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Financial Advisor

Jun 19, 2020 In a nutshell, a financial advisor helps people manage their money. Typically, there is an investing component to their services, but not always. Some financial advisors - often accountants or lawyers who specialize in trusts and estates - are wealth managers. One of their primary functions is protecting their clients' wealth from the IRS. Other financial advisors are called money managers or investment advisors. They often have business school or finance backgrounds - and maybe previously worked for an investment bank, hedge fund or brokerage. Then there are the financial advisors who bill themselves as financial planners. Generally, their emphasis is on educating clients and they provide risk management, cash flow analysis, retirement planning, education planning, investing and more. As you can see, financial advisors have many different specialties - and it can be easy to end up with an advisor who doesn't suit your needs. To help you find the right advisor for you, SmartAsset created a  free financial advisor matching tool. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area. For more about what financial advisors do, their certifications and how much they cost, read on. Read More...

Sep 18, 2020 A non-recourse loan is a type of debt that's secured by collateral, such as an individual's car, house or another typically illiquid asset. By securing a non-recourse loan, the lender won't have the ability to pursue the borrower's other assets if they are unable to repay the full loan amount after the collateral has been sold. However, this makes non-recourse loans riskier, which in turn means lenders may be less likely to give them out. Need help managing your debt and planning for the future? Consult with a local financial advisor today. Read More...

Sep 18, 2020 The New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE for short, is the world's largest and most famous  stock exchange. The total market capitalization of all of its listed securities totals over $25 trillion. The NYSE is located in downtown New York at 11 Wall Street, and it is owned by Intercontinental Exchange as a public entity. The trading floor facilitates the trading of billions of dollars in securities every day. Do you have questions about investing? Speak with a local financial advisor today. Read More...

Sep 18, 2020 If you're a contractor, freelancer or another type of self-employed individual, you'll likely need to file IRS Form 1099-MISC. This form is used to report non-employee compensation, and it is part of the 1099 family of IRS tax forms. In fact, it's one of the most commonly used 1099 forms. As its name suggests, the form is used to report miscellaneous income, which is why "MISC" is included in its title. Note that starting in the 2020 tax year, Form 1099-MISC will be changing to Form 1099-NEC. A financial advisor can provide much needed help during tax season. Use SmartAsset's free matching tool to find an advisor near you. Read More...

Sep 18, 2020 A credit score of 800 or above typically falls into the "excellent" category. There are many benefits associated with this tier of credit score. For example, an excellent credit score means you're more likely to gain approval for new lines of credit, such as a credit card. It also usually means you'll have access to lower interest rates on certain loans. There are a number of requirements you must meet to attain an excellent score, though. Need help managing your finances? Speak with a local financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 17, 2020 Investing is naturally a risky proposition, and there are specific types of risk to be aware of when deciding where to put your money. Liquidity risk is one of them. Broadly speaking, it refers to how easily an asset can be converted to cash and sold. Understanding this type of risk is important because it can directly affect how easily you're able to move securities in and out of your portfolio. For guidance in evaluating the liquidity risk of a particular investment or the liquidity profile of your overall portfolio, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 17, 2020 When deciding which companies to invest in, you can use several ratios to gauge their financial health. Debt-to-capital ratio is a way to measure a company's ability to withstand downturns based on how its debt obligations and available capital compare. This can be a useful metric for avoiding companies that may run into solvency or liquidity issues, which could pose more of a risk to your portfolio. Read More...

Sep 17, 2020 Insurance fraud can occur during any stage of the insurance transaction by any party involved. This means that applicants, policyholders, third-party claimants, professionals who provide services to claimants, insurance brokers or agents - even companies - may attempt to commit some type of insurance fraud. Insurance fraudsters have found many ways to take advantage of people. Learning the different types of fraud and understanding life insurance terminology can help you avoid them or know how to report them properly. Read More...

Sep 17, 2020 Owner's equity is the value of a business that the owner can claim, and it consists of the firm's total assets minus its total liabilities. Both the amount of owner's equity and how much it has changed from one accounting period to another offer insights into a business’s financial condition. This term is used with sole proprietors and partnerships. Learn what comprises this important element in a firm's balance sheet and how to calculate the metric. Read More...

Sep 17, 2020 A vesting period is the time an employee must work for an employer in order to own outright employee stock options, shares of company stock or employer contributions to a tax-advantaged retirement plan. Vesting periods come in a variety of durations. For retirement contributions, they are limited by government rules, while share and option vesting periods are generally negotiated between employer and employee.  Read More...

Sep 15, 2020 Term life insurance offers coverage for a specific amount of time, while whole life insurance provides lifelong coverage and the potential for a cash value accumulation. When you pass away, your family can use the proceeds from both types of policies to pay for your funeral costs, handle mortgage payments or cover other financial obligations. Although both are designed to provide a financial safety net for your loved ones, there are a few key differences that set them apart. So, to see how they each stack up, here’s what you need to know about term vs whole life insurance. And if you need extra guidance determining how life insurance fits into your overall financial plan, consider enlisting the help of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 14, 2020 When it comes to your personal finances, knowing about your credit profile is extremely important. It can determine whether you're accepted for a home loan, an auto loan, a credit card, rentals, insurance policies or even jobs. Luckily, it's now easy to get a copy of your credit report. Due to the economic effects of COVID-19, every American is entitled to at least one free copy of their report from each of the three major credit bureaus every month through April 2021. Even if you've already used up your free report, there are other ways to stay up to date on your credit profile. Do you need help fixing your credit or consolidating debt? Speak with a local financial advisor today. Read More...

