accountant
A professional who prepares financial and tax reports, and who keeps, audits, and inspects financial records on individuals or business concerns.
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annual fee
A charge by some credit card companies for use of the card and services.
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annual percentage rate (APR)
A rate that shows the total cost of credit annually. It includes a percentage of the principal as interest on a loan plus other costs (e.g., points on a mortgage loan, service charges).
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assets
Anything of value owned by a person or business (can also include money owed to a person or business).
automated teller machine (ATM)
An ATM is a computer terminal activated by a magnetically encoded bank card, allowing consumers to make deposits, obtain cash from checking or savings accounts, pay bills, transfer money between accounts, and conduct other routine transactions as they would at a bank teller window.
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automatic bill paying
A service which allows consumers to have bills paid automatically from their bank accounts (e.g., utility bills). Also known as direct debit, direct payment, or automatic debit.
balanced budget
A plan that shows the money coming in (income) is equal to the amount going out (expenses).
bank
An institution, chartered by the state or federal government, that takes deposits and provides credit and other financial services.
bank statement
A printed or online statement, usually available as a pdf, that provides the depositor with a record of deposits, checks, ATM transactions, and electronic fund transfers made to an account over a certain period of time.
Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005
A federal act that subjects Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings to a “means test,” encourages Chapter 13 repayment plans, and requires credit counseling six months prior to bankruptcy filings.
basic banking account
New York State banking law requires that all banks in the state offer a low-cost transaction account. This account can be opened with $25 and has a small monthly fee that covers eight transactions per month without any additional charge.
bear market
A stock market with a prolonged period of falling share prices.
beneficiary
An individual, institution, trustee, or estate that receives, or may become eligible to receive, benefits under a will, insurance policy, retirement plan, annuity, trust, or other contract.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Organizations in the United States and Canada that work with businesses and consumers to resolve complaints. Local BBBs can be contacted for help with questions about or complaints against businesses in their service area.
Big Board
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), oldest and largest stock exchange in the U.S., located on Wall Street in New York. Responsible for setting policy, supervising member activities, listing securities, overseeing the transfer of member seats, and evaluating applicants.
blue chip stock
Stock of a large, national company with a solid record of stable earnings and/or dividend growth and a reputation for high quality management and/or products.
Bodily injury (Bi) liability
Insurance policy that pays for physical injuries caused to other individuals in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
bond
A certificate of debt issued by a government or corporation that offers payment of the original principal plus interest by a specified future date.
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bounced check
A check that a bank returns because it is not payable due to insufficient funds. Banks charge a fee for checks that are returned (see overdraft).
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budget
A budget is both a spending plan and a list of spendable funds.
bull market
A stock market with a prolonged rise in stock prices.
capacity
A person’s ability to repay a loan (judged by earning power and a current financial commitments; also based on record of financial responsibility). A measure of creditworthiness.
capital
The amount of monetary resources a potential buyer and/or loan applicant has available. A measure of creditworthiness.
capital gain
Profit from selling or transferring assets at a higher price than their initial cost. For most investments sold at a profit, the IRS is owed capital gains tax. Capital loss is a decrease in the value of an investment or asset.
cash card
Card with a pre-paid value, read by a special cash card reader. The card is drawn down until the value is zero.
cash value
The amount available in cash upon surrender of an insurance policy before it becomes payable upon death or maturity
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certificate of deposit
A CD is a form of time deposit at a bank or other savings institution. A time deposit cannot be withdrawn before a specified maturity date without being subject to an interest penalty for early withdrawal. Small-denomination CDs are often purchased by individuals. Large CDs of $100,000 or more are often in negotiable form, meaning they can be sold or transferred among holders until maturity.
Chapter 11
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code section allowing companies and corporations to reorganize their debt or rehabilitate and reorganize their financial structure. The goal of Chapter 11 is to propose a plan that is accepted by a vote of the creditors.
Chapter 13
The part of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code allowing an individual to begin debt repayment without forfeiting property. Chapter 13 requires that the debtor maintain a source of income and adhere to a payment schedule set forth by the court.
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Chapter 7
Part of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code allowing the liquidation of all of a debtor’s nonexempt assets to pay creditors; i.e., sale of property.
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character
A person’s willingness to repay a debt. A character loan is based on the reputation and/or personal credit history of a borrower, rather than collateral. A measure of creditworthiness.
charitable giving
Providing a gift in the form of money or goods to a public or private nonprofit organization.
check
A written order to a bank to pay the amount specified from funds in your account. A certified check has been guaranteed by the bank upon which it is drawn and is so stamped.
