So What Do You Call 'Em? The story of a summertime debate.

Bostonians are frequently razzed not only for our accents but our lingo as well. Words like packie, spuckie and tonic cause puzzled looks from visitors. In the summer, another local word takes prominence: Jimmies. For those of you that don’t know, “Jimmies” is Beantown’s name for chocolate sprinkles, the bits of candy topping on ice cream cones for added texture. I actually thought all locals use this word, but my research proved otherwise.

To find out what local ice cream makers were actually calling the confectionary delight, I did some supermarket research and sampled the local fare. Friendly Ice Cream uses sprinkles on its menu but Brigham’s names a flavor “Just Jimmies.” Richardson’s in Middleton calls them “Jimmies” but Bliss Brothers in Attleboro refers to sprinkles. So far the score is even. Looking for a tie breaker I searched for an old Bailey’s menu but to no avail. I settled on using Cabot’s in Newton, which is very reminiscent of Bailey’s and also a sprinkles shop.

It’s no big twinkie what you call them, jimmies or sprinkles. I’m sure most people know the names are interchangeable in Boston. Two words that are not interchangeable, despite what many people think, are gambling and investing. In actuality the terms are very different. Before we explore the difference between these very broad terms let me inform you I am limiting my discussion to casino gambling and long term, diversified investing. The Wicked Smart Investor concedes that short-term stock market speculation is very close to gambling, which is why I never recommend it.

First, let’s talk about gambling, which is defined as “playing a game of chance for money.” You can have your choice of games if you take a Greyhound down to Foxwoods for the weekend. The casinos advertise frolicking merriment but never emphasize that the odds are stacked against you and, if you keep gambling, you will eventually lose all your money. The house always wins, that is how the math works. You also have no recourse, that’s the way the cookies n cream crumbles. Which, incidentally, is why the bus returning to Boston Sunday night is unsympathetically called “the loser cruiser.”

Next, let’s discuss stock market investing. This involves putting money to use in a company offering potential profitable returns. You may purchase stock directly or through a mutual fund. When you hold stock in a company you have an ownership interest in that company. You are the house and that math is skewed in your favor. The cherry on top is that collectively the shareholders have a lot of power. They can oust management that is not making profits for them. In the absolute worst case scenario, if the company goes out of business the shareholders have a claim to the assets of the corporation after the creditors get paid.

If you are fearful of investing and consider it gambling you should ask yourself how you learned this. Did you develop a bias when you learned a day trading neighbor lost all his money in short term stock market speculation? Or the nervous relative that panicked and sold at loss in contrary to professional advice? Then, the market rebounded which it always has in the past. We all know people who can’t admit mistakes, so they insist the odds are stacked against them.

The simple fact is that there are many people that get good returns in the market when they follow prudent advice. You can too. In fact order up a double dip of prudent advice on a waffle cone and your financial future could be Jim Dandy.

Chris Hanson is a CPA that specializes in financial planning at OakTree Capital Partners in Easton. He earned his BBA at the Isenberg School of Management University of Massachusetts and an MBA at Babson College's F. W. Olin Graduate School of Business.


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