Sep 14, 2020 Public benefit corporations, also known as benefit corporations, are for-profit businesses whose charters commit them to social or environmental missions, not just maximizing shareholder value. These corporations take into account how other stakeholders such as communities and the environment will be affected by their actions. Organizing as a public benefit corporation is seen as a way to help corporations adhere to these kinds of missions long-term, through changes in leadership and ownership. Read More...

Sep 14, 2020 EDGAR, which is short for Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system, is a massive U.S. government database on the finances of publicly traded corporations that is free to the public. Overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it holds millions of filings, not just from corporations but also from mutual funds, money market funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and variable annuities issued by insurance companies. Here's what you need to know about using this resource to make better financial decisions. Read More...

Sep 14, 2020 Social Security benefits can serve as an additional income stream for retirement, but they can also be paid out under other circumstances. For instance, Social Security survivor benefits can be paid to the widows, widowers and dependents of eligible workers who have died. So if you're married and have young children, for example, you may be able to receive survivor benefits if your spouse passes away unexpectedly, even if retirement is still decades off. While Social Security survivor benefits are not a substitute for cash savings or life insurance, they can provide some financial relief to loved ones who are left behind. Read More...

Sep 14, 2020 If you've ever applied for a credit card or completed a job application, you've probably been asked for your Social Security number. This unique nine-digit number issued by the Social Security Administration is one of your most important pieces of identifying information. There are various ways your Social Security number is used and several important reasons why you need to have one. If you've ever wondered what the purpose of these numbers is,  how they're assigned or how to make the most of your Social Security number, here's a closer look at how they work. Read More...

Sep 14, 2020 Seed capital refers to funds raised to start a business. Also referred to as seed money, seed funding or startup capital, it enables entrepreneurs to transform a viable business idea into a new product or service. While there are other types of funding that businesses get after they have become profitable or are clearly on their way to profitability, seed capital is an enterprise's initial funding. Providers of this money typically get an equity stake in the new company. However, there are sometimes other types of consideration that people or groups receive for providing initial funding.  Read More...

Sep 03, 2020 Self, formerly known as Self Lender, is a financial services company that offers two different products aimed at helping customers with bad or little credit. Its premier offering, called the Credit Builder Account, allows you to receive a credit-building loan in the form of a  certificate of deposit (CD) that matures once you complete your payments. The company also offers a credit-building credit card. These products are offered along with robust mobile and online account management services. Do you have financial questions that go beyond your credit score? Speak with a local financial advisor today. Read More...

Sep 09, 2020 A cup-and-handle pattern is the name of a chart pattern used in  technical analysis that describes a bullish continuation trend in the price of a security, typically a stock. Traders sometimes use this pattern as a signal about when to buy the stock. As with all forms of technical analysis, this pattern essentially tracks investor behavior, not the underlying strength or weakness of a company's business. Here's what it is, how to use it and a caution. Read More...

Sep 02, 2020 A stock warrant is a type of derivative that gives the holder the right to buy a share of a company for a specific price within a set window of time or on a specific date. Companies will often issue them to raise capital, or as an employee benefits, recruitment or retention package. While a stock warrant is in many respects similar to a stock option, there are key differences in what they do, who can get them and how they are taxed. Learn the ins and outs of stock warrants and how you might benefit from them. And consider consulting with a financial advisor as you go about deciding whether to act upon a stock warrant. Read More...

Sep 02, 2020 One of the most important principles  in options trading is known as put-call parity. The term describes a functional equivalence between a put option and a call option for the same asset, over the same time frame and on the same expiration date. When the prices of otherwise equivalent put and call options are not in parity it creates an opportunity for arbitrage. In other words, traders can profit off nothing more than the imparity (misalignment) of the contracts. This makes put-call parity an essential concept in options trading. To refine your understanding of put-call parity and how it can play into your overall options investment strategy, consider consulting with a financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 When analysts talk about changes to market prices, interest rates or other financial metrics, they often do so in terms of “basis points.” A basis point is equal to a change of 0.01%, useful shorthand in an industry where fortunes can change on fractions of a percent. The prevalence of the term underscores just how massive financial transactions have become and, thus, why even seemingly microscopic changes in yield can render or ruin fortunes. Here's what you need to know to better understand - and be able to use - a key Wall Street term, something that's especially useful as you talk to your financial advisor. Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 Investors have two primary emotions, fear and greed, according to CNN Money. The news service believes in this so much that it has created a metric around the idea. The Fear and Greed Index measures how investors across the entire stock market are feeling at any given point. When they’re fearful, expect selloffs and retrenched positions; when they’re greedy, expect buyers to snap up securities. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 A covered call is an investment strategy designed to manage risk. In it, investors take two positions: First, they buy a number of shares in a given company. Then, they sell an equal number of call options on that stock. This position then protects the investor against some losses if the stock’s price declines while also generating income in the short term. Here's what you need to know to start taking advantage of this technique to lower your portfolio's risk. Consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor as you strategize your investment options. Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 Social Security benefits can be garnished depending on the type of payments and debt you owe. These deductions are usually carried out for financial liabilities such as back taxes, student loans, child support payments and more. But there are limitations on how much a creditor can take. Financial advisors can offer a holistic approach to helping you meet your long-term and retirement savings goals. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 If you're paying less in taxes as your taxable income increases, you're likely following a regressive tax system. Regressive taxes offer an inverse relationship between income levels and tax rates; that is, a lower income will typically earn you a higher tax rate. A higher income, however, will earn you a lower tax rate. In this guide we take a closer look at how regressive taxes work. A financial advisor can help you map out strategic tax planning moves that supplement both your short- and long-term goals. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

