-3% commission. In addition to using all the new tools, Clark remains old school in the belief that for most, having an experienced real estate agent is still the best way. Many transactions fall apart due to emotional issues. That’s when an agent can be key in getting a deal done. In this regard, real estate has changed less than many other industries, with the new advantage of abundant information and transparency – fantastic for buyers and sellers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 29, 2019
10.28.19 Affordable housing; Deals for first responders; Take your vacation time!
Affordable housing is in short supply in the U.S. these days. It hasn’t been this difficult to acquire affordable housing since 1948. Restrictive zoning – a NIMBY problem, has made it difficult to impossible for builders. But zoning changes are making affordable housing more possible. A few months ago metro Minneapolis passed such zoning changes. Now Oregon has passed a law to phase in by 2021 to allow second structures and garage apartments. Many young adults under 40 have been shut out of the housing market. New methods of construction make it more cost effective to build affordable housing. The irony is that the hotel business is at the forefront of using these methods. The U.S. should become experimental and look at technologies including 3-D printing to fill the shortage in affordable housing. State and local law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs are honored today. Announced today and available Nov. 1st – T-Mobile’s half price Magenta plan for first responders. This works like T-Mobile’s Magenta Military Plan - $10 a month per person after the first 2, and new phones for half price. AT&T and Verizon usually respond in kind with such deals. A Priceline survey says more than half of all U.S. workers with a paid vacation benefit don’t take it! One third do not use up half their vacation allotment. That’s loco. If there’s unspoken pressure at work, that’s an idiot employer. Your performance deteriorates and loyalty diminishes when work is an endless treadmill. Taking time and getting away to clear your head is extremely valuable. Take your time off and cherish being with family/friends and experiencing other things. You come back better at what you do. None of us are indispensable. Please take your time off. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 28, 2019
10.25.19 Electronic wills are becoming legal in states across the country; Clark Stinks
More people would be willing to create a will if the process was easier. So states across the country are changing laws to allow people to create their will completely online. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 25, 2019
10.24.19 Non-compete clauses are awful; Moviepass STILL charging people money; Drone delivery
Two US Senators have introduced legislation to get rid of non-compete clauses in almost all cases. This is GREAT news because these non-compete clauses are terrible for individual earnings an the overall economy. Moviepass has gone out of business after disappointing millions of customers. But Moviepass is STILL charging money to their former customers. This is truly Clarkrageous. Drone delivery is coming. And actually, it's here. Google Wing is actually delivering some packages in a test market. Drone deliveries are one areas of tech we should continue to watch because it is going to change the way we receive packages and could end up saving companies and consumers money in the future. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 24, 2019
10.23.19 Delaying school start times; Apple parental controls; Hackers invading online shopping carts
California has passed legislation to delay school start times. This is great for kids! Apple's parental controls for Screen Time have been easily bypassed by kids. Parents need to take more proactive approaches towards limiting technology use by their children. Hackers are stealing personal information while you are purchasing things online. Clark tells you what you need to know and how to protect yourself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 23, 2019
10.22.19 New Walmart health centers; Equifax PIN update; Will the Boeing Max fly soon?
Walmart is launching new healthcare centers around the nation. And up-front pricing is making things more transparent. You can get urgent care, x-rays, counseling, dental, and optical services at these new and innovative health centers. Equifax has responded to a recent inquiry from the Clark Howard Show. They don't require your PIN number in order to freeze or thaw your credit. This puts you at risk. This is not ok and it needs to change. The Boeing Max is still being investigated. The software for the planes is being updated in order to attempt to get safe planes into the air. Clark is not happy that no-one has gone to jail over this and that the CEO has not, at minimum, lost his job. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 22, 2019
10.21.19 Commute times hit record high; More reasons to beware of full commission stock brokers; Warning for joint account holders
Americans are doing record time on the roads in traffic crawling to work. As many metros have developed by sprawl, public transit is not the answer. Solutions require behavior changes, including from employers. To increase employee happiness and retention, they need to flex on how and when you work. Allow employees to work from home at least 1 day a week. Depending on the job, work from home can be done most or all of the time. Often productivity is higher at home. Flex schedules are helpful for workers too, allowing workers to shift their hours to avoid heavy traffic. In congested cities, some are turning to electric-assist bikes, as cheap as $500, for bike lane commutes under 10 miles. Full commission stock brokers are often tied to giant monster mega-banks. Wells Fargo, BOA's Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS are the big 4. A recent study by Cerulli Associates found that these 4 overwhelmingly put their investors into high cost mutual funds. They are not bound by the fiduciary standard. Go to an independent fee-only financial advisor or a low-cost mutual fund company instead. When you allow an authorized user on your credit card, you're creating potential hardship for yourself. The user has no responsibility for the debt they rack up. Don't make these decisions lightly. We hear the consequences when things goes wrong. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 21, 2019
10.18.19 Scammers are finding it easier to dupe people on internet marketplaces; Clark Stinks
The BBB has issued a new scam warning. Historically, scams have most often come via phone. Now, the most common point of scam contact is on social media. The most common way people have money stolen from them is on social media. The second most common scam point of contact: websites, like Craigslist or eBay. People are more than 5 times more likely to get taken on social media than with a con artist on the phone - 4 times more likely on social vs. through the mail. Beware. Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 18, 2019
10.17.19 Businesses want to use chat technology with you; Medical images leaked online; Happiest states in America
The U.S. has lagged behind in 'conversational commerce' enjoyed elsewhere in the world, where texting meets commerce for AI customer service. We spend most of our online time now throughout smartphones. Unlike other countries, the U.S. lacks centralized portals from which to operate in multiple ways, including shops, email, social and news. Now Apple is working to set up and integrated hub to drive the brand. For example, through the Apple platform - Apple Business Chat - and Delta's app, iPhone users have ease of communication for assistance from the airline. Emulating China's WeChat, Apple platform AI will allow better customer service response. Innovation like this can have very positive, unforeseen benefits for consumers. Facebook tried this kind of commercial integration, but a loss of trust is an obstacle there. The first best thing we'll see is perhaps the end of on-hold in-limbo no-customer service.   A ProPublica investigative report finds the health data of millions of Americans is completely exposed on the internet. They were able to find medical data on more than 16 million people online, including names, birthdays and where submitted, social security numbers. Security in the medical industry is pathetic. DO NOT FILL IN YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER at ANY medical facility. A recent Wallethub study weighed 31 happiness factors to rate U.S. states. Above an income level of around $70, money ceases to be a happiness factor. Factors include work environment, emotional and physical well-being. Hawaii comes out tops overall, followed by UT, MN, CA, NJ, ID, MASS, MD, NB, CT. Unhappiest: WVA, ARK, Alaska, MISS, LA, KY, AL, OK, TN, MO. ​ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 17, 2019
10.16.19 Cell phone plan deals; 401k early withdrawal changes; Financial advice for different generations
Of the 4 major cell carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint - all the growth over the past 4 years has gone to T-Mobile, steadily taking market share. But all 4 also have captive discount brands on their networks, at a lower cost. The price points have kept moving. Total Wireless is a joint venture on Verizon's network, now offering a 4 line family plan for $95 a month - unlimited data - the 4 lines share 100 gigs of data per month. Available at Walmart and  Verizon's second discount brand, Visible is geared toward young adults, offering a single line at $40 a month - unlimited data - available only through via their app. Metro PCS - now Metro by T-Mobile has gone up from 4 lines for $100 to $120 per month, including Amazon Prime and hotspot. Cricket Wireless - AT&T's captive brand - offers 4 lines for $100 a month with speed limitations, but adequate for most basic surfing and video.  Starting in January, people with 401ks will have a much broader hardship latitude to make withdrawals under new regulations issued by the IRS. Clark HATES this. It's very difficult to ever restore retirement money taken out of a 401k. Statistically, those who take out loans end up with way less than those who never do. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Just say NO! Consider the money off-limits. Young adults now face more difficult money choices than prior generations. Over a full lifetime, 3/4 of kids end up more successful financially than their parents. That's a slowdown from 90% historically. There's a lot of uncertainty today and new challenges for young adults. Student loans are brutal for students and parents alike. Many in retirement are still burdened by parental loans. There are so many college choices, this can be avoided with planning and attending less expensive schools. Clark's tuition per year was $2400 in the '70s. Heavier burdens today require new decision making. Buying a home involves geographic considerations for affordability. Pensions no longer exist. Young adults are choosing no-car lifestyles in walkable communities. No car expense makes for a lot more financial breathing room.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 16, 2019
10.15.19 Big strides in renewable energy; What to call fake meat?; Cost of cars over time
There are now more people working in wind / solar energy in the U.S. than in coal mining, which has become an industry in retreat. It's now cheaper to generate power from wind or solar, depending on geography. The new energy outlook from Bloomberg reports that wind is THE cheapest way to generate power in the U.S. In 2/3 of the world, solar and wind are more economical than even natural gas. Power companies are fighting in state legislatures and with utility, regulators to prevent consumers from a cost-effective home solar option. They see the threat and want to own solar to continue to supply power. Regardless, the mix of power is changing and costs will be coming down. Traditionalists claim wind and solar are intermittent and therefore unreliable sources of power. But battery backup provides the solution there, and these batteries are also getting steadily cheaper, along with solar panels. Better and cheaper in a continuing cycle brings these technologies to bear. The benefit flows back to consumers. More states are passing laws infringing on First Amendment rights for food producers to name their food. Missouri cattlemen are threatened by plant-based meat substitutes. Other states have joined in passing label restrictions. They should not be permitted to interfere in the free market flow of information. The clarity for consumers, not confusion - should be the priority. Edmunds reveals that the average loan amount to buy a new vehicle is $32,590. AAA reports is costs $774 per month to operate a new vehicle: Depreciation, the loan, insurance, fuel & maintenance. Many would-be new buyers are opting for used for more affordability. Meanwhile, the average length of a vehicle loan is just under 70 months, almost 6 years, putting the buyer upside down for the duration. Many will tire of a vehicle before paying it off and create a negative mountain of debt by trading in before the loan is paid. The trade-in loan is rolled into the purchase, leaving the buyer even MORE upside down. STOP! 10K a year just for transportation calls for a rethink. Is your old car working fine? Do you REALLY need a new vehicle? 4-year-old vehicles are the sweet spot in the market now. AAA reports electric vehicles to cost half of what gas engines cost per mile to operate. Within 2 years the compelling price argument for buying electric will be overwhelming. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 15, 2019
10.14.19 Is texting or email safer?; Concert promotion scam; SEC opens an investigation into 403b's
There’s  increased interest in protecting privacy. We forget how things we say aren’t private in this electronic era. Text messages aren’t really private. But there are things you can do to protect privacy. When both parties use an encrypted third-party texting app – only the recipients get your text. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook – is a secure texting app so far, used by ¼ of the world’s population. For business and other proprietary transactions and for consumers, Signal is used for privacy protection as well. ProtonMail is great for protecting email communications.  For Apple users, iOS 13 is coming with a variety of privacy improvements. Tech writers are recommending waiting a few weeks before download, as they’re still working out some bugs.  Apple’s iOS 13 will provide auto burner-email addresses when you sign up with a company to prevent email spam. This allows you to hide your real email address. Con artist Andres Fernandez has been convicted for wire fraud, after stealing $31M claiming he had an opportunity to produce and promote concerts. There were no concerts. This Ponzi type scheme has been around for a century, but there’s been a great acceleration recently. Be very skeptical when you’re promised a private opportunity to score big money.   Police officers, fire fighters, teachers and other state and local government workers get ripped off on their retirement savings. It’s common that 403b and 457 plans these workers are shunted into, cost 100 times the cost of a corporate 401k plan. Inexcusable that those working for the public good are taken advantage of in their retirement plans. There’s no excuse for this. Federal workers enjoy the TSP, costing about 1/50th of what state and local gov workers pay. Thank Congress for not caring about workers who earn less by serving the public. FINALLY – the SEC has launched an investigation of the insurance companies that rip people off in these plans. For affected workers, instead of putting your money into these plans, fully fund a Roth IRA with an ultra-low-cost company. Only contribute to a 403b or 457 plan proven to be low cost, only up to the match. Past that, open a low-cost Roth. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Oct 14, 2019
10.11.19 FCC battle vs states over net neutrality; Clark Stinks
The FCC doesn't want states to be able to implement their own rules surrounding net neutrality. Clark explains what this court battle means for consumers and the future of our TV and internet usage.

