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What are the Withdrawal Rules From My 457 Plan?

457 plans are the only retirement plan that does not require you to wait until a certain age to avoid an IRS penalty on withdrawals. Unlike 401(k)s and 403(b)s, you are allowed to take money out of a 457 Plan before the age of 59½ without a 10% early withdrawal penalty, but only if you’ve separated from service. Separation from service can mean retiring or just leaving to take a job elsewhere. Roth IRAs allow you to withdraw your principal amount early without penalty, but you will incur taxes and penalties if the gains are withdrawn. 457 plans do not have such stipulations. All other retirement accounts require certain exception criteria to be met for the IRS not to penalize you for early withdrawals. Continue reading...

How Do I Invest Money in My 457 Plan?

Investments are funded through payroll deductions and go into investment options chosen by the sponsoring employer. 457 Plan investments work similarly to 401(k) or 403(b) investments: you are limited to a selection of Mutual Funds and other investment instruments, and it’s up to you to decide how to allocate the money, at least if you work for a government entity. Plans at non-profits may have to remain under the control and subject to the creditors of the business. Some such plans allow participants to direct the investments for a portion of their account, but sometimes they do not. Continue reading...

What is a Federal Credit Union?

Federal Credit Unions are essentially banks that are owned by their clients instead of publicly traded or what-have-you. Instead of being part of the FDIC, they have the National Credit Union Association (NCUA). They tend to be able to offer higher interest rates on savings and lower interest rates on loans than banks can, due to their mutual-ownership structure. Credit Unions operate as non-for-profit businesses, which can allow their management to use 457 retirement plans, but they are not associated with the Federal government. They do, however, charter under federal regulations, as opposed to state banks. Continue reading...

What are Hardship Withdrawals from my 401(k)?

The IRS Code allows for certain penalty-free withdrawals, and gives the plan administrator the freedom to define certain other hardship exemptions. Certain kinds of retirement plan withdrawals are excluded from the 10% early withdrawal penalty tax. These include medical expenses which exceed 7.5% or 10% of Adjusted Gross Income, distributions to the family members of active duty military personnel who have been called to active duty, and distributions needed if the participant becomes disabled. Continue reading...

How is a 457 Plan Different From a 401(k)?

A 457 is only slightly different than a 401(k), but the differences can be important. Although the two plans are similar in practice, there are some very important differences. Former employees can withdraw from their accounts penalty-free after they have separated from service, even if they are under 59 ½. 457 plans must also be offered to independent contractors, which 401(k)s do not. 457 plans are offered to state and local public workers and employees of certain nonprofits.Top-hat 457 plans can also be offered to highly compensated employees without being offered to other employees, at both non-profit and for-profit businesses. Continue reading...

What are the 457 Plan Contribution Limits?

Contribution limits depend on if you are making contributions as a government employee, a non-profit employee, or a highly compensated employee. Government employees can defer up to $18,000, plus a $6,000 catch-up contribution for those over 50, in 2016. These plans use the same elective deferral limits as 401(k)s. A non-governmental, non-profit employee can only contribute the $18,000, and is not allowed to make the $6,000 catch-up. Both of these types of employees are allowed to use the alternate catch-up provision of 457s, however. Continue reading...

What is a Non-Current Asset?

A non-current asset is an asset on the balance sheet that is not expected to convert into unrestricted cash within a year’s time. Non-current assets may include such things as intellectual property and production/operations equipment - meaning they likely do not have a need to convert to cash. From a balance sheet standpoint, non-current assets are capitalized rather than expensed - meaning the company can allocate the asset’s cost of the asset over the number of years for which the asset will be used, instead of allocating it all in the year it was purchased. Continue reading...

What is the 'Non-Current Assets to Net Worth' Ratio?

The non-current assets to net worth ratio will give the analyst an idea of how much of a company’s value is tied-up in non-current assets. As a quick refresher, ‘non-current assets’ are those that most likely will not convert to cash within a year’s time, also known as a long-term asset. Where a company’s non-current asset to net worth ratio lies depends on the industry, but generally speaking a company wants to avoid having that ratio rise above 1 to 1.5. That means the company is highly illiquid, and could be vulnerable in the event of an economic shock. Continue reading...

What is an Accounting Convention?

An accounting convention is an established an agreed-upon method of documenting specific items on a company’s books. The most widely-used accounting conventions are part of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP), which is the only accounting methodology accepted for quarterly 10-Q filings with the SEC in the United States, and has also become the basis for regulatory accounting practices in other countries. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted EBITDA?

