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December 10, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
December 9, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
December 6, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
December 5, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
December 4, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
December 3, 2019
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 Walmart.com. 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
December 2, 2019
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 Costco.com, 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 29, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 28, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 27, 2019
Move.org 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 26, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 25, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 22, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 21, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 20, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 19, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 18, 2019
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 ClarkDeals.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 15, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 14, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 13, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 12, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 11, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 8, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 7, 2019
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 Clark.com, which includes who is best to shop for student loan refinance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 6, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 5, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 4, 2019
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. Vice.com 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
November 1, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 31, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 30, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 29, 2019
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. Healthcare.gov 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 28, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 25, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 24, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 23, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 22, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 21, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 18, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 17, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 16, 2019
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 TotalWireless.com.  Verizon's second discount brand, Visible is geared toward young adults, offering a single line at $40 a month - unlimited data - available only through Visible.com 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 15, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 14, 2019
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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 11, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 10, 2019
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!Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 9, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 8, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 7, 2019
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 myactivitiy.google.com. 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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 4, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 3, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 2, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
October 1, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 30, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 27, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 26, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 25, 2019
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 Clarkdeals.com survey and the best deals around the web todayLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 24, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 23, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 20, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 19, 2019
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. Walmart.com 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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 18, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 17, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 16, 2019
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.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 13, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 12, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 11, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 10, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 9, 2019
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 walmart.com. 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.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 6, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 5, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 4, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 3, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
September 2, 2019
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 Clark.com 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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 30, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 29, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 28, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 27, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 26, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 23, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 22, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 21, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 21, 2019
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 Clark.com, 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 NOWLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 19, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 16, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 15, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 14, 2019
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&T.com – unlimited talk & text and 8 gigs of data per month. MintMobile.com 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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 13, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 12, 2019
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 ftc.gov/Equifax.  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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 9, 2019
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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 8, 2019
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 MySocialSecurity.gov 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 -  / Clark.com Cell Phones  /  ClarkDeals-Phone PlansLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 7, 2019
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.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 6, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 5, 2019
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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 2, 2019
Food company CEO Scott Nash spent a year eating food past its expiration date, tortillas a year past, yogurt months past and heavy cream 2.5 months past its expiration date. Truth: Most expirations dates on medicine and food don't mean ingestion will be dangerous past that date. Meds can be fine years out of date, perhaps less effective but most are not harmful. Expirations dates should be honored on certain foods, including deli meats, unpasteurized cheeses & milk. And tossing picnic foods that have been unrefrigerated too long is still the best advice. Implementing a voluntary system, 2 years ago the food industry came up with a compromise of 2 labels: Best if Used By and Use By - to reduce confusion. Nearly 90% of us toss expired foods. But that's not necessary with most food items. Scott Nash was just fine!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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
