What if we could spend a little less than we make? For those who have debt collectors calling and writing constantly, how do we relieve the pressure? Harris decided he was going to do something about it and wrote his book It’s My Money and I Want It.
Almost everyone can do something to have better financial health, and Harris is here to help!
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure to welcome our good friend, Harris. Thank you so much for joining us. Everyone can check out his website while we’re talking. It’s Harrishelps.org. So, my first question:
Who is Harris?
Harris. Harris is a, uh, a man seventy years old. At twenty years of age, his dad lent him a few dollars, went into business bidding construction contracts for the small city agencies and at the age of twenty-eight it was pretty much a done deed: semi-retired, traveled, hung out a little bit, started an interesting indoor farming business with my wife which turned successful…upstate New York…we sold that, traveled a little more…wound up in Florida. Did the same thing there, sold that, and thne by then my two sons were old enough…we started a car rental business with no cars. Well, with not no cars…four cars…and after a couple of years we had an eighty car fleet. Seven years later we sold it, traveled a little and went back on the small scale of, you know, contracting for the city of New York.
The reason I called you just “Harris” is cause of the website, harrishelps.org, and you are one of these guys …your kind of, uh, a little bit informal. Your name is Harris Glasser.
But your website, harrishelps.org, and when we’ve talked on the phone you’ve just said, “It’s Harris,” which is nice.
Yeah. Yeah. Everyone should be a real people. We’re all the same. We all go through the same stuff.
Well tell us a little bit about how you and I connected. It’s kind of a cool story. The great Joe Franklin…
Oh great Joe Franklin! It was interesting. How Joe and I connected was interesting. We’re friends quite a few years. My son, who’s a professional model, was on a shoot with another model and they got to be talking and he knew a, uh, someone who was a professor at a college and my son was doing some work for the colleges, lecturing and stuff, so he introduced them. My son mentioned, “My dad wrote a book and has often appeared on many, many radio shows,” and this college professor said, “Gee, I have a very good of mine is Mr. Joe Franklin himself.” He said, “Joe would love to meet your Dad,” and that was a number of years ago. Joe and I met. We’ve been friends ever since. The fact is, Joe is funny (laughs). If I don’t call him every day at 5:30, he goes, “Hey kid! What? Did you forget about me?” (Laughs). He’s amazing.
Indeed. A moment ago you mentioned the book that you wrote and it’s called ‘It’s My Money and I Want It.’ What inspired you to write that book?
Well, funny thing….every day I would come home from work with packages and stuff and my wife would say, “What’d you get me? What’d you get me?” And after a while, I’d say to her, enough of this, I’d go, “Don’t you ever think of giving?” She’d say, “Sure! What are you going to give me? What are you going to give me?” (Laughs) So I chuckled and I said, “Why do you think like that?” And she said, “Because, it’s my money and I want it!” (Laughs) And so we got the title of the book. Actually, the thing that spurred the book itself…that was the title….was most of my life, I didn’t have health insurance. I don’t know, Paul….I was pretty healthy and didn’t see a need and a few years before Medicare would come in, I decided to get a policy and my accountant asked me, “Harris, why? Why now?” I said, “Well, you know it’s a good bet. I’ll pay a couple years’ premiums.” I’ll have millions of dollars in coverage and after a short period of time, I submitted a small thing and they didn’t pay me, even though they said they would cause I wasn’t familiar and all of a sudden I became aware that health insurance companies…they did not like insurance companies…if you have a fire and you get paid some damages. Your car is totaled and they pay you. Health insurance companies look for reasons not to pay you. So my broker, who had set me up said, “You know, look, I feel bad. You haven’t been paid. I’ll have you reimbursed out of my own pocket.” I said, “No, no, no. I’ll get them to pay me.” He said, “How do you do that? Appeal it?” I said, “No, no, no. I have my own ways.” Sure enough…it didn’t take much…to have them pay me and then I said, “You know, I sort of see what they’re doing to people.” I said, “This stops now,” and so I wrote the book and one of the chapters is how to collect from health insurance companies when they deny your claim without being sucked into the vortex of appeals. So Paul, that’s how that started. There’s a couple of other things along the way that was interesting. Let me ask you a question.
Okay? When I first got married, my dad lent me money. I said, “How much money do I have to make? How much money do I have to have to be rich Dad? How much do I have to have to be rich?” I’ll ask you, Paul, “How much money do you think you have to make to be rich?”
My goodness. It depends on where you are.