Basically synonymous with Normalized EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP method of making earnings valuations a little more standardized between companies. Adjusted Earnings is a valuation that has many moving parts in the form of the interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that might be included there, in addition to the non-GAAP nature of the methods. EBITDA removes all of those moving parts and looks at the Earnings before any of the other arithmetic interferes, hence the name Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Earnings?

Earnings that are reported in a given year may differ for the same company if different accounting methods were used. Earnings are the revenues of the company minus the cost of good sold, expenses, and investment losses. If that seems like something that’s pretty cut-and-dried, and will look the same no matter who is doing the accounting… well, that’s not entirely correct. Earnings can be made to look different if different non-GAAP or pro-forma methods are used. If non-recurring expenses are ignored or amortized in a pro-forma accounting method, then earnings will not match up to the GAAP-based books. Continue reading...

What are currency futures?

Currency futures are derivative contracts that trade on regulated exchanges around the world. Like forward contracts, they name a specific amount of one currency which is to be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Futures name a specific amount of one currency which will be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Like other derivative contracts that trade on exchanges (e.g., options), futures are transferable and are traded as the market calls for up until their expiration. Investors can short them (sell to open) and hold them long (buy to open), and can close their positions as they see fit without riding out the contract to the expiration date. Continue reading...

What is divergence analysis?

The analysis of convergence and divergence between indexes and other data seeks to find leading indicators where there is confirmation or non-confirmation of trends. Dow Theory was one of the first examples of such thinking. Charles Dow would watch the movements of Industrials and the Rail and compare the uptrend or downtrend of each. Where trends do not line up (e.g., one is trending downward with lower troughs and the other has “higher lows”) there is “divergence”, and non-confirmation of what was thought to be a trend in one index. Continue reading...

What are Adjusted Earnings?

Adjusted Earnings are also known as pro forma, non-GAAP earnings, and are usually met with some cynicism. Non-GAAP methods of accounting for earnings are something that is not allowed to be used to mislead investors, according to SEC rules. GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and they represent the standards and SEC rulebook for a publicly-traded company’s accounting. There are times when it makes sense to use adjusted earnings instead of GAAP earnings because adjusted earnings will ignore non-recurring one-time expenses so that analysts can compare company performance in other areas without being distracted by a large one-time expense. Continue reading...

What is a 457 Plan?

A 457 is a deferred compensation arrangement that is available to some government employers and non-profit organizations. A 457 Plan, offered to state and local public workers and employees of a few nonprofit organizations, functions similarly to a 401(k) or 403(b): the contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck before taxes and transferred into your account, where they grow tax-deferred until retirement. Continue reading...

What is Adjusted Gross Margin?

Adjusted Gross Margin accounts for the cost of maintaining inventory, which regular Gross Margin does not. Gross margin can be calculated offhand as the selling price of a good minus the price paid for the good (cost of goods sold). This is the simplest calculation for profit. The Adjusted Gross Margin takes into account the cost of maintaining an inventory as well, which is a step in the direction of accounting for the expenses of the business operation as a whole. Continue reading...

What is the general overview of the Great Depression?

Delve into the depths of the Great Depression: an unparalleled economic calamity that reshaped the world. From the roaring twenties' climax to global ramifications and recovery efforts, uncover the intricate events and policies behind this profound downturn. 📉 #GreatDepressionExplained Continue reading...

How can I invest in hedge funds?

Fund managers are allowed to accept up to 35 non-accredited investors, but for the most part you will either need to satisfy the “accredited investor” requirement of the SEC to invest directly in a hedge fund. Otherwise, there are now hedge fund indexes and ETFs that track and mimic hedge fund strategies that are accessible to everyone. You should know now that the minimum initial investment requirement to participate in a hedge fund can be quite large, such as upwards of $1 million. Continue reading...

What Payout Options Do I Have?

Payout options in the realm of annuities tend to be guaranteed by the insurance company providing the annuity, and may come in many forms depending on the investor’s preference. Annuities can pay income to the annuitant in a few ways. One of the ways is to turn the entire balance of the annuity into a pension-like income stream for life, or jointly on two lives. The payout tends to be higher than the safe withdrawal rate than investors can use in an investment account, and it provide guarantees and surety where it wouldn’t exist otherwise. You can also elect to have these payments start off slightly lower, and then to increase at a guaranteed rate, to keep up with the cost of living. Continue reading...

What is currency convertibility?

Currencies may work fine in a particular country or region, but it may happen that certain currencies are not convertible into other currencies or gold. Sometimes this is by choice, such as was formerly the case with closed economies like the People’s Republic of China, Soviet Russia, Cuba, and others. Most currencies are convertible into other currencies. Banks, at least the central banks of countries, tend to have reserves of most foreign currencies with their citizens do business. Continue reading...