News 12 at 6, November 11, 2008
ATLANTA---For 21 years, Clark Howard has been a major source of consumer information. He's written books, newspaper columns, appeared on TV and has his own nationally syndicated radio show that is heard on 150 stations.
So now that times are getting extra tough for many of us, we went straight to the source to get some answers and some advice.
Clark is a well-known penny pincher. And his frugality has helped him get through these financial tough times. Now some advice to help us get through them too.
In two decades of giving consumer advice, Clark has heard a lot, but nothing like what he's hearing these days.
"What it's really been is a rising level of anxiety. When I say rising, it's close to a breakdown," he told us.
People call in to Clark's national radio show which is based out of WSB in Atlanta. A lot of them with fears of losing their jobs, their pensions and in some ways, their minds over all of it.
"People's sense of unease is something I haven't seen in a long, long time," he said.
With the turmoil in the stock market and the housing market, you may be feeling this way too.
So we sat down with Clark to ask him what he's can offer to help all of us cope. For younger folks, he says just keep putting aside what you can.
"Anybody under 40, this is an opportunity to create more wealth for yourself," he continued, "Put some money in so you don't have to worry about 'are we at the bottom or near the bottom?"
In other words, don't panic.
The same goes for people who are a bit older.
"If you're 60 and you've lost a lot of money, the worst decision is to sell and guarantee you've lost. Inflation is your biggest enemy. If you put all your money in Cd's, which is the modern equivalent of a mattress, inflation will eat up your money. You'll run out of dough in retirement." he said.
In other words, hang in there. Clark says history shows the market will rebound and you need to be in to reap the rewards.
What about the housing market? The fact that it's troubled can be good for first-time home buyers.
"If you find what i call a wounded duck, it's a great time to buy."
That would be a house needing a little tender loving care, or maybe a foreclosure. And financing? Is there money out there?
"First time home buyers have access to FHA loans. They require a three percent down payment now. 3 and a half percent soon. They are very reasonable loans," he said.
And with low interest rates, there are a lot of great deals out there.
Clark's message out of all of this? Things are bad right now. But they will get better. Just hang on for the ride.
"I think back to the 80's when people thought America was a spent force. Then there was what invention? The personal computer. And in the 90's, somebody comes up with that internet thing and figures out how to commercialize it. America is not about staying in place. It's about coming up with new ways and new ideas," he said.
Clark also says cars are an excellent buy right now, especially used ones. Inventory is high and sellers are desperate. Toss in low interest rates and you can find a great deal.