It depends on what your standard of living is, I guess…
I mean to me, it doesn’t take a lot…
But to a lot of other people, they have an idea of, oh, a million dollars a year or whatever.
Well, my dad answered me…very interesting answer…I said, “How much do I have to make to be rich?” and he said, “Harris, if you always spend a dollar less than you earned, you’ll always be rich.”
“And if you always spend a dollar more than you earned, no matter how much you earned, you’re always going to be poor.” So with that, I set off in business and in life. I was just getting married too at the time. I combined that with something a high school teacher once said to me. He said, “Harris, one day you’re going to be very successful.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because lazy people find the best and easiest ways to do things.” (Laughs) So the truth is, I wasn’t lazy, but I combined finding the best and easiest ways to do things with always spending a dollar less than I earned. And while I was living the lifeof what a friend of mine once said…he said, “You live better than the very wealthy,” because I never appeared to be working much, but living very comfortably.
So when I found Bloomberg Radio, Tim Fox termed me “the man who teaches us how to squeeze the most out of our orange.”
Yeah, so people think…everyone wants to earn more money….more money…everyone needs more money but what no one realizes is the amount you’re earning now…you could just keep on doing what you’re doing yet you do things slightly different …little adjustments…not in doing less, but the way you do the things and you could actually have an excess of money left over every week, every month, from your income and you don’t even realize you’ve been fighting to make bills and make ends meet…have a few dollars and all the time, it’s sitting there and an Economics professor once said to me…he said, “Harris, that’s called consumer excess and people don’t know they have it.” They’re always struggling.
But that’s what I teach in the book.
Well, on that note, what would you say is the best advice to anyone who feels like they’re drowning? They just feel like it’s just coming at them from all angles.
Okay so if you’re talking about actual people. We’re not talking health right?
Although we could talk cause I have some amazing stories on that and a life of that but we’re actually talking finances so we’re talking about debt. People are drowning which has to mean they have collection companies coming after them. Right? I mean, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page?
Okay. People with collection companies, you know…and anything, by the way, I talk to you about I’ve done with people. There isn’t anything I talk about that I haven’t done. If I’m talking about it it’s coming from fifty years of experience and everything I say works.
The first thing people have to do is they have to get the pressure off. They have letters and calls from collection companies and usually they don’t want to pick up the phone, right, to see if it’s a collection company….
Right. They’re scared, “Oh no, oh no!” Well, number one, we have to realize in this country, you don’t go to jail for owing money.
Right? There’s no debtor’s prison.
Not anymore, right? (Laughs) Maybe some of our bankers should be in prison, but anyway, moving on…so now that person that’s calling you from those collection companies…and I’ve helped people who’ve had a dozen collection companies after them, right. Isn’t the sheriff. It’s not the city marshal. It’s not a government agency. No one is coming to lock you up. It’s okay to pick up the phone. Okay? Next, you have to realize that person calling you is just someone with a job. Someone opened up a collection company and, you know, and filed their corporate name or whatever, you know, or whatever license they need and they wrote out scripts and they hired people. Usually people they hire are like models or actors or anyone who needs a job that they can come and go from and they have a script! And that’s who you’re talking to
So I can advise people…and I had one woman, she…you say hopeless…the radio host said to me this lady call in and she’s living on antidepressants and is suicidal from all the collection companies coming after her. So I explained to her that you don’t go to jail and then I moved on to don’t avoid the phone and….they’re just going to keep calling you. What you really want to do is run them right out of town. It’s basically someone…a company you owe money to that’s hired a gunslinger to come after you and you want to run that gunslinger out of town and it’s very simple. In the book, I give numerous ways. I give you one, Paul, for instance, pick up the phone, “Are you so and so?” “Yes.” “Do you know you owe money?” “Yes.” “And you know you have to pay it?” “Yes.” “So are you going to pay it?” “No, I don’t have the money.” “Well you have to,” and you let them go on and on. You just…you don’t get caught emotionally. You don’t defend. You just keep “yessing” and then you say…..(laughs) I know one fellow…one woman, they tried to lay a trip on her, “Well don’t you feel guilty not paying?” They try all kinds of things, so I said, “Here’s what you do…” and in the book I mention and I’ve actually done this with people making believe I was them on the phone to give them examples and I said to one gentleman from San Diego, I said, “I’m going to do the first one and you listen. You do the next ten.” Okay? And he was a good student and he did. So I said, “Look,” after I left them talk and talk, the collection person, I said, “Tell you what,” and by the way, they’re collection companies not collection agencies. When you hear the word ‘agency,’ it sounds like an official government thing. It’s not (laughs). I said, “Tell you what,” to the person…the collection person…”You’re terrific at talking and I’m terrific at listening. Now what I don’t want to do is be rude and hang up on you. That would be terrible. You’re just trying to do your job. But I’m very busy. I have a lot of chores. I have things to do…first thing is a kitchen full of dishes…so what I’m going to do is I’m going to put you on speaker phone and you keep talking and I’ll do my dishes and anytime you want me, yell out my name and I’ll come back, you know, and then I’ll go back to my chores. And you keep talking and I’ll keep listening. It’s fine and if you get tired of talking, not a problem. Call me back tomorrow. I’ll put you back on speaker phone and you can keep talking and I’ll keep doing my chores.” They run! This person said, “I have better things, more things, other people to go after than you ok,” and they just hung up the phone. Never called back again. I give numerous ways to (laughs), and they leave you alone because, you see, they want to suck you in. They want to pressure you. They want to make you feel like you’re drowning.
