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How Much Does (and Will) Social Security Pay?

Social Security uses a formula that applies a factor to your average monthly income from the 35 years in which you earned the most. The benefit will be calculated for your Normal Retirement Age (67 for most people today), and you should receive statements in the mail keeping you updated on your projected or actual Social Security Retirement Benefits. Every year, you should get a statement from the Social Security Administration that provides you with exact numbers. The amount depends on the age at which you retire, and the contributions you made to Social Security over the years. The formula uses the 35 years in which you earned the most, and divides it by the total number of months in 35 years, which is 420, which leads to your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). Continue reading...

How Does Social Security Work?

Social Security uses mandatory payroll taxes to grow trust funds that are used to pay income to retirees and other qualifying persons. Any surplus that is collected in a given year and not paid out is used to purchase Treasury Bonds, which pay a guaranteed rate of interest to the trusts and allows the government to use this surplus money in the meantime. When you receive your paycheck, you’ll see a deduction for FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), which is a “combined payroll tax” for both Social Security and Medicare. Continue reading...

What are the Contribution Limits for a Roth IRA?

If you are eligible to make Roth IRA contributions, you can fund an account for yourself and a non-working spouse, up to the contribution limits. As of 2016, if you are under 50 years old, you are allowed to contribute $5,500 a year to your Roth IRA. If you have a spouse, even if he or she does not work, you can make contributions into an account for him or her, up to the full limit. For two people, that means $11,000 a year can be set aside each year. Continue reading...

What are the 401(k) Contribution Limits?

The contribution limits of 401(k)s are generally increased year-to-year and published by the IRS. As of 2016, an individual can contribute up to $18,000, or 100% of compensation, into their 401(k) account on a pre-tax basis. This is the employee’s contribution only, and does not include employer contributions. There is a $35,000 window that can hold employer contributions, which may contain matching contributions as well as a profit-sharing component for a total of $53,000 in employee/employer contributions per year. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted Cost Basis?

Adjusted Cost Basis (ABC) is the value of an item for tax purposes, adjusted for depreciation and expenditures. Sometimes abbreviated ABC, adjusted cost basis is the valuation of an item for tax purposes; that is, if it is to be bought or sold, what gains or losses would be assigned to it? Some business assets are depreciated on a set schedule, such as equipment. For equipment sold or taken as part of an acquisition a few years after it was purchased, the depreciation factor would reduce the value of the item for tax purposes by perhaps as much as 20% per year. If a company spent significant amounts of money improving a facility, the cost basis of the facility would go up by that amount. Continue reading...

What Is a Cost-of-Living Adjustment?

A cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is a crucial component of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs aimed at safeguarding recipients against the corrosive impact of inflation. Rising prices in the economy can erode the purchasing power of fixed-income beneficiaries, making it essential to periodically adjust their benefits to keep pace with the increasing cost of living. COLAs are calculated based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) for a specific period. Continue reading...

What are Federal Tax Brackets?

Income taxation in the United States is done by assigning different tax rates to each specific range of income. Generally the lower income amounts will correspond to lower percentage toward federal income tax than higher income amounts. This is called a progressive tax and is frequently misunderstood. Many people mistakenly think that if they “fall into” a specific tax bracket based on their income that they will owe that higher tax rate that corresponds to the bracket on all of their income. Continue reading...

What is Accounting Profit?

Profit is a term that is synonymous with earnings and net income, and it is basically what is left of revenues after expenses. All of these are basically computed the same way: gross revenue minus the cost of goods sold, business expenses, and taxes. Some variations on each of these will choose to look at the numbers before certain expenses, such as taxes. For example, “gross” accounting profit could be defined as revenue minus cost of goods sold, while “operating” profits would also subtract the costs of business expenses and operations, and “net” profits would also subtract taxes. Continue reading...

What is Income Per Capita?

Income for an area or country it totaled up and divided by the total population of the area to give us the Income Per Capita statistic. Per capita is Latin for “by head,” and income per capita takes every man, woman, and child into account. Income per capita is a statistic that divides the total amount of income reported in an area by the total population of the area. This shows us how much income, as a resource, is available on average to each person in the area. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted EBITDA?

Basically synonymous with Normalized EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP method of making earnings valuations a little more standardized between companies. Adjusted Earnings is a valuation that has many moving parts in the form of the interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that might be included there, in addition to the non-GAAP nature of the methods. EBITDA removes all of those moving parts and looks at the Earnings before any of the other arithmetic interferes, hence the name Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. Continue reading...

