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IntroductionMarket AbbreviationsStock Market StatisticsThinking about Your Financial FutureSearch for AdvisorsFinancial CalculatorsFinancial MediaFederal Agencies and Programs

Investment PortfoliosModern Portfolio TheoriesInvestment StrategyPractical Portfolio Management InfoDiversificationRatingsActivities AbroadTrading Markets

Investment Terminology and InstrumentsBasicsInvestment TerminologyTrading 1 on 1BondsMutual FundsExchange Traded Funds (ETF)StocksAnnuities

Technical Analysis and TradingAnalysis BasicsTechnical IndicatorsTrading ModelsPatternsTrading OptionsTrading ForexTrading CommoditiesSpeculative Investments

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

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...

A theory about what will happen and why is a hypothesis, and to prove the hypothesis has some relevancy it will have to be compared to the probability of getting those results by pure chance. A hypothesis is a testable prediction of results that should be observed due to the effects of an independent variable. Such predictions must be tested against the probability of the resulting observations happening due to complete chance instead of the influence of the independent variable. Continue reading...

Compounding refers to when your asset generates interest, and then that interest is reinvested to create additional interest on the now larger amount. Put simply, it’s when your earnings generate additional earnings. Albert Einstein once referred to compound interest as the “greatest mathematical discovery of all time.” Compound interest only requires two things to work: interest and time. Long-term investors that can resist the temptation to touch any of the principal or interest over the life of their investment are sure to reap the magnificent rewards of compound interest. Continue reading...

A coefficient of Variation is a statistical measure of expected return relative to the amount of risk assumed. It’s also known as “relative standard deviation,” which makes sense since that implies that your expected risk is adjusted based on the expected return. You can easily calculate the Coefficient of Variation by dividing the standard deviation of the security by its expected return. Continue reading...

The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is the compound discount rate which an investor would have to get to go from a present value to a future value. The compound annual growth rate can be computed using the ending value of an investment and taking the Nth root of it for the number of compounding periods (usually years). The idea is to have a smoothed average number that an initial would have to have received in a compounding investment to end up at the future value. Continue reading...

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...

Standard Deviation is a measurement of how far from the average (mean) the majority of a data set lies. Standard Deviation is a measure of variability, and it is on a different scale for each data set being measured; there is no “standard” standard deviation. It is possible to normalize it for comparison to other data sets using measurements like r-squared and the sharpe ratio. The number arrived at when computing standard deviation is going to reveal the distance, in terms of one of the quantifiable variables being observed, from the average, in either a positive or negative direction, within which 68% of the data set falls. Continue reading...

Also known as the annual equivalent rate (AER), the effective annual interest rate is the actual annual interest rate on a bond or loan when it compounds more than once a year. The effects of compounding will make the AER higher than the annual interest rate if the security compounds greater than annually. Continue reading...

Financial traders use correlation to describe the movement of securities – how and when they move – relative to each other during a given time period. These relationships lend themselves well to pairs trading, where traders have developed an understanding of correlations and their behavior that allow them to confidently exploit slight changes to minimize risk and maximize profitable transactions. Continue reading...

The Time Value of Money is a theme for discourse and calculations related to the effect of interest on money over time, and the interrelation between Present Value and Future Value. The Time in the equation of Rate of Return x Time x Present Value = Future Value has a value and an effect on the Future Value (or the Present Value depending on what you're solving for). The Time Value of Money is, at it's simplest, something which nearly everyone has seen but hasn't heard called by that name: turn this amount of money into that amount of money by letting it grow in the market for a length of time. Continue reading...

The contribution margin ratio is a financial metric that presents the profit (less variable expenses) as a percentage of net sales. It helps businesses understand the profitability of individual products or the entire business and can be used to make informed decisions about pricing, production, and profitability. However, the contribution margin ratio has limitations and should be considered in conjunction with other financial and non-financial factors when making business decisions. Continue reading...

The investment options in an annuity depend on the insurance company offering the product. The investment options are generally limited, however. If you decided on a Fixed Annuity, the insurance company agrees to pay you a fixed percentage for a set period of time – the rest is completely handled by the company. Usually, this percentage is higher in the beginning (teaser rate), and might go down periodically. Continue reading...

There are fixed annuities, fixed/indexed annuities, variable annuities, hybrid annuities, income annuities, period income annuities, and possibly more. Insurance companies, and the insurance subsidiary wings of investment companies, have had many years to develop strategies and marketing ploys that help clients accumulate, protect, and distribute assets within various kinds of annuities. Variable annuities allow the annuitant to participate in the market through mutual funds — or, more accurately, “separate accounts” that mimic mutual funds. Continue reading...

Dividend rollover plan is another, rarely used way to refer to a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP). Unfortunately just reinvesting dividends in a systematic way will not get you out of any tax implication associated with the dividends attributed to your account. An automatic dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) is an option in some investment accounts and financial products. Any dividends paid out will be reinvested in the same mutual fund, ETF, or stock at the earliest possible opportunity. Continue reading...

Universal Life Insurance is a permanent cash value insurance that has a term-insurance component and a savings component as well. The savings component is invested in a tax-deferred account, designed to create a cash build-up that can increase the death benefit or to be used at the discretion of the policy-owner. The cash grows inside the policy tax-deferred, and if money is taken out as a loan, it avoids taxation as income. Continue reading...

Annuities are financial products/contracts generally sold by insurance companies to protect an investor’s assets against downside market risk and long life expectancies. Investors have to pay premiums/fees in order to secure the guarantees. Annuities are very important investment instruments, and can be an indispensable part of your overall investment portfolio. Keep in mind that annuities are very aggressively marketed, and it is very important to understand exactly how they work. Continue reading...

Annuities are financial products developed and sold generally by insurance companies, and they are designed to protect an investor’s principle against the risks of market fluctuations and longevity (life expectancy). Annuities get their names from a series of payments which are based on an annualized payout rate. Annuities formerly just offered fixed payments for life, like a pension, and they were developed by life insurance companies who would use their mortality tables to determine the payout rates. Continue reading...

Fixed annuities, generally speaking, are annuity products that give the purchaser of the annuity the guarantee of fixed income payments for life. Annuities must come with the option to be paid out in equal payments either over a certain number of years or the lifetime(s) of the annuitant(s). This is the case for variable and fixed annuities, and these payments will be fixed and guaranteed. Where they differ is how they are invested before any annuitization takes place. Continue reading...

Income annuities are used by people in retirement to give them a steady, dependable stream of income until they die. It is a financial product sold by a life insurance company, which serves as a kind of longevity insurance, so that people cannot outlive their money. People often roll lump sums from 401(k)s into these plans. Though inflexible, the income payout rate is designed to be appealing when compared to most retirement investments. Continue reading...

The assumed rate of return on an investment is an important consideration, especially since assuming a rate of return that is too high might cause the individual to under-invest. You should understand the difference between an assumed rate of return that is optimal and one that is going to give you the highest probability of reaching your goals. In a perfect world, your portfolio would average 15-20% per year, forever, but this is really not feasible. Continue reading...

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