On the Path of Continuous Improvement


If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably noted it’s on an inexorable path to eternal greatness. Continuous improvement is on display almost every single day, and it’s only a matter of time before this site is heralded as one of the greatest finance blogs in history. Granted, at my current pace, “a matter of time” may involve several generations, but I’m sure my children and grandchildren will be ready to take up the mantle.

In this spirit of continuous improvement, I have an extremely exciting announcement to make. I have a glossary!

I’ve scoured scores of other blogs, and have seen nary a glossary on any of them. So mark this day, friends, because I was here first. The copycats are sure to follow.

I’m adding a glossary for the following reasons:

  • I’d like to use it to help define and reinforce some of the important things we talk about around here. As an example, “assets” are critical to understand on this site, and I define them a little differently. “Asset” is so important, in fact, that it comes at the very beginning of the glossary (it also starts with an “a”).
  • It will add some much needed gravitas to my site. When you see a glossary tab at the top, you know you’re dealing with an expert.
  • It will give me a vehicle to right some of the grievous wrongs that occur in English today and to shift usage toward words and phrases I favor. I’m sure it will prove to be an incredibly efficient and effective vehicle toward those goals.



Asset – something that will produce future value for you.

Human Capital – your skills, powers, education, experience, etc. One of the most important and valuable assets you own.

Liability – something that will produce a future cost for you.

Pile – my favorite term for your growing mountain of assets. Some may refer to it as a “stash”, but that sounds a little secretive and small. Plus, I think drug users still have a firm grip on that term, and they’re not ones to easily give up a habit. “Nest egg” is certainly popular, but according to this site, a nest egg is a real or fake egg you put in a nest, and it somehow makes a hen lay more eggs. Are my savings supposed to be the fake egg, the real eggs, the chicken, or the nest? Worst analogy in the history of analogies. Just stick with pile.



AK-47 my term for a product or thing that personifies simplicity and functionality. Think the Toyota Corolla or the original iPod. I’d like to make “AK-47” to beautiful simplicity what Mercedes is (and Cadillac was) to luxury.

“A high-end Lynx may be the Mercedes-Benz of grills, but my Weber Genesis is the AK-47.” (Always go with grill analogies – everyone’ll get them).

“I don’t want some ‘smart’ TV, just give me an AK-47.”

Pepsi Challenge – this is still the best term for a comparison test, immortalized in some awesome 70’s and 80\’s commercials like this, this, and this.Young folks today may be less familiar, so it needs a place on my glossary, but I also include it because it faces a grave danger. Apparently Pepsi is trying to redefine this term: per the Pepsi Challenge website (yup, there is one): the Pepsi Challenge now represents

“Challenges throughout the year that will encourage the world to see things a bit differently than they might have before. To dream a little bigger, have more fun, and, most importantly: to Live for Now.”

Huh? Can anyone tell me what that means? Or this:

“How It Works: Pepsi and Pepsi Ambassadors worldwide will issue a series of unforgettable challenges and rewards throughout the year. Get ready for a year full of unique, once in a lifetime experiences in music, sports, design and tech. Are you ready to accept the #PepsiChallenge?”

Ummmm, no. I’m not.

Turn on the Rocky Music – you’re facing an enormous challenge and teeter on the brink of destruction. Normal rules no longer apply, and you’ve got to deliver the performance of a lifetime. Perhaps you’ve slacked on your training before your rematch with Apollo Creed and have just now won the support of your wife to get back in the ring. Perhaps life’s dealt you a bad hand and your back’s to the wall. Or perhaps you’re just really, really lazy. In any event, watch this and be inspired.

Unicorn – something that has not, does not, and will not exist. You’ll see this word bandied about quite a bit nowadays, and people are foolishly using it to describe very rare occurrences. But lean in, because I’ve got a secret to share: unicorns aren’t real.

We need to fix this, because incorrect usage is everywhere. No less than the superheroes of private equity have defined a “unicorn” as a startup with a billion dollar valuation. That is, of course, stupid, because such firms do exist. (Here’s your unicorn: a private equity firm that returns all of the fees it’s earned when it fails to beat the market.) For rare but still existing things, how ‘bout we pick a rare but still existing animal? My choice is the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat. Spread the word – if this catches on, this cute guy (assuming he continues to dodge extinction) may get his own glossary spot.



Now we’re weaving all over the road, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include:

Recyclotron – this is one is a gem, and is here to remedy our language’s inability to come up with anything better than “recycling bin”. I’ve borrowed it from the Master of Orion II video game (always a good source), and it’s an elegant improvement on a cumbersome open compound word (which is, interestingly, also a cumbersome open compound word). Join the movement. #gorecyclotron #replacerecyclingbinwithrecyclotron #thankyoumasteroforionforgivingusrecyclotron



When you’re about to have kids, you’re heading into some dangerous ground. You’re about to talk about body parts and functions in an innocent, open, full-volume way that can be a bit shocking to the senses.

