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Recessions-Era Words and Phrases

Are You a 'Nevertiree'? Or Are You Among the 'Accidentally Retired'?

The economic crisis has brought about a "new normal," in which Americans are adjusting their expectations concerning work, investing, spending, and one's "lifestyle." The recession has also brought with it new words and phrases, like "new normal."

Here are some others:

"Reluctant Breadwinner"

As defined recently by BusinessWeek, these are:
Women who wanted to stay home until their income suddenly became critical to the well-being of their families.


As defined by Barclay's Wealth (via CR), this is:
a person who intends never to retire but instead enjoy a life of "nevertirement."
Hmmm… we may need a new definition of "enjoy," because the way the word is used here, it doesn't sound fun or "enjoyable."

"Accidentally Retired"

The NY Times describes this phenomenon as one that occurs when an individual over the age of 50 is laid off and faces the real prospects of never working again:
Because it will take years to absorb the giant pool of unemployed at the economy's recent pace, many of these older people may simply age out of the labor force before their luck changes.


The long-term unemployed who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, and who, according to the LA Times, are trying to organize as together into a powerful political force.

"Mindful Spending"

The novel post-recession mindset, in which consumers actually think and consider value before they buy something. The phrase is used in a new book titled Consumed: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending.

"Burrito Factor"

A means for analyzing an item's value, in which the cost of the item is measured by how many burritos you could buy with the same money. The system is used by Debt Ninja (thanks Consumerist), who uses the burrito factor to help him decide whether to buy everything from a salad to a sports car. Here's the Ninja's explanation:
Whenever I go out to eat and look at the menu, I run the burrito factor through my mental calculator. It looks a little something like this… "Okay, this salad is gonna cost me $12.50, which is the same price as 2.5 California burritos. Plus the salad is probably only going to fill me up 50%. So that means this salad is gonna cost the equivalent of 5 California burritos to get full. Death to salad!"

"Money Parker"

An investor who is not in the mood to take on risk in the stock market or real estate, and who for the time being, is content to park his money in CDs or bank savings accounts that pay off a measly 1% or so interest. The Boston Globe reported that bank deposits have increased 19% over the last four years, even though customers are getting pathetic returns on their money:
The rates are so low that many depositors are actually losing money after factoring in taxes and inflation, which is currently running at about 1 percent a year.

"Courtesy Pay"

Along with "buffer zone" and "debit card advance," "courtesy pay" is a phrase cooked up by banks to make overdraft fees sound palatable to customers, in the hopes of getting them to opt into coverage.

"Mortgage Worthy"

The roughly two-thirds of American consumers who currently have a prayer of qualifying for a mortgage. A report just came out revealing that 30% of Americans would not be able to get a mortgage today due to poor credit scores.

"Free Rent"

Closely related to the terms "strategic default" and the more folksy
"walking away," the "free rent" approach involves a strategic mortgage default but no walking away from the home until forced to do so after foreclosure proceedings. Until that occurs, the owner/defaulter enjoys "free rent."

"The Great Divergence"

Phrase describing the 30-year rise in income inequality in the U.S., resulting in the current state of affairs in which the richest 1% of Americans account for 24% of national income.

"Disposable Worker"

Also known as a "perma-temp," and known to exist in a "gig economy," the disposable worker is one who can be hired and fired quickly based on the whims of company needs, and who can expect no benefits, substandard hourly wages, and (obviously) no hint of job security.

"Hiring Workers"

An interesting "new" concept companies are considering to increase productivity and revenues, after productivity finally leveled off after businesses laid off employees and maxed out efficiency by pushing the (full-time and disposable) workers still on the payroll to the brink of exhaustion.


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