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The Skinny Cows of January

Last week we published the last part in the Nicaraguan series Cuentas claras about how to survive the so-called cuesta de enero (Literally, "January's hill") in Spanish, and "hard January" or "post-holiday budget crunch” in English. Let's review some financial vocabulary that you can learn by watching this series.


The expression cuesta de enero is widely used in Spain, Mexico and many other Latin American countries. There are other expressions that are synonyms, for example, resaca de navidad (Christmas hangover) and resaca de Reyes (King's Day hangover). In Part 1 of the series, the guest of Cuentas claras says:


...una dolencia después cuando comienza enero ailment afterwards when January starts

porque estoy endeudado.

because I am in debt.

La resaca financiera.

The financial hangover.

Captions 65-66, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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The show also shares different antidotes to cure a financial hangover. Making a budget is a key one:


Entonces, eh... siempre tu arma,

So, um... always your weapon,

tu aliado número uno, va a ser un presupuesto.

your number one ally, is going to be a budget.

Caption 34, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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Making a budget helps people save money and get out of debt:


y en el lado financiero, quiero salir de deudas,

and on the financial side, I want to get out of debt,

quiero comenzar a ahorrar,

I want to start to save,

Caption 25, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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The expressions estoy gastado and estoy endeudado are great additions to your vocabulary when trying to avoid excesos financieros (financial excesses):


Primero porque terminás bien gastado

First because you end up quite spent

y bien endeudado de diciembre.

and quite in debt from December.

Caption 31, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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A little bit more dramatic is estar quebrado or estar en la quiebra (to be in bankruptcy):


...y encima llevo a la quiebra a la empresa.

...and on top of that bankrupt the company.

Caption 49, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partido

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If you are planning a visit to Mexico, maybe you can use something more colorful like ando bien bruja (“I'm broke,” I'm spent,” but literally means "to go by like a witch"!). Colombians use estoy vaciado (literally, "I'm empty"), and Argentinians no tengo ni un mango (literally, "I don't have a single mango").


No, tomá, tomá...

No, take it, take it...

guardá esto que no quiero que te quedes sin un mango.

put this away since I don't want you to end up penniless.

Caption 34, Yago - 5 La ciudad

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The word for “installment payment” in Spanish is abono. There's also a verb: abonar (to make installment payments). Note that abono is also a synonym of fertilizante (fertilizer).


¿...porque tenés que hacer abonos mensuales a todas las deudas?

...because you have to make monthly payments for all the debts?

Caption 7, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

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If you don't pay your debts on time you are una persona morosa (a delinquent payer, a slow payer), which comes from the noun mora (delay). Note that mora is also the name given in Spanish to different types of berries.

...manchás como dice la gente popularmente, stain as people say popularly,

tu record crediticio, caes en mora.

your credit record, you become delinquent.

Caption 24, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

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It's not ideal, but if you can't pay your debts maybe it's time for another préstamo (loan):

...en el caso de los préstamos personales the case of personal loans

o lo del extrafinanciamiento.

or extra financing.

Caption 17, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 2

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However, it's best to always have some ahorros (savings) to cover for unpredicted expenses:

...y básicamente

...and basically

consiste en ahorrar un dólar incremental cada semana del año.

it consists of saving an incremental dollar every week of the year.

Captions 6-7, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 4

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Finally, a curious Spanish expression that is not used in the show but you may still want to add to your lexicon. Spanish uses the phrases vacas gordas (fat cows) and vacas flacas (skinny cows) to refer to periods of material wealth and poverty respectively. It's a very common expression inspired by a famous biblical story. English also uses similar phrases that are probably inspired by the same source (“lean times”). Here's an example of how to use the Spanish expression:
Tenemos que ahorrar algo de dinero para tiempos de vacas flacas.
We have to save some money for leaner times.

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