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How Do I Structure My Bond Portfolio?

There are three major ways to structure a bond portfolio: a ladder strategy, a barbell strategy, and a bullet strategy. A ladder strategy is structured by purchasing bonds of varying maturity dates, all at the same time. This means there will be several opportunities to make decisions at different dates in the future, so the owner of this portfolio keeps his or her options open to some extent, and has some liquidity over the course of the duration. A ladder might be used when rates are expected to stay about the same. Continue reading...

What is Cash Budget?

Budgeting is the act of planning accounts for the future. A cash budget plans out the expected cash flow of a business. Sales and production estimations are used along with historical cash flow data to project where money will come from and where it will be spent in the months ahead. A cash budget tends to be laid out on a monthly basis. Accounting is the documentation of the outlay of all expenses and income from the past, while budgeting is act of building an outlay for the future. A cash budget tries to ensure that there is more cash coming in than going out; any excess cash can be rolled forward into the budget plans for the following months, and this is called a cash roll. Continue reading...

What are the Best Financial Programs to Use?

What are the Best Financial Programs to Use?

There are many apps and online programs that investors can use, often for free, to help keep an eye on their holdings and to track their investment portfolio. In addition to the software accessible through your custodian, you might want to look at the programs available through Morningstar, Microsoft Money, and others. Apps on your phone (CNBC, TheStreet, Barron’s, MarketWatch, etc.) can keep you updated on market news related to your stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. You can also subscribe to market commentaries delivered via email. Continue reading...

What Websites and Apps Can Help Me With Personal Budgeting?

What Websites and Apps Can Help Me With Personal Budgeting?

There is a thriving industry committed to helping people plan and maintain a personal budget through online tools and apps. Perhaps the most-used personal budgeting tool as of this writing is Mint, which allows a user to link their bank accounts into the budgeting software, and then sends the information right into a tax filing after the new year. A list such as this is almost definitely going to be outdated by the time you read it; your favorite search engine or app store may turn up more relevant results than this. Continue reading...

What is the Ladder Strategy for Structuring My Bond Portfolio?

The ladder provides the bondholder with a degree of freedom and some liquidity to take part in possibly improved interest rates in the future. The ladder strategy distributes your funds uniformly among bonds with various durations. For example, if you have $10,000, you buy one bond with a duration of one year, one bond with a duration of two years, etc. If the interest rates go up when the shorter-duration bonds expire, you will be able to reinvest this money with a higher coupon rate (of course, keep in mind that your longer-duration bonds would have fallen in price). Continue reading...

What is the Barbell Strategy for Structuring my Bond Portfolio?

A barbell strategy avoids intermediate-term bonds and equally invests in very short term and very long term durations. The barbell strategy divides a sum, for instance $10,000, equally among bonds with short durations and bonds with long durations. If the interest rates will go up sharply, the proceeds from your short-duration bonds will be reinvested into new bonds with much higher coupons. If the interest rates drop sharply, the proceeds from the bonds with shorter durations will be reinvested at a much lower coupon, but on the other hand, your long-duration bonds will rise sharply in price. Continue reading...

What kind of hedge funds exist?

What kind of hedge funds exist?

Hedge funds can employ many strategies and focus on virtually any kind of investing style or market. They also have the flexibility to change their strategy as they see fit. Morningstar and other services will group hedge funds into categories and provide benchmarks based on their average performances. As of 2016, there are over 12,000 hedge funds, and over half of those are required to report to the SEC. Continue reading...

What is a straddle?

What is a straddle?

Straddles are options strategies that use both a call and put on the same underlying asset at the same strike price and expiration. The Straddle strategy involves either buying a call and a put with the same strike price and expiration, or selling a call and a put with the same strike price and expiration. The former is known as a Long Straddle, and the latter is known as a Short Straddle. Long straddles profit from significant price movement in either direction on the underlying asset. Continue reading...

What does 'Poison Pill' Mean?

A ‘poison pill’ is a maneuver by a company to make itself less attractive to a hostile takeover. It can be used in an effort to avoid the takeover altogether, or at least to make the takeover more painful for the bidder. One type of poison pill is a “flip-in,” which allows shareholders to buy shares of the company being targeted at a discount, which makes the takeover more expensive and more difficult. Continue reading...

How Do You Make a Paper Bitcoin Wallet?

How Do You Make a Paper Bitcoin Wallet?

Because bitcoin wallets and balances are little more than a few lines of code, it is often desired to move the wallet offline into paper form. Generally speaking, it is not a difficult process. The way bitcoin transactions work, funds are sent to a specific address that signifies the wallet of the payee. People can possess multiple wallet addresses, which can be quickly generated at no cost, and this is often preferential for security and privacy reasons. Services such as bitaddress.org allow users to generate new wallet addresses and then help users encrypt and print paper versions of the necessary information to keep their bitcoin balances offline for cold storage in physical form. Extensive tutorials on how to do this exist online in forums and videos. Some people like this option because it removes any chance of their wallet being hacked. Continue reading...

