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Glossary of common financial terms in Spanish

Help people who speak or understand limited English better navigate the financial marketplace

We are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with the release of our updated Spanish Glossary of Financial Terms . We have prepared this glossary in cooperation with other federal agencies. The glossary provides both financial educators and the industry with an extensive list of financial terms translated into Spanish. Use of the glossary is voluntary.

Of the U.S. population with limited ability to speak, write, or read English—referred to as limited English proficient or LEP consumers—more than 60 percent are individuals who speak only Spanish at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey One-Year Estimates. People with limited English skills sometimes struggle to reach their financial goals because information they receive about financial products and services is difficult for them to understand.

Why did we create this Spanish glossary?

In an effort to help all consumers move toward financial well-being, the Bureau reported on challenges faced by LEP consumers and those in the financial community who serve them. One common issue highlighted by both groups was the lack of clear and consistent wording of financial information presented to consumers who speak or understand limited English.

Financial education materials created for Latinos are often translated from English to their literal equivalent in Spanish, but may not always be accurate or easy for the reader to understand. Technical terms in the U.S. financial system—such as subprime, overdraft protection, and balloon payment—might not have equivalent terms in some languages. Translating for meaning rather than word-for-word promotes effective communication.

A second report issued by the Bureau included studies by federal agencies and other stakeholders underlining the importance of sharing materials in a consumer’s native language to help increase their knowledge about financial products and services. Also, the report explains that consistent translation of common financial terms across the financial services industry and other organizations benefits limited English proficient consumers.

How can you use this glossary?

Using a glossary of terms is helpful to maintain consistency.

In 2015, the Bureau created a glossary of common financial terms to use when translating consumer education materials from English to Spanish. This year we expanded the glossary and included translated financial terms used by other entities as well, including: the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Justice, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Trade Commission, Social Security Administration, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, General Services Administration, and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.

We publicly share the Spanish Glossary of Financial Terms  as a resource to help anyone who provides financial information to consumers who have greater language proficiency in Spanish than in English. Financial educators, government agencies, financial service providers, and other organizations serving LEP consumers might find the glossary helpful when translating financial terms to communicate with the people they serve. It is not required or mandated for any stakeholder to use the glossary.

What other resources are available?

We offer a number of other resources for limited English proficient consumers and those who serve them, including:

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