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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 is Cash Flow After Taxes?

Cash flow after taxes (CFAT) is nearly the same thing as EBITDA, but with taxes left in. One way to arrive at Cash Flow After Taxes is to take the net income of the business and add in interest, amortization, depreciation and other non-cash expenses. This is one item away from the formula for EBITDA, which also adds tax back in to arrive at the Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization. Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My 403(b)?

Investing in a 403(b) is done by making contributions via payroll deductions and selecting investment options from among the available choices with your custodian. Payroll deductions on a pretax basis are routed into your 403(b) account with your consent. This can be done by telling the payroll department what percentage of your compensation you would like to send there, or by telling the plan custodian company, who tells your payroll department. Continue reading...

What is a Thrift Savings Plan?

A Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a 401(k)-style plan for Federal employees. A Thrift Savings Plan functions the same way a 401(k) does – you can elect to contribute a portion of your salary, known as an employee deferral or employee contribution, and the money will be allowed to grow in the account tax-deferred. The TSP is only available to Federal Employees and United States military personnel. There is a flat contribution of 1% from the employer, and, depending on the type of Federal job, employees may be eligible for a matching contribution from the employer. Continue reading...

Which is Better for Me: a Roth or Traditional IRA?

The choice between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA depends on available discretionary income and financial situation. Both IRAs have the same contribution limits. The Traditional IRA goes in pre-tax (generally), grows tax-deferred, and is taxable as income on withdrawal. The Roth goes in after-tax, grows tax-deferred, and is not taxable upon withdrawal. That’s the primary difference. This will allow you to lower your current taxable income by making Traditional IRA contributions, which may seem more appealing in a number of ways. There’s the effect of immediate gratification that leads investors to favor this way, and the fact that you’re technically paying more (by the amount of taxes you paid on the after-tax Roth) to make the same current contribution to a Roth. Continue reading...

What is After-Hours Trading?

After-Hours Trading on the Nasdaq can take place after market close from 4-8pm EST or in the pre-market hours from 4-9:30am EST. Pre- and Post-market trading used to be reserved for large institutional investors or high net worth individuals, but is now made possible through the improvements to electronic trading networks and the demand from individuals trading from their computers at home. Interestingly, institutional investors can trade anonymously on the after-hours Nasdaq market, such that virtually no one knows what positions they take during that time. This is called trading in “dark pools of liquidity.” Traders on the after-hours Nasdaq cannot make certain kinds of trades or use certain instruments. Continue reading...

What Part of the Contribution into My IRA is Tax-Deductible?

Traditional IRAs can get interesting if you or a spouse is covered by a qualified plan at work. You are able to deduct all of your contributions into a Traditional IRA as long as you (or your spouse) are not a participant in an employer-sponsored retirement program. If either of you are, there are certain regulations you should be aware of. The amount of your contribution that can be tax-deductible is determined by your (and your spouse’s) modified adjustable gross income (MAGI). Continue reading...

What is Federal Income Tax?

The Federal Government has established several ways to generate the revenue needed to pay for the operations of government agencies and capital improvements benefiting society. The primary source of these funds is through income taxes, which are assessed based on the earnings of an individual. Federal income taxes are paid by individuals in proportion to their earnings, after reducing the considered earnings by the allowable tax deductions. Continue reading...

What is a Coverdell ESA?

A Coverdell ESA is an account which can be used to save for educational expenses. These used to be called Educational IRAs until someone realized that didn’t make sense. A Coverdell Educational Savings Account (ESA) allows you to save money for your child’s future education costs. As opposed to a 529 Plan, which is limited to post-high school education, money from an ESA can be used as early as Kindergarten. Continue reading...

Who Can Put Money into an IRA?

There are some income limits and contribution limits on who can contribute to an IRA. Generally speaking, as long as you or your spouse is earning taxable income, you can contribute money to an IRA, be it a Roth or a Traditional IRA. There are limits at which you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA (in 2016, the limit is $132,000 for a single filer and $194,000 for a married couple). There are also income limits at which you are no longer able to deduct contributions to a Traditional IRA, but these are only applicable if you or your spouse has a qualified retirement plan at work. Continue reading...