What is a vertical spread?

What is a vertical spread?

A Vertical Spread involves the strategy of buying and selling an equal number of options on the same underlying security with the same expiration date, but different strike prices. Vertical Spreads can be both bullish and bearish, depending on your view of the underlying security. If you use calls, you are constructing a Vertical Bull Spread, and if you’re using puts, you’re constructing a Vertical Bear Spread. Continue reading...

What Can You Buy with Bitcoin?

What Can You Buy with Bitcoin?

With every day that passes, bitcoin is becoming a more usable and accepted form of payment for a variety of goods and services, even those in the mainstream economy. To be sure, it’s arguably a long way off from being able to use bitcoin for small purchases at your local coffee shop or for big purchases like buying a house, but it is not unfathomable. The financial company Visa (ticker: V) has been working with bitcoin wallet services and various cryptocurrency exchanges to make cryptocurrency debit cards easy to acquire and use. These cards are known by names such as the Shift Card, Bitwala, BitPay, and others, partially depending on the region of the world in which they can be used. These cards allow users to transfer funds from Bitcoin wallets and immediately convert them into spendable fiat currency wherever Visa debit cards are accepted. Customers can also withdraw national currencies from Visa debit ATM machines based on bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange rates, which often fluctuate wildly. Continue reading...

How do I Calculate my Expenses?

Keeping track of your expenses is one of the most important (and basic) steps to leading a responsible financial life. It might be tempting to “eyeball” your expenses and somehow get by without a plan, but in almost all cases, such carelessness will spell financial disaster. Budgeting your money for specific categories of expenses and carefully documenting the actual spending is critical. You should add up amounts spent on monthly mortgage and car payments, rent, groceries, clothing, entertainment, utilities, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses, and try to get as close to possible to a monthly budget. Continue reading...

What is the role of asset allocation in my investments?

What is the role of asset allocation in my investments?

The single best control mechanism over the performance of your investments is the maintenance of an asset allocation strategy. When testing various methods of predicting and controlling returns in a portfolio, researchers found that having and maintaining an asset allocation strategy was the method that reaped the most predictable returns – with 80-90% accuracy. Asset allocation is the distribution of various asset classes and investments into a portfolio mix in a deliberate way to gain specific amounts of exposure to each investment. It is a practice used to diversify and manage risk. Asset Allocation is a dynamic process; it’s not something you do once and forget about. Continue reading...

What is a strangle?

What is a strangle?

A strangle is an options strategy which is profitable if the price of the underlying security swings either up or down because the investor has purchased a call and a put just out of the money on either side of the current price of the underlying. To execute a strangle an investor chooses an underlying security which he or she anticipates will experience some price volatility around a given expiration date for options, but is not sure which way it will go, so a call and a put are both purchased. Continue reading...

Stock Portfolio Definition

Stock Portfolio Definition

All of the investments held by an individual or mutual fund or other entity are referred to as that person or entity's portfolio. These investments can range from securities to cash to real assets held for the purpose of preservation, growth, or income; essentially anything that is part of a long-term financial strategy that is held separate from daily operations and cash flow can be considered part of a portfolio. The gains and losses of all the singular investments held are totaled up to find the overall return of the portfolio. Continue reading...

What is a covered call?

What is a covered call?

A covered call is when the writer or seller of a call option either owns the underlying security, or has a guaranteed way to obtain it. Investors are able to open a position for another investor to take. An example of this would be selling a call option. The seller, or “writer,” of the contract is obligated to fulfill the contractual obligation outlined in the call, namely to deliver 100 shares of the underlying stock to the owner of the call option in exchange for the strike price listed in the call contract. Continue reading...

How Do You Store Your Bitcoin?

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...

How Do I Take Money From My 401(k) After I Retire?

Different 401(k) custodians will have different distribution options available to participants in retirement. After you retire, you have at least two disbursement options: lump-sum distribution and periodic distribution. If you take a lump-sum distribution that is not bound for an IRA, you will incur a significant tax bill, since all 401(k) distributions are taxable. Periodic distributions may mean that every so often you can choose an amount to be paid out to you on a quarterly basis, for example, while your investments remain intact and you attempt to accrue more interest on your money. Continue reading...

What is backtesting?

What is backtesting?

Analytical financial theories and trading strategies can be “backtested” by applying them to historical data. Backtesting is to simulate what it would have been like to use a certain strategy or indicator in the past. Because markets are more complicated than a simple algorithm, such as an assumed future rate of return, it is preferable and somewhat more dramatic to use actual historical data for testing. There is an abundance of historical market data available to those who would like to use it for backtesting a theory, strategy, or indicator. Continue reading...