Today's English expression is "stretched thin." If you're stretched thin, you don't have enough time or enough money to do what you want. In today's lesson, I said that many Salvadorans are already stretched thin , and they don't have the ability to also absorb the fluctuations in a volatile currency. They're stretched thin because they don't have enough money to do all the things they need to do. If they also lose monetary value due to currency fluctuations, they're going to be hurt badly.
If your budget is stretched thin, then you don't have the money you think you need to get through life comfortably. This is all relative: one person's idea of a "need" can be very different from another person's idea. And so when we talk about "stretched thin," it's also highly subjective. In the U.S., a family's budget could be stretched thin if they have a hard time making payments on both cars. But someone in another country might think even having two cars is a luxury.
No matter, "stretched thin" is about the perception and the feeling. Many people are stretched thin in their first few years out of school; I know I was. I drove an old car, I didn't save much money, I was in a low-cost area, and I lived in a house with five people and one bathroom (really). I was stretched thin, or at least that's what I thought.
Then I moved to Chicago, got a raise, and moved into an apartment with just one other person. My life got better…but I still felt stretched thin because everything cost more. I didn't have a lot of money left over at the end of the month and I didn't have a lot of luxuries. It's all about perception. Even though both of those circumstances were different, I still felt stretched thin. I didn't have as much money as I wanted or as I thought I needed to be comfortable. But I always had enough food, decent clothes, a warm winter coat. For those first couple of years, I felt stretched thin, but other people in different circumstances might think that was a comfortable life.
Graduate students are often stretched thin. In the U.S., graduate students often borrow money or get reduced tuition in exchange for working. Regardless, they're not making a lot of money, and the degree programs can go on for several years. In that time, graduate students are stretched thin: they must be careful with their spending. They have what they need to be safe and relatively comfortable, but they don't have a lot of money leftover and they have to give up some of life's luxuries. If you're going to graduate school, you have to accept that you'll be stretched thin for a while.
"Stretched thin" can also be used when talking about time. And just like with money, this is relative to a person's comfort level. If you have a lot of projects at work and you feel like you can't devote enough time to all your responsibilities, you can say that you're stretched thin. One person might get to 5:00 in the afternoon and walk out of the office saying, "Wow, I'm really stretched thin. I can't do all my work in the 40 hours in a workweek."
Some people (ahem) work well in excess of 40 hours per week. It's hard for them (or, us) to imagine being "stretched thin" and leaving work at 5:00. But just like with budgets, it's all relative. I work a professional job and run a business on the side. I often feel stretched thin. However, a working parent would look at my life and laugh at the idea that I, unmarried and without children, could ever feel stretched thin. When's the last time I ever had to drop everything and pick up a child at school? Never.
Working parents were really stretched thin during the pandemic. Prior to COVID, many parents struggled to balance professional responsibilities with family time. But then school and childcare shut down, and parents were forced to balance remote work while the kids were at home. Many parents really found themselves stretched thin during the pandemic.
And some businesses, too, were stretched thin. Businesses may have been stretched thin because they had little money coming in, so they had to scramble to find ways to keep their businesses afloat. However, now many companies are stretched thin in a different way: they don't have enough people to do all the work . Their employees are having to do more and more work in the same amount of time.
Quote of the Week
Time for a quote of the week. Today's it's from the famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix. He said, "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens." Wisdom is hard to define, but it's usually the combination of knowledge, experience, and good judgment that accumulates over time. So, Jimi Hendrix says that "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."
See you next time!
And that's all for today, October 11, 2021. Remember, the lesson continues online at PlainEnglish.com/406. All members of Plain English , at every level, get access to the transcripts of the audio lessons. And at the bottom of every lesson, there are links to English articles about the main topic. So, if you want to read more in English about El Salvador's new currency, go to the bottom of the transcript and you'll find two links to articles in English. It's a great way to expand your vocabulary and your knowledge about important global events. And it's included in the free membership.
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Thanks again for listening. Congratulations on all the progress you're making in English. We'll be back on Thursday with a new lesson. See you then.