Yeah. Yes. I’ll give you one more of them. There’s tons of them in that chapter of the book. You say to them, “Look, evidently I don’t have money otherwise I’d pay you.” We’re assuming it’s a legitimate debt and that someone’s not try to scam you okay. “I don’t have a job so I can’t pay you. You have a job. Why don’t you do this? Tell me how you got your job and then maybe I can get the same one. That way you don’t have to bother calling me. I’ll call me and you’re free to call other people.” (Laughs) And this woman who was suicidal, on antidepressants, was laughing at the end and I assume that she realized it’s not so bad. And the book goes on to other chapters on how to start straightening out all that debt and stuff, but that’s…when you’re drowning…when you’ve got them coming after you, not a problem. You can have fun with it and they will leave you alone.
Everyone who’s listening, they can visit the website. It’s harrishelps.org. We’re talking with Harris about finance, about debt. I wanted to kind of go in a positive direction here. If someone’s going into business for themselves, what’s the best advice you can give someone?
Okay. It’s really, really, really…and I speak from experience…examine and find out the experience of that business you want to go into. You see, everyone has this…not everyone…most people have an idea, “I want to go into business. I want to be my own business.” First of all, not everyone’s cut out for it. Number two, I’ve been in business my whole life and because I didn’t properly investigate, although successful, right, by not properly investigating, do my due diligence, I wound up in a business that I beyond disliked. Every day I opened the doors was like, “Oh god, no.” What was it? The car rental business. I mention it because earlier I started with four cars with my two sons and withinin two years…less than two years…a year and a half we had eighty cars. But you see what I didn’t realize, Paul, was the last thing I ever wanted to do was go into a retail business. I was use to being a contractor for the city, having a wholesale indoor farming business, never retail…didn’t want that, and I didn’t realize that car rental, daily car rentals, is the epitome of retail. (Laughs) You’re there seven days a week, and you’re dealing with every kind of….a car is not something that they want…it’s just a means that they need to get on to where they need to go. Right? So you are annoying to them. This is a nuisance and expense that they have to have. It’s not like they’re coming in to buy an ice cream cone. It was because I didn’t do my due diligence so I’d say to people, the business you want to go into…evidently you’re familiar… you’re not picking it by throwing a dart on a board…speak to the owners. Ask them, “What is the day-to-day experience? Not what do you like about it….that’s easy to tell me what you like about it. Tell me what you don’t like about it. Tell me about the negativity. That’s what I want to hear,” and that’s what I mean by doing your diligence because then you may decide, “You know, this is not really for me,” or, you may decide it is but just don’t say, “Hey, that looks like a nice business, you know. I’ll work for someone a little bit and then I’ll go do it.” No…no…no…not at all.
We talked about it earlier, you said, everyone…you can spend a dollar less and kind of use that mindset. What is one thing anyone can do, whether they’re in a good financial situation or a bad financial situation…what’s something anyone can do to help their finances?
Okay. First thing, whatever you’re going to do is, uh, it’s interesting, if you need to get something done, always get free estimates. A quick story is some people I know had bought the book heard noises in the attic of their house one night. It was really keeping them up all night. It sounded like rodents and stuff. The next morning they called an exterminator and the exterminator said, “Wow! You have a bad problem.” It was twelve-hundred dollars but heck, they were about to do it. The wife was about to take out the credit card when the husband said, “No! I know what Harris would do,” cause he’d read the book. Well anyway, they went ahead and got another two estimates. You’re not gonna….this story’s in the book, right…you know how much they got it done for?
