Post-Recession Lingo: Need-to-Know Phrases for Today’s Consumers

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Adding to the list of post-recession terms such as “unbanked” (individuals without checking or savings accounts), “anti-dowry” (student loan debt holding you back from getting married or buying a house), and “Groupon remorse” (regret felt upon buying a daily deal you can’t use or never really wanted), here’s a roundup of zeitgeist-y phrases, including “squatter’s rent,” “light bulb anxiety,” and “not retiring.”
“Financially Fragile”
If an emergency occurred and you needed to come up with $2,000 within 30 days, could you do it? (Legally, hopefully?) If not, then you’d be categorized as “financially fragile,” and researchers say that nearly half of Americans fit the description.

“3-D Effect”
Yes, this effect makes images appear to come off the movie screen in three dimensions. But the effect, which allows movie theaters to charge extra admission, appears to have another, unintentional effect: hurting the box office. One analyst says that the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” film would have done better business had it been released solely in traditional 2-D. Why? People are tired of paying extra for 3-D effects that don’t add much to the film going experience. It’s likely that far more people would be willing to buy tickets for the cheaper 2-D screenings—families especially, because plenty of kids won’t even wear the 3-D glasses.

“Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating”
This much-welcomed, dumbed-down 1 to 10 rating system will be featured on the recently unveiled EPA-DOT fuel economy label that’ll be on all new cars in the near future. The scale rates each vehicle for mileage and greenhouse gas emissions, with a 1 being worst and a 10 being best. As a Consumer Federation of American spokesman told the LA Times: “it’s going to be pretty difficult to sell a vehicle with a 1 or 2 rating, when consumers can readily see the alternatives.”

“Range Anxiety”
When driving an electric car, it’s the fear that the battery will die before you’ll complete the trip or finding a place to recharge. On a recent test drive of the new Nissan Leaf, a Boston Globe writer suffered a “pounding headache and shot nerves” after barely making it home on the charge. “Range anxiety” is probably one of the biggest reasons that in a new survey 57% of Americans said they won’t buy electric cars no matter how high gas prices go.

“Light Bulb Anxiety”
This fear, based on oft-misunderstood legislation intended to phase out usage of traditional incandescent light bulbs, has caused business owners and everyday consumers to stock up the old-fashioned bulbs by the thousands, according to the NY Times. Why all the hoarding? Many people just prefer the light given off by incandescent bulbs over LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. Also, there are plenty of people who aren’t sold on the idea that the new-fangled bulbs really save all that much money or energy: In one survey, one-third of homeowners who paid for energy-efficiency upgrades (including switching to CFL bulbs) hadn’t seen the decrease in energy bills that they expected.

“Squatter’s Rent”
Also referred to as “free rent,” it’s the money a homeowner—soon to be ex-homeowner, most likely—gets to keep each month when he stops paying the mortgage and has yet to be kicked out of the home. “Squatter’s rent” around the nation is estimated to come to a total of $50 billion this year.

“Foreclosure Discount”
This is the extra markdown that accompanies the sale of a foreclosed property. According to data from RealtyTrac (per USA Today), foreclosed homes are selling for 27% less than non-distressed homes around the country.

“Not Retiring”
Also referred to as “working,” it’s increasingly the new approach to retirement for many Americans. A TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies survey shows that more than half (54%) of workers plan to just keep on working in retirement, and 39% of respondents said they wouldn’t retire until age 70 or older. And the most common reason given for continuing to work in old age? Necessity.

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