Aug 31, 2020 Small business investment companies (SBICs) are Small Business Administration-licensed and regulated companies that provide funding to small businesses in certain sectors. These companies rely on both internal funds and government funds to invest in small businesses, but they have to follow several regulations in order to maintain their SBA status.  Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 You're probably adhering to a progressive tax system if you're paying more in taxes as your taxable income increases. With progressive taxes, there's a direct correlation between income level and tax rate. This means that lower-income filers will pay less in taxes than higher-income earners. In this guide, we take a closer look at the progressive tax system. Financial advisors can offer professional tax planning advice to help you manage your expenses. Find a financial advisor today. Read More...

Aug 31, 2020 If you're planning on financing a home through a mortgage, you'll have to go through the underwriting process. The underwriting process helps mortgage lenders and loan officers review your credit and financial history before approving you for financing. But for  mortgages, the length of the process varies depending on multiple factors. In this guide, we explore the underwriting process and give you an estimate of how long it will last. Financial advisors can offer ways to manage debt while building your financial situation. Find a financial advisor today. Read More...

Sep 01, 2020 Open enrollment represents the yearly period where employees enroll in employer-sponsored insurance and healthcare plans. During this period, employees typically have the power to select new coverage, change their current benefit and coverage elections or maintain the same coverage they had prior to open enrollment. The healthcare open enrollment period typically lasts from November 1 to December 18, but some states offer extended deadlines. We take a closer look in this guide.  Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 A merchant cash advance (MCA) is an alternative form of financing for companies that need cash fast but lack credit and, thus, access to conventional business loans. Although credit rating and collateral requirements for MCAs are much looser than other types of business loans, they are also much more expensive. A business that gets an MCA is selling its future credit card receivables. The company providing the financing will get repaid by taking a fixed percentage of the business’s daily credit card sales. Here's what you need to know to determine if your business needs this kind of loan. Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 Married couples often share their income both while working and in retirement. However, when one spouse dies, the other might still rely on the deceased's income. This is where Social Security surviving spouse benefits may provide some financial support. Surviving spouses can collect Social Security survivor benefits after their spouse dies permitting that they were married for at least nine months. To determine if you’re eligible for benefits, and specifically when you can begin receiving them, here's what you need to know. Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 Many businesses and entrepreneurs borrow money at some point to cover various costs. While going into debt has a bad reputation in some circles, business loans are time-tested tools for achieving business success. If the borrower can generate a greater return on the money than the lender is charging to lend it then a loan can be an appropriate financial move. Here's what you need to know about getting a business loan. Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 When building an investment portfolio, finding the right balance between risk and reward is essential for meeting your goals while keeping losses in check. One investing term you may have come across is the risk-free rate of return. While this concept is theoretical, it's helpful for understanding how investment risk works and how to minimize it in your portfolio. For further guidance, consider enlisting the help of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 Operating income is a value that is used to demonstrate a company's profitability after it has deducted other costs such as cost of goods sold (COGS), employee wages and other operating expenses. This measurement also excludes both taxes and non-operating expenses. In this guide, we show you how to calculate operating income. If you're in need of professional investing guidance, financial advisors can help you examine companies from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 If you're traveling for business reasons, you'll probably incur lodging, meal and incidental expenses. This is where per diem payments come in. Your employer provides these as reimbursement for such expenses, and the payments usually aren't taxable. But the rate at which you are reimbursed varies depending on a number of factors. We take a closer look below. Financial advisors can guide you through any of your tax planning or income tax-related questions. Find a financial advisor today.  Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 If you meet a lender's credit and income requirements, you'll normally have free rein to take out loans on your own. But in circumstances where your credit levels aren't high enough, or if you have no credit history at all, it may be wise to use a cosigner. Cosigners assume equal responsibility of a loan's payments, meaning that they also take on a certain level of risk. Financial advisors can offer both short- and long-term strategies to help you overcome debt. Find a financial advisor today. Read More...

Aug 28, 2020 Any child support payments you've received won't be counted as taxable income. And if you're the one making the child support payments, the income you used to do so won't be tax deductible. But there are ways to save on taxes in the process. We take a closer look in this guide. Read More...

