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What Are the Vesting Rules for My SIMPLE IRA?

Employer contributions to SIMPLEs are immediately vested to the employee. The employer’s contributions into SIMPLE IRAs do not have any vesting restrictions. In other words, the contribution belongs to you immediately after it has been made, notwithstanding standard IRS rules for withdrawals from retirement accounts. SIMPLEs do have some restrictions during the first two years, however, that are known as the ‘Two Year Rule.’ Continue reading...

What are the Tax Implications for Taking Money Out of a Roth IRA?

Distributions taken from a Roth during retirement are not subject any income taxes. Interestingly, the “cost basis” or contributions made to a Roth can be taken out at any time, including before age 59 ½, without tax or penalty. Contributions are recorded on IRS form 5498 and a copy is mailed to you, but you need to keep up with your contributions if you might want to tap into your Roth early. The earnings that accumulate must satisfy the 59 ½ requirement and the five year rule, or be used for first-time homebuyers expense, to avoid the 10% penalty and taxation. The five year rule says that the earnings in a Roth may be taxable if the Roth account is under 5 years old. Continue reading...

What are the 403(b) Contribution Limits?

The contribution limits are increased over time with cost-of-living adjustments. 403(b) contribution limits are currently the same as 401(k) limits, and are adjusted for inflation at the same rate. As of 2016, if you are under age 50, you may contribute up to $18,000. If you’re over 50, you can also make a catch-up contribution of up to $6,000, for a total of $24,000 for the year. 403(b)s also allow an additional form a catch-up for employees who have been at the job for over 15 years and whose contributions in the past average out to less than $5,000 per year. These catch-ups are called Fifteen Year Cap Expansion Option or just service-based catch-ups. Continue reading...

What are the Withdrawal Rules for My SIMPLE IRA?

SIMPLE IRAs have the same withdrawal rules as Traditional IRAs, with one notable exception. SIMPLE IRA contributions and earnings may be withdrawn at any time, but there are certain penalties that apply. If you are under the age of 59½, you must pay a 10% penalty fee in addition to income taxes on your withdrawal. If the early withdrawal occurs within two years of receiving your first employer contribution, the 10% penalty is increased to 25%. Continue reading...

What is a bear market?

Bear markets are loosely defined as periods when markets experience declines in magnitude of 20% or more. More specifically, bear markets are a period in which a major index like the S&P 500, for example, declines by 20% or more, with this decline sustained for a period over two months or so. Consequently, many investors become “bearish” – they lose confidence in the market, sell off their securities they do not believe will recover soon, and sit on the sidelines. There have been 25 bear markets since 1929, for an average of one every 3.4 years. Continue reading...

What is a Bear Squeeze?

Investors who were bearish on a stock may have chosen to short-sell shares in the hopes that they could cover at a lower price. Short selling is when a broker facilitates the actions of an investor who wishes to take on the risk of replacing sold shares of a particular stock because he or she believes the price will be lower when he or she replaces the inventory. The broker passes the proceeds of the sale (minus a fee) along to the investor who is taking the risk of replacing the shares, and charges the investor interest or fees as long as the shares are outstanding. Investors need to cover the short before prices go up and it results in a loss for them. Continue reading...

What if I Need the Money in My 401(k) Before I Retire?

Withdrawals and loans can be taken out of a 401(k) before retirement, but the money may be subject to penalties, conditions, and taxes. It is quite common that 401(k) funds are needed before retirement, even though the IRS wants you to wait until you’re 59 ½, and will generally want to levy a 10% penalty on any premature withdrawals. Most plans allow employees to take non-taxed loans out on their balance, which may stunt the growth of the account which was intended for retirement, but if the funds are paid back on-schedule, as stipulated in the plan’s loan agreement, the employee can get back on track quickly. Continue reading...

What are market cycles?

Markets are said to experience cycles of various length and magnitude. Cycles tend to be defined in retrospect and it is not always evident what part of a cycle the market is in. Cycles can be of various length and magnitude, with current cycles existing as minor subtexts of the larger cycles. In Elliott Wave Theory, for instance, cycles of various levels exist simultaneously, with the longer cycles exhibiting “self-similar” patterns to the shorter-term cycles, as in naturally occurring fractals in nature (since Elliott’s theory is that the market is a natural phenomenon, just like the breeding cycles of rabbits). Continue reading...

What is an Accounting Period?

An accounting period is a specific time frame from which documents and records have been used by accountants to arrive at reported balances and statements. An accounting period can be a fiscal year, quarter, or month, or any other time frame for which reporting is being done. At any given time, there may be different accounting periods running. Books are kept and reports are made for different tiers of accounting periods. Continue reading...

