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Words Have Meaning

Using the right words can save you a lot of money.

Words are important, especially when money is involved. The difference between loaning someone a few dollars and giving them a few dollars changes a lot. The more money involved, the more important it is to use the correct words. When you sign a contract for a job, there are a lot of important words in there that affect how you get paid, when you get paid, and how much you get paid.

Keep reading to learn more about why words matter and how to make sure you’re using the right ones!

What do words mean?power

Language is a strange thing. Words are essentially an agreed-upon pattern of sounds and shapes. What you’re reading right now is simply made up; none of these words have to mean what they do. If we don’t agree, then we are all speaking our own languages and no one can communicate effectively.

It’s important to choose your words carefully and make sure each person agrees on the meaning of those words. For example, the difference between the words give and borrow when a friend asks you for a dollar.

The action is the same: you hand your friend a dollar. But the intention might be different. Asking to be given something implies that it’s not to be expected back. Borrowing implies that the dollar will be returned at some point.

It’s not just words

Grammar is also important. A dairy in Maine had to pay out $5 million because they didn’t have a comma in the right place. While this case might be extreme, improper grammar can change the meaning of a sentence. For example, “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma” mean totally different things. The first one is inviting Grandma to eat, the second is suggesting that Grandma be the meal. Yikes!

As you get older and start to borrow money for a car or school, reading the contract and understanding what is in it is beneficial. A lot of it might sound long-winded and overly complicated, but that’s because the lawyers that wrote the contract spent a long time in school learning the exact words to pick.

What to look out for:

  • Loopholes – A loophole gives someone a way out. If someone offers something and leaves themselves a way out, be careful.
  • Forfeiture – If the contract says anything about you giving up, giving over, or forfeiting your property or rights, it’s a shady deal—unless you’re specifically selling something or it’s a penalty for you breaking your side of the deal.
  • Revisions – A contact that has last-minute revisions should be looked at extra closely. They might be trying to sneak in something you don’t want to agree to.
  • Forum selection – This is a fancy way of saying the other party can say where you can enforce your end of the contract. And they usually intend that there is nowhere you can enforce it.

A good contract will have:

  • Offer – What the person presenting the contract or agreement wants.
  • Acceptance – When you agree to the final form of the contract.
  • Consideration – Where the contract says what each party is agreeing to and why.
  • Meeting of the minds – This part of a contract shows all parties intend to enforce the contract.
  • Legality – The contract should be legal in respect to both parties’ locations, usually by default if you’re both in the same area; international contracts can be tricky.
  • Capacity – This part should determine if everyone signing the contract is allowed to do so. Kids—sorry—aren’t allowed to sign contracts that are legally binding.

So there you have it: words are extremely important. They can totally change what an agreement actually means. So be careful with your words; you could end up losing a lot of money!


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