Aug 26, 2020 Mutual funds can help diversify your investment portfolio. When comparing mutual funds, there are several key metrics to pay attention to, including the expense ratio and the turnover ratio. A mutual fund turnover ratio refers to how often the underlying assets in a specific fund are bought and sold. Turnover rates can vary greatly between different types of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. If you're wondering what is a good mutual fund turnover ratio or how this number is calculated, here's what you need to know. For further guidance on how best to integrate mutual funds into your investing strategy, consult with a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 A business line of credit is a financing tool that provides firms with advantages not available from business credit cards or term loans. Unlike loans, business lines of credit let companies borrow only what they need and only get monthly bills if they draw on the credit line. Unlike credit cards, business lines of credit offer easier access to cash and lower interest rates. These lines of credit can be part of an overall approach to capital access and cash flow management that includes terms loans and business credit cards. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 If you're interested in building a portfolio that includes more than stocks, mutual funds or bonds, options trading is an investment alternative you might consider. Trading options involves purchasing contracts that give you the right to buy or sell an underlying security or commodity at a given time. A key concept to understand with options trading is the strike price. Knowing what it is and how it works is central to a successful options trading strategy. If you want more hands-on guidance in trading options, consider matching with an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 Concierge medicine has established itself as a distinct type of healthcare delivery system due to its flexibility, efficiency and access. However, this membership-based access to quality healthcare doesn’t come cheap. If you’re looking for a doctor in a concierge medicine practice, you might be wondering about the pros and cons, as well as whether the cost is worth the benefits you and your family receive. To better understand, here's everything you need to know to make an informed decision on concierge medicine. Consider talking to a financial advisor about whether concierge medicine fits into your budget given the scope of your larger financial strategy. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 Many aging adults may need some form of in-home care later on in life. Since Medicare is a health insurance lifeline for many seniors in the U.S., many may wonder: Does Medicare cover home healthcare costs? With all healthcare costs on the rise, it's important to understand what home healthcare costs Medicare does and doesn't cover. To better understand your Medicare home healthcare coverage, here's what you need to know. And if you need extra assistance planning for senior care, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 Investors call someone “bullish” if that person believes that stocks, or any other security for that matter, will go up,. They call a someone “bearish” if that person believes that stocks will go down. Market sentiment informs investors' behavior, and it is ultimately important to understand how optimistic or pessimistic their outlook is. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 The value or price of gold has risen since mid-March 2020, reflecting worries across the financial world about how much purchasing power major paper currencies hold. In light of the deep recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the world's most powerful central banks have responded in two ways: with a combination of quantitative easing - essentially money printing - and  lowering interest rates (to sometimes even negative rates). The combination of these two monetary actions could possibly lead to inflation. As a result, many people seek gold as a more reliable store of value than normally stable paper currencies. Read More...

Aug 20, 2020 If you run a business or you're considering investing in a particular company, you may be concerned with profitability. A company's financial health can be measured in different ways, including gross margin and gross profit. While they may sound similar and they can both be reported on income statements, they're each used differently to gauge a company's performance. Understanding those differences will make you a better investor. It might also behoove you to consult with a financial advisor as you go about strategizing your investments. Read More...

Aug 20, 2020 Investing in real estate can offer a hedge against inflation while helping you create a diversified portfolio. If at some point you decide you want to shift your real estate investment dollars, you may consider a 1031 exchange. This type of exchange allows you to defer paying capital gains tax on the sale of an investment property when the proceeds are used to buy another similar property. A 1031 exchange can be a useful tax planning tool, but there are certain rules you need to know to make sure you're approaching it the right way. For further hands-on guidance, consider enlisting the services of a skilled financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 19, 2020 Annuities can be a useful tool for retirement planning if you're looking for a way to create a guaranteed income stream. You may also choose to receive an annuity rather than a lump sum payment if you're on the winning end of a lottery payout. Along with life insurance policies, annuities can be important parts of a well-rounded estate plan. But if at some point you decide you need to swap one annuity or life insurance policy for another, you can do so - without incurring a tax - through a 1035 exchange. If you want hands-on guidance navigating this maneuver, considering linking up with an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 19, 2020 The federal poverty level is a key consideration in assessing anyone's eligibility to receive government benefits. Your access to many state and federal safety net programs is often based on where you or your household falls on the federal poverty guidelines. For example, premiums on the federal health insurance exchange are defined against this metric, as are many forms of tax relief. Here's what you need to know about the federal poverty level. Read More...

Aug 19, 2020 A Roth individual retirement account (IRA) can be a helpful tool for retirement planning. These tax-advantaged accounts offer a way to save money in addition to what you might be contributing to a 401(k) or similar workplace plan. And if you don't have a retirement plan at work, you may still be able to use a Roth IRA to invest for the future. Your ability to contribute to a Roth IRA and the amount you can invest each year is determined by your filing status and income. Each year, the IRS updates the Roth IRA income limits and contribution limits to keep pace with inflation. For more guidance on how a Roth IRA can fit into your financial plan, consider connecting with a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 19, 2020 The chief executive officer (CEO) and the president of a corporation are normally the two highest-level leadership roles in a business. Sometimes the same person fills both roles, but there are often significant differences in responsibilities, powers and objectives. The duties of the positions may overlap somewhat but primarily complement each other. Here’s what these job titles normally describe. Read More...

Aug 18, 2020 Fair market value is the price a business, property or other asset would sell for in an open and competitive market where buyer and seller have adequate information of relevant facts, a reasonable time to complete a deal, under no compulsion, are acting in their own interests and mutually agree on the price. Fair market value is common in real estate and tax matters, but it is also used in salary negotiations, business sales and many other transactions, all of which hinge on coming up with a price that seems reasonable to the concerned parties. Here’s how it's determined, factors that can make such a determination challenging and some common uses for it. Read More...