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Check 21
The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act — legislation authorizing financial institutions to exchange images instead of paper checks. This law also allows for the creation of substitute checks or IRDs (Image Replacement Documents).
check fraud
Check fraud most frequently begins with a stolen check. It includes counterfeiting and forgery.
check register
A booklet for keeping a record of checking transactions such as deposits, withdrawals, debit card use, ATM withdrawals, checks written, and fees.
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check-cashing fees
The rate a check-cashing business can charge for cashing checks. Many states, including New York, regulate the rates.
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check-cashing industry
An industry founded in the 1930s that provides a link to the U.S. payments systems for consumers who elect not to deal with the banking system.
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checking account
An account that allows the customer to write checks on the money in the account.
checking on a charity
The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) evaluates whether national charities meet certain standards (i.e., program spending, fundraising, etc.).
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) benefits
A federal law that provides temporary continuation of health benefits to many employees who have lost their jobs, as well as some retirees, spouses and dependents. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage under the plan.
collateral
An asset such as an automobile or a piece of property that a person uses when taking out a loan, promising to give the asset to the lender if loan payments cannot be met.
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collision coverage
Insurance designed to pay for the repair or replacement of the policy owner’s car in the event of an accident, no matter who has caused the accident.
compound interest
Interest that is calculated not only on the initial principal but also the accumulated interest of prior periods.
comprehensive coverage
Insurance that covers damage to the policy owner’s car not caused by a collision with another car (e.g., theft, fire, flood, vandalism, collision with an animal or bird, earthquake).
consolidation loan
A debt management program that replaces multiple unsecured loans with a single loan, often with a lower monthly payment and a longer repayment period.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service
The CCCS is a nonprofit agency that assists people with budgeting, financial management, and payment arrangements to creditors. CCCS agencies operate under the National Foundation for Credit Counseling — the parent organization.
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consumer debt
Debt that has been incurred primarily for the purchase of consumer goods.
consumer reporting agencies
CRAs are credit bureaus that collect and sell information about consumers to creditors, employers, and businesses. They are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and also by state laws. The three major CRAs are Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.
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credit
The borrowing capacity of an individual or company. A transaction in which a borrower (or debtor) receives goods, services, or cash and agrees to repay the lender at a future date, usually with certain costs.
credit card
A plastic card with a magnetic stripe on one side that can be used to purchase goods and services. The issuing company records the purchases, bills the purchaser, receives payment, and subsequently settles the purchaser’s debts with the providers of goods and services. Some credit cards offer cash advances to its holders.
credit rating
A formal evaluation of an individual’s or business’ credit history and capability of repaying obligations by a credit reporting agency. The credit rating is based on the number of outstanding debts and whether debts are being repaid in a timely manner.
credit repair
Process of re-building one’s credit status in order to restore eligibility for secured loans.
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credit repair services
Companies that offer to repair the credit of consumers. Consumers are advised to contact the Better Business Bureau for background information on companies offering credit repair services. In some states, these credit repair businesses are regulated.
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credit report
Information gathered from businesses and companies with which a person has a financial/business relationship (present or past). These could include department stores, banks, credit card issuers, and mortgage companies. Information on tax liens, bankruptcies, and lawsuits comes from court records. One free annual report can be ordered once every 12 months from each of the three major consumer-reporting agencies.
credit score
Numeric value compiled from information in a credit report using a standardized formula that ranks the risk of default according to the person’s credit history. A score is based on past payment history, the amount of credit available, and other factors.
credit union
Not-for-profit cooperative of members with some common bond who, in effect, save their money together and make low-cost loans to each other. A financial institution.
creditor
The lender or supplier of money, goods, services, or securities; A person or organization which extends credit or lends money to others.
death benefit
Amount payable by an insurance company to beneficiaries after the insured’s death.
debit card
A card used for purchases that is issued by the consumer’s bank. Funds are deducted from the consumer’s checking account and transferred electronically to the merchant’s bank account when a purchase is made.
debtor
An individual or company that owes debt (money) to another individual or company.
Debtors Anonymous
A 12-step fellowship for debtors trying to recover from money problems and compulsive debt.
deductible
The part of an insurance claim that is paid directly by the insured person.
deduction
An expense subtracted from adjusted gross income when calculating taxable income, such as for state and local taxes paid, charitable gifts, and certain types of interest payment. Also called tax deduction.