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Oct 11, 2019
10.10.19 How tariffs are playing out; Watch out for crafty MLM's; What if your luggage gets damaged?
New tariffs will protect Boeing and hurt Airbus. The new tariffs could also mean higher prices on food and drink. 

AdvoCare has been fined $150 million for running a multi-level marketing scheme. The FTC has called it a pyramid scheme which means that AdvoCare pressures sellers to bring in new distributors. The emphasis is less on selling products and more on recruiting new people. Don't sign up for an MLM. 99% of people lose money.

Clark discusses how to protect yourself if your luggage winds up missing or damaged while traveling. Stick up for yourself and push for a solution!

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Oct 10, 2019
10.9.19 Low inflation creates job opportunities; Scam season is in full swing; How much allowance is good?
We have the lowest unemployment rate in years, while wages remain relatively static. Most aren't seeing meaningful pay raises. Certain sectors of the economy are seeing layoffs, job losses, and closures. Many corporate sectors predict a recession or believe they're already in one. For others, times are great. Manufacturing is suffering because of the trade wars, here and abroad. The greatest job growth is in education, healthcare, state, and local government and the hotel industry. College graduates are in demand. As for static wages - for the low to mid-income earners, in particular, better pay may be found by changing jobs. Get a better offer to negotiate with your current employer if you want to stay.  Until you have the confidence to shop what you're worth in the marketplace, employers won't pay more. Be your own advocate. Find better opportunities. You don't ask, you don't get. 

The NFL season is underway and scams follow. The season is about 1/3 over now. A variety of scams pop up every season, most around PCH - a legit, high-interest organization and popular target for scammers. The Fraud Watch Bulletin reports 2 versions big right now. One comes as a phone call pretending to be from PCH saying you've won and need to wire fee money. The other is a small fake check, requesting you wire money to receive the big check. Both bogus. PCH reminds all they never ask winners to send fees, taxes or other money to collect a prize. 

Pre-teens and teens pretty much spend whatever money they get. For school-age kids, money burns a hole in their pocket and vanishes. The American Institute of CPAs does an annual survey of allowance and finds the average kid in the U.S. now receives a weekly allowance of $30. That's doubled in just 3 years. Parents have lost their minds. Clark has recommended stepping up allowance yearly. The amount can match their age or grade and should be used to teach. The 3 jar system is a known method. Allowance is divided 3 ways: for spending, savings, and charity. Allowance should be in cash to teach the finiteness of money. And with an allowance comes responsibility. Parents give the money and should set ground rules about allocation - 3 jars or something similar. The savings can be for any specific goal chosen by the kid. Create a sense of purpose for money. If you just hand it out with no guidelines, they learn nothing and it disappears. Parents must teach the concept of spend and save.  Giving can be time or $  for charity. 

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Oct 09, 2019
10.8.19 Low investing fees go lower; AT&T sends early termination bill to deceased family; Too much politics
Follow-up: the financial industry continues its radical transformation. Technology has made it possible to invest at a lower cost. Last week Schwab announced no commission stock buying and selling. There are free and low-cost robo advisors and robo/human hybrids. Investing with high-cost companies could cause you to end up with 40% less money than investing the same amount with their low-cost rivals. Even Ally bank is offering a no-fee robo-advisory service. Vanguard will soon launch its low-cost Digital Advisor service too. 

AT&T – get your act together.  A long-time DirecTV customer passed away at age 102 and AT&T went after the relatives for the early termination fee in strong terms. Only after the story went public did AT&T waive the termination fee, but didn’t apologize until they received more bad press. Where’s the heart and humanity? How stupid.

Roughly 1 in 4 American adults is extremely politically engaged. This past weekend, Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush enjoyed a football game together. As their pictures circulated, ugly reaction ensued, with some referring to Bush as the ‘enemy’.  After all the mean-spirited postings came an enlightened one which expressed that seeing Ellen and George Bush together restored their faith in America. When we lose sight of the fact that we’re all Americans in this together, we make our country weak. People we disagree with are still our fellow Americans. 

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Oct 08, 2019
10.7.19 Google gives you more control over your data; Veterans wrongfully denied coverage; ATM fees
Current privacy concerns have Google in the spotlight. Google lives in fear the U.S. will finally pass privacy laws outlining restrictions and consumer rights, as exists in Europe. The Right to be Forgotten and to control online info in Europe puts them way ahead of the U.S. in the privacy realm. Google’s preemptive strike is a newly launched activity suite tool allowing users to better control their info and have their tracking data wiped automatically.  Sign into Google. Type in There you’ll see everything Google has on you – massive. Then you have the right to have them wipe out everything 90 days old and older. You can choose 90 days to 1.5 years to let Google retain your activity info until they delete it.

The Inspector General is like the cop inside a federal agency there to expose wrongdoing and enforce the law. The  VA Office of Inspector General found that 1 in 3 veterans who’ve sought emergency healthcare, are denied their medical claims by the VA, even when perfectly legitimate. Inexcusable and Unacceptable. The men and women who have served and put their lives on the line for American freedom deserve to have the promises made to them carried out.

The average ATM charge in the U.S. is now $4.72. The cost to a bank is around .02cents. Beyond outrageous. Why do they do it? In the aftermath of the last decade’s banking scandals, the federal government bailed out the big banks and let small banks sit and spin. This led to a massive closure of smaller banks, and thus less competition. 4 big banks now have half of all banking market share. ATMs are disappearing around the country as people use less cash these days. Also, we now have an ever-expanding roster of online banks, offering lower costs and far better savings rates. The big banks pay essentially 0 on savings vs around 2% offered by online banks. And – credit unions have filled the void left by small local banks going away. Credit Unions provide much better deals than banks.

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Oct 07, 2019
10.4.19 Cheaper 401k plans for small businesses; Clark Stinks
Roughly half of us have no access to a retirement plan through work. Most small employers don’t know how to make this happen. If they go to an insurance company or bank, they face extremely high costs and employees pay the price, making the plan essentially a rip-off. So many just give up. A new federal rule just went into effect allowing small employers to team up to create group buying power for lower costs. These can happen through Chambers of Commerce and industry trade groups. We’re about a year away from this taking hold. But don’t wait. There are companies offering 401k plans for small businesses. Betterment has one at a reasonable cost. Employees – if your small-midsize employer does offer a 401k – understand the fees. If it’s a high fee plan, contribute only up to the match,  open your own Roth IRA with a low-cost company and make your contributions automatic.