What are the Withdrawal Rules From My Self-Employed 401(k)?

Individual 401(k)s will have the same withdrawal rules as regular 401(k)s. The withdrawal rules for a Self-Employed 401(k) are identical to the rules for a traditional 401(k). If you want to avoid a 10% early withdrawal penalty, you’ll need to keep the money in your account until you reach age 59½, but if you separate from service after 55 you may be able to make withdrawals penalty-free. If you really need the money early, certain exceptions for disability, medical expenses, 72(t) annuitized distributions, and plan loans can allow you to sidestep the penalty. Withdrawals for any other reason, including hardships, are still subject to the penalty. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From My Cash-Balance Plan Before I Retire?

In general, this won’t even be an option for many. Cash balance plans do not permit partial withdrawals. If you have separated from service at the employer, you can take your entire vested amount with you. You can cash out your balance and pay income taxes on it, as well as a 10% IRS penalty if you’re younger than 59 ½. This penalty may also be avoided if you separated a from service after age 55; these rules are the same for 401(k)s and other qualified plans. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From My Pension Plan After I Retire?

Usually such withdrawals will be in the form of income payments, but there may be other options. If the plan administrator allows it, you can make non-recurring (one-time) withdrawals from a pension fund. This is usually not allowed, however. The regular qualified plan distribution rules will apply as far as the IRS is concerned, and they may charge a 10% penalty if the withdrawals are taken before age 59½. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life (also known as a Life Annuity), or a lump-sum payment. Continue reading...

What is a Plus Tick?

A plus tick is a transaction which occurs at a price higher than the transaction before it, also called an uptick, but often used in relation to a zero plus tick, which is explained below. A plus tick is an indication that the security in question is not declining at a given moment in time. In other words, the most recent traded price of a security is higher than the price it traded at prior. The term ‘uptick’ refers to the same thing, but "plus tick" is used in reference to the first part of a zero plus tick event: an uptick occurs in which the price traded is higher than the previous price, and then a trade occurs in which the price remains the same. Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My Pension?

Employees are not able to control investments in a Pension Fund, but you can control a few variables. You cannot direct investments in your pension. Since a pension is a type of Defined Benefit Plan provided by your employer, the company worries about the investments, and you will receive a fixed monthly payment that is calculated based on your age, salary, and number of years worked for the company. Continue reading...

What is Earnings Season?

Earnings season describes not one, but four times in a year, when corporations release their quarterly earnings reports. Investors look forward to this time because they are able to get an update about how the year is going, compared to projections. After each fiscal quarter ends, there are a few weeks in which companies file their quarterly reports with the SEC and announce their current earnings and sales numbers. Each of these periods is known as earnings season. Continue reading...

Can I Withdraw Money From My Defined Benefit Plan?

Most pensions will not allow in-service withdrawals but some will allow loans. While you are working for your employer, you typically may not withdraw money from your Defined Benefit Plan. The IRS permits plan loans if the plan administrator permits it. In-service withdrawals are possible after age 62, meaning money can get taken out before separation from service. If you leave your employer before retirement, the funds are usually kept in a Trust until you reach retirement age (or until a specified age at which you can start to receive the benefits). Continue reading...

What is an Uptick?

An uptick is an incremental increase in the trading price of a security. Uptick is a slight increase in the trading price of a security. The word comes from the "ticker price" of a stock, which used to be printed out on ticker tape from a printer connected to telecommunication lines which reported updates in trading information throughout the day. Now tickers run electronically across the bottom of television screens and so on. Continue reading...

What is the Size of our National Debt?

The total United States national debt is $19.3 trillion as of fiscal year (FY) 2016. Total debt is near what the U.S. produces in annual GDP, and a majority of our national debt is public debt — money owed to those who have Treasury obligations. The U.S. also owes a large amount of money to foreign countries (foreign debt), but a majority of U.S. debt is held domestically. As of June 2012, the three countries who hold the most of our national debt are: Continue reading...

What is Investment Banking?

Investment banking activity is different than traditional banking. Investment banks often serve as intermediaries that underwrite a new issue of stock and help to distribute it. They also trade in their own accounts, run hedge funds, and generally invest and speculate in ways that most institutions can’t. Investment banks can assist with new issues of stocks and bonds, purchasing large blocks of them to distribute at a premium. Continue reading...

What is the Glass-Steagall Act?

The Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933 to place a dividing wall between commercial banking and investment banking. It was in an effort to protect consumers and the economy from the risks of speculative investment banking. JP Morgan and other large institutions were targeted. The act was partially repealed and replaced in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. After 2008, some opined that the repeal of the original act contributed to the financial crises, and they instituted the Volcker Rule, which reinstated part of the original Glass-Steagall act. Continue reading...