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deficit
The insufficiency of revenues relative to outlays. Or the amount by which a sum of money falls short of the required amount.
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dependents
A person or persons who are financially supported by another person.
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deposit
A sum of money placed in an account in a financial institution. Also a sum payable as a first installment on a time-payment purchase or as a pledge for a contract.
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depositor
A person or entity that puts money in a bank or other institution.
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depreciation
A loss or decrease in value, especially because of wear or age (e.g., the depreciation of a new auto).
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direct deposit
An automatic deposit of wages or benefits (such as payroll payments) into a consumer’s bank account. Direct deposit payments are processed through the Federal Reserve’s Automated Clearing House.
disability insurance
An insurance policy that pays benefits in the event that the policy holder becomes incapable of working.
disclosure statement
For credit cards, the reporting of the exact terms and conditions under which credit will be extended prior to applicant signing up for the card.
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discretionary spending
Discretionary spending implies the buyer has a choice (for example, purchasing clothing or delaying a proposed purchase). See also nondiscretionary spending, below.
disposable income
The amount of income remaining after taxes and available for spending. This is the amount of money left after deductions (mandatory and nonmandatory) have been taken from gross pay.
diversification
A variety in the investments in a portfolio, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. The goal of diversification is to reduce the risk in a portfolio.
dividend
The portion of a company’s profits that the firm pays out each period to shareholders. Also called distributed profits.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
A figure indicating the weighted average value of shares in thirty companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange at a particular time.
due date
On a credit card account, the date by which the minimum payment must be received every month, without incurring a late fee or other penalty.
e-filing
The filing of taxes electronically (a paperless filing).
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electronic check
A form of payment made via the Internet that acts like a conventional paper check. Security features include authentication, public key cryptography, digital signatures, and encryption.
electronic funds transfer (EFT)
A variety of systems and technologies for transferring funds (money) electronically rather than by check. Includes Fedwire, Bankwire, automated clearinghouses (ACHs), and other automated systems.
emergency fund
Money set aside or budgeted for unanticipated but necessary expenditures.
endorse
To sign the back of a check, in order to cash it or specify another payee, who then can endorse and cash it. Some banks also require customers to include their bank account number as part of the endorsement.
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Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The ECOA is a federal law that protects consumers from being refused for credit for any reason other than inability to repay. The ECOA also provides guidelines that credit bureaus must follow and promotes accuracy, privacy of information, and fairness in reporting. The law is summarized on the Federal Trade Commission website at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/ecoa.htm.
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excise tax
A federal or state tax imposed on the manufacture and distribution of certain consumer goods. Examples of excise taxes include environmental taxes, communications taxes, and fuel taxes.
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exemption
A direct reduction of taxable income for a specific reason, as allowed by the IRS, typically for financially supporting another person.
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face value
The amount stated on the face of an insurance policy that will be paid in case of death or at maturity.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
The FCRA is a federal law granting individuals the right to examine their own credit history and enabling them to dispute wrong or incomplete information in their credit records.
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Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
An independent agency of the federal government that insures accounts up to $250,000 per depositor at almost all United States depository institutions. This deposit limit was increased from $100,000 by the FDIC in October, 2008, in response to the banking system crisis. The insured amount of $250,000 is effective through December 2009. The FDIC has primary federal supervisory authority over insured institutions that are not members of the Federal Reserve System.
Federal Insurance Contribution Act
The FICA is the federal act under which mandatory contributions for Social Security tax and Medicare tax are deducted from paychecks.
Federal Trade Commission
The FTC is the federal agency whose primary purpose is to encourage free enterprise and prevent monopolies and restraint of trade. It is also the agency to which identity theft is reported.
finance charge
The cost of credit, including interest paid by a customer or a consumer for a consumer loan. Under the Truth in Lending Act, the finance charge must be disclosed to the customer in writing.
financial institution
Banks (sometimes called commercial banks), credit unions, savings associations, savings and loans.
fixed expenses
Expenses that do not generally change from month to month (e.g., rent, car payment, health insurance, union dues, etc.).
fraud
An intentional lie or misrepresentation to obtain benefit or advantage. Making a false or misleading statement.
