Clark Howard's Cash-Saving Tips for 'Living Large in Lean Times'

Clark Howard
Clark Howard

Be still, our cheapskate hearts:Clark Howard, the HLN TV host and founder who parlayed his frugality into millions, has come out with a new book called Living Large in Lean Times (Avery Penguin, $18).

Simply put, Howard believes you can get rich off the money you don't spend. How deep does Howard's thriftiness go? Well, Howard would probably rather feed a rabid squirrel than a parking meter.

The lengths he has gone to avoid parking fees constitute the "dumbest thing" he has ever done in his skin-flint life, he tellsDailyFinance. In one year alone, he had his car broken into five times because he insisted on parking in sketchy neighborhoods where parking was free.

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Recently, in Manhattan, the Atlanta native and resident left his car on a block in the East 80s, where the parking was gratis. That time, a thief didn't get him. Horrible luck did. A window fell from a condo 40 stories up and smashed into his car. "If that's not karma telling me my cheapness is too extreme, what could it be?" he says.

Howard came by his penny-wise ways as a young adult. He had been growing up on "the silver spoon plan" until his father was fired and told him he would have to earn his own way through college. He re-registered as a night student and got a full-time job.

Older, but Miser

After building wealth in the travel business, Howard began spreading the gospel of economy. He says he hopes readers of his book will immediately apply his advice to put $200 to $300 a month back into their family coffers. He lives what he preaches, too, rigging his Prius to get 110 miles a gallon. (His wife owns two Mercedes.)

Some of the biggerLiving Largebudget tips revolve around auto ownership, one of the great cash-suckers out there if you're not careful, Howard warns. As a general rule, he urges consumers to hold on to their new cars for 10 years -- and used cars for four years -- to earn early retirement. He isn't kidding. You'll save so much money, he says, "You'll have five more years of watching your neighbor go off to work while you goof off."

Here are five other suggestions from the book, which includes includes more than 250 tips on saving money:

1. Shake the ink cartridge:Your printer's ink cartridges often indicate they're empty when they're really as much as 60% full. Give 'em a good jiggle for a few weeks' more use.

2. Go to community college:
By all means, get your four-year degree from a hoity-toity institution, but spend your first two years at a community college, where you'll save tens of thousands of dollars. The sheepskin will still say Harvard or whatever. (Another option: Graduate in three years instead of four.)

3. Get free home-phone service for life.
Ooma, a gizmo into which you plug your Internet cable and your phone, is a gateway to free phoning forever. You can get it at Costco Wholesale for $179, according to the book.

4. Dry your razor blades.It's not the shaving that's wearing out your blades, it's the moisture, Howard discovered. He used one 17-cent disposable for a year, every day. Try it. Blow-dry the blades or wipe them carefully with a towel. Just what Schick (SCHK) and Gillette (G) want to hear, right?

5. Cut pills in half and ignore expiration dates, when you can.Many drugs are potent up to five years past their expiration dates, although you should definitely consult with your doctor to check on your specific expired drug before taking it, the book cautioned. And if a prescription is cheaper in higher-milligram doses, ask the doctor for the economy-size pills and cut them in half to fit your needs.

"I'm trying to get people to rethink how they can live their lives," says Howard, a 56-year-old father of three who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009.