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What is a penny stock?

A penny Stock is a term for equity shares valued below $5, many of which are not registered with the SEC and trade over-the-counter. They do trade on over-the-counter exchanges regulated by FINRA. Penny Stocks are equity in companies that may be small or have bad credit ratings, whose shares are priced below $5, per the SEC definition, but below $1 in the more widely accepted street definition. Because they do not have to observe all of the disclosure requirements of the SEC, there is not very much transparency about the companies or brokers issuing penny stocks. Continue reading...

What are pink sheets?

The Pink Sheets used to be printed on pink paper and contained the bid and ask prices of penny stocks which were not listed on major exchanges. Today the Pink Sheets are operated online by OTC Markets Inc but fulfill the same role. The Pink Sheets will list penny stocks which may or may not be found on other micro-cap exchanges. To be listed on the Pink Sheets, there are no listing requirements, such as cap-size; companies must only file one form and which provides some current financial information, but update information may not be required as time goes on, and hence companies listed only on the pink sheets are considered the most speculative and risky equity plays an investor can make. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Lump-Sum Distribution From My Pension Plan?

There is no guaranteed option to make lump-sum distributions from pension plans. You may be able to take a lump-sum distribution, but the option is not always available. Most employers are eager to get another participant (liability) off the books. This kind of settlement is a lot like a debt settlement, in fact, that’s exactly what it is to the plan fund. As long as you are part of the plan, you represent an unknown quantity of liability, because they have to keep paying your benefits, and possibly spousal benefits for as long as either of you shall live. This is an option you may have upon reaching retirement, if the plan offers it to you. Continue reading...

What Should I Do With a Lump-Sum Distribution From My Pension Plan?

We encourage you to be responsible and keep the future in mind. The first thing to keep in mind is that it’s very easy to spend a lump sum right away without thinking about the consequences. While the monthly payment option protects your money from overspending, a lump sum should be handled with frugality and practicality in mind. A large portion of this amount should be invested safely and wisely, particularly if you are very near to your own retirement age, and you do not have time to ride out market fluctuations. When investing, you should consider a conservative estimate of you and your spouse’s life expectancies weighed against your annual income needs, adjusted for rising healthcare costs. 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...

Can I Take a Periodic Distribution from my Pension Plan?

Regular pension payments are periodic distributions. Yes. This will be the default option on pension arrangements, unless companies are trying to settle with pensioners for lump-sum amounts that will lessen the plan’s long term liability. The options for periodic distributions will always be for periods less than or up to a year in length. Periodic distributions can help you sleep better at night, knowing that you have a fixed stream of income for the rest of your life. It may not be enough to sustain your lifestyle completely, but it will give you a sense of financial security and prohibit overspending in a way that the lump-sum distribution does not. Continue reading...

What Happens If I Withdraw Money From my Cash-Balance Plan After I Retire?

You may not be able to make non-recurring withdrawals of various amounts from a Cash Balance plan. After you retire, you’ll typically have two options: a fixed monthly payment for the rest of your life, or a lump-sum payment. Cash balance plans generally do not allow random, non-recurring withdrawals because the individual account was always a hypothetical account. The administrative work of fetching various sums for everyone and keeping up with the total pool of plan assets is not the administrator’s prerogative with these plans. Continue reading...

Can I Take a Periodic Distribution From My Cash-Balance Plan?

Periodic distributions are one of the main ways that former employees enjoy the benefits of a Cash Balance plan. Yes, you can take periodic distributions from your cash-balance plan. As opposed to the other option (lump-sum distribution), opting for the periodic distribution can help you sleep better at night, knowing that you have a fixed stream of income for the rest of your life. This Life Annuity option is mandated by law to be an option to participants of a cash balance plan. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between Cash-Balance Plans and Other Retirement Plans?

Cash Balance plans are Defined Benefit plans, but are not much like Pensions as you may know them, or other types of retirement plans, for that matter. On one side of the retirement isle you have defined contribution plans, such as 401(k)s and SEPs and so on, where the contributions are certain, or at least ascertainable, while the ending balance or benefit of each employee’s account is unknown, or at least does not have to be (and in most cases isn’t). Continue reading...

Can I Withdraw Money From My Pension Plan?

This is rarely an option, but the IRS does allow it. In general, you can’t withdraw money from a Pension Plan before you retire. You also may not be able to make non-recurring withdrawals after retirement, unless it is a lump-sum settlement. If your plan allowed it, the IRS would treat it just like withdrawals from a 401(k). Withdrawals before 59 ½ would be penalized with a 10% early withdrawal tax. Continue reading...

What is a Balloon Loan?