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Oct 04, 2019
10.3.19 How to avoid fraud; New hires not showing up to work; Short-term rentals becoming more popular
NEVER NEVER NOT EVER publish your birthdate and place of birth online or on social media. Why? That's 98% of what a crook needs to steal your identity. Also, when you get the 'magic formula' investing pitch - know to RUN. No-one legit can promise great results using their strategy - red light / green light investing systems - NO. Don't ever believe it. DO NOT answer your phone if you don't know who is calling. If caller ID says your bank or a government agency is calling, don't answer. Nothing good comes from it.

New hires are being no-shows on day one and don't think it's important to let the employer know. Clark's eldest daughter did new employee orientation at a bank. Every week, new hires would be no-shows without notification. Some of these jobs were executive level. There are multiple reports of this happening in the retail and restaurant industries. Job markets are not always strong. It doesn't serve you to blow off a job offer. Have the decency to send a thank you note, to communicate, to be respectful, to notify.  

Roughly 1 in 3 folks are renters as the market is shifting throughout the country. Apartment overbuilding has resulted in more deals for tenants. Marketwatch reports that - desperate to sell condos or rent apartments, landlords are marketing properties that can be turned into Airbnb rentals. This is different than resort-type condotels - owned hotel rooms that are rented out most of the year.  A condo buyer could find themselves surrounded by short-term renters via the developer. This is the opposite of the HOA vs Airbnb conflicts. There's a lot of shakeout with short term rentals - an area of constant change around the country. Condo buyers and apartment renters be aware of the policies. Know in writing condo/apartment policies or you could find yourself surrounded by transients. 

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Oct 03, 2019
10.2.19 Credit score drops; Investment cons are alive and well; When to ditch an old car?
We borrow principally for a home, vehicle, credit cards, student loans. A long-held frustration is how scoring models punish you for eliminating debt. Paying off a loan (other than credit cards) could drop your score 50 points. Don't worry about it. If your score is healthy enough, the payoff score pinch does not matter. You DO NOT raise your credit score by leaving a balance open on a credit card. That's a myth you pay interest on. With cards, using very little of your credit and paying on time boosts your score. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission ( the Federal agency overseeing the investment industry)  reports that in recent years, 4.3 million Americans have been ripped off in investment schemes. The average loss: $150K. Historically the cons target small business owners, entrepreneurs, and senior citizens. The promise of non-traditional investments have of late touted 8-12% returns - which may appear initially, till the scheme collapses leaving its victims broke. 

Many times people dump their old car because it's no longer reliable. That's a good reason. But when it comes to the dollars and cents of this, Clark and Consumer Reports differ. Consumer Reports advises that when the cost of repair exceeds the remaining value, that's when it's time to let go. Clark recommends when the cost of a repair exceeds 50% of the remaining value - that's when to dump it. Ironically, you may need to pay for the repair anyway in order to trade/sell it. Otherwise, you get clobbered on value. Most people tire of and dump a vehicle prematurely and that is expensive. The longer you keep a car, the better for your wallet. The depreciation curve is a dive through the first 4 years, into gentle decline, as your money works for you. As the vehicle fleet steadily moves to electrics, they're more reliable. Today batteries are much more efficient. The cost of ownership on electrics is much less than gas engine cars. The best deal: Buy a used electric car and drive it for a long time. 

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Oct 02, 2019
10.1.19 Schwab eliminates trading fees; Using your credit card overseas; Getting married in a diamond store
Southwest is having a sweet sale right now!

An all-out price war to zero is underway with small company Interactive Brokers and giant Charles Schwab. Both are ending commissions on stock trades. Buying and selling stocks and ETFs will be commission-free. This will penetrate the investing world, with discounters also going to zero. This started earlier this year with Fidelity Zero, offering free mutual funds – no account minimums required. The ability to invest at zero cost is taking hold in the marketplace. Fidelity and Schwab are both trying to deal with the Vanguard juggernaut. Co-op Vanguard, operating as a credit union for investing, has taken investing market share gains for the last 7 years. As these behemoths compete, investors win, regardless of which one you choose. Meanwhile, those still investing with banks, full commission stockbrokers or insurance companies pay massive fees. Invest for free, to keep your money working for you.

There’s a common rip off for credit card users traveling overseas. Often upon card payment, the processing machine will automatically convert your charge from the local currency to U.S. dollars. This is done to rip you off on the conversion rate. When overseas, NEVER EVER EVER say yes when asked if you want to pay in U.S. dollars. Be aware many Visa / MC banks are automatically putting the purchase in dollars, and you need to override that into local currency. The difference could be as much as 10%. Watch closely while purchasing. Before you sign any charge slip, make sure it’s NOT processed in dollars. You always want the charge in local currency. Today many cards don’t charge foreign currency junk fees. AMX doesn’t do this. See Clark’s guide to save while traveling.

Survey says, of people age 38 and under, over 90% would consider eloping over a traditional wedding. The reasons: to save money, avoid wedding planning and make the event more personal. Destination weddings are expensive and limit the number who can be there. Helzberg Diamonds offers a wedding service with ring purchase. No hoopla. People used to go to Vegas for a simple, quick and cheap wedding. Now, just go to the mall to Helzberg. 1700 Helzberg employees are ordained / licensed to conduct marriage ceremonies. If you’re planning a post wedding party, don’t mention the word ‘wedding’ to any vendors involved or the cost can triple.  

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Oct 01, 2019
9.30.19 Another reason not to use debit cards; Payroll company scam; Hotel deals are coming
Over the last week, there have been several stories published about why you should stop using a debit card. When you present your card in person, the merchant is protected. But when you shop online the liability moves from the banks to the merchant. The MRC reports that now over 8 in 10 cards have been compromised. If you carry 5 cards, crooks have the goods on 4 and may get around to using them. That exposure includes debit cards, enabling the criminal to strip the funds out of your checking account, leaving you to fight with your bank to get that money back, which is becoming increasingly more difficult.

A special warning for small to midsize businesses. Recent press recounts a bust-out by a payroll company. Once this company had a healthy roster of clients, they vanished in the night stealing $35M. A crooked company could destroy your business and/or employees. Ask: How are payrolls protected? What insurance do you have? How do I know I can trust you? Ask these questions before you choose a company that may leave you, your company and workers high and dry. 

Renting apartments and hotels has not been a bargain in recent years. Apartment rates have been going up since 2011. Hotel rates have risen since 2012.  Both sectors have been building like crazy. There's an enormous stream of apartments coming online leading to oversupply and better deals. The hotel sector has been overbuilt at a frenzied pace, even as business travel is slowing. 

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Sep 30, 2019
9.27.19 Grocery story happy hours lower costs and prevent food waste; Clark Stinks
By most estimates, 40% of the food in the U.S. is tossed – from expiration, restaurants, grocers. Some supermarkets route expiring food to food banks, but only a fraction. Some bagel shops sell them at 75% the next day. Some convenience stores sell off pastries at discounts to clear them out. U.S. restaurants have always served larger portions than elsewhere in the world. Our supersize mentality results in leftovers, which often get wasted. Some restaurants give you 2 price points to include a smaller portion. There are simple things we can do to reduce waste. Supermarkets should have an automatic strategy to mark down items at expiration.

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Sep 27, 2019
9.26.19 Apple & Google get into gaming; New tax form for seniors; Negative interest rates
A gaming war is underway between Apple and Google. Both are offering subscriptions. For a monthly fee you get a number of games with no in-game purchases or ads. Apple Arcade is $5 a month, Google PlayPass is $1.99 a month for the first year, and then to $5 reportedly. Check out both.  

There's a new tax form that makes it easier for senior citizens to file their taxes.

Clark’s been talking about interest rates dropping The best rates now are around 2.4% - .5 lower than a couple of months ago. In parts of Europe, savers PAY to save – with negative interest rates. Trump recently suggested the Fed should cut rates to negative levels. But this can lead to extreme economic problems. When the economy slows the demand for borrowing slows. Savings institutions don’t want deposits and cut rates as a deterrent. If they have fewer borrowers, they don’t need the deposits and cut rates on savings. Things would have to get much worse for this to kick in here. It likely won’t come to negative interest rates. But since rates are headed lower, if you have savings you don’t need, lock in the rate in a one year CD. Traditional banks already pay nearly nothing. Don’t save there.

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Sep 26, 2019
9.25.19 Open enrollment; Massive airline fees; Hot deals today
We’re nearing open enrollment. If your employer offers the option of a lower payroll deduction for a high deductible health plan or higher pay deduction for a lower deductible plan – It’s usually best to pay the higher premium, especially if you have health issues. Due to backlash, more employers will offer the option to pay more for a lower out-of-pocket. High deductible plans can be HSA eligible – a tax-advantaged account for medical expenses. Many employees don’t fund their HSA – which allow medical payments with pre-taxed dollars. Then they’re hit with bills they must pay with after-tax dollars. Fund an HSA – it amounts to a 20 to 37% discount on medical bills – depending on your tax rate. It’s important to have disability insurance. You have a 3 times greater chance of becoming disabled than dying during your core working years. Social Security disability is an arduous, lengthy process and is often denied. Take what your employer provides for free and beyond that, buy your own policy. 

Airline junk fees amount to $35B per year – this is true will all airline except Southwest. American, United and Delta advertise low fares, and the sell you up to fares way higher with all kinds of fees. United alone charges a huge fee for carry on now, taking that cue from the hard discounters. Before you buy, know what all the fees are and what you can handle.