What are the Vesting Rules for my SEP IRA?

All SEP contributions are immediately vested for employees. SEPs are funded entirely by employer contributions, and these contributions are immediately vested for the employee. In other words, the contribution belongs to you immediately after it has been made, notwithstanding standard withdrawal rules. Withdrawal rules for a SEP are the same as those for Traditional IRAs. Continue reading...

What is a Matching Contribution?

Employers can contribute to an employee’s 401(k) on a matching basis. Some employers will make additional contributions to your 401(k) based on the amount of your own contributions. Matching can be done on a dollar-for-dollar basis, meaning that for every dollar you contribute to your account, they will add a dollar as well. It can also be done using a factor, such as ½, meaning they will contribute a dollar every time you contribute two. Continue reading...

What is Contribution Margin?

Contribution margin measures how efficiently a company can produce a good relative to its variable cost. Goods with high contribution margins are the most profitable. The contribution margin can be helpful in deciding what goods can go on sale and for how much, and it allows management to decipher how to improve efficiency in production while keeping variable costs low. Additionally, if there is a bottleneck in the supply chain for an input that is used to produce two different products, management could use contribution margin to decide which product takes takes priority. Continue reading...

Who Can Contribute to a Roth IRA?

Most people will be able to contribute to a Roth, but once your income hits certain limits, you may need to find another way. Many people use Roth IRAs to make after-tax retirement contributions that will not be taxable upon withdrawal. If you have earned income under certain income limits, you can fund a Roth for yourself and even for a non-working spouse. Roth IRAs cannot be opened by everyone: the income limits are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and marital status. Continue reading...

How Do Deductible and Non-Deductible IRAs Differ?

It is possible to make non-deductible contributions to an IRA, even if you have a qualified plan at work. Traditional IRAs are a good place to stash retirement money because of the tax treatment. Some people will choose to make contributions even when they are not deductible, which gives us two kinds of Traditional IRAs: deductible and non-deductible. Deductible IRAs provide a way to lower your taxes because you can deduct contributions to your IRA from your income. Nondeductible IRAs do not allow you to deduct your contributions, but they still retain their tax-deferred growth. Unlike a Roth, these after-tax contributions will be taxed upon withdrawal as income. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between a Thrift Savings Plan and Other Retirement Plans?

The main difference is that the TSP is only for Federal employees. A Thrift Savings Plan is essentially a 401(k) for employees of the federal government. It functions in the same ways and is subject to the same limitations. The contribution limits and catch-up limits are the same, as well as the employer contribution limit. The plan actually has lower fees than most 401(k)s, so that’s one difference. The investment options are fairly limited, but not much more than regular 401(k)s. There are basically 5 index funds to choose from and then a series of target-date funds that blend the index funds. 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 Gross Income?

For tax purposes, Adjusted Gross Income is the basis of an individual’s income tax calculations, before “below the line” deductions. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is Gross Income (all of an individual’s earnings for the year) minus above-the-line deductions such as retirement plan contributions, education and medical expenses, Health Savings Accounts, alimony, military exemptions, and so on. After these adjustments, a person can take the standard federal deduction or itemize their other deductions. These are known as below-the-line deductions. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits for my Self-Employed 401(k)?

There is a high possible contribution you can make to your own 401(k), but you still have to pay attention to the limits. As of 2016, you may contribute up to $53,000 annually to your Self-Employed 401(k), plus a $6,000 catch-up contribution if you’re over 50. If your spouse is also on the payroll, you are allowed to have a combined contribution of up to $106,000, or $118,000 if you’re both over 50. Continue reading...

What Are the Contribution Limits For My Thrift Savings Plan?

Contribution limits for the TSP are the same as regular 401(k)s. Employees and employers using the TSP will have the same contribution limits as 401(k) plans. An employee can defer up to $18,000 a year in 2016, plus a $6,000 catch-up deferral if the employee is over 50 years old. The employer can contribute up to a maximum total balance of $53,000 (or $59,000 if the employee is over 59 ½), including employee deferrals. There is a standard 1% employer flat contribution, and some Federal employees will also receive a match. Continue reading...