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Clark Howard: Finance Guru with the Gift of Gab

Consumer finance guru Clark Howard poses for a portrait in his recording studio on May 18th, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. Howard hosts a weekday podcast about financial literacy, money-saving tips and fraud protection.
Kendrick Brinson

Clark Howard is at an Atlanta Costco getting new tires for his Tesla Model Y.

“They’re $150 off a set right now,” says the veteran consumer guru.

Although he can afford to pay top dollar, Howard’s made a career out of teaching people how to save money and avoid getting ripped off. “It’s not what you have,” he likes to say. “It’s what you don’t spend that matters.”

After four decades as a smart-money, anti-fraud crusader, the affable Howard, who turns 68 this month, is beloved in his home state. “I love your advising,” says one excited Costco shopper named Grace. Others ask for selfies with Howard, who happily poses, clad in his trademark polo shirt and khaki shorts.

“What I hope I’ve done is given people the confidence to know how to make smarter decisions in their lives—and if they’re on a path and it’s not working for them, to change that path,” he says.

Howard changed his own path, giving up his syndicated radio show in 2020 after 23 years. He decided it wasn’t fun anymore. He still offers consumers advice on his podcast, his websites, a column in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and regular appearances on WSB-TV and radio. He frequently partners with AARP Georgia to advise older residents on how to protect themselves against fraud.

Debra Tyler Horton, state director of AARP Georgia, says Howard’s tips can “make the difference in whether or not someone falls victim to a scammer.”

Howard is also deeply involved in charitable causes, raising about $50 million since 1991 to provide holiday gifts to kids in foster care. And he's sponsored and helped build about 100 Habitat for Humanity homes.

A surprise second career

Retirement is not in the cards anytime soon. “I am not an idle-time kind of guy,” says Howard, a fitness fanatic who walks up to 10 miles a day and does yoga twice a week. If he quit his consumer work, “maybe I’d go be a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, or I’d be the door greeter at Costco.”

Part of Howard’s staying power is that although he knows a lot, he’s not a know-it-all. “Clark Stinks!” is a segment Howard’s been doing for more than 20 years that gives consumers the chance to call foul on his advice. “It kind of shakes me up and it makes me think,” he says.

Howard is married and has three children. Growing up in a well-to-do Atlanta family, he was interested in everything but school, he says. He made the best grades of his life while getting an MBA at Central Michigan University after his family ran into financial problems and he faced having to pay his own way. He went to school at night and worked a day job for IBM, which paid for students who earned B’s or higher.

He was 25 when he started a chain of travel companies, which he sold at 31. Financially set, his plan was to be a beach bum. Then he got a surprise call from an Atlanta radio station to do a guest segment on a weekend travel show, and that appearance blossomed into a new career.

Along with consumer tips, Howard keeps his audience up-to-date on his health. In 2017, he had a life-threatening scare when he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a rare condition in which damaged muscle tissue releases harmful proteins into the blood. Although he had been feeling horrible, Howard put off going to the doctor. Meanwhile, his organs started shutting down. “I am such a stubborn idiot, and you can quote me,” he says.

He was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in 2009. He hasn’t required treatment so far, but it has still changed him.

“I didn’t want to be a pharaoh in his tomb with all the gold. That’s when I became more generous with myself and my family,” he says. “I no longer will travel halfway around the world and then stay in a dump.”

To learn more about AARP's fraud prevention efforts, visit

Ann Hardie is a writer living in Atlanta.

More from Howard's interview with the AARP Bulletin:

On how to avoid online scams:

“You have to do independent verification. Never, never, not ever, click on a link in an email or text anymore alerting you to a problem. Go to the website of whatever business it is, or if you have the app, sign into the app, and see if there's anything actually going on.”

On the next big scam:

“This latest scam involving A.I. (artificial intelligence), with criminals able to take a snippet of somebody's voice and then use it to create any conversation they wish. It's a new version of the parent/grandparent scam where you get a call from someone who pretends to be your kid, your grandkid, your great niece, great nephew. What's different—and what's made it so much scarier—is you're hearing a digitized version of their exact voice.” 

On the timing of retirement:
“I love what some economists call phased retirement, where you dial back how much you work, but you consider delaying Social Security as long as possible, even to age 70.” 

 On his guilty pleasure:

“I only buy ultra-premium, ultra-high butterfat ice cream.” Favorite flavor? “Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Caramel Fudge.” 

For more on technology and fraud:

Gift Card Payment Scams

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