Clark and Deals Producer Charis talk about a recent survey and the best deals around the web today

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Sep 25, 2019
9.24.19 How to stop SIM swapping; Digging up dirt on Amazon; Your TV is spying on you
Your phone may power up, but if your service is dead, that could be SIM hacking. Crooks have penetrated operations of the big 4 cell provider to hijack service. Because of the Equifax data breach, criminals know who has money,  target individuals and steal their phone service via phone to usurp 2-factor authentication text codes so they can penetrate financial accounts. The go in a setup wire instructions to send money overseas where it can’t be reclaimed. While financial companies investigate, you’re broke. Get the anti-fraud guarantees and / or written fraud policy info from your financial institutions. Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T have been scrambling to come up with new preventive procedures. Two carriers have gone to no porting meaning you put in place a standing order not to port your number from that carrier. This is another layer to protect your identity, and existing accounts, whereas credit freeze helps prevent fraudulent new accounts. 

There’s is a fake grass-roots organization called Free and Fair Market Initiative. The WSJ reports this outfit is principally backed by the Simon Property Group – the big owner of malls around the country, suffering from Amazon taking 6% of retail market share. In addition to Simon, they’re funded by Walmart and  Oracle (a web service competitor). There are plenty of reasons to talk about a company legitimately without sullying their reputation falsely because you’re afraid of the competition. Shame on Simon Malls, Walmart and others, funding an effort to slam Amazon.

Two years ago there was a scandal involving Vizio TVs spying on viewers – collecting and selling data to aggregators for ad servers. Piercing people’s privacy, Vizio figured out how to monetize viewing. Update: That problem has gotten worse. The average Americans spends 3.5 hours a day in front of a TV. Since Vizio faced minimal consequences, now other TV makers are up to the same thing including Samsung, TCL and LG.  These makers account for most of the TVs sold in the US. Princeton came up with software to track how this is done. Data houses link up what you watch with your phone,  computer and even purchase activities. Laws designed to protect us are not being enforced. DC’s emersion in senseless partisan battles creates a vacuum that allows for enormous violations of our privacy. Europe’s Right to Be Forgotten gives citizens there the right to shut down data harvesting. When our Congress begins to actually serve the people, we need to have privacy laws in place and enforced that clearly provide protections to the American people.

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Sep 24, 2019
9.23.19 Forced arbitration clauses stink; Government database breaches; Best time to buy a home
This summer came reports that cell phone carriers have been tracking and selling consumer location info. Lawsuits have been filed against AT&T for this practice, selling to 2 partners without consumers’ knowledge. But AT&T is hiding behind the arbitration clause buried inside consumer contracts, even though they’ve engaged in  illegal activity. Clark is diametrically opposed to mandatory arbitration. If both parties are for it, fine. But ALL – 100% of arbitration forums between a business and consumer or employee are rigged in the company’s favor. The U.S. House just last Friday approved a bill outlawing mandatory arbitration – which is fantastic. The Senate remains a question mark. We live in a society where the deck is stacked with unfair rules against consumers and employees. The bigs have too much power and use it to our detriment. Kangaroo court arbitration is a manifestation of that. Hopefully, the Senate will follow the House lead. AT&T broke the law and it’s reprehensible they hide behind arbitration. 

Arstechnica reports the hack of city & state government payment portals, compromising people’s credit cards in all 50 states. If you use such a government portal – do NOT use a debit or enter your checking account info. If you pay on a gov portal, use a credit card. Credit cards have protections debits do not. Yahoo mail had a massive data breach and settlement info is now coming out for those with Yahoo email between 2013-2016. Watch for your class action notice and make a claim if this affects you.

This data is based on the scarcity of buyers post Labor Day, while the number of homes available isn’t much less than the peak season from March to May. In many areas, an agent listing agreement runs for 6 months. Clark sees a more important bargain window November thru mid-January. That 11 week period is potentially the ultimate bargain week for buyers. It’s true there are fewer properties listed for that time period.  They may be listed for many reasons – estate sales, job transfers, divorce – people problem sales, which put the seller in a weakened position, outside normal cycles. During the holidays, the number of people looking to buy drops dramatically. But there are still wounded duck properties on the market. Clark believes the greatest opportunity to get a deal is late fall through early winter. That’s when a buyer looking for a bargain will find it.

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Sep 23, 2019
9.20.19 Verified emails with watermarks are coming; Clark Stinks
Deleting financial emails has become standard consumer behavior, due to so much spam. This has become a frustration for the financial services industry. Their legit emails aren’t getting through. So a new industry standard has been developed for a verified certificate for real financial emails. Many organizations including Google worked on this tool, which validates that a logo is authentic. It’s a digital symbol you’ll see but you must know to look for it. The validation process, in theory, is designed to prevent scamsters from coming up with their own fake mark. We’ll see over time if the verified mark is effective. Be aware of this initiative. Still true advice: Do not click a link or call a number in any email. Go outside the email to verify the email or web address or phone number of a business you’re attempting to contact. 

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Sep 20, 2019
9.19.19 New Walmart credit card; People love to help; Factors that make car insurance cost more
With new partner Capital One, Walmart is offering a store credit card or a co-branded Walmart Mastercard. With the use of their app tied in with a Capital One credit card, you get 5% off purchases in-store for a year, 2% after that. purchases with their card maintain the 5% discount after the first year. As the 3 titans of retail – Amazon, Walmart and Target continue to slug it out (Costco in a class by themselves) – consumers benefit. Loyalty discount cards are the game plan. 

In a world of bad news, know you’re surrounded mostly by good people. American Psychologist published a study about bystanders confronted with fellow humans in trouble. The common belief is that most people do nothing to help out strangers. Now there are security cameras in metros all over the world, giving an opportunity for researchers to observe human behavior. In danger situations in 3 different cities, bystanders intervened to calm, protect and stop conflicts 91% of the time. The more bystanders there are when trouble starts, the greater the change some will step in to help – safety in numbers. Often when called upon, humans wish to do the right thing.

Knowing why auto insurance rates go up, helps you keep them down. Here's what you need to know:
1. In almost all states insurers can set premiums based on your credit score.
2. The Consumer Federation of American has found that your zip code is a factor.
3. Do not purchase roadside assistance from your auto insurer. They count this as a claim as an excuse to jack your rate. They even put it on your CLUE report to hose you with any other insurer. State insurance regulators should prohibit this practice of cheating customers. Don’t have this benefit unless you get it writing that roadside assistance will NOT constitute a claim.
4. Many states allow using divorce to raise rates, kicking you while your down.

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Sep 19, 2019
9.18.19 Fed rate cut impact; Twisted tax law hurts military heroes; Medical bill shock
The Federal Reserve lowers interest rates again to reduce the severity of economic slowdown and to help prevent a recession. The Fed is acting defensively. This will lower interest rates for car buyers and on credit cards. HELOCS historically follow, but many banks put a floor in recent contracts. Re-shop to get a lower rate if need be. Saver rates decline as well. Online bank savings rates have already dropped about 1/3 of 1 point.  The smart move now is to lock in money you won’t need into a 1 year CD to earn more. Oddly, when the Reserve lowers their rates, mortgage rates often rise to compensate for inflation long term. But if the economy slows, you’ll see mortgage rates go down.

Two years ago with the new tax bill, Congress made a mistake that has dramatically affected military families. Gold Star families are entitled to survivors’ compensation. Congress made a clerical error, changing the tax on those benefits from 12 to 37%. This is punishing families who’ve already made the ultimate sacrifice of losing a loved one in service. The U.S. House passed a bill to fix this last spring 417 to 3 – basically unanimous. Now that correction is tied up in the Senate and Mitch McConnell will not allow this to be voted on. This needs to be fixed now.

Kaiser Health News has exposed the UVA Medical Center for ruining lives by confiscating homes and garnishing wages under a hospital bill shock system exploiting state codes to sue people blind. This after billing at rates way beyond what’s reasonable and customary. UVA isn’t the only perp here. Recent stories expose medical providers in TN and GA. No one in medicine is interested in telling patients what treatment will cost. One consumer was given a quote yet was billed 52 times that amount after a procedure. What does it take to be a consumer? You choose what you buy, based in part on known costs to fit your budget. Healthcare is the only thing that doesn’t follow this. 

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Sep 18, 2019
9.17.19 Gas price fluctuations after Saudi attack; Equifax breach settlement follow-up; How gig workers get paid
Saudi Arabia represents a huge percentage of world oil production. The recent drone attack took half their production offline. But it appears they will be back to full production in a matter of weeks. In addition, fall is a slow time of year for oil consumption. After Labor Day, demand declines. Factor in recession in some countries and a slowing U.S. economy bringing down demand. Meanwhile, U.S. production has increased. A decade ago, the U.S. produced little oil, and faced shortages driving up costs to $147 a barrel, compared to $60 last trade. We may see a brief minor spike in prices at the pump.

Equifax conned the states and the Feds to reduce their settlement liability to $125 per affected person and is still hitting back over the number of applicants. Now that want you to verify information again. You have 4 weeks to reverify your application.  

California has passed legislation making app-based workers employees vs independent contractors, starting in January. This includes Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like. There’s been a large movement by employers pushing the private contractor designation, to avoid paying benefits. We need a class of employment falling somewhere between a contractor and full-time employee. Uber and Lyft predict their labor cost will rise 20- 30% in California from this change. This current system of off or on is exploiting and harmful to workers. Ratio employment would help ease the income inequality problem in the U.S. 

