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Say What? Your Guide to Decoding Modern Acronyms: From ALICE to FIRE

June 30, 2024

Can you tell the difference between an ALICE and a HENRY? Are you familiar with the term DINK? Have you heard of the FIRE movement? The current discussion around the U.S. economy is full of acronyms and labels (aka Jargon) for different demographic groups. Some of these terms have been in use for years, while others are more recent, gaining popularity due to recent economic trends and the influence of social media platforms like TikTok. This is your guide to those new terms.

Business Insider compiled a glossary of the most common and some more obscure acronyms.

Here is the newest jargon:

ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed

ALICEs earn too much to qualify for government assistance but not enough to avoid financial instability. Their income is above the federal poverty level ($31,200 for a family of four, or $15,060 for an individual), but they still struggle with rising living costs.

ALICEs can be of any age or race, though they are more likely to be Black or Hispanic. Data from the United Way, which coined the term in 2009, shows that about a third of the population was considered ALICE in 2021.

DINK: Double Income, No Kids

DINKs are couples who either choose not to have children or are delaying parenthood due to financial reasons. The term gained popularity in the 1980s and highlights the financial benefits of a child-free lifestyle. With rising childcare costs, more millennials and Gen Zers are adopting this lifestyle.

DIPS and POLK: Double Income, Public School; Parents of Little Kids

Coined by Business Insider’s Katie Notopoulos, DIPS refers to families whose children are old enough to attend public school, reducing childcare costs. POLKs, on the other hand, still pay for expensive childcare.

FIRE: Financial Independence, Retire Early

Not to be confused with the teen lingo…that’s so fire, the FIRE movement focuses on saving and investing aggressively to retire early.

HENRY: High Earner, Not Rich Yet

HENRYs are individuals earning between $80,000 and $500,000, depending on their location. Despite their high incomes, they often don’t feel wealthy due to expenses and savings goals.

HIFI: High Income, Financially Insecure

HIFIs earn good money but remain financially insecure due to overspending. The pandemic and easy access to credit have fueled this behavior, creating a gap between their income and financial stability.

Geriatric Millennial

Born in the early 1980s, geriatric millennials experienced the Great Recession early in their careers, affecting their financial stability. However, many have recently seen their wealth grow due to rising home and stock prices.

Peak Boomer: Baby Boomers Born Between 1959 and 1964

The youngest baby boomers, now reaching retirement age, face financial insecurity with many relying primarily on Social Security. The future of this program is uncertain, raising concerns about their financial stability.

Beyond these groups, there are many other new terms that describe how Americans work:
  • Bare-minimum Mondays: Begin your workweek by putting in minimal effort
  • Career cushioning: Worried about potential layoffs? Create a backup plan while you’re still employed.
  • Corporate girlie: TikTok coined this phrase for glamourizing working a 9-to-5 job.
  • Greedflation: The concept that corporate executives are using inflation as an excuse to maximize profits.
  • Lazy-girl jobs: Easy, well-paying jobs that appeal to employees feeling burned out, inspired by the antiwork movement.
  • Overemployed: Boosting your income by discreetly taking on multiple jobs.
  • Productivity paranoia: he increased micromanagement from bosses who can’t see remote or hybrid workers at all times.
  • Quiet quitting: Doing the bare minimum at work.


By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE.  Source: Business Insider

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