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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 Real Rate of Return?

Real rate of return is a notion that takes factors such as inflation and taxation into account before reporting a realized rate of interest on an investment. Economic theorist Irving Fisher first popularized the idea that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. Consider a bond that pays a steady coupon rate of 2% for the next 10 years. If inflation is more than 2%, the real rate of return on that investment is negative. If the investor got taxed on the nominal gains, the real rate of return is pushed further into negative territory. Continue reading...

What is Yield?

Yield is a term which describes the cash return on a security investment, and does not include appreciation. Yield is the cash paid out of an investment in the form of dividends and interest received. The term does not encompass the appreciation of the investment, and it may be evaluated in different ways for different types of investments, so comparisons of yield across asset types is not standardized or recommended. 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 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 are Current Yields?

The current yield on a bond takes into account its annual interest payment but also the price at which it can be sold. The yield on a bond held to maturity is fairly straightforward. However, if the bond you are holding is trading at a price higher or lower than where you purchased it, the current yield would be different than the yield to maturity. For example, if you purchased a 5% bond at a price of $100, but the current market price was $90, your current yield would be significantly lower than 5%. To calculate, simply divide annual cash inflows by market price. Continue reading...

What is Annual Percentage Yield (APY)?

APY is an annualization of an interest rate which may be assessed on a different schedule, such as on a monthly basis, and is useful for comparing debt and loan agreements that use different schedules. Annual Percentage Yield is a way to compare products and loans with different interest rates and different schedules for calculating the interest. It is a calculation of the effective annual rate, and it takes into account the effects of compounding interest, which a similar calculation for APR (Annual Percentage Rate) does not do. Continue reading...

What are the Tax Implications of Owning Bonds?

Some bonds receive preferential tax treatment. The interest you receive is fully taxable, unless the bonds are issued by municipalities, states, federal governments, or corporations with special tax-exempt statuses (such as school districts, infrastructure facilities, hospitals, and so on). The first very general rule of thumb – if you reside in a certain municipality and buy bonds of that municipality, the interest is not taxable. Continue reading...

What is a Yield Curve?

A yield curve is an illustration of the current duration-to-yield relationship for bonds of the same credit rating but different durations. As a general rule, the longer the duration of the loan, the more risk you take on (since you don't know what might happen with that corporation in the future), and therefore, you demand a higher reward (i.e., higher coupon). The yield curve for any bond (not just the US Treasury Bonds) changes daily based on many economic and market factors. Continue reading...

What is Yield to Maturity?

The payments remaining on an interest-paying bond or instrument, plus principal, are totaled up and then annualized, and this annual rate is the yield to maturity. Yield to maturity is a calculation that helps an investor decide if he or she is getting a good deal. If yield to maturity is greater than the coupon rate, the bond is trading a a discount. If yield to maturity is less than the coupon rate, it is selling at a premium. If they are equal the bond is trading at par value. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Yield?

A dividend yield is a ratio that represents how much a company pays in annual dividends relative to its share price. A dividend yield is represented as a percentage, and is easily calculated. Simply divide the annual dividends paid per year (dollar value) by the per share price of the stock. Here’s the equation in simple terms: Annual Dividends Per Share / Price Per Share = Dividend Yield A company with a higher dividend yield means they pay out more of their profits to shareholders, but it also means that company may be allocated less of their free capital towards investment, research, and other growth areas. Continue reading...

What is Bond Yield?

Bond yield is a measure of the return on investment for bonds, and there several kinds of yield that can be computed. Yield on a bond is the amount of interest that it pays annually, as a percentage of the amount invested — at least, this is the most common type of yield discussed, which is known as Current Yield. If a bond pays quarterly or monthly income to the investor, these payments are totaled up and divided by the amount invested. 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 an Inverted Yield Curve?

An inverted yield curve occurs when long-term treasuries have a lower yield than short-term treasuries. Normally, investors would not be interested in a such an arrangement and the yields would have to come up to generate some demand. However, if investor sentiment is bearish enough on bonds, they will seek to avoid the interest rate risk of short-term bonds, which will expire sooner and leave them unable to find a good rate at that point potentially. Investors with that mindset will pile on demand for long-term bonds, which drives the price up and the yields down. 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...

What Happens to the Price of a Bond After I Buy It?

Bonds can be traded on exchanges before their maturity date, but the price might fluctuate based on the current interest rate environment. As the buyer of, say, a $1,000 bond, you should be aware that as long as the company does not go bankrupt, you will receive $1,000 back at the date of maturity. During the life of the bond, however, the price at which you can sell that bond might oscillate depending on the interest rate environment and the perceived financial health of the company. Continue reading...

What is a Dividend ETF?

Dividend ETFs invest primarily in preferred stock and stocks that pay regular dividends. Strategically, they tend to be either Dividend Appreciation or High Yield. Dividend ETFs are equity dividend funds that seek income from preferred stocks, common stocks. As of 2016 there are over 130 Dividend ETFs, and that’s up from about 29 in 2011 and 45 in 2012. This has become a popular strategy, obviously, and they all seek to distinguish themselves from the pack. Continue reading...

What Percentage and What Kind of Bonds Should I Have in My Portfolio?

Bonds can provide consistency and balance to a portfolio otherwise comprised of stocks. In the long run, stocks are generally associated with a higher yield, but as we know, higher returns mean higher risks. Bonds are seen as a safer, yet lower-yielding investment. Bonds offer a spectrum of risk and return potential, however, and various kinds of bonds and bond funds can be used in various market climates and portfolios. Continue reading...

What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...