August 1, 2019
People have issues with financing, builders, selling, and buying used homes. There are many confusing moving parts. Clark discusses 9 steps to buying a home involving credit, qualifying and shopping for loans, shopping homes, negotiating etc. Local communities have design rules that have crushed affordability for first time home buyers. In dense urban areas, the value of land drives the cost of homes. So out-of-date rules on land use create many inefficiencies, including affordability. The next wave of urban planning should take into account creating efficiencies that will allow more affordable, smaller single-family housing in metro corridors. Clark's 13-year-old son was all over getting a cell phone protection plan. We're so connected to our devices that when in a cell phone store, we're susceptible to the pitch to buy their junk insurance product. Don't do it. Cell phone insurance is horrible, trashy junk. Don't do it. It's overpriced, and you have a big deductible for what's usually a refurbished replacement phone. Have wide insurance in your life disability. Use a credit card hat provides free cell phone insurance when you use it to pay your monthly cell bill. There's one thing higher and trade education students can do to boost their chances of good-paying jobs after school - work while in school. ​Working in college makes for higher paid grads. Northeastern University grads tend to easily get good jobs after school because working is built into the curriculum. Students alternate semesters with working full-time. The degree takes an extra year, going year-round. New grads have years of experience in their field of study. Having work experience provides maturity so valuable to employers. Clark was a full-time working night student in college and grad school. That work experience served him well, allowing him to retire (the 1st time) at age 31.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
July 31, 2019
Back to school sales have begun in much of the country. Overwhelmingly, schools have migrated to Chromebooks as the computer of choice. Chromebooks are easier to manage and maintain and are less vulnerable to viruses. No frills Chromebooks are under $100. If your child is going to a Chromebook based school, your cost will for a really capable one will be around $150. If your child is going to a Windows school - a good Windows laptop will cost around $199. Yet another medical bill shock. In mid and large size communities hospital systems are expanding to gain market control, with generally 3 such systems dominating a metro. In addition to 'roll-ups' - the buying out of smaller independent hospitals, large hospital systems buy up individual doctor practices. If the doctors choose not to sell-out, they get no referrals. When your doctor's practice is purchased by a hospital, know that is a landmine for your wallet. Clark is not an athlete but is a self-motivated fitness nut. In order to sustain an exercise program, many find they do much better as part of organized group activities. That's a hot trend right now. Many traditional fitness centers are failing (so don't pay big money upfront for a gym membership). Experiential facilities offering group classes are the rage now. This is labor-intensive for a facility and therefore expensive for consumers. If you know you need group motivation, consider your local YMCA as an affordable alternative, where classes are offered for less. Also, all over the country, there are free exercise group activities to be found. Search a site like MeetUp.com to locate a free local meetup group.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
July 30, 2019
There's much confusion surrounding life insurance - Who needs it? How much? How do you go about buying it? Only ultra-high income earners might be candidates for whole life. Avoid universal life and variable universal life - those are recipes for disaster.  Most people should have level term life, wherein the premiums do not change for the term of the insurance. The purpose is the replacement of income to provide for loved ones. Term life only pays in case of death and is easy to comparison shop for and buy. In the midst of seaside nuptials, a distress call occurs. A teen surfer is being dragged out to sea, as 2 others attempt a rescue. Groom Zack Edwards, a Coast Guard member, springs into action. All make it safely back to shore. Link to the video at Clark.com. Often we only get the bad news. Zack Edwards made the decision to risk his life for others.What do you want to achieve? What's important to you? The FIRE movement is getting backlash today against people who've set the goal to retire early by saving maximum money to do what they want in early retirement. Have the goal. Track your spending. Paying with cash makes for more mindful spending. For those who can't get spending under control, living on a cash basis only drastically reduces spending. Make sure to automate savings into your retirement accounts.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
July 29, 2019
The cost of home broadband has gotten so expensive and more consumers are disconnecting home internet in favor of cell phone Wi-Fi. USA Today reports 40% are using cell phone internet exclusively now for service. They're finding that it works out fine. On cell phones, people don't have to worry about data overages. Some carriers may impose network management for those who've used a lot of data that month and find themselves in congested areas, by crawling service till the next billing cycle. But there's no overage. This is a great alternative to paying huge money to a cable monopoly for home internet service. The simple scam hitting millions of us is an easy rip-off to watch out for.  Consumer warning: What you don't notice on your monthly bills can cost you. While a big bank looked the other way, criminals stole untold hundreds of millions from consumers. The bank had sold all the credit card numbers in their portfolio to crooks who put fake charges through monthly for 3 years. The bank played dumb and 93% of consumers never noticed fake charges hitting them every single month. The worst part is that the criminals are heavily targeting debit card users. If you don't notice immediately a fraudulent debit, you don't have the rights that come with credit cards. The money is gone forever even if your bank acknowledges the fraud. You're out the money. It's up to you every month to look through credit and debit charges. If something doesn't look right - dispute it. Much of the country has seen devastating flooding. Even outside federally designated flood zones there is risk. Facing that risk is vital.  By FEMA's own admission, current flood maps are out of date and incomplete around the country. 3 additional factors: rising sea levels, development replacing ground cover with asphalt and increasingly severe weather patterns - are putting more properties at risk of flooding. The Midwest is suffering mightily from extreme flooding, devastating the lives and finances of many. The terms "1000, 500 and 100 year floods' refer to specific math formulas and are not to be taken literally. Be realistic. If you can see development above you, you could be a sitting duck for flooding, which regular insurance does not cover. Check prices at Floodsmart.gov. If you're in a low risk area, the premiums vs the coverage are reasonable - a few hundred a year in a low risk area for around $250,000 in coverage. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
July 26, 2019
The app Tinder has changed the way you pay for its services because Google Play charges apps a WAY too much 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 megaphone.fm/adchoices
July 25, 2019
Solar prices have plummeted. More consumers should strongly be considering purchasing whole-home solar; Almost 20% of kids carry a credit card. That is incredibly dangerous; You should strongly consider changing banks.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
July 24, 2019
The T-Mobile merger is likely to be approved very soon. And it's not all that bad as it turns out; Don't take "anonymous" surveys that your work sends you. You aren't really anonymous; Clark tells you when to call customer service to avoid waiting forever for help.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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