Aug 18, 2020 A business credit score, which is distinct from a personal credit score, is a number that lenders and suppliers use to determine the availability and pricing of loans and other forms of credit for a firm. It’s based on a company's use of credit and payment history, as well as other factors, including business revenues, assets and industry. Here's how they're calculated and how to improve yours. Read More...

Aug 17, 2020 As you build an investment portfolio, you probably make a point of considering your asset allocation and how that squares with your risk tolerance. But don't confuse asset allocation with asset location, which is a distinct part of your investment strategy that helps to minimize your tax burden. Below, you'll discover the ins and outs of what asset location means, but if you're in need of further guidance to spread out your assets for tax efficiency, consider enlisting the services of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 14, 2020 When creating an estate plan, it may be necessary to name a trustee to handle your assets. For example, if you're establishing a revocable living trust to pass on wealth to your spouse or children, a trustee would be responsible for managing it. While you could name yourself as trustee, some situations may require that another individual or organization, such as a bank, fill the role. One thing you need to plan for are the trustee fees involved. Trustees assume certain responsibilities when managing assets and fees help to compensate them for their time and efforts. You also may benefit from the hands-on guidance of an expert financial advisor in choosing a trustee, planning your estate and exploring how trustee fees will affect your estate. Read More...

Aug 14, 2020 Stocks can be an important part of a diversified investment portfolio. Individual stock shares are bought and sold on a stock exchange. There are multiple exchanges where stocks and other securities can be traded. If you're new to investing, you may not understand how these exchanges work or why they're important. While you may conduct all of your stock trades through an online brokerage account, it's helpful to know what role the exchanges play in those transactions. A trusted financial advisor can also help you understand the mechanics of stock exchanges and which ones your holdings are a part of. Read More...

Aug 14, 2020 In business, maintaining positive cash flow is vitally important. Cash flow refers to the movement of cash in and out of a business as it generates revenue while also covering its operating expenses. A cash flow statement is a way to summarize cash flow activity and analyze trends. Understanding how to read (or write) a cash flow statement is important for measuring the financial health of your business. And if you're an investor, cash flow statements can offer insight into a company's financials to help you decide whether it belongs in your portfolio. Read More...

Aug 14, 2020 The Trump administration has decided to allow defined contribution plans, like 401(k) plans, to make private equity investments. Such investments will not be available as standalone options. Instead they will be bundled with other investments in, for example, target-date funds. This is a change from the traditional rules of a tax-advantaged defined contribution retirement plans, which have been limited to publicly available investments like market-listed securities. Here’s what you need to know about the change's potential and pitfalls. And if you want help deciding whether private equity belongs in your 401(k), consider talking to a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 14, 2020 When deciding whether to invest in a company, there are a variety of different metrics you can use. Those include net income,  earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and adjusted earnings. All three are used to gauge a company's financial health in different ways. If you're reviewing adjusted earnings for a company, it's important to understand what this measures and how to use it as a guideline when making decisions in your portfolio. If you want hands-on help evaluating whether an investment is a smart decision for you, consider enlisting the help of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 12, 2020 Assessing your financial situation can help you understand your options for creating a steadfast financial future. To outline your finances, a personal financial statement can provide an overview of your financial circumstances. With this in mind, here's how a personal financial statement is used and how to create one for yourself. If you'd like hands-on guidance in creating a personal financial statement and using it to strategize your overall financial plan, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 12, 2020 Geographic arbitrage is a term coined by the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early). FIRE advocates combine investments and a typically high-paying job to achieve the dream of retiring by the time they hit their early 40s or even late 30s. One of their core tactics is to take advantage of local costs of living around the country and even the world to maintain the lowest cost of living possible, thereby stretching out their money and making early retirement possible. This isn’t a new insight. Americans routinely look for lower costs of living. What geographic arbitrage adds is the idea of taking that model to the extreme. Where moving from the city to the suburbs can let you upgraded from a one-bedroom apartment to a house, moving from New York City to Naxos, Greece, can let you rewrite your financial future. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Aug 11, 2020 A tax deed is a legal document that gives a government body the right to sell a piece of real estate for non-payment of taxes. When a real estate owner gets behind on property taxes, the city or county may place a tax lien on the property. If after a period of a few months or a few years, depending on jurisdiction, the owner doesn’t pay the amount owed the local government can sell the tax deed to the property at an auction. That creates an investment opportunity. Here's what you need to know about such an opportunity. If you'd need hands-on guidance in consider a tax deed to invest in real estate, consider enlisting the help of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 10, 2020 Businesses use non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to protect company secrets. These are legal contracts in which one or more persons agree to keep certain information secret. The agreements may also be referred to as confidentiality agreements or confidential disclosure agreements. Here’s what an NDA can and can't do, and how businesses use them. Read More...

Aug 10, 2020 Real estate wholesaling is a kind of arbitrage in which a party known as a wholesaler negotiates a contract for the right, but not the obligation, to purchase a property for a particular price. Rather than completing the purchase, however, the wholesaler finds a buyer who will pay a higher price. The wholesaler then assigns that buyer the right to purchase the property for the higher amount and pockets the difference. The wholesaler acts as a middleman between motivated real estate sellers and buyers, usually cash buyers who plan to renovate the property. Wholesaling may also be called contract assignment because the wholesaler assigns the contracted right to buy a property to another party. Read More...

