The first year of medical school is spent acquiring the complex vocabulary of medicine.
Reading books on finance and investing requires an analogous amount of deciphering intimidating terms that obfuscate useful concepts.
One can make the case that intimate comprehension of a vocabulary distinguishes those who truly understand a branch of knowledge from those who don’t. Unfortunately, there is often little distinction between useful lexicon that helps shade nuanced meanings and useless jargon that excludes those who aren’t members of the trade.
These thoughts often percolate in my head as I frequently look up words on google translate. We’re raising our kids speaking Spanish (my native language), and frequently find ourselves checking online references when our knowledge base fails us. Every now and then there’s a turn of phrase or definition that opens a small fissure of insight into the power of words.
When a couple becomes engaged to be married, the word comprometido is used, but the big reveal is in the alternate definitions:
Delightful! A word that reveals many subtle truths in the human condition.
Committed can reference either a shared vision for the future or, perversely, the act of committing a patient to the psychiatric ward. Love involves adopting another person’s version of crazy as your own world view.
Involved might hint at the inseparable intertwining of small personal victories and losses that are now jointly experienced, as well as the financial three-legged race you now enter as a bound couple. If one of you falls, you both go down.
Implicated smacks of guilt and shame, connoting that your partner’s worst sins will stain your reputation, and vice versa.
And delivered implies that, in every good match, your partner saves you from that worst part of yourself.
So the next time you read a blog entry or pick up a new book as part of your continuing financial education, be open to identifying economic terms whose nuggets of wisdom might cast a light on a broader swath of our human experience.
Perhaps, in your pursuit of financial independence, the law of diminishing returns applies to other facets of your life: Is your relentless optimizing costing you time better spent on other pursuits?