I think most parents haven’t thought through their vocabulary strategy for their kids, which is why so many of them end up using goofy choices – or just stammering like fools – when broaching the more delicate subjects.

While I’m happy to share, I’m not fully sure what these terms have to do with personal finance. Perhaps never having to say “tinkle” or no longer struggling to find the right word for your son’s junk is a valuable asset? Yeah, let’s go with that. We may be stretching the limits of even the broadest definition of personal finance (and losing any gravitas I might have had…), but here we go:

Dinger – this is the best – by far – word to use for the male appendage. Penis? Are you serious? Just say the word and tell me it doesn’t sound ridiculous. And some of the junior versions, like pee-pee, wee-wee, winkie, and wiener (thanks google!) are simply insulting. Dingaling has some charm, but it’s really not appropriate for serious conversations with a doctor. Privates? Genitals? Let’s go ahead and actually distinguish between male and female stuff, shall we? And “privates” may confuse your child on the meaning of “private”, since running around naked seems to be widely accepted among the toddler boy demographic.

Some purists argue the best approach is to use the proper, adult, medical term and not confuse things with childish interim ones. I couldn’t agree more. Dinger is the proper term. Take note. For any of you parents of young boys, try this out. It doesn’t sound weird, it’s pretty innocent (even if shouted in public…), and it won’t sound ridiculous later in life. I’ve used this term all of my life and medical professionals seem quite happy with it (deep down, I think they feel “penis” sounds ridiculous too). Sorry to all of the baseball fans out there, but I’m commandeering this word. You’ve got other, better options to name a home run.

Peeper – just try and tell me you have a better word or phrase for “number one” (including “number one”). Nice try. Now get on board. Can be shortened to “peep” as desired.

Yooker – far better and more versatile than “throw up”. It can be an adjective, noun, or verb. “Do you need to yooker? Let me get you a yooker bucket. Good job! You didn’t spill any yooker!” A throw-up bucket? I don’t even know what that means. Vomit sounds like a German curse word and is simply unbecoming. Elegant, descriptive, appropriate for all ages – that’s yooker for you. It may confuse some Midwesterners who play Euchre, but let’s hope we can resolve any confusion through context (or, alternatively, hope Euchre dies out). Aficionados will note I prefer the double o spelling over the perhaps more common “yuker”. Sometimes you just need to go with the style that feels right. Plus, a schoolteacher I know who’s an English expert insists yooker is the right spelling. Yep, I just wrote that.

Making “yooker” popular may be a bit of a mountain to climb, so I’ll need everyone to do their part. Next time you’re feeling nauseous, remember this site.


My glossary is short, to be sure, but this is only the beginning. I already have a couple of posts queued up that will add to it (I promise you two within the month, to turn on the Rocky music for myself), and I’ll be sure to add more in the months and years to come. Continuous improvement, after all, is at least a part-time job around here.



Do you have any words or phrases that that are awesome and need a global movement to increase their use? You’ve landed in the right spot. Bonus points awarded to any that actually deal with personal finance.

Kanji courtesy of the missus

2 thoughts on “On the Path of Continuous Improvement”

  1. Enjoyed the post, as always. But you’ve obviously omitted a bodily function. From your use of the other terms, I’m pretty sure you’re not asking your kids if they have to defecate.

    Furthermore, while you are not a father of girls yourself, you have failed to provide your reading audience with a suitable alternative to “tinker bell” (my wife’s preferred euphemism that generally refuse to use). Perhaps a reader poll or simply exhaustive internet research as a community service?

    Lastly, my 4 year old asked for a unicorn last year for Christmas. We got to deal with obvious disappointment when Santa failed to deliver a living, breathing unicorn. Fortunately there was a bounty of other stuff and plastic facsimiles that softened the blow over time. I’ll have to keep her away from you blog (for now).

    1. We’re fairly simple with #2 and just go with poop. It’s widely accepted, so I didn’t call it out, but for the sake of a comprehensive reference (at least for dudes), you’re right – I really should add it to the glossary.

      I don’t think I’m going to be able to help my reading audience with an improvement on tinker bell. I may have to find a mom’s forum or something and just link to it. If someone has a good term I’m happy to list it (and will DEFINITELY give you proper attribution), but there’s no way I’m doing exhaustive internet research on that topic.

      Bummer that even Santa couldn’t deliver a unicorn. I’ll bet it was waiting on the Island of Misfit Toys and Rudolph screwed up the drive by. Buy Uber for her this Christmas – I bet that’ll make up for it.

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