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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...

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...

What is a Leveraged Loan?

A leveraged loan is a commercial loan that is generally created by a few participants, and packaged and offered by one or several investment banks. Leveraged loans are typically targeted at companies that already have a significant amount of debt and may be limited in their options to access capital elsewhere. They are considered on the higher end of the risk spectrum. Continue reading...

What is a Jumbo Loan?

A jumbo loan is a mortgage loan that exceeds the conforming loan limits set by the Office of Federal Enterprise Housing Oversight. For borrowers with low debt to income ratios and good credit scores, jumbo loans are often utilized for purchases of larger or luxury homes. Often times jumbo loans are too large in size to be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and are securitized in other ways. Continue reading...

What are Subprime Loans?

Subprime loans are loans made by institutions to individuals who do not meet the industry standards for a desirable loan client. Lenders such as banks and mortgage companies are able to shift much of the risk of loans they make by selling the debt off to investors and investment banks in the form of collateralized mortgage obligations and other forms of securitized debt. This paves the way for lenders to adopt more liberal guidelines around who can receive a loan for their home purchase and so forth. A thorough banker who is preserving the financial stability of his employing institution will perform due diligence to prove that a client can meet the repayment schedule for the loan by showing adequate cash flow and credit history. Continue reading...

What is a Student Loan?

Expenses for tuition, room, and board at a secondary education institution can be loaned to a student and paid off over time in the form of a student loan. Tuition and other college expenses have inflated at a much faster rate than the rest of the consumer price index. These institutions can charge more and more as they experience student housing crunches and an ever-growing demand for college education. Continue reading...

What is an FHA Loan?

The Federal Housing Act of 1934 sought to make it easier for Americans to buy homes. It was believed and still is today to an extent that homeownership is a positive foundation for a healthy economy because it provides stability to communities, facilitating healthy family life, community involvement, and the development of businesses in an area where a community will support the business. The Federal Housing Administration runs the FHA loan program with the help of certified lending institutions. FHA loans are a way for lower income earners to be able to purchase a home. Continue reading...

What is a leading indicator?

Leading indicators are economic or price data which have some degree of correlation with a movement in the market or a stock price. Leading indicators tend to happen before the market or price movement occurs. Traders and economists use leading indicators frequently to prepare for what’s next; they are based on theory as well as empirical historical evidence but like all indicators, they do not have a 100% accuracy rate – past performance does not guarantee future results. Continue reading...

What Are the Basics of Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds come in many varieties, but here are some basics to keep in mind to help you find your way. While most people have definitely heard the term mutual fund, many people do not understand how they work and how to use them. With over 10,000 mutual funds available in the marketplace today, the average person may have a hard time selecting appropriate mutual funds for his or her portfolio, determining a good asset mix, and understanding all of the charges associated with buying, owning, and selling mutual funds. Continue reading...

What is passive investing?

Passive investing relies on market indices and unmanaged approaches to investing, with the idea being that attempting to beat the market is futile, especially if such attempts involve fees and speculation. Passive investing favors buy-and-hold strategies using no-load, low-fee index funds and other securities meant to be held long-term, in a portfolio allocation suiting the investor that will usually be rebalanced over time to prevent overweighting anything. Continue reading...

What is a Home Equity Loan?

Home equity loans give a homeowner the ability to borrow a lump sum against their home equity. Homeowners have the ability to use their home equity as collateral on a lump-sum loan from a lending institution. This may be done on a paid-off home or on one with an outstanding first mortgage. People sometimes use these to pay for large expenses such as their children’ s college, or as a debt consolidation tool. When used for debt consolidation, a homeowner will take out a large loan against the equity they have in their home and use it to pay off debts to credit card companies and other creditors. Continue reading...

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 are Mutual Funds Classified?

Mutual funds can be described, categorized, and screened using the various criteria involved in their construction and maintenance. When investors look for mutual funds, it may be useful to incorporate a mutual fund screener from a website. There are many criteria by which you can classify a mutual fund, such as investment style, market capitalizations of stocks in the fund, the industry sector or region in which the fund focuses, as well as the size of the expenses or type of sales load. Is the fund geared toward the short-term or long-term? Does it have a high turnover ratio? Continue reading...

Can I Take a Loan From my Cash-Balance Plan?

The IRS permits such loans, but it is rare to find a plan that allows it. In the vast majority of cases, you cannot. Though the IRS permits it, the administrative burden of a defined benefit plan is already significant for an employer, and it is much more likely that they will not make a provision for loans in the plan document. As far as the IRS is concerned, generally speaking, these plans have the same rules as other qualified plans. If a small partnership or LLC with a cash balance plan wants to put loan provisions into their plan document, they can do it. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Loan From My Pension Plan?

Generally this won’t be an option that your plan allows, but the IRS has approved it if the employer wants to. Generally speaking, you cannot. Hypothetically, if allowed in the plan document, and if the pension fund had enough of a surplus to handle such withdrawals, the IRS might find it permissible. The laws concerning such loans are the same for all qualified accounts, such as 401(k)s. An enrolled actuary would need to help you define when a loan might be allowable in particular deferred benefit plan. A Pension’s main goal is to pay out in retirement for the duration of the obligation, which may be your life and possibly the life of your spouse. Because of the massive liability they shoulder, pensions are inherently rigid and uncompromising when it comes to loans and withdrawals. Continue reading...

What is the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC)?

Created about the same time as the FDIC, the FSLIC, which insured up to $100,000 in deposits at savings and loan institutions, also known as “thrifts.” In the 1980s, the “savings and loan crisis” caused the FSLIC to become insolvent. In 1989 it was disbanded by the FIRREA Act and replaced by the Resolution Trust Company (RTC) which was merged with the FDIC a few years later. During the 1980s, a huge number of savings and loan companies (“thrifts”) went bankrupt. Continue reading...

What is Bad Credit?

Bad credit implies that an individual or business has a low credit score or rating. Credit histories are reported and kept in publicly accessible databases. FICO (Fair Isaac & Company) is a credit rating institution that gives individuals a credit rating score based on reported credit histories. Scores range from 300-850, generally, but they also issue ratings based on auto loans and credit cards, which are on a scale from 250-900. Continue reading...

What is a Bill of Sale?

A Bill of Sale is essentially a trumped-up receipt, unless you are in England. A Bill of Sale is a document affirming that the rights of ownership of an asset have been transferred from one party to another, in exchange for “full consideration,” which is another word for compensation or payment. A receipt from a retail transaction can be considered a Bill of Sale, but a full-fledged bill of sale should accompany large transactions like car sales and so on. The British definition of Bill of Sale, however, is somewhat different. Continue reading...

What is Amortization?

Amortization is like giving a life span to a financial obligation, over a set number of years, and gradually killing-off the obligation with set payments. Amortization is the calculation of a fixed payment schedule over a set number of years to allow the repayment of a loan, such as a home mortgage. From an accounting standpoint, it can refer to the practice of spreading-out the cost of any intangible asset over time. For example, the IRS will allow a taxpayer to amortize the premium of a bond for deductions. Continue reading...

What is Investment Interest Expense?

IIE is deductible from taxes, and is usually used to deduct the interest paid on a margin loan used to buy taxable securities, when there is a gain to offset. Investment interest expense is the term for interest which has been paid in order to hold an investment position. It comes into play when filing taxes. An individual can list interest expenses on a Form 1040. The most common place to incur an interest expense when investing is through the use of margin in an investment account. Continue reading...

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