Aug 10, 2020 A minimum viable product (MVP) is an early version of a product with only basic features. The purpose of an MVP is to help a company or development team learn what will work without investing too much money or time up front. The term was popularized by author Eric Ries in his 2009 book " The Lean Startup.” Here are the principles of creating an MVP. Read More...

Aug 10, 2020 Establishing a trust may be on your estate planning to-do list if you want to preserve your wealth for future generations while potentially enjoying some tax advantages. A Crummey trust is a specific type of trust that can be used to transfer assets to minor children or to anyone else when your intention is avoiding gift taxes. This type of trust may be less commonly used than other trusts, but understanding how it works can help you determine whether you should be using one. To get hands-on guidance in deciding whether a Crummey trust is for you, consider enlisting the help of an expert financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 10, 2020 Opening an investment account can help you grow wealth for retirement or other financial goals. Brokerage accounts can offer flexibility when it comes to choosing where to invest, and many online brokerages now offer low fees, a fact that can increase your incentive to build a portfolio. But what happens if you decide your current brokerage account is no longer what you need? The good news is you can move your investments from one brokerage to another easily and without tax penalties using an in kind transfer. For hands-on guidance in how to maneuver your investments, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 10, 2020 There are different ways to classify stocks but one of the simplest is by market capitalization. Market capitalization means the total dollar market value of a company's outstanding shares. For example, companies can be categorized as large-cap, mid-cap or small-cap. Beyond those groupings, you might also consider investing in microcap stock. As the name suggests, these are stocks that have a smaller market capitalization than even small-cap tickers, but some can offer the potential to be big winners in a portfolio. If you want hands-on guidance in determining whether to integrate microcaps into your portfolio, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 07, 2020 As part of your company's benefits package, you may have access to an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, or ESPP. These plans allow you to purchase shares in the company you work for, typically at a discount. An ESPP is separate from a 401(k) or similar workplace retirement plan, but both can be useful to growing wealth over the long term while enjoying some tax benefits. If you have access to an Employee Stock Purchase Plan at work, it's helpful to know how to use it to your advantage. If you want hands-on guidance as you negotiate whether an ESPP is for you, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 07, 2020 When buying life insurance, you may be asked whether you'd like to add on various riders. Riders enhance the policy's benefits and there are a number you can choose from, including an accelerated death benefit. Adding on this benefit may be something you're interested in if you're concerned about being unable to meet medical expenses for end-of-life care in a terminal illness situation. If you're thinking of buying life insurance to provide some financial peace of mind for your loved ones, it's important to consider how an accelerated death benefit may fit into your plans. You may also want to enlist the help of an expert financial advisor to see if an accelerated death benefit fits into your entire financial strategy. Read More...

Aug 06, 2020 When choosing a financial professional to work with, it's important to find someone who's reputable and trustworthy. One thing to consider when vetting financial advisors or other professionals is whether they've ever been engaged in self-dealing. Self-dealing is a term you might be familiar with if you own a self-directed IRA. In that scenario, the IRS prohibits you from using a self-directed IRA in a way that generates some personal gain to you prior to drawing on those funds for retirement. But it's also important to understand what self-dealing means in a financial advisory setting and how to spot it. Read More...

Aug 03, 2020 Cost of goods sold (COGS) is the determination of how much it costs retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers to produce the goods they sell. For makers and resellers of products, COGS, sometimes also referred to as "cost of sales," appears on an income statement where it is central to calculating gross profit. The IRS relies on it to determine a company’s tax bill. Internally, business executives focus on COGS when pricing the company’s products offered for sale. For investors, a high COGS can suggest a cap on potential profitability, while a low COGS can indicate a competitive advantage. Learn how to calculate this important metric here. Read More...

Aug 03, 2020 If you have multiple debt balances from credit cards, high-interest loans and other forms of debt, you may want to merge them into one payment. You can use a debt consolidation loan to combine them into one lower-interest loan. There are many options on the market, so it is important to understand what a debt consolidation loan is and how to find the best one for you. Read More...