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Free IRS Tax preparation Services
The IRS offers a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service, which provides free help to low-and moderate-income citizens in preparing their income tax returns and obtaining tax deductions and credits.
goals
In terms of personal finances, any future plans or objectives that require specific financing, such as purchasing a house or paying college tuition.
government budget
Federal, state, or local government’s planned expenditures and anticipated receipts for the upcoming year.
grace period
The time allowed for payment of a debt or loan without penalty.
growth income
Income from stock which grows earnings and/or revenue faster than its industry or the overall market. Companies with growth stock usually pay little or no dividends, preferring to use the income instead to finance further expansion.
head of household
A tax filing status that can be used by a married or unmarried person who maintains a household for a dependent (or nondependent relative) and provides more than half of the dependent’s financial support.
identity theft
The criminal act of obtaining key pieces of personal information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, in order to impersonate someone else. The information can be used to obtain credit, merchandise, and services in the name of the victim, or to provide the thief with false credentials
installment credit
Credit that is granted for purchase of durable goods, on condition of its repayment at regular intervals over a specified period of time until paid in full (e.g., for an automobile or home). The seller retains legal title to goods until the last installment is paid.
installment loan
A loan, extended by a financial institution or retail firm, to be repaid with interest charges in installments over a fixed period of time. Example: student loans.
installment plan
A sum of money due as one of several equal payments for a purchase spread over an agreed period of time.
instant refunds
Refund anticipation loans, often with very high interest, arranged by tax preparers for people who file their returns electronically.
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insufficient funds
When a bank account does not have enough money to cover checks.
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insurance
A contract guaranteeing payment of a sum of money in the event of loss or damage to property or a life. Insurance may also guarantee medical services. Policies are secured by regular payments (premiums) made by the consumer.
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interest
An amount of money paid for using funds over a period of time, generally an annual percentage rate. Bank interest is both an amount paid to depositors of funds and a finance charge for money that is borrowed. The price that someone pays for the temporary use of someone else’s funds. Interest is also a compensation that someone receives for temporarily giving up the ability to spend money.
Internal Revenue Service
The IRS is the federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing the Treasury Department’s revenue laws through the assessment and collection of taxes and related activities.
investment
Property or other possession acquired for future financial return or benefit; also a commitment of time (e.g., to education or training).
itemization
The process of listing deductible personal expenses paid during the year, such as medical and dental care, state and local income taxes, real estate taxes, home mortgage interest, and gifts to charity. Such a list would appear on Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.
itemized deduction
An incurred expense that reduces an individual’s taxable income, in accordance with IRS regulations. Examples include mortgage interest, state and local taxes, charitable gifts, and medical expenses.
liability
Financial obligations or debt for which a person or organization is responsible.
liquidation
To sell all of a company’s assets, pay outstanding debts, and distribute the remainder to shareholders, then go out of business.
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liquidity
The degree to which an investment or assets of a company can easily be sold or converted into cash.
long-term care
Coverage that provides skilled nursing, intermediate care, or custodial care for a patient (generally over age 65) in a nursing facility or his or her residence following an injury or illness.
managed care
Arrangement between an employer or insurer and selected providers to provide comprehensive health care at a discount to members of the insured group.
means test
Under the BAPCPA, a means test is a way to determine if a person can file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Current monthly income is measured against the median income for a similar household in the same state.
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Medicare
A federal program that pays for certain health care expenses for people aged 65 or older. Enrolled individuals must pay deductibles and co-payments, but much of their medical costs are covered by the program.
minimum payment
On a credit card account or loan, a fixed percentage of the balance due which must be paid each month.
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money market
A savings account that pays variable interest rates based on current conditions in the market for very short-term securities. These accounts are safe and easily liquidated and offer a higher interest rate than ordinary savings accounts.
money order
A means for safe transmission of sums of money. Resembling checks, they are issued by governments (usually postal authorities), banks, and other qualified institutions to buyers who pay the issuer the face amount of the money order plus a service charge. Money orders can be used for purchases throughout the world.
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municipal bond
A "muni" is a long-term, interest-bearing security issued by county, city, or state governments, having a maturity of at least ten years. Owners of municipal bonds pay no federal income tax on the interest.
mutual fund
Funds from many investors pooled together to establish a diversified portfolio of investments. Mutual funds raise money by selling shares of the fund to the public. Shareholders are free to sell their shares at any time. Many employees invest in mutual funds through their employers, by setting aside some of their wages to invest in one or more funds on a regular basis.
National Credit Union Administration
The NCUA is an independent federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions and insures savings in federal and most state-chartered credit unions across the country.
