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Investment Terminology and InstrumentsBasicsInvestment TerminologyTrading 1 on 1BondsMutual FundsExchange Traded Funds (ETF)StocksAnnuities
Technical Analysis and TradingAnalysis BasicsTechnical IndicatorsTrading ModelsPatternsTrading OptionsTrading ForexTrading CommoditiesSpeculative Investments
Cryptocurrencies and BlockchainBlockchainBitcoinEthereumLitecoinRippleTaxes and Regulation
RetirementSocial Security BenefitsLong-Term Care InsuranceGeneral Retirement InfoHealth InsuranceMedicare and MedicaidLife InsuranceWills and Trusts
Retirement Accounts401(k) and 403(b) PlansIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRA)SEP and SIMPLE IRAsKeogh PlansMoney Purchase/Profit Sharing PlansSelf-Employed 401(k)s and 457sPension Plan RulesCash-Balance PlansThrift Savings Plans and 529 Plans and ESA
Personal FinancePersonal BankingPersonal DebtHome RelatedTax FormsSmall BusinessIncomeInvestmentsIRS Rules and PublicationsPersonal LifeMortgage
Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

How Can You Buy a Stock?

There are many services online and custodians that that can facilitate stock trades. Anybody can buy shares of a publicly traded company, but it must be done through a brokerage firm or a custodian. Brokers and brokerage firms act as middle men between the buyer and the seller. Some brokerage houses such as E-Trade, Ameritrade, or Charles Schwab offer low-cost services online to anyone with a checking account, and offer no personal advice. Other brokerage firms focus on the human element, offering investment advice and making additional money through long-term client relationships and the commissions and fees that result from portfolio management. 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 is a Bank Draft?

The truest definition of a Bank Draft is a check written with the certification of a customer’s bank. Bank Drafts are checks also known as Bank Checks and Cashier’s Checks. They have already been cleared at the writing institution and they provide an extra endorsement that the payment is good. Regular personal checks do not need to be co-signed or verified before they are used as payment, whether or not there is enough money in an account to cover it. Continue reading...

What is Cash and Cash Equivalents?

Cash and cash equivalents are negotiable instruments which have a stable value and are highly liquid. Cash and Cash Equivalents is a phrase used often in the financial world. Generally money market accounts are the most used cash equivalent. They are invested in currency, and their goal is to preserve the value of the the investor’s dollars. Money market accounts are basically completely liquid, and investors can even write checks and make ATM withdrawals from their money market accounts. Continue reading...

What is a Lifeline Account?

Lifeline accounts are offered by some banks, and are required in some states to be offered by all banks — they give low-income individuals an opportunity to bank without paying fees or observing a minimum balance. This is done in an effort to promote social mobility by giving everyone access to banking services. You are likely to be able to find a bank that offers free checking accounts anyway, but some states have mandated that banks allow for so-called “lifeline accounts,” which have fewer features than other checking accounts but which may be the only banking option available for low-income banking customers. Continue reading...

What are Bank Fees?

Bank fees are penalties or maintenance requirements that may apply to checking, savings, or money market accounts. Banks may charge fees for specific types of transactions, if a check bounces, or just a monthly checking account fee. There are many other types of fees and reasons for them. They may be penalties, such as an overdraft fee, or they may be customary for the kind of transaction or account being used. Continue reading...

What is an Account Number?

An account number is a serialized identifier which is ascribed to a particular account holder or account at a financial institution, retailer, or other entity. Account numbers may include letters or numbers and may be of various length, but they usually exceed 5 characters. An account number is a way for a company or organization to uniquely identify the accounts associated with each individual customer. Continue reading...

What is an Account Balance?

An account balance is the amount either credited to or owed on a ledger assigned to a particular entity or line-item. The balance of an account is the net debit or credit assigned to it after all transactions have been documented for a current period. Transactions might be deposits, withdrawals, interest credited, fees, or other activity. The account in question could be a personal savings or checking account, or a ledger account at a business or institution, or another form of account, such as the macroeconomic concept of current national account. Accounts are said to be “in the red” when there is a net debit (negative) amount, and “in the black” when there is a net positive balance (net credit). Continue reading...

What is Accounts Payable for Accounting?