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Sep 17, 2019
9.16.19 Car rental warnings; Update on Apple's battle with independent repair shops; Scientific study touts benefits of being an optimist
Clark recently returned a rental car. He had 5 pics of the car. Why? After returning, sometimes weeks later you may get a notice saying you owe for damage. They may have already charged your card for the damage. All contracts say your check-in slip is subject to later inspection and damage charges. Clark takes pics of the car upon return, so if this happens later – he’s got dated pictorial proof. Clark had noted a ding and windshield chip on the initial ticket. You’ve got to protect yourself. Also, for at least 20 years Clark has advised travelers to rent from an off airport rental site to save money. Many airport rentals come with massive junk fees. Because many people have been avoiding airport rentals, cities are fighting back by imposing nuisance fees and requiring affidavits. If you pick up a non-airport rental in a metro with an out-of-state license you must sign an affidavit stating you did not fly in the last 12-24 hours. Clark’s nomad brother rented a car this way for one day, then turned it in for a longer term rental having satisfied the time limit – to save big money. It’s work, but you have to know how the car rental game is played to avoid getting burned.

Previous Clark Rage: In order to maintain an Apple controlled monopoly, Apple had been refusing to supply parts to independent repair shops. This lead to legal action and resolution. Apple is now selling parts and allowing access to manuals to independent repair shops. This will give users more choice and competitive pricing, and ease the repair backlog. Instead of industries operating closed shops, the free market should rule.   

Clark has been accused of being unrealistically optimistic. He’s OK with that. The National Academy of Sciences Journal published a Boston U School of Medicine study finding tremendous benefit for inherent optimists. Men and women innate optimists have around 15% more longevity, accounting for other factors. Optimism was found to be about 25% genetic. That means 75% is in our control. Optimistic women are 50% more likely to see 85 or older. Optimistic men are 70% more likely to see 85+.  The study found that positive people recover from illness, injury or surgery sooner and are generally healthier.   

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Sep 16, 2019
9.13.19 Gaming addiction is now considered a psychological disorder; Clark Stinks
The World Health Organization has declared excessive gaming a psychological disorder.  A MarketWatch survey reveals the number of people spending an hour or more a day playing video games increased 20% over the last year. Many believe they'll go pro and earn a living and become reclusive and obsessive in the endeavor, gaming constantly. For parents, it's a tug of war you want your kid to win, so game time should be strictly limited.  Who knew the pro athlete mentality would translate into gaming.  The winner of a Fortnight competition won $3M, reinforcing others to abandon all else for gaming. But, for athletes and gamers, almost no one makes the cut as a pro and those who do have a short career.   

Clark answers his critics on Clark Stinks. 

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Sep 13, 2019
9.12.19 The dangers of annuities; Criminal investigations of insurance claims are on the rise; Clark's advice using instant payment apps

Beware of annuity sales. Annuity sales subsided when fiduciary rules were in place - rules that have now been pushed aside, causing new sales to skyrocket. Insurance companies and banks push these because they have humongous fees and commissions. These contracts allow the insurance companies to change the terms at any time and the tax treatment is generally not favorable. When you're getting a vague investment pitch ASK if it's an annuity. If so, walk away.

File an insurance claim, and the next thing you know police are accusing you of a criminal act. It's happened. When shopping insurance, make sure the company is solid. Clark routinely recommends choosing insurance  companies that get the highest ratings. Cost is secondary in this area. A Buzzfeed investigation reveals some insurers investigating big claims, will direct law enforcement against the insured. Clark had a co-worker who had just moved, suffered a fire, and was accused of torching his own house. Insurers working with police to start a criminal investigation to delay or deny a claim - this is hopefully rare but raises the stakes on how important it is to be with a company that rates high in serving customers. Don't just go with the cheapest insurance company.  

The Cash app has now eclipsed Venmo as the top app for sending money to family and friends - special emphasis on family and friends only. These apps operate efficiently, making it easy to send money. When shopping online, particularly with sites like Craigslist, eBay etc - if the seller requests payment by one of these apps, consider that a red flag for a con. They vanish and your money is gone. ONLY use apps to pay someone you know because once you pay, the money is gone. Zelle is being pushed by banks but does not have any meaningful consumer protections compared to Cash app and Venmo. 

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Sep 12, 2019
9.11.19 Permissions and privacy issues with family tracking apps; Robocalls are still surging; Hydroponics and the rise of controlled agriculture in America
Clark's family uses the Life360 app, allowing everyone to know each other's location. Teens use such apps, including Apple's Find My Friends, Google Maps location share & Snapchat -  to keep up with friends. What are these apps doing with the info? What are you permitting them to do? You can choose to wipe history clean. With any of these free services, the apps can make money with the info we're sharing. Location sharing can be very loaded and problematic in relationships and you should consider this before signing up. Also, know that teens can get around some of these location services, so you need to use it with their cooperation.

The scam calls keep coming. Major cell phone carriers are starting to validate traffic with each other, but there are still many fake calls coming in. Follow this simple rule: Only answer the phone when you recognize the person calling. If caller ID says it's a business or government agency, only answer if you're expecting the call. Otherwise let it go to voicemail and you can call back if it's legit. Don't trust Caller ID. It's past broken

There are moves around the country to grow food in warehouse environments. Advantages: Climate control, water conservation, no pesticides for easier organic certification. The WSJ reports a company building a 60 acre greenhouse, offering exponentially more productive than farmland - 50x over the output of traditional agriculture over the same acreage. Other countries are further along in this pursuit. Controlled agriculture lowers risks from the elements and allows us to increase our domestic food supply.

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Sep 11, 2019
9.10.19 Artificial intelligence based lie detector created for airport security; Beware genetic testing scams targeting seniors; How Clark Team member Chelsea helped her dad save over 3k a year.
We face many challenges with how to use technology for security. There's a race to develop screening tech to quickly assess facial images and determine threat levels. AI systems are being developed along these lines, including one called the Avatar (Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real time), a system using AI techniques to assess threat levels, funded in part by the federal government. The subject answers questions on camera during the assessment. The developers claim only 80% accuracy.     
A cold call lab test scam is costing people their identities and money.  Kaiser Health News reports on an ongoing scam operating around the U.S. wherein senior citizens are contacted and told they're due for Medicare directed testing. Contacted by criminals receiving kickbacks, by phone, in person or on social media, the senior may even be driven to undergo genetic testing that Medicare is then grossly over-billed for.  Make sure your loved ones know not to agree to any test unless ordered directly by their doctor.     

Save more, Spend less- Team Clark lives this. Team member Chelsea helped her Dad, a small business owner, save over $3,000 a year by cutting 3 monthly bills one Sunday afternoon. The task took 2 hours. Chelsea knew how he could save on cable, internet and cell phone. 

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Sep 10, 2019
9.9.19 Making prescriptions cheaper; Living paycheck to paycheck on a high income; Safe deposit boxes aren't safe
Government attempts to rein in prescription drug prices haven't worked. We have the most expensive med prices on the planet. And the way we get and pay for meds is changing. Some doctors have dispensing machines for routine meds in their offices. GoodRx is a force for negotiating lower prices and comparison shopping. The next wave may be online sellers. Amazon has bought into the industry - not a big play yet. But there will be incentives with employer plans to fill prescriptions with online providers. The key to lowering costs is being prepared at your doctor appointments to proactively ask for cheaper Rx alternatives. Have the $4 list from And employ GoodRx and other discounters - while in the office, before you have to go pick up a medication. 

MarketWatch reported on a couple reaching out for financial guidance, unable to make ends meet on $500,000 a year. They could easily live AND be saving huge, but their expenses are crazy. Beware what economists call 'the marginal propensity to consume' - As income goes up, so go people's expenses. Control impulses and wants or you could end up in a financial hole no matter how much you make. 

Safety deposit boxes were not safe at all. New bank terms of service have removed their liability for theft or any other circumstance. The NYT reports how banks have washed their hands of this and regulators do nothing about the disappearances. The situation is so bad, if you have items of value, have your own fire safe box in your home.  

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Sep 09, 2019
9.6.19 Clark creates a $500 savings challenge; Clark Stinks
We’re 10 years into economic expansion and people are still struggling. Most are in debt and unprepared for any unforeseen expense or emergency costing $400 or more. Hopefully, this economic downturn won’t turn into a full-blown recession, but we’re already getting calls from people who’ve been laid off. We are in a slowing time of uncertainty, so we need to prepare as we can. Recommendations for having 3 to 6 months of pay on hand are daunting and unrealistic for most. So start smaller with Clark’s $500 challenge. Think about saving $10 a week / $40 a month until you get to $500. Many online banks have no minimum, so put $ in regularly. Micro save. Take the baby step to begin creating some space in your life. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck with no cushion in your life, make this small start. What can you do to squeeze some money into savings? Get started small and keep building.

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Sep 06, 2019
9.5.19 Texting gets you a ticket; Student loan forgiveness now more difficult; Payroll loans popularized
AAA reports deaths from red-light running collisions have hit a 10 year high. Fatalities are up 30% in the last few years. Likely distracted driving is the root cause. Clark pauses for a second when a red light turns green in case someone blows through the corresponding red light of an intersection. If you move too quickly, you could be T-boned by a red-light runner. Meanwhile, police are cracking down on device distraction, posing as construction workers and finding other ways to site hands-free violations. The consequences of distracted driving are often deadly.