What is the Income of the Average American?

This is a simple question, but one that varies almost exclusively based on geographical location (cost of living). According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008, the Median Household Income for the state of Mississippi was $37,818, while the figure for Maryland was $70,482. In California, the average was at $61,017, and in Arkansas it was $38,820. Since the cost of living is drastically different in various states, counties, and even cities, the figure changes drastically. In San Francisco, California, for example, the median income for 2008 was $71,957, while in Billings, Montana, the figure was $35,147 (less than half as much). Continue reading...

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a document that dictates your wishes in the event you become incapable of making decisions, whether because of illness or injury. The directives in a living will are almost always related to person's desires regarding their medical treatment in those circumstances of incapacitation, in which they are no longer able to express informed consent. What is Probate? Should I Notarize my Will? Continue reading...

How Do You Store Your Bitcoin?

In your “bitcoin wallet,” of course... Once you have acquired bitcoin, you will want to make sure that you store it in a secure fashion that suits your taste and needs. You have several options for this, since technically all you’re storing is a few lines of code, and this can be done on a computer, in a cloud, on a removable storage device, or on some sort of physical medium such as paper or even a physical manufactured bitcoin. Continue reading...

What is a Living Trust?

A living trust describes a trust designed to transfer assets to beneficiaries upon the death of the owner/grantor, which is established during the life of the grantor. They can take several forms, but most common ones are categorized as either revocable or irrevocable. Living trusts have a similar effect to a Last Will and Testament, both being legal documents that stipulate how the decedent would like property to be divided amongst beneficiaries upon the death of the owner or grantor of the trust. Continue reading...

What is a Living Will? (in-depth)

A living will is sometimes called an advance directive or a medical directive, and it specifies a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging medical procedures and other end-of-life issues. If a person is in a coma, for instance, it is intended to provide instructions for their care, including whether or not to use oxygen or “feeding tubes” to keep them alive. This might require a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) waiver of some kind, which tells medical staff not to intervene if the person is dying. The living will is different than the “will” that most people are familiar with, which is a Last Will and Testament, stipulating the person’s wishes for their estate after he or she has died. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Adjusted Return?

An accurate historical return calculation for an investment should be done with the dividends in mind, such as assuming all dividends were reinvested, which is the most common way they are used. Accurate historical information concerning prices and return should take the stock splits, dividends, and so-on into account. In a lesser-known context, dividend adjustment means a payment of accrued but yet-unpaid dividend amounts to the bearer of convertible preferred stock at the time that he or she converts them to shares of common stock. Continue reading...

How Much will Life Insurance Cost Me?

Various kinds of life insurance have various-size premium obligations. Term policies have the lowest premiums, which has to do with the lower probability that a company will have to pay a death claim during that term. Other policies may have cash value that begs the question of how “cost” is defined, if there is a rate of return. Life Insurance premium sizes and costs will depend on the type of policy and the underwriting decisions of the company for each person. The amount you will need to pay depends on a number of factors: type of insurance, your age, your health, and the amount of your death benefit. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted Gross Margin?

Adjusted Gross Margin accounts for the cost of maintaining inventory, which regular Gross Margin does not. Gross margin can be calculated offhand as the selling price of a good minus the price paid for the good (cost of goods sold). This is the simplest calculation for profit. The Adjusted Gross Margin takes into account the cost of maintaining an inventory as well, which is a step in the direction of accounting for the expenses of the business operation as a whole. Continue reading...

What is Cost of Debt?

The cost of debt is a calculation that determines the actual cost of a company’s debt financing. Since interest payments are generally tax deductible, the cost of debt may not be as simple as just adding up all of the interest paid on a loan. It would have to be adjusted for the tax savings, such that it is total interest paid less the tax savings. Continue reading...

What is a Variable Cost?

When budgeting for companies, some expenses are fixed overhead and some are variable, which depend on the amount of work being done. The direct cost of materials and labor are a good example of variable costs that will fluctuate with production levels. There may be an equation that the company can use to reliably predict these variable costs, but they are not fixed costs. From an accounting perspective, of course, these costs would be in separate sections. Fixed costs include warehousing, depreciation, insurances, rent, taxes, salaries, and so forth. These can be put into the budget before anything else happens or any orders have been taken for the year. The variable costs must be taken into account on the fly. Continue reading...