The guy came…thirty-two dollars.
Versus twelve-hundred, so what I’m saying is…my own nephew with my computer…on Norton…I have Norton as a safe…you know…to protect your computer from viruses and stuff and it was time to be renewed…it was a hundred-thirty-some odd dollars and my nephew said to me, “Hey uncle Harris, let me do this for you,” and he went in…he went into the site a different way and then got it down to eighty dollars and then he went in and searched for coupons. How about I tell you this hundred and thirty dollar item cost me thirty-five dollars. That was a hundred dollars left over in my checkbook. So what I’m saying is, the advice I’d give everyone is just don’t assume that you have to pay that amount. A woman I know rented a car. Four weeks later she got a bill saying, “Hey, we checked the car the next day. There was little ding, crack in the windshield. Would you like us to charge your card or give us a new card or five-hundred some odd dollars?” I happened…she was a secretary in our office I was in. She said, “What would you do?” I said, “Here.” No, I’m not going to fight with the corporations. I’m not telling you to fight. I’m telling you to write this simple little email.” She wrote it. I was in the office about a week later and she had a big smile. They sent her back a thing, “Oh, we’re sorry for the inconvenience we have caused you. There’s no charge. Please come back as a customer.” What I’m saying, Paul, is don’t assume that you have to pay. You get a hospital bill. You don’t have insurance. It’s ten-thousand dollars for the night, right? They tend to charge those rates. (Laughs)
For whatever they do and you think because it’s a hospital you have to pay it. No. If you brought your car into a garage, Paul, and you said, “There’s noise in the engine. Can you fix this?” and they fix it and you came back three days later and they handed you a bill. All it said was “Balance due: $1,340.00.” Would you pay it or would you ask them what
Right. The fact is you’d even want to see the parts that they replaced.
Well, you get a hospital bill for thousands and thousands of dollars, right? And they have all these codes listed, right….so much for this, so much for that…on and on, right? Why don’t you question them? I show people to question it. For instance, they have…you write down the codes. A bill that was actually twenty-five hundred dollars that I got reduced down to the people for one-thousand…to one thousand dollars and they had items like and “MRS-$18.00” so I asked the person, “What’s an MRS,” at the hospital. “Oh, that’s a Mucus Recovery System.” “Wow…that sounds terrific. What’s a Mucus Recovery System-$18.00?” Well, it turns out to be a box of tissues. It’s like, “Okay, that’s on you. I’ll bring your box of tissues.” Next was an “AIS” that was twelve dollars. “What’s that?” “Anti-inflammatory system.” “What is that?” Turns out, a bag of ice for twelve dollars. No. By the time I helped this person getting through the bill, the bill got reduced from twenty-five hundred to a thousand. Again, it’s everything I said. Get estimates. Question. Don’t accept that you necessarily owe the money. This is in everything. Another woman having trouble with her cell phone….they have five cell phones in their family…she called up and complained. She said, “I don’t want to do this contract anymore.” They said, “You’re in a contract, you have to keep it.” She said, “Well,” she had read the book, she said, “Well, yes, but the contract says you have to provide me good service. No, I want a supervisor. You’re doing something.” You know what she got? They did something….seventy-five dollars a month every month credit off the bill. Nine-hundred dollars left in her checkbook without earning more money…squeezing more juice out of the orange. I can go on all day with stories that people write me.
Everyone can check out the website. It’s harrishelps.org and for my last question
It’s very open-ended: for anyone who’s listening to our interview, what would you like to say to those people?
(Laughs) That’s a great one! All these things I’m mentioning: calling the hospital, standing up, you know, standing up to the health insurance company they denied your claims and you think, well, they only paid your partially…no, you should get paid the whole thing. They always find a reason not to pay you. On and on….standing up for yourself…and most people say, “Oh gee…I can’t do that. I can’t do this. I don’t know. Maybe Harris, you’re different…you can.” And the one thing I’d say is a great quote and it’s by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.”
Wow…very good. Well, Mr. Glasser, or as you like to be called, Harris, thank you very much. It’s been a great pleasure to have this interview.
It’s been wonderful and people, you can…just think you can! Make the calls. Question the bill. Stand up for yourself and you’ll be surprised how much more money you have left in your checkbook without earning more money and you’ll have a great time knowing, “Wow…”
It’s a great thing you’re doing. Thank you so much.
Thank you Paul, a pleasure.
TRANSCRIBED BY LORI DOMINGO