Many for-profit schools are student loan mills. They heavily recruit and advertise to fill their classes via student loans. But many of these schools have gone insolvent or engaged in bust-outs, leaving students with incomplete training.  The principal players of the school may have made off with millions, leaving students in debt. Under the federal regulation known as  ‘borrower’s defense’ - students received loan forgiveness when schools failed to deliver on their promises. But NEW regulations just proposed by the DOE will leave students fully exposed for such debt, with the near impossibility of forgiveness, even when defrauded by a loan mill school. 

Payday loans carry interest rates of 400-800%. They take advantage of desperation. A minor financial problem quickly becomes catastrophic as theses snowball on people unable to pay. Meanwhile, more than half of Americans now can’t afford an unexpected expense. What began as a small experiment 2 years ago, has spread. Now 1 in 7 employees work for companies that provide emergency loans or pay advances at around 4-10%, to reduce the number of employees in extreme financial distress. This is enlightened self-interest for participating employers. Employee Assistance Funds are another way companies are helping workers – usually a one-time-only benefit. And employee emergency funds are a way for workers to help out each other in times of need. Ask about these programs when needed.

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Sep 05, 2019
9.4.19 Your medical info on an app; Hurricane scams abound; Lesser requirements for energy efficient light bulbs
Proposed legislation would provide US citizens access to all of our own medical records. This would require providers to send data to medical record apps – with the patient’s permission. Privacy risk concerns are valid here including data breach exposure and data abuse by insurers. The NYT reports Apple is designing their medical app to encrypt the info and confine it to your device only, not on their servers. Android needs equivalent protection. 

As Dorian heads up the coast, scamsters are already at it prompting a warning from Homeland Security to be aware of fake emails pretending to be from charities. You may soon see people collecting on street corners. Never respond to phone, email or text solicitations. Give directly to trustworthy organizations. See our guide. If you have first-hand knowledge of a group you trust, excellent. But don’t give to any charity organizations that you can't personally vet.

LEDs were $80 when introduced. Now they’re down to as little as $1. Home Depot Sylvania LEDs – 2 dozen for $24.  Dollar Tree and Costco sell them cheaply as well. LEDs use 85% less electricity. If you buy a traditional bulb for .50 cents vs. and LED for $1 – that’s a trap. So the Energy Department is proposing new regs to eliminate standards for efficient bulbs. Lighting comprises about 25% of the power bill, so switching bulbs could save you around 20%. Buy efficient bulbs. They last much longer and save you big money. Changing bulb efficiency legislation is a joke.

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Sep 04, 2019
9.3.19 Car seat trade-ins; Wells Fargo has customer falsely arrested; YouTube settles over child privacy violations
Walmart and Target are offering great incentives for you to trade in your old (and likely expired) car seat. You can find out more about the Target deal here. Walmart is offering a $30 gift card if you bring in an old car seat. Find out more about eligibility here.

Wells Fargo doesn't seem to learn from prior mistakes. In a case of mistaken identity, Wells Fargo had a customer who had done nothing wrong put behind bars. Now he is suing and Wells Fargo is trying to force him into arbitration. 

YouTube is settling with the FTC over claims that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting and exploiting the personal information of children that had used YouTube. This would be the largest civil penalty the FTC has ever assessed. 

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Sep 03, 2019
9.2.19 Is Amazon Prime worth it?; Keep your car as long as possible
Members of Amazon Prime pay $119 per year for 1-2 day delivery at no minimum, Prime only merchandise, Access to Prime instant video and no-frills music service. Amazon has ways to keep you Prime(d). For Clark, it's useful as a $10 a month video subscription. Check out our quiz at to determine is Amazon Prime is worth it for you. Non-Prime members get free shipping with the minimum order for that perk. Also, Amazon's more about convenience than low prices. You can often find lower prices elsewhere. 

We Americans trap ourselves by borrowing for purchases. At the top of that list is buying a car. Car notes should really be avoided if at all possible. Think about all the other things that car note money could do for you. Don't think of wheels as lifestyle, but only as transportation that you want to keep your monthly bills low and increase your ability to save and invest. 

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Sep 02, 2019
8.30.19 Paying your mortgage bi-weekly to save money; Clark Stinks
Watch out for a pitch that claims you can pay your mortgage on a biweekly plan. Banks often get a commission by conning you into a biweekly payment program run by a third party. If they abscond with your money or make late payments, the bank bears no responsibility. You get more impact if you divide your monthly payment by 12, and pay that 1/12th additional principal payment each month. It is far better to set up your own biweekly payment plan. Your extra payment reduces interest which shaves more time off your loan.
Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Aug 30, 2019
8.29.19 Best cars for resale value; Resort fees are the worst; Focusing on preventative care
JD Power reports on which vehicles best hold their value. If you will make one major change to the way you look at vehicles and drive your car until till the wheels fall off you won’t have to worry about depreciation.

More hotels are implementing a bait and switch where they publish a great rate and then rip you off with poorly or undisclosed fees. Clark just ran into a $56 per night resort fee + a $26 per night parking fee – that’s in addition to the room cost. There’s a plague of this and the hotels are defiant about it. Marriott and Hilton are being sued. The price should be the price.

With the current inability of political parties to work together on healthcare, it’s heartening to see solutions being tried at the state level. U.S. life spans have been in decline while healthcare costs skyrocket. The U.S spends 20% of our nation’s output on healthcare. The next largest national expenditure is 8%. N.C. is placing emphasis on regular primary care, creating financial incentives that reward providers for keeping people healthy. When we focus on simple continuity of care and prevention, we get lifespans back up and cut costs at the same time.

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Aug 29, 2019
8.28.19 Natural gas rates plummeting; Disney streaming discount; Travel insurance for Fall Travel
Problems in the energy industry are working to consumer advantage. Natural gas is in oversupply and at wholesale, the price has been driven down. But for consumers, in states where savings are passed on to the ratepayer, there’s a direct benefit. In some states, you select a natural gas provider. Those states usually offer the option to lock in a fixed rate for a period. There will be a strong advantage in doing that before the cold weather season kicks in. This Fall is a great time to lock in a rate for your home or business.

Check out this awesome deal for Disney's new streaming service.

Cruise lines are changing itineraries to stay out of harm’s way during hurricane season. Travelers can be left out the money and no trip. If the weather could be a factor, for example, a fall cruise out of a FL port or a Caribbean resort booking, you can buy a trip insurance policy allowing you to cancel for any reason for a partial refund. These policies cost more, but most others don’t cover weather interruptions.

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Aug 28, 2019
8.27.19 Targeted promo codes abound online; Ford offers relief for defective transmissions; Change of address scam
Individual discount codes are hit or miss these days, because they’ve become more personalized. Online sellers are using algorithms to target individuals specifically with tailored coupon offers, often specific to that calendar day. It’s a code only for you, only for today. This started with electronics sellers and has been spreading. These codes pierce privacy so consumers need to decide if they’re worth it. Also, it’s important to hide your identity while shopping. Online sellers have become more sophisticated and give convenience shoppers potentially higher prices. Shopping anonymous may yield a lower price.

Ford knowingly built 600,000 vehicles with defective transmissions. The Detroit Free Press published a long-form investigative series on this. Whistleblowers and leaked documents offer proof Ford sold Focus and Fiesta models that were potentially dangerous and routinely required costly repairs due to defective transmissions. For owners, thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Ford will offer extended warranties to 600,000 owners of these vehicles. They will repair and reimburse transmission repairs for 2014-16 Focus models and 2014-15 Fiestas.

We’re numb with data breach fatigue, but Marketwatch reports how brutal and multi-layered ID theft can be, profiling one case.  This couple faced $25,000 in fraudulent charges and while dealing with that, the criminals doubled down, creating a change of address with the USPS. In addition to unknown accounts being opened, this couple’s mail vanished. It took 2 months to unwind this at the postal service so they could again receive their mail. In the interim, despite their best efforts, they missed some bills and late pays damaged their credit further. 1. Freeze your credit. Freeze your kids’ credit. A credit freeze would have prevented this. 2. Have a system for keeping track of all your bills, a list on paper or reminder system via on an online calendar.

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Aug 27, 2019
8.26.19 Labor Day gas prices; Beware this romance email scam; Amazon 3rd party sellers warning
Oil and in turn gas prices which were expected to be headed higher now, are in fact  lower. AAA reports as we move into the Labor Day holiday period, gas prices will average .30 cents less per gallon than one year ago. Traffic will be the problem this Labor Day holiday.  Also, electric vehicle purchases are a small part of the market but enough people are buying to affect the demand equation for gasoline, and that is helping to moderate prices. There will still be ups and downs based on temporary factors, but the trends for low gas prices are positive.

A 3 year investigation resulted in a federal bust. Be on your guard for the techniques these scammers used – this won’t be the last criminal ring employing them. The number one scheme here: online romance scams - an active fraud method for at least 15 years. This time, the fraudsters were pretending to be U.S. military personnel.  No matter how much you may have fallen for someone online, don’t believe the story until you’re face-to-face and know who you’re dealing with. Criminals exploit the military or anything else to exploit your affection as a gateway to your wallet.

