Most of us strive for a good balance in our lives, whether that’s between work and play, health and wealth or saving and spending. ‘Lagom’, a Swedish word, refers to that state of perfect moderation. It also represents the idea of living a balanced life. So next time you treat yourself to a greasy takeaway, but power-walk to the door to collect it, that’s ‘Lagom’.
A Bulgarian phrase that’s used to warn someone not to take advantage of someone else’s generosity. We’re not encouraging penny-pinching or stinginess, but next time you see someone offering to buy a round of drinks or pay for a cab, remember: cheese costs money.
This Dutch phrase means ‘to buy something for an apple and an egg’ and is used when you find a bargain or buy something cheap. The closest phrase we have in the English language is probably ‘it’s going for a song.’
A German phrase meaning ‘to live like a maggot in bacon’. A state of sheer decadence. That feeling of delight when you’re dressed head to toe in your best outfit and you’re looking at life through rose-tinted specs. When your money’s in a good place, you can live like a maggot in bacon.
Sound familiar? You must be a secret Eurovision fan. This phrase featured in the chorus of Portugal’s entry this year (2022) and refers to a longing or nostalgia for something you may never experience again. Just like that extravagant holiday you went on in 2019, or the pair of shoes you tried on that you’re still thinking about.
A state of continuous improvement. Rather than a single big change, ‘Kaizen’ is the process of constantly improving in a methodical way. Applying this concept to your finances can be beneficial as it makes the process of saving habitual and gradual, rather than one big upheaval.
This phrase refers to coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables for a long time, a very long time; but spend very little money. A bit like window-shopping.
Now technically a part of the English language, this phrase originates from Greek mythology. It refers to someone who has great success in anything they put their hand to. Midas, the king of Phrygia, wished for everything he touched to turn to gold. Ultimately, he took it a little too far when he turned his beloved daughter into a statue of gold. Moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for.
For some bibliophiles, buying books brings as much joy as reading them. Tsundoku takes this even further: it’s the art of buying (or otherwise acquiring) books and not reading them. Even if you don’t get around to reading all the books you own, they’ll still look nice piled up on your shelves. Similar phenomena have been observed for other objects: handbags, shoes, and clothes spring to mind.
Just last month, 700 new words, senses, and sub-entries were added to the Oxford English Dictionary, including “sharenting,” “folx,” “ignorati,” and, unsurprisingly, “unjabbed.” Language evolves all the time, as speakers devise new ways to describe a changing world.
It’s the Japanese loan-word, Kaizen (number six).
Kaizen was popularised in the West following the publication of Masaaki Imai’s 1986 book, ¬¬Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success. The Kaizen approach comes from Toyota’s continuous improvement approach to manufacturing. Instead of accepting things as they are, Kaizen challenges businesses to constantly adapt and refine – without stepping off the gas. Not too dissimilar from the way language evolves.