Accounts Payable is part of the Current Liabilities section of a company’s books. Accounts Payable are the short-term expenses and debts that a company must pay out in the near future. These might include utility bills and regular expenses, debt service, and bills to regular suppliers and vendors. The amounts that appear in the Payables, as they are also called, have not been paid out yet, but are scheduled to be paid within the current quarter, generally. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable for Accounting?

Also simply called Receivables, the Accounts Receivable line on a General Ledger will contain the amounts owed to the company which are due to be received in the near future. If a company offers financing for the items it sells, or it has regular payments coming in for things such as rent, leases, monthly subscription or membership fees, and so on, they will have substantial numbers in their accounts receivable. Continue reading...

What is Account Reconcilement?

Account reconcilement is the act of comparing and affirming multiple records of the same financial information. To “reconcile the books” is to compare different records of the same accounts to ensure that they match up. One might reconcile all the different record-keeping for the same account, such as copies of checks and receipts, to be sure that they add up to the balance and ledger shown on a bank account statement. It could be that the recipient of a check has not yet cashed it, and it is important to keep all records “synced” with one another. Continue reading...

Can I Rollover My 401(k) into an IRA?

Yes, in fact this is what most people do. This is a very popular choice. Because Traditional IRAs receive the same kind of tax treatment as 401(k)s, with pretax contributions, tax-deferred growth, and taxable withdrawals, the IRS allows you to move funds over without creating a taxable event. Of course, you need to have an IRA account to do so, but it can be as easy as opening an account online and telling the custodian company the account information for your old 401(k). Continue reading...

What is an Account Hold?

An Account Hold is similar to the term Account Freeze, as both imply that transactions have been suspended for an account. A client’s financial institution might put a hold on his or her account if the individual is suspected of illegal activity, if the account is overdrawn, or if it is requested by a government entity, such as in a lien by the IRS, among other things. This is slightly different than a “freeze” or “moratorium” on the account. In a freeze, all pending transactions will be canceled and no new requests will be honored. Continue reading...

What is Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. Continue reading...

What is a Balance Sheet?

A company's balance sheet gives a picture of how all the assets, liabilities, and equities of the company "balance out." The basic accounting equation is Total Assets = Total Liabilities + Equity, and a Balance Sheet is going to detail these parts to show how everything adds up at the time of the report. With things equal on both sides of the equation, the company's books are balanced, the same way someone might go back through the carbon copies of checks they've written and "balance the checkbook" to make sure all checks written have been accounted for. Continue reading...

What is a Margin Account?

A margin account is one in which an investor uses borrowed money to purchase additional securities. An investor is almost always required to use the securities in the account as collateral for the borrowed money. The objective of a margin account is for the investor to magnify gains, but the opposite can also be true, and losses may lead the investor to have to sell securities in the account to cover the loan balance. There’s more upside in a margin account, but there’s more downside too. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Controls?

Internal control systems and procedures can ensure the accuracy and reliability of financial accounts at a business. Accounting controls are meant to ensure that the numbers being put onto the books are accurate. Internal controls are the practices that employees are trained to do, and may be audited on, which general involve some oversight or double-checking to filter out mistakes. This not only prevents mistakes, but also malfeasance, embezzlement and fraud. Accounting done wrong can result in criminal penalties, bankruptcy, and tax problems. Continue reading...

What is the Accounting Cycle?

The Accounting Cycle includes all of the documentation that is collected and all of the controls and systems in place to ensure accurate accounting. The Accounting Cycle begins with the point of sale, with documentation for the transaction (invoice or receipt) and the internal expenses and inventory. There are conventions, controls and systems in place to account for and control the flow of information in a company at each stage of the process to ensure that accounts are as accurate as possible. The Accounting Cycle may refer to the length of time between trial balances, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Policies?

Accounting policies are the internal controls of a company which stipulate the methods by which the books will be kept. Accounting policies are the agreed-upon accounting methods, conventions, and practices of an accounting cycle. A business must establish guidelines and training to ensure that accounts are kept in ways that satisfy their needs for documentation, security, liquidity, management, and the observation of applicable laws. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Records?

Accounting records are the supporting documents that verify the history of transactions, audits, and reports. Accounting documents are sometimes required to be kept on file for a certain number of years. They may be paper or electronic records. Records may include point-of-sale documents such as receipts and invoices, as well as inventory delivery and audit records, and the results of internal and third-party audits from various periods. Continue reading...