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
The NFCC is the parent organization for more than 100 nonprofit member agencies and 900 local offices that comprise this network. These agencies help consumers establish budgets and negotiate payment plans with creditors.
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needs
Goods and services that an individual must have to survive; e.g., food, clothing, shelter.
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net worth
Total assets minus total liabilities.
nondiscretionary spending
Nondiscretionary spending is for expenses over which one does not have control (e.g., income tax, mortgage payments, insurance). See discretionary spending, above.
occasional or periodic expenses
Expenditure of money that occurs from time to time, not on a regular basis.
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online banking
Conducting bank transactions from a computer over the Internet.
opportunity costs
The cost of passing up the next best alternative when making a decision.
over the counter (OTC)
Procedure for trading any equity (stock) that is not listed or traded on a national securities exchange or NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations).
overdraft
A check written for amounts “over” what consumers have in their accounts (i.e., the checks are called overdrafts). Checks are returned unpaid and are usually said to “have bounced.” Some depositors select overdraft protection, which is a line of credit to write checks for more than the actual account balance. A draft or check written for an amount that exceeds the funds in the account on which the check is drawn. (Draft, in this sense, means a document for transferring money.)
payee
The business or person to whom a check is paid.
payer
The person or business that issues or pays a check.
Personal Identification Number (PIN)
A sequence of digits assigned to consumers for the purpose of identification when debit or credit cards are used at ATM and point-of-sale (POS) terminals or a home device.
pharming
Similar to phishing, but involves Trojan programs, worms, or other sophisticated virus technologies that attack the Internet browser address bar. When users type in a valid URL they are redirected to a fraudulent website.
phishing
An attempt to fraudulently acquire sensitive information via electronic communication, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy business. PayPal, eBay, and online banks are common targets. The term is a variant of “fishing” and refers to baits used in the hope of a “catch” of financial information.
portfolio
A list of the financial assets held by an individual, bank, or other financial institution
predatory lending
Fraudulent, unethical, discriminatory, or abusive lending practices designed to exploit vulnerable borrowers and lead to their increased indebtedness (e.g., excessive and disguised fees for home mortgages).
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premium
An amount to be paid for a contract of insurance. A sum added to interest, wages, etc; a bonus.
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principal
The original sum borrowed.
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profit
A financial gain, the excess of returns over expenditures, income over expenses. The opposite of loss.
progressive tax
A tax system in which those who earn higher incomes pay a higher percentage of their income than those with lower incomes. The individual income tax is one example.
property damage liability
An insurance policy that pays for damage caused to the property of others, including cars, as a result of an accident. Coverage for property damage payment is often mandatory.
proportional tax
A system in which all levels of income are taxed at the same rate, also called flat tax.
public goods
Goods or services provided by the government and not restricted by a person’s ability to pay for them.
rate of return
A percentage amount of the return on an investment or loan.
reconcile
In banking terms this means cross-checking one’s bank statement against one’s own records to make sure they agree.
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redlining
Illegal discrimination practiced by a lending institution, based on geographic area (and the race or income of its residents).
refund
Money returned by the government to a taxpayer who paid in excess of the amount due.
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regressive tax
A tax that takes a larger percentage of the income of low-income people than of high-income people.
reloadable card
An electronic, stored value card that permits a user to increase the value on the card (e.g., prepaid credit card, store cash card). A nonreloadable card has a fixed value stored on it (e.g., disposable phone card).
revenue sharing
A share of tax funds provided by the federal government to state governments, or by state governments to local municipalities.
revolving credit
System of retail credit (e.g., department store or bank credit cards) in which buyers make periodic payments on purchases and service charges. The service charge is based on the outstanding balance; if the buyer pays the entire balance, no service charge accrues.
risk
Uncertainty as to the outcome of an event. The chance of loss. A person or thing insured.
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Rule of 72
A rule used to calculate the doubling of money (72 divided by the anticipated interest rate gives the number of years it would take to double one’s money). For example, at 4 percent interest it would take 18 years to double one’s money.
safe deposit box
A locked, secure box in the vault of a financial institution where an account holder’s valuable documents or items may be deposited.
savings account
An account at a financial institution that earns interest and allows regular deposits and withdrawals. The minimum required deposit, fees charged, and interest rate paid vary among providers.
savings bond
A certificate representing a debt. A U.S. savings bond is a loan by buyer to the government. The government agrees to repay the amount borrowed, with interest, to the bondholder.
scarcity
The basic economic situation — limited resources and unlimited wants.
secured credit card
A credit card that is secured against loss by other assets (often by money placed in a savings account with the credit card company).