Jul 30, 2020 Permanent life insurance can allow you to continue to support your family members and ensure that they are financially protected after you pass away. This is a life insurance policy that never expires and pays a benefit upon the policyholder's death. Here is what you need to know about permanent life insurance to help you decide if it is right for you. If you want hands-on guidance in deciding whether permanent life insurance is for you, consider enlisting the help of an expert financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Jul 30, 2020 When analyzing stocks or companies to invest in, there are different ratios for gauging financial health. The price-to-book ratio (P/B) is one way to evaluate a stock's value, something that may be important if you're looking for ones that are undervalued to invest in. A value investing strategy focuses on finding companies that have solid return potential but may be overlooked by the broader market. This ratio, along with other key ratios, can help guide your investment decision-making. For hands-on help evaluating whether an investment is right for you, consider finding a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 A publicly traded company is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to disclose substantial information about its governance, business model and finances. This information allows investors to make an informed decision about whether or not to trust this company with their money. Traders in particular rely on disclosures like this when deciding whether to buy a company’s stock or bonds, the two most common securities sold on the open market by publicly traded firms. Investors looking for expert guidance on this front might consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 A quick ratio tests a company’s current liquidity and solvency. It is a measure of whether the company can pay its short-term obligations with its cash or cash-like assets on hand. (Short term obligations are generally defined as any liability due within the next year.) The quick ratio, sometimes known as the “acid test ratio" or the "liquidity ratio,” is considered an important measure of a company’s financial strength. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 The burn rate of a company is a measure of its negative cash flow in a set period of time, typically a month. Investors, especially venture capitalists, monitor this metric closely to gauge when the company will be self-sustaining or profitable. Business owners monitor this rate to see what, if any, adjustments need to be made to a company's expenditures. Here's an explanation of the burn rate and how investors evaluate it. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 Changing economic conditions can trigger various side effects, including an uptick in inflation. When inflation leads to rising prices and a decline in the purchasing power of money, your dollars and cents don't stretch as far. Hyperinflation is an extreme version of this scenario, in which prices spike rapidly over a short period of time. While this phenomenon is rare, it can and does happen, typically most often in countries with emerging or developing economies. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 When creating an estate plan, one important question to consider is how to handle the transfer of personal property, including your home. A Qualified Personal Residence Trust, or QPRT, is something you may decide to create to minimize gift and estate taxes associated for your heirs. This type of trust essentially allows you to take your personal residence out of the estate tax equation when transferring assets to your named beneficiaries. While not everyone needs a QPRT, it's helpful to understand how they work and the pros and cons of using one in estate planning. If you think a QPRT might be right for you, consider linking up with a trusted financial advisor in your area for expert guidance. Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 Mezzanine financing is a type of corporate debt that includes an equity component. It offers advantages to both borrowers and lenders that are not available through issuing stock or conventional debt, such as bonds. Established companies often use mezzanine financing to pay for an acquisition or launch a major project. Lenders participate for its higher interest rate and the possibility of part ownership in the borrower. Retail investors add it to their portfolios for higher yields than bonds and lower risk that stocks, as well as steady income.  Read More...

Jul 29, 2020 The Misery Index, otherwise known as the Economic Discomfort Index, is used to measure overall hardship in an economy. It is a back-of-envelope calculation that putatively indicates how the average person is doing economically. Some economists consider it a useful gauge of daily hardship for consumers and an overall indicator of discomfort (or “misery”) in an economy. Read More...

Jul 28, 2020 Growth stocks are sometimes seen as the holy grail of investing. Many investors hope to find them; many traders promise to know them already. Finding a growth stock can help your portfolio gain years of value in a single trade, but guessing wrong on a growth stock can wipe that money out just as quickly. It is recommended that you seek the guidance of a financial advisor as you navigate this terrain to help you make the right decisions. Here is what to know about growth stock investing, including the dangers you should be aware of. Read More...

Jul 23, 2020 Having "financial freedom" means different things to different people. But, generally, it is understood as being able to live the lifestyle of your choosing while responsibly managing your finances. In other words, it means having enough savings, investments and cash on hand to live as you desire, both now and in your later years. Additionally, many people qualify financial freedom as having their money work for them rather than having to work for - and stress over - their money. Here's how to achieve financial freedom. Read More...

Jul 23, 2020 Crowdfunding is a relatively new, technology-driven part of the world of finance. Crowdfunding websites let firms and entrepreneurs raise funds and retail investors participate in appealing commercial prospects. However, some unscrupulous operators have sought to swindle and defraud investors and fund seekers, so regulators have issued warnings. For this reason, it pays to research a platform carefully before investing or using it for fundraising. The following 10 platforms represent the oldest, largest, best-established and most reputable and effective platforms in the crowdfunding universe. Read More...

Jul 22, 2020 A term sheet is a written document that spells out the key conditions of parties negotiating a proposed transaction, such as an investment in a business or the sale of a business. A term sheet is not binding, although it may contain partially binding or completely binding terms such as confidentiality. It is one of several common documents that may be used before a final agreement is reached. Read More...

Jul 22, 2020 Every American state has its own securities laws that aim to protect investors against fraud. These laws, called blue sky laws, also oversee the licensing and reporting requirements placed on broker-dealer firms, individual brokers and financial advisors. Here’s what you need to know about blue sky laws and how they protect the public from fraud and misinformation. Read More...

Jul 22, 2020 Marketing as an affiliate is an increasingly popular way for people to write on digital platforms about goods and services to earn money on sales that stem from their positive reviews. U.S. affiliate marketing spending is due to reach $8.2 billion by 2022, up from $5.4 billion recorded in 2017. Reviewers, known as affiliates, get a commission when readers click on the seller's link in the review and make a purchase. Affiliate marketing is also an increasingly important part of business owners' marketing. Here’s how it works and how reviewers and business owners can get started. Read More...

Jul 22, 2020 Your credit score is a numerical representation of how responsible you are with your finances and, by extension, how trustworthy you are as a borrower. So if your credit score has fallen, whether through your own negligence, a mistake in reporting or a case of stolen identity, it's essential for you to repair your credit score as soon as possible. That can help ensure you will be eligible for mortgages and loans and lines of credit at the best rates. Repairing your credit score relies on a systematic process of identifying the problematic areas of your credit report and taking pains to report errors or demonstrate consistently responsible behavior to curry favor from credit reporting agencies. Read More...

Jul 17, 2020 If your university, college, or higher education institution closes, you might be wondering if you can discharge student loans. It's an especially pertinent question now, with many schools temporarily closing due to COVID-19 and many more potentially facing permanent closure depending on future enrollment. Interested in what constitutes a school closure and what other rules apply? Here is what you need to know. Read More...