A WSJ investigation has found unsafe and counterfeit sales on Amazon.  Their intense digging uncovered safety issues. Most Amazon sellers are third party, much like online marketplace eBay. Amazon muddies the waters by including many 3rd party items as Amazon Choice or Prime. Some kids’ toys contained led, and counterfeits were found. There’s hazard for adults as well such as counterfeit motorcycle helmets. Amazon is selling items that have been banned, including mats that are a suffocation danger to children. 4 out of 10 Amazon Choice kids’ items failed federal safety standards. Amazon sells 3 different ways: Listing for a third party, fulfilling for a third party and direct selling by Amazon themselves which they control. It’s hard to tell.  Amazon has a broken system right now. Don’t allow yourself to be harmed. Follow the steps to identify the actual seller. Important: Amazon does NOT stand behind anything sold on its site that is NOT sourced by them. eBay – also a listing service, is more customer friendly to buyers. Know that Amazon is not necessarily a safe place to purchase until they clean up their act.

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Aug 26, 2019
8.23.19 Internet speeds are vastly overrated; Clark Stinks
Clark's neighborhood recently got 1gig internet service. He signed up. Speed tests show that they are not getting 1 gig. The WSJ did an in-depth testing of home internet service and found that people do not need ultra-fast internet. They couldn't find a home circumstance requiring more than 100megabits per second. There are specialized needs for more robust internet. Some consume massive internet video on their phones without ultra-fast internet from their cell carrier. Clark plans to cut costs and reduce his home internet speed.

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Aug 23, 2019
8.22.19 Beware college student debit cards; Expensive Nike subscription service; Facebook history eraser
College students and their parents are being ripped off by the very colleges they’re attending. Banks approach universities to create co-branded campus debit cards, promising kickbacks to the school for every student that signs up for their debit. The fees on these co-branded kick-back cards are 2 to 3X normal. Meanwhile, most colleges have credit unions available to faculty, staff, administrators, and students – offering great deals and typically no to low fees. There is NO requirement you use the co-branded card and that behind these cards are dirty money kickbacks paid to the college. 

Nike has launched a kids’ shoe subscription service. These plans are $20 to $50 a month - $240 to $600 a year for a Nike shoe subscription. Availability has been filled and now there’s a waitlist. Parents, don’t do this. Don’t give your kids the message that brands matter, setting them up for lifelong problems with money.

Facebook’s rep has been heavily tarnished over privacy issues. They say they’re addressing the problem giving users new control over personal info, at least in part. They’re launching a new tool – ‘Off-Facebook Activity’ to give users the ability to see what info has been collected and sold to third parties. You’ll be able to manage that data, control how it’s used, disconnect history tracking and short circuit sharing with third parties. Facebook is rolling this out in Europe and South Korea to work the bugs out, promising availability in the U.S. in a couple of months. 

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Aug 22, 2019
8.21.19 Southwest Airlines cancelling routes; MoviePass data breach; Series I savings bonds are a good place to stash cash.
The 737 Max remains grounded as Boeing struggles to find fixes. The FAA, having lost its credibility from lack of oversight of the Max, is now relying on the recommendations of a world panel, with no service date in sight. This affects travelers as airfares are higher because of this and Southwest, the largest operator of 737s in the world, is now discontinuing 20 unprofitable routes, moving those aircraft to Hawaiian routes. This has triggered great competitive deals from the west coast to Hawaii again, and higher fares in the markets Southwest is leaving.

The MoviePass database contains 160+ million records and has been breached. TechCrunch reports the database was not password protected. The guess is 60,000 records contained credit card data. Past subscribers need to watch activity on the cards they used with MoviePass. If you used a debit, the risk is great. Consider getting a new debit card number.

As the economy slows and interest rates go down, a rare saving opportunity has re-emerged; Series I Savings Bonds. When you buy bonds, you have to own them for at least a year and can hold them for up to 30 years, earning interest. With a slowing economy and interest rates headed down, Series I Savings Bonds are again a good place to stash cash. Series I Savings Bonds pay a .5% base rate + the rate of inflation, reset every 6 months, making the current rate 1.9% - not huge but as rates drop, you don’t have to worry about falling behind inflation, remaining ahead by half a point. You can purchase up to $10K in these bonds yearly, per person with a $50 minimum.

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Aug 21, 2019
8.20.19 New ways to sell your home; Wells Fargo does it again; Fighting for your Equifax breach money
iBuyers are the real estate organizations that can buy homes to simplify the process. They have big money behind them to accomplish this and include Offerpad, OpenDoor, Knock and others including Zillow. In addition, traditional agencies are entering into alliances with iBuyers. MarketWatch reports Keller Williams is partnering with Offerpad in 12 cities. These organizations are experimental. Their business models keep changing. Clark sold a rental condo recently and listed with an iBuyer (Offerpad) after talking with several. The process has interesting wrinkles. Knock is working with builders and provides the bridge between selling and buying. All base their buy offer on the condition of your home. They’ll offer less to do improvements with their contractors for a quick turnaround. The iBuyer process has its limitations. It works well in the South and the West suburban communities with comparable homes from large production builders. This doesn’t work in older communities, in the NE U.S. iBuyers concentrate in the middle of the market. They may never serve certain markets. Traditional agencies will likely be expanding their services aligned with iBuyer business models. If you’re putting your home on the market, get quotes from iBuyers if available, along with traditional agents. You get fair market value info from their various algorithms.

The NYT has investigated continuing egregious practices by Wells Fargo. This bank can’t get out of its own way, despite their ads indicating reform. Their latest outrage: arbitrarily closing accounts, generating overdrafts on auto payments. These fees are a huge profit center for them, and costs customers huge fees. $1500 was the damage on one account. WF then puts their customers/victims on the bad list for the banking industry, making it hard to impossible for them to even bank elsewhere. Wells Fargo was defiant in their response to the NYT. They’re not close to becoming customer focused or honest. Beware.

Laura from Team Clark was an identity theft victim and has experience navigating the process. Laura went to the Equifax Claim site and was indeed eligible to file, as her id theft about 2 years ago, was a result of their data breach. Someone opened a credit card in her name, applied for multiple loans, cell service and more. Damage control took weeks of phone calls. Since, Laura has frozen her credit and monitors it with Credit Karma. Her credit has bounced back by now. She considers herself lucky they didn’t do more damage. They could have. Many expecting to receive compensation won’t receive much. Using the link at, Laura applied for the $120, but so many have filed claims, the awards won’t be that much. But problem solved because she worked hard to advocate for herself, and fortunate more damage didn’t occur. Laura says FREEZE YOUR CREDIT NOW

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Aug 21, 2019
8.19.19 Be vigilant when fighting for student loan forgiveness; Disney admission discount!; Your phone number and ID theft
The student loan forgiveness program has failed, denying those in the public service profession forgiveness after 10 years of service in good faith. Now, the appointee in charge of protecting student borrowers’ interests comes to that job in the federal government from a lending company so please remember it's up to you to fight for your rights.  You have got to know the rules and make sure you’re doing all required under the federal student loan program. Document every payment.

New lower price on Disney admission! The only requirement: Enter Noon or later. Accommodations in Central FL are at off-season prices as well.

As companies move away from using SS numbers as identifiers since the Equifax breach, more and more are using our phone numbers as identifiers. More databases are tracking us based on our phone numbers. Many loyalty programs require phone numbers.  It’s easy now to use an alternative number to keep your main one more private. Sign up for Google Voice to receive a distinct phone number. This can be a replacement identifier. The Burner app provides a continuing stream of different numbers. A NYT tech writer investigated what info could be gleaned about him from his phone number. It was massive – full dossier – all from databases using phone numbers. Personal safety and privacy are tied to your phone number. 

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Aug 19, 2019
8.16.19 Why everyone hates customer service; Clark Stinks
According to the ACSI, pay TV, internet service providers, and traditional phone companies are the 3 industries that rank the worst in customer service. What happens when you call customer service? You go through a phone tree maze. Many require you to speak, so they can use AI software that patterns your voice to gauge your patience, track you through caller ID, check your profitability index score, and answer you call (or not)  accordingly. Clark has found attempting customer service via phone is only effective if you’re prepared to fire a company and have your next provider in mind. Often you only get results when customer retention is engaged because they get that you’re leaving. Always being willing to walk is key to getting the customer service you’re looking for.

Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a "Clark Stinks" to share you can leave it here.

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Aug 16, 2019
8.15.19 Owning a home isn't always the way to go; Teacher retirement plans stink; Private labels taking over
Housing prices have gone up way beyond income. In an effort to jumpstart home buying for those in their 20s & 30s, the Feds are offering a new FHA loan for first-time condo buyers, with a 3.5 down and lower credit standards. Know the condo market is more volatile than the single-family home market, with values going up or down more quickly, creating more short-term risk. Ideally, go into a condo purchase using Clark’s rule of thumb if possible, with the intention of living there 10 years or longer. Otherwise you should rent instead, despite this new FHA financing.

On the heels of a similar disgrace in PA – stripping consumer protections from teacher retirement plans, Texas now has one of the worst law changes for teachers retirement in the country. Teachers are shunted into retirement plans vastly inferior to 401Ks or IRAs, called 403b’s. These plans have poor disclosure and massive fees. In Texas, teachers can be charged massive fees on 403bs, typically 40 times that of a company 401K. 

The U.S. is the only developed country where consumers continue to buy primarily brand names. Roughly 1 in 4 items tend to be store brands vs nationally advertised brands. Well-targeted national ads are effective. Americans spend massive money buying brand names. That market has been eroded some, so brand manufacturers are pushing up their prices to generate higher profits. It’s working. Store brands historically have been 30% cheaper and that gap is getting larger, even as store brands are improving in quality. 