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secured loan
A loan which is backed by the borrower’s assets, when the borrower’s credit rating is not strong enough to justify an unsecured loan (not backed by the borrower’s assets). The assets may be forfeited to the lender if the borrower fails to make the necessary payments.
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Securities Investor Protection Corporation
The SIPC protects investors’ cash and securities when a brokerage firm goes out of business, up to $500,000, including a $100,000 limit for cash. The SIPC does not protect against losses caused by a decline in the market value of securities. And it does not provide protection for investment contracts not registered with the SEC.
short form (tax)
Any shorter version of a standard tax form, most commonly the 1040-A or 1040-EZ tax return forms. These require fewer or no supplementary forms (schedules) be attached.
social insurance
Insurance that is provided by government.
Social Security
The comprehensive federal program of benefits providing workers and their dependents with retirement income, disability income, and other payments. The Social Security tax is used to pay for the program.
stock
The capital raised by a corporation by issuing shares of ownership; a certificate documenting a proportional share in the corporation’s assets and profits. (Also known as an equity.)
store cash card
A prepaid, disposable, or reloadable card used for purchases in the specific store that issues it to the consumer, this includes gift cards.
substitute check
A paper reproduction of a check that has been copied electronically.
surplus
The amount by which revenue exceeds expenditure. Or the money left over after all expenses have been met.
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tariff
A tax imposed on a product when it is imported into a country.
tax return
A filed tax form. Also called return.
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taxable income
The amount of income subject to income taxes found by subtracting exemptions and appropriate deductions (IRA contributions, alimony payments, unreimbursed business expenses, some capital losses, etc.) from adjusted gross income.
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three C’s of credit
Creditworthiness is measured by three factors, sometimes called the three C’s of credit — character, collateral, and capacity (see definitions above).
trade-offs
Giving up one want in order to satisfy another.
Treasury bill
A T-bill is a short-term debt security issued by the U.S. government, having a maturity of one year or less. The interest earned is estimated by taking the difference between the price paid and the face value of the bond, and calculating that rate of return on an annual basis. Considered the safest securities available to the U.S. investor. Minimum investment is $100.
Treasury bond
A T-bond is a long-term interest-bearing security issued by the U.S. government. Interest is paid semiannually. These securities mature in 10 to 30 years. Minimum investment is $100.
Treasury note
A T-note is a government debt security issued with maturities of two to ten years and traded in the capital markets. Treasury notes bear a fixed interest, paid semiannually.
U.S. savings bond
A nontransferable bond issued by the U.S. government. Savings bonds cannot be bought and sold after they are purchased, except to redeem them to the government. All federal taxes may be deferred until the bond is redeemed. Face values range from $50 to $10,000.
unemployment compensation
Payments made under state-administered programs to qualified workers who become unemployed. To qualify, a worker must be involuntarily unemployed (terminated from a “covered” job) and be willing and able to take new employment. Programs are employer financed except in a few states that require small employee contributions.
usury
Charging an extremely high interest rate that is beyond the legal limit set by law. Usury laws vary from state to state.
variable expenses
Expenses that vary from month to month (e.g., auto repairs, utility bills, food, phone service, etc.).
W-2 form
A tax form prepared by an employer and given to an employee to be filed with his/her 1040 form, listing wages earned during that year, federal and state taxes withheld, and Social Security tax information.
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W-4 form
A form prepared by an employee for an employer indicating his or her allowances (exemptions) and Social Security number, that enables the employer to determine the amount of taxes to be withheld.
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wants
Goods and services that an individual would like to have (e.g., an upgraded computer, a sports car, dance training, etc.).
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wealth
The total accumulated value of the assets a person possesses. Financial assets include savings, stocks, and bonds. Physical assets can include real estate, rental property, gold, antiques, and other collectibles.
Wealth-creating assets
Possessions that increase in value over time or provide income or dividends.
withholding
An amount of an employee’s income that an employer sends directly to the federal, state, or local tax authority as partial payment of that individual’s tax liability for the year. When a person starts a new job, he/she is required to fill out a W-4 form indicating his/her filing status and the number of allowances (exemptions) claimed.
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workers compensation
A system of compensation for work-related injuries or death, paid for by employer contributions.