Living Large in Lean Times – Clark Howard

This is a my review of Clark Howard’s latest book and is the featured book of the month on the site.

Title and Author:  Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times by Clark Howard with Mark Meltzer and Theo Thimou 

Synopsis of Content:  

The subtitle to this book is 250+ ways to buy smarter, spend smarter and save money. This is a good description of what the book is about. Howard teaches the reader how to be a savvy shopper. Whether you are facing hard financial struggles or you just want to stretch your purchasing dollar this is a good source of tips on how to do it. 


Howard discusses how to be smarter about buying a car, using the internet and buying computers, being a smarter consumer for everyday items from groceries to entertainment and some tips on how to resolve disputes. 


There is a good chapter on survival for students and on being an entrepreneur. Another chapter tackles health and health care including how to save on prescriptions, how to deal with medical insurance and elder issues. 


He discusses your home and real estate, renting, and energy efficient appliances. There is a section on personal finances, banks, budgeting and identity theft. Another chapter addresses saving on telephones and television and another on travel. 


He wraps up with a section websites that had died as well as those that are important to know about that are still in existence when the book was published (2011).


Some of the information in the book, such as searching for unclaimed money in your name, is unlikely to be of much benefit to the typical reader. Other advice, such as avoiding extended warranties and service contracts are golden because these are rarely a good value to the consumer and are often the chief profit generator for business. 


The controlling criterion for Howard’s many suggestions is to save money. For example he advises you to drop cell phone contracts and switch to a no-contract phone. For many people however the contract arrangements offer benefits that some people want. There can be a tradeoff between convenience, safety, and other benefits that many people are willing to pay extra for. You have to scrutinize each suggestion to see what you might be giving up by going with the cheapest option. 


One good example of this is his advice to drop your telephone land line and use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) instead. It is true that you will save a bundle by doing this on your monthly telephone bill. It is also true that the quality of VoIP connections can be less than desirable and that if you lose your internet connection or the power goes off you have no telephone. A land line will usually still work if the power is off. If your landline phone does not work, and the problem is with the telephone system outside your house, you can call the telephone company and get it fixed. Getting service assistance on a VoIP system can be much more difficult. So you have to decide what is important for you, what convenience or safety you are willing to give up to save the money. For many it is a good choice, for others it may not be. Howard does not delve into these kinds of tradeoffs in his discussion – so you have to do the thinking on that yourself. 


If your primary criterion is saving money though there is a wealth of information in this book about how to do just that. 


Readability/Writing Quality:  

This book is well written and easy to follow. It is well organized. 


Notes on Author:  

Clark Howard has a popular talk radio program on how to save money and a television show on the same subject. He has written nine other books and has a good website at His co-authors are Mark Meltzer, an editor for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Theo Thimou, director of Howard’s website. 


Publication Information:  

Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Times by Clark Howard with Mark Meltzer and Theo Thimou


Copyright 2011 by Clark Howard and Mark Meltzer. Published by Penguin Books. 


Rating for this Book
Overall Rating for Book: Very good.
Writing Style: Easy to read.
Usefulness: Very useful for almost anyone.

Wishing you success and prosperity,

Daniel R. Murphy
Helping People Learn to Build Wealth

Wishing you Success and Prosperity,

Daniel R. Murphy

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.