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

Is there a Benefit to Self-Managing?

An investor may be able to save money in management fees self-managing, but there are also limitations and risks. Perhaps the biggest risk is the role that emotion can play in investing. Even the most skilled professionals are tempted by emotions in the market - big declines like the financial crisis can make one second-guess whether the market has hope of recovering, and big gains can create confidence that leads to less prudent risk-taking. Continue reading...

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...

How do Advisors Charge and How Much Should I Pay?

It depends. There are three commonly used fee structures: fee-only, fee-based, and commission-based, Advisors can be compensated in three ways: It’s impossible to say exactly how much you will end up paying for an advisor – it really depends on the type of advisor you decide to hire, the amount of trading or planning you will be using them for, and the size of your portfolio. In some transactions with commission-based planners, you may not see any out-of-pocket cost; their commissions are built into the products in such a way that it may not appear that there is any direct cost for their services. Continue reading...

Where Do I Find a Financial Advisor?

A financial advisor can be found through an online search, at events, or through the recommendation of friends. Believe it or not, while there are thousands of resources and databases, the best way to find a Financial Advisor is to ask your friends. You will need to determine a few basic criteria when looking for a Financial Advisor, such as geographical location, his or her age bracket, years of experience, frequency and medium of communication, and the amount of fees you are willing to pay. While there are thousands of resources and databases, sometimes the easiest way to find a Financial Advisor is to ask your friends. Continue reading...

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Any professional that you work with for financial planning is going to be compensated for the work they do, but there are different ways they earn their pay. Whether it’s worth it to you is another question. If you have enough knowledge and time on your hands, and your investment portfolio is not very complicated, you may be able to manage it on your own. This can save you some money on financial advisor fees. Continue reading...

What are the Expenses Associated with the Purchase of ETFs?

There may be fees and commissions involved in the purchase of ETFs, and ongoing expenses that reduce earnings over time. Purchasing an ETF will probably involve paying some fees or commissions to the service or broker through which you acquired the shares, but these days those commissions are fairly minimal. These fees will be the same or less than you might pay for using their services to acquire positions in other securities. ETFs are a relatively cheap way to gain an exposure to a particular sector of the market or to take a position that might otherwise be difficult and expensive to research, calculate, and engineer. Continue reading...

What are No-Load Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds that do not charge a front-end or back-end sales load are known as no-load funds. What are Load Mutual Funds? While no-load mutual funds do not require the investor to pay sales charges (i.e., commissions) when buying or selling that fund, it’s important to remember that nothing is free, especially in the world of financial services. The portfolio manager of the fund and his team of analysts still have their salaries, bonuses, retirement benefits, and so on, and fees are needed to pay for it. Continue reading...

ETFs vs Mutual Funds -- What's the Difference?

ETFs vs Mutual Funds -- What's the Difference?

The better choice might be different for each investor. There is no clear-cut answer to this question, since it will depend on an investor’s unique situation and what’s being offered. If you intend to trade actively, ETFs might be a better choice since they have prices that update minute-to-minute during the day and their trades settle more quickly. If you are just buying and holding an index (see ‘index investing’), an ETF will give you the cost effective means for doing so. You may be able to buy into an ETF with lower initial requirements than a mutual fund, since you can buy one share instead of possibly having to meet a $1,000 minimum initial investment requirement for a mutual fund. Continue reading...

What is a Good Financial Advisor?

What is a Good Financial Advisor?

A good financial advisor should care as much about your investments as you do, and be personable and knowledgeable enough to make the relationship worth your time, money, and trust. Choosing a Financial Advisor is a bit like choosing a caretaker for your child: you would want someone who gives you a sense of security, who has professional references or the recommendation of a trusted friend, years of experience, is reliable and honest, can foster growth, and ideally, will care about your child almost as much as you do. Continue reading...

What is a "Breakpoint"?

What is a "Breakpoint"?

A breakpoint generally refers to a level of investment at which the fee structure changes. For mutual funds, it can mean a level that triggers a reduced sales load. An investor can either hit the breakpoint at the time of original investment or in some cases can sign a letter of intent to reach a certain investment level and qualify for the reduced fee that way. There may be multiple breakpoints for an investment, with the fee falling at each one. Continue reading...

