Your Questions Answered: What’s the Bug Spray Situation?

A couple of weeks ago some small moths showed up in our garage. We (and when I say “we”, I mean “my wife”) figured out they were coming from some bird seed that we kept in the garage. We removed the seed container, but it was too late – moths would congregate around the door into the house, and a few would make their way in whenever we went in or out.

Obviously, this wasn’t a workable situation so I decided to go to my local Ace hardware and purchase some insecticide that might remedy the situation. I asked Michele if she wanted to go with me because the Ace we patronize is one of the coolest stores in the tri-county area. “Honey, we are out of bug spray – and I don’t know if what we had even killed eggs – so I am going to Ace…you want to come?” The answer was affirmative.

I went upstairs to put on a less grubby shirt, and then came back down and prepared to leave. As we both put on our shoes, Michele asked, “So, what’s the bug spray situation?” I was immediately confused.

“What? I don’t understand the question.”

Michele paused, then started chuckling.” My confusion slowly turned to irritation.

“I thought I explained the bug spray situation…that’s our entire reason for going to the hardware store.”

Michele chuckled a bit more as she opened the door and stepped into the garage, dodging moths as she went.

I continued, my frustration growing, “I don’t understand the conversation we are having right now.”

Michele came back in, aerosol can in hand. “This. What is the situation with THIS bug spray?” She was holding a can of OFF that we use to spray our arms and legs during mosquito season. “Do we need any more of THIS?”

I immediately realized the miscommunication, but in my mind, I doubled down.
Why didn’t she just use another word for bug spray to avoid the confusion?

A quarter-note later I realized that “bug spray” was the term we always used for insect repellant in our house. There wasn’t another word that she, or I, would have used.

We ended up buying two bug sprays: a can of insecticide AND a can of Deep-Woods OFF. My lawyers tell me at this point I must specify that Paul Peeler, Integrated Financial Group, and Deep-Woods OFF are not related.

Why am I telling this story? It is to illustrate that words mean different things to different people.

The word “Retirement” means ten different things to ten different people.

So does the term, “Helping my kids.”

And “risk”.

And hundreds of other words that come up in a financial planning conversation.

So, chances are that when you use one of these words, your financial professional is thinking something else. This means that unless she digs deeper to discover what you really mean when you use those words, you both will not be on the same page. So, if your current financial professional isn’t taking the time to do this, find one that will.

Because this is a bigger deal than a few flying insects making it into your house.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment adviser.  Member FINRA / SIPC.

This is a hypothetical situation based on real life examples. Names and circumstances have been changed. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments or strategies may be appropriate for you, consult your advisor prior to investing.