A Balloon Loan has lower debt payments than a fully amortized loan up until a lump sum payment at the end of a term. Balloon loans have relatively low monthly payments due over their term and then a large lump sum payment for the remaining balance at the end. This can be advantageous if someone or a business knows they will be paid in a certain way that fits well with this schedule. Other people and businesses may be planning to use a more flexible approach where the lump sum due at the end is rolled into a new financing schedule (such as a two-step mortgage), and this is usually done if there is a reset provision in the contract. Continue reading...

What’s a Defined Benefit Plan?

Defined Benefit plans guarantee a certain amount of retirement income to an employee based on the employee’s current salary, years at the employer, and other factors. A Defined Benefit Plan involves a promise made to you by your employer to pay you a certain monthly “benefit” for the rest of your life, or for a certain number of years after retirement. The amount of the payment is pre-calculated using a formula which typically involves your age, your salary, the number of years you’ve worked for your employer, along with other factors. Continue reading...

What are Periodic Distributions from a 401(k)?

Periodic distribution is a planned intermittent payment of cash from a 401(k). If you choose to have your money distributed periodically, you will usually have a choice between monthly, quarterly, or even annual payments. Money distributed periodically is not subject to the same 20% withholding the lump-sum payment is. The periodic payments are treated as wages, and, because plan participants taking these payments in retirement may find it easy to calculate what their income will be for the year, they can instead plan for their actual tax bracket, or opt-out of withholding if they prefer. Continue reading...

What Is Fraud?

Fraud is a deceitful act with the explicit purpose of gaining an unlawful advantage or depriving a victim of their rights. It's a term that permeates various facets of our society, and within the realm of finance, fraud takes on many forms. In this article, we'll explore the concept of fraud, its types, and the significant consequences it can unleash. Continue reading...

What is a Lump-Sum Distribution from a 401(k)?

Lump sum distributions are when the entire balance of an account is paid out at once. After you retire, you can elect to receive your money in a lump sum. Of course, you will end up paying income taxes on the entire distributed amount that year. There is also what’s called the mandatory 20% withholding, which requires custodians to withhold 20% from retirement plan distributions if they are not part of a trustee-to-trustee transfer (such as funding an IRA). Continue reading...

Can I Take a Lump-Sum Distribution From my Cash-Balance Plan?

Absolutely – this is what separates them from traditional pension plans. Yes. Cash balance plans maintain a hypothetical account balance for the participant, and the ending balance is known and guaranteed from the time the contributions occur. Many participants opt to take this lump sum balance and move it into their own IRA, or just to pay the taxes on it and be done with the plan. The other option is to have the balance paid out in the form of a life annuity, with equal payments for the rest of your life like a traditional pension. This option can be more risky simply because it is forfeiting the safety and security of monthly payments for life, in favor of a one-time distribution. Continue reading...

What Should I Do With a Lump-Sum Distribution From My Cash-Balance Plan?

Lump Sum distributions can allow you to invest according to your preferences, but could also be used frivolously and spent down in a short time. The first thing to keep in mind is that it’s very easy to spend a lump sum right away without thinking about the consequences. While the monthly payment option protects your money from overspending, many people feel that they would derive a greater value from having access to more of their money. Continue reading...

What is a Balloon Payment?

A balloon payment is a lump sum due at the end of a balloon loan term. In a balloon loan arrangement, the payment schedule does not amortize the entire amount of the loan, but instead allows for lower installment payments by holding a lump-sum payment until the end of the term. These terms are usually relatively short, such as 5 years, and often these arrangements are taken by individuals or consumers who plan on refinancing before the balloon payment comes due. Continue reading...

How Do I Take Money From My 401(k) After I Retire?

Different 401(k) custodians will have different distribution options available to participants in retirement. After you retire, you have at least two disbursement options: lump-sum distribution and periodic distribution. If you take a lump-sum distribution that is not bound for an IRA, you will incur a significant tax bill, since all 401(k) distributions are taxable. Periodic distributions may mean that every so often you can choose an amount to be paid out to you on a quarterly basis, for example, while your investments remain intact and you attempt to accrue more interest on your money. Continue reading...

What is an Accelerative Endowment?

Cash-value life policies can be structured for certain endowment ages, and dividends from the company can accelerate the endowment age. Traditional life insurance policies, especially older ones always had an “endowment age,” which meant that if the insured reached that age, their death benefit would be paid out in one lump sum, to be used however the insured wanted. The endowment age used to be about 95 or 100 years old, but in the last few years most companies have moved the age of endowment back to about age 120, since people are living longer and longer, and it looked like they were going to be paying out too many contracts at endowment age instead of at time of death in the future. Continue reading...