Jul 17, 2020 With millions of Americans depending on  401(k) and IRA assets for their retirement income, a market downturn can wipe out decades of investment in a single go. And while young workers at least have the time to rebuild their savings after a bear market, it can be a disaster for people on the verge of retirement who were planning on living off the assets in their portfolios. It doesn’t have to be, though. With proper management, retiring into a bear market does not have to define your financial future. If this is you, consider taking these few basic steps.  Read More...

Sep 04, 2020 There are a variety of small business grants specifically for female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses. These grants primarily come from private sources, and they tend to be competitive and offer relatively modest amounts of money. Meanwhile, government assistance for women-owned businesses or firms being started by women often focus on education and networking to access investors and lenders. Here is an overview of resources available to female entrepreneurs. Read More...

Jul 14, 2020 If you're looking for a way to create an additional income stream for retirement, you may consider purchasing an annuity. An annuity is an insurance contract that pays out money to you during your lifetime that you can use to cover expenses in your later years. If you're thinking of getting an annuity, you should know about the free look period: a period of time (typically 10 days or more), during which you may terminate your contract without paying any surrender charges and receive a refund for the contract. Knowing what this is and how to use it to your advantage can help ensure that buying an annuity is the right choice. Read More...

Jul 16, 2020 If you invest in stocks then you've probably received an annual report in the mail at least once. While you may be tempted to toss it out, it's worth taking the time to read through it to better understand the company you've invested in. These reports, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) each year, typically describe the company's operations and finances (balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement), as well as management's discussion and analysis of the company's activities and prospects. Annual reports can be helpful when making decisions about what to invest in or when to sell investments you already own. Read More...

Aug 25, 2020 8/25 Update: On August 8, President Trump signed an executive measure authorizing extra federal unemployment assistance to resume. Specifically, it calls for $300 in weekly federal assistance and $100 in state assistance. This is $200 less than what was being provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act until July 31. The additional unemployment benefits are coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) fund for disaster relief (for hurricanes, wildfires and such). But the benefits are not automatic. States must apply for a grant to FEMA, and they must also provide 25% of the supplement, though they don't have to provide an actual $100 cash payment (they can leverage what they pay out in regular unemployment benefits). The legality of the $44 billion reallocation of FEMA funds is questionable, however. As a result, many states are undecided as to whether they will apply for them. Thirty states, though, have applied and already been approved —Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas,  Utah, Vermont and Washington. In fact, Arizona and Texas have already begun distributing $300 benefits.   “Super unemployment,” the slightly tongue-in-cheek phrase for the enhanced unemployment benefits contained in the CARES Act, will end on July 31. The act temporarily expanded both access to unemployment and the amount included in every check. This was one of the law’s largest sources of aid for individual households, alongside the $1,200 check issued to each adult as well as a forbearance on student loan collection. Here’s what the end of the CARES Act unemployment aid means. Read More...

Jul 13, 2020 Alternative funds are a mutual fund option to consider if you're interested in other types of securities besides bonds, stocks or balanced mutual funds. These funds concentrate investments in non-traditional investment offerings and use alternative strategies to drive fund performance. While alternative funds aren't necessarily right for every investor, they can be a useful tool for increasing diversification in an investment portfolio. Read More...

Jul 13, 2020 Portfolio risk is one of the most essential challenges for any investor. More ambitious portfolios can generate greater rewards, creating more wealth in a single year than cautious portfolios can provide over several years of investing. But they can also lose most or all of those gains in an instant if the market turns volatile. Meanwhile, stable and steady portfolios can protect your money, keeping it relatively safe from market downturns and unexpected events. But they also grow slowly, and may not provide the kind of returns you need to meet your financial goals. Managing risk is critical for any investor, more so than ever with the recent market fluctuations. With the right strategies, you can get it right. Read More...

Jul 13, 2020 Discounted cash flow, or DCF, is a tool for analyzing financial investments based on their likely future cash flow. When an investment will cost more money to buy, generate less money in return, or require greater tradeoffs, its DCF will rise. In these cases, you may be better off doing something else with that money. On the other hand, if an investment costs less, generates better returns, or has fewer tradeoffs, it may be a good use of your funds. DCF helps you to break that analysis down into a specific dollar amount at which a given investment becomes worthwhile. Here’s how it works. Read More...

Jul 13, 2020 Trusts can be used as an estate planning tool if you need more than just a will to manage your assets. A land trust is a specific type of trust related to real estate. This is a type of living trust, meaning it can take effect during your lifetime as a means of manage property ownership. The terms of a land trust can be unique to your needs and the type of real estate it owns. Understanding how this type of trust works and what it's meant to be used for can help you decide if one belongs in your estate plan. Read More...

Jul 09, 2020 Receiving an inheritance can provide a financial windfall, but there are some scenarios where you may prefer not to receive one. In that case, you might be wondering if it's possible to decline an inheritance and the responsibilities that go with it. In fact, the answer is yes - it is possible to "disclaim" inheritance rights and have the assets you were supposed to inherit distributed differently. Doing so starts with understanding the legal process and rules involved. We'll go over the basics of disclaiming an inheritance, and discuss why you might want to do so. Read More...

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