Understanding your own finances is as important as knowing about your health. You can’t make financial decisions if you’re not educated. Women feel uncomfortable talking about money with their spouses and financial advisors partly because they are lost in industry jargon and terms. It's not rocket science. You can figure it out. Take the first step on the road to your financial literacy.
A measure of financial health. It’s calculated by subtracting your liabilities (what you owe, money goes out of your bank account) from your assets (what you own, money goes into your bank account). If your assets exceed your liabilities, you have a positive net worth. Examples of assets are cash, investment accounts, retirement accounts, real property. Examples of liabilities are mortgage, home equity loans, auto loans, credit card debt, student loans.
Categories of financial things you own, e.g., stocks (equity), bonds (fixed income), real estate. Asset classes are groups of securities that have similar risk and return characteristics.
Ownership of a piece of a company. Each share of stock is a proportional stake in the company's assets and profits.
A loan you make to a government or a company in exchange for regular interest payments (called coupon). The loan is paid back by a specific date (maturity date). Also known as "fixed income".
It’s an investment that is traded on the exchange (like New York Stock Exchange). It is a basket of tens, hundreds, or sometimes thousands of stocks or bonds in a single fund. ETF’s track indexes such as the S&P 500 (U.S. stocks) or the MSCI (international stocks). Because they require minimal human interaction compared to other investment vehicles, they typically have much lower fees.
The sum total of all your investments (or financial assets) managed toward a specific goal (for example, retirement or kids’ college).
Owning several different kinds of assets (stocks, bonds, real estate) in your portfolio. Helps minimize investment risk. We diversify because we can’t predict the future of financial markets with any certainty.
How your investments are distributed across different asset classes (for example, 90% in stocks and 10% in bonds). When done properly, your allocation factors in your age, income, time horizon and risk tolerance.
The profit you get from investing money. This profit is based mainly on the amount of risk associated with the investment. So less-risky investments like U.S. government bonds generally earn a lower rate of return than higher-risk investments like stocks.
A chance that the returns on your investments will be different than you expected (positively or negatively). Usually refers to investment risk, which is a measure of how likely it is that you could lose money in an investment.
An investment strategy where you invest equal dollar amounts in the market at regular intervals of time as opposed to simply investing a large sum of money all at once. The idea is that you are trying to smooth out the price volatility over time.
A investment advisor who has a legal duty to act in your best interest and is not getting paid to steer you into buying overpriced investment products you don’t want or need. Fiduciary is registered with a government entity (e.g. a state agency, the SEC) and is obligated to put a client’s interests ahead of their own. They also must disclose conflicts of interest, such as how and when they receive compensation for selling certain products.
Investing in companies that have high environmental, social, and governance standards. Environmental standards cover climate change, carbon emissions, renewable energy, green building. Social standards include labor standards, human capital, privacy and data security. Governance – board diversity, equal pay, business ethics and fraud, corruption, transparent financial reporting.
By active investing people mean picking individual securities (stocks or bonds). Passive investors buy index funds – collections of securities that are trying to mirror an index.
Value stocks are stocks that tend to trade at a lower price relative to its fundamental characteristics such as earnings, dividends, and sales. Growth stocks are stocks that are expected to grow at a higher rate than their peers, and thus tend to trade at a higher price relative to their fundamentals.
The places where you set aside money for your golden years. Examples include 401(k)’s, IRA’s, 403(b)’s, and SEP’s.
An employer-sponsored retirement plan with two potential advantages for retirement savings: company matches and tax advantages. Employers often pitch in as much as you do (match) up to a certain percentage, i.e. 3-4%. Contributions to traditional 401(k)s are taken out before tax so they help reduce your taxable income.
An investment account that provides tax advantages when investing for higher education for your children.
IRA stand for an Individual Retirement Account. An employer-sponsored savings plan, such as a 401(k), might not be enough to accumulate the savings you need for retirement. Fortunately, you can contribute to both a 401(k) and an IRA. While a 401(k) is held with your employer, an IRA is yours no matter where you work. There are different kinds, such as traditional, SEP and Roth, with different maximum contributions, income limits, and tax treatments.
How quickly you can get cash for what you own. Publicly traded securities like stocks and bonds are very liquid; whereas things like your home are far less liquid. They’re worth something, but it’ll take you a long time to access the value and make a transaction.
Mutual funds are publicly traded pools of money managed by investment firms who try to hold to certain risk/return parameters with the goal of benefitting anyone who invests.
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There are so many financial services products out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed. I'm sharing my favorite investing and money management tools that I use every day to help me stay on track with achieving my financial goals. I'm a busy mom, just like you. I don't want to spend all day crunching numbers or watching the stock market. I value simplicity and convenience. These tools help me be in charge of my money.
I don't need to explain that reading a good financial book is worth it - but that doesn’t make reading a book about money any easier. If you'd like to educate yourself on a subject of money, but not sure which book to pick, you are in luck. I've compiled a list of top 9 finance books that will give you the knowledge and confidence boost to start improving your finances today. Happy reading!
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There are various helpful resources that will guide you on the journey of teaching your kiddos about money.
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