How do I Buy an ETF?

ETFs are widely available through brokers and online trading services. ETFs can be purchased in the same way that you might purchase stocks. ETFs are priced continuously during the day, and reflect the underlying basket of stocks comprising this ETF. The fees and commissions investors pay for purchasing ETFs are exactly the same as those for stocks. The market for ETFs is highly liquid, with substantial trading volume every day. As such, ETFs are readily available and easy to acquire, but it is important to remember that they are not quite as simple as individual stocks. Continue reading...

Who is the best custodian for my investments?

Who is the best custodian for my investments?

Custodians are the institutions which hold your securities for you and provide some related services. Some will have various arrangements and relationships with exchanges and broker-dealers, and some may do everything in-house; such things have bearing on what your investment options are, how much equity you must have for margin, what kind of fees you pay for various services, and so on. Different custodians tend to structure their fees and services to a particular type of clientele or a particular account size. You may outgrow the custodian you have, or you may discover that there is a better, more affordable option for an account like yours. Continue reading...

What is a foreign transaction fee?

What is a foreign transaction fee?

Credit card companies and banks generally charge an additional percentage for all purchases made with a card in a foreign country. If you’re traveling abroad, you may want to find another way to pay. Most credit card companies and bank debit cards will charge an additional percentage on transactions made abroad, to help them pay the cost of clearing the transaction with international institutions. This is sometimes called a currency conversion fee. 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 are My Keogh Plan Investment Options?

Keoghs can hold a wide range of investments, and it will mostly depend on your plan trustee. Keogh plans have the ability to include many investment options, from stocks to bonds, certificates of deposit to cash value life insurance, and so on. Keep in mind that Keogh Plan investments are usually determined by the financial institution at which your Keogh Plan is established. When opening a Keogh Plan, be sure to check what investment options the financial institution offers, and how much in fees and commissions they would charge for these investments. Standard ERISA rules apply, so all employees must be offered the same options. Continue reading...

What is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)?

An RIA is an asset manager that is registered with the SEC (in whatever state(s) they operate) and complies with certain rules and regulations. RIAs typically earn their revenues through management fees, which are almost always based as a percentage of assets under management — the average management fee is between 1% - 2%. Having management fees as a percentage of assets allows for the interest of both parties to align - as the assets grow, so does the nominal amount of fees the RIA earns. Continue reading...

What are Load Mutual Funds?

“Load” mutual funds are those which have a fee structure that includes a front-end or back-end sales charge. All funds have expenses, but not all funds have loads. Loads are sales charges that are part of the fee structure of a mutual fund. Each mutual fund will typically offer a few types of shares classes to its investors, and the main difference between the share classes are their fee structures. There are front-end loads, which come out of your initial investment and can be up to 5%. Continue reading...

Should I sell my house without a real estate broker?

While it is possible to sell your house without a broker, it may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth. If a person can sell their own house or property without a real estate broker, he or she can avoid paying broker’s fees out of the proceeds. A person should realize, however that brokers are well-acquainted with the real estate marketplace, and may possibly already have some potential buyers in their pipeline.They are also ready to spend the time and money to market and show your property. Continue reading...

What are the Expenses Associated with Buying and Holding an Annuity?

Annuities are generally the most costly financial product, because the investor has to pay fees/expenses in order to secure the insurance guarantees offered. Investors should take care to examine and understand all of the fees and expenses associated with annuities before purchasing. Many annuities are sold by insurance salesmen or commission-based advisors who will receive a commission around 5% or more. These charges are not always apparent to you up front, as they do not usually come out of your actual principal according to your account balance. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was originally created to encourage market competition and to protect consumers by breaking up monopolies and monitoring mergers and acquisition activity. It has now branched out into more areas in the pursuit of consumer protection and fair markets. The FTC is now comprised of three bureaus: Consumer Protection, Competition, and Economics. They protect consumers from fraudulent business activity and monopolistic business practices. Continue reading...