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Aug 15, 2019
8.14.19 Prepare your personal finances for a possible recession; Vaping warning; The best single person cell phone plan deals
Bond rates are at all time record lows for 30 year federal treasury bonds, a strong signal of coming recession. If the economy slows or declines, workers are impacted with less overtime, reduced hours, pay freezes etc. Think through how you can be more careful with spending. Take the time to look through your bills, trim costs and build some breathing room. Things happen and we need to be prepared for surprise expenses – medical, home, vehicles etc. Investors, if you’re going to need your investment funds in the next 24 months, keeping it in stocks may not be the best choice. Otherwise, continue to contribute to your retirement plan as normal. 

According to the CDC, vaping has gone up 50% in one year among middle school students, 80% among high school students. Juul voluntarily discontinued over-the-counter sales of flavored juices attracting teens, so other companies are filling that void. Be aware of the unknown health risks. Vaping is a nicotine delivery system that can create lifetime addiction. Parents are encouraged to have continuing conversations with kids about the dangers, because remember, they think they’re invincible.

Cell phone plan deals!  AT&T is offering a year’s service for $300 per line, only at AT& – unlimited talk & text and 8 gigs of data per month. offers 6 months of service for the price of 3 at $60 for unlimited talk & text + 8 gigs = $10 a month – on T-Mobile’s network. Verizon prepaid is $35 a month with autopay for unlimited talk & text and 6 gigs of data per month. Sprint’s Unlimited Kickstart plans offers unlimited talk, text & data for $25 a month.

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Aug 14, 2019
8.13.19 Movie theater subscription services; Zombie debt on the rise; Beware the dent repair scam
Movie Pass and Sinemia are both effectively out of business. But in the process they taught the film theater industry that if you offer a deal, many will take advantage of it. The movie industry has faced stagnation and steady decline with fewer people going to movie theaters. AMC was the first to offer a subscription through Stubs A-List – around $20 month for 3 movies a week.  Regal’s program is $18 - $24 per month – offers unlimited movies! Only subscribe if you’ll really use the subscription.

Zombie debt reaches into the past to cause havoc in the present and future.  Rogue collectors buy very old debt for a fraction of a penny on the dollar.  Old debts can’t be sued against. But crooks in the industry are contacting people and conning them with trick offers. They suggest you pay $1 or another nominal sum to settle an old debt. BUT in many states, as soon as you do that, the debt is treated as new – and you can be sued against it again. You no longer have a statute of limitations protections. Never agree to any partial payment against an old debt.

Nicole from Team Clark has a relative who got a pitch in a retail parking lot. Her sister-in-law was approached in a Kroger parking lot. The person noticed dents in her car and offered to fix them for $160 – far less than a body shop would charge. He said he had the equipment in his car, was off early – let her know he was a family man. Nicole's sister-in-law noticed his car was beat up, and politely declined. This scheme has been around at least 10 years. NEVER fall for a parking lot pitch to fix a car. Just say no.

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Aug 13, 2019
8.12.19 Crazy good interest rates; Fake Equifax settlement sites; New cheap streaming services
Credit card interest rates are at an all-time high. At a time when interest cost to banks is very low for what they borrow to lend on credit cards,  they’re charging the highest rates ever. Users don’t worry about rates likely because they don’t intend to carry balances. Meanwhile, if you’ve financed a vehicle at a bank or dealership, now there’s an opportunity to refi for a much lower interest rate through a credit union. With the trade related reduction in interest rates, this is a side benefit. Home refi opportunities are great again. Shop around. With good credit, you can refi a 30 into the low 3s, or move to a 15 year loan for around 2.34%.

With all the publicity surrounding the Equifax settlement, people are doing searches to find out more and ending up at spoof sites. There are scam sites taking personal info. If you are interested in the settlement, go to  

Nearly 1 in 5 American households have cut the pay TV cord. Streaming packages generally range from $20 to $60 a month. Philo and Sling are the bargains. (Sling TV is a service of Dish – always priced favorably). Coming this fall: the new Disney bundle, including the Disney film and video library, ESPN+ and a stripped down version of Hulu for $13 a month. Consider free streaming. Ad supported streaming is the fastest growing form of video content. Roku offers massive free content.

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Aug 12, 2019
8.9.19 DOT rules for flight passengers with food allergies; Clark Stinks
Complaints against American Airlines have been filed for their refusal to accommodate passengers with nut or any food allergies. The DOT has determined American was putting people in harm's way. Now airlines are required to accommodate those with food allergies, which comprise 1.5% of the population. While other airlines have done away with nut snacks, American continues to serve them,  allowing pre-boarding to wipe down seats for designated passengers. They need to take the next step and stop serving nuts.

Now there are too many SUVs so it's a buyers market. New SUV's outnumber equilibrium (a  theoretical 60 day supply).  This massive oversupply of SUVs gives buyers negotiating power. It really pays right now to comparison shop online using the pricing services.

Clark discusses: When is the best time to take Social Security?

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Aug 09, 2019
8.8.19 Social Security account hacking; School hours for teens; Best family cell plans
Social security hacking is a rare but ongoing crime, wherein a criminal hijacks someone's social security benefit, convincing the authorities of an address and bank account change. Impersonating you, the criminal starts receiving your benefit. Criminals will also apply before you do - just in advance of your 62nd birthday, while you may be planning to take the benefit years later.  Set up an account at long before you're eligible to receive the benefit. If an address change is attempted, you get an alert letter. This account allows you to monitor your benefit. Pay attention to alerts and letters. And before you ever call social security - verify the number given to avoid ss scams.

It's back-to-school time for many districts in the country and for most, the morning bell rings way too early. The early bell is a convenience for working parents, but it's not what's best for kids. Adolescent circadian rhythms have been studied. Kids this age are night owls for whom getting enough sleep is critical to development. They perform better if school starts later. Some school districts have made the adjustment. One district at a time.....

Family and individual phone plans -  / Cell Phones  /  ClarkDeals-Phone Plans

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Aug 08, 2019
8.7.19 Employee relief funds; Major landlord accused of ponzi scheme; Car-sharing apps on the rise
Way too often people will raid their 401(k) at some point. They take out a loan, do a hardship withdrawal, or spend it away when changing jobs. The Federal Reserve finds that people withdraw around 40 cents of every dollar put in their 401k - money that WON'T be there for retirement. Pew Research calculated the average amount of a major unexpected expense to be $2,000. Most don't have $2k for emergencies. The WSJ reports more employers are offering personal finance programs, with emergency fund rewards for participating. There are now hundreds of companies offering these programs in order to increase productivity and reduce turnover and stress in employees.

Deal or no deal: Private real estate placements. They're hot. Do they have any place in your life? A major U.S. landlord has been accused by the Justice Dept of running a criminal Ponzi scheme. This individual owns properties across 14 states. He raised $110M under the pretense of investment, converted to personal use and sustaining the Ponzi. This is the danger with any offer of private real estate investing. If you put money in, it's a hard time getting it back out. Be aware. Be careful. 

A potential money-making opportunity: Renting out your car an hour, day or week at a time. Years ago Clark shared how luxury  & sports car owners were listing their vehicles and Turo and Getaround. Now entrepreneurs are buying low mileage, young used cars, building fleets and making a living renting them out via car-sharing app business platforms. The app takes a quarter cut typically. Car rental companies are spending a fortune to get state legislatures to pass laws to essentially outlaw car-sharing apps. Don't invest too much into a business that could disintegrate.

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Aug 07, 2019
8.6.19 Do bigger houses make us happier?; How you get manipulated to buy things online
American debt and delinquency are increasing in a time of low unemployment. The Census Bureau data finds Americans buying homes with double the square footage per occupant compared to 2 generations ago. The average home has 1000 square feet per person. The average U.S. home now is around 2500 square feet - up from 1500 not that long ago. That's more square footage to heat, cool and repair. Housing is the number one cost of living factor that affects your future financial security. When home shopping, put needs first and stick to living on less than what you make.

Shopping online reveals a big push to get consumers to click to purchase now. Clothing sellers flash purchase reports of what appear to be real-time buys going on. That can be faked. Priceline uses this tactic as well - pushing you to click to buy now because some person just got some hotel deal. Car rentals sites may tell you there's an urgent shortage of available cars so book now!! Know these manipulations exist to counter the problem of abandoned carts. Online retailers are using mind-games to create urgency and/or excitement. Don't let them fool you. 

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Aug 06, 2019
8.5.19 Where to watch free movies online; Will your AC be obsolete soon with freon phase-out?
Check out our new free online movie guide. Ad-supported streaming services heavily featuring movies are a fast-growing part of streaming. Big Five Glories features classic movies, no subscription, no sign-up, lots of free movies. Sony Crackle is a free streaming service, mostly movies from the 80's and recent bombs. Crackle is polarizing because there are ads inserted, but it's free. ClassicCinemaOnline features westerns, classic and independent films.

Home HVAC units may need replacing. Rip-off Alert! R22 freon is usable this Summer but will be banned next year. There are reports emerging from around the country that HVAC salespeople are telling customers their AC units will no longer work after this season and they have to buy a new one! Go to the manufacturer's website of your HVAC unit and enter your model number to see if your unit will be obsolete next year. Most any unit manufactured before 1996 - 23 years old or older - will be impacted and will need to be replaced. You can retrofit, but as a general rule, retrofitting is not recommended. 

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Aug 05, 2019
8.2.19 Should you eat expired food?; Clark Stinks
Food company CEO Scott Nash spent a year eating food past its expiration