Author: Kevin Smith

About Kevin Smith

Kevin is the content manager for Personal Finance Lab and is from Chicago, Illinois. He has a Master's Degree in Economics from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. In addition to an economics background, he has also built training manuals to prepare finance companies for licensing requirements in mortgage loan origination and insurance sales.

HedgEye On The Prize FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions Basics Trading Other The Basics: Hedgeye On The Prize Q: What is the Hedgeye On The Prize? This is an elaborate, web-based educational tool. Each user account receives an amount of virtual dollars in a virtual brokerage account and simulates managing a portfolio by buying and selling stocks at real-time prices. For the specific amount, please refer to the Rules Page page. … Continue reading HedgEye On The Prize FAQ »

Glossary

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Financial Glossary 1040 The base form to file federal income taxes in the United States. It may be supplemented with additional forms for complex tax returns. 1099 A form provided to contractors to report their income in the United States. 10-K An annual report containing audited financial statements for publicly-traded companies. This form is filed with the SEC and is made available to investors. It … Continue reading Glossary »

Taxation Overview

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Taxation Overview Taxes are everywhere and are essential in keeping the modern world functioning. For your personal finances, taxes also play a huge role in your financial decision-making. While we have lessons that cover most major types of taxes in detail, to get started we want to give the “big picture” of the types of taxes, and what their impact is on your financial life. … Continue reading Taxation Overview »

Career Development

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Career Development There is a world of difference between “getting a job” and “starting a career”, and it comes down to more than just salary. The road to Career Development is all about defining your goals. You need to understand what actions you can take to open doors for tomorrow and build a path to get you from where you are today to where you … Continue reading Career Development »

Rental Agreements and Homeowner’s Associations

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Rental Agreements and Homeowner’s Associations When you rent an apartment or house, what you can do with your new home is dictated by your Lease Agreement. A Lease Agreement specifies not just how much you pay in rent, but dozens of other restrictions on what you can do, when, and what your landlord can do to enforce it. Reading and understanding your lease agreement is … Continue reading Rental Agreements and Homeowner’s Associations »

Simple and Living Wills

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Simple and Living Wills When a person dies, someone gets their stuff. Unfortunately, the question of who can be quite complicated. While every state has laws in place to govern how a person’s assets are distributed if they die, it can be a complicated process for everyone involved and take months, if not years, to sort out. The good news is that most of the … Continue reading Simple and Living Wills »

Employer and Employee Rights and Responsibilities

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Employer and Employee Rights and Responsibilities When you start your first job, the number one thing everyone cares about is the salary (or hourly rate). What big bucks will you be earning? You will be surprised to find that this number is just a small part of the total compensation package offered by most employers. Employees versus Contractors Before we get into the benefits themselves, … Continue reading Employer and Employee Rights and Responsibilities »

Charitable Giving

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Charitable Giving Setting aside some money for charitable giving is an important part of every budget or spending plan. Charitable organizations are essential to helping people in need and cannot function without regular contributions from the public. Types of Charitable Giving Charitable giving has many forms, but the essential concept is that it is a donation where you do not expect a good or service … Continue reading Charitable Giving »

Lease Terms

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This is a sample lease, with all terms normally included except the base rental cost. Lease Terms QUIET ENJOYMENT:  Tenant shall be entitled to quiet enjoyment of the Premises and Landlord will not interfere with that right, as long as Tenant pays the rent in a timely manner and performs all other obligations under this Lease. POSSESSION AND SURRENDER OF PREMISES:  Tenant shall be entitled … Continue reading Lease Terms »

Final Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Final Vocabulary Quiz Complete the final vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Final Exam

Chapter 9 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 9 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 8 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 8 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 7 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 7 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 6 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 6 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 5 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 5 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 4 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 4 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 3 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 3 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 2 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 2 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

Chapter 1 Vocabulary

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Investing 101 – Chapter 1 Vocabulary Quiz Complete the following short vocabulary quiz. Click ‘CONTINUE TO EXAM’ to start the exam for this chapter. Continue To Exam

8-10 ESG Investing

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8-10 ESG Investing ESG Investing means investing not only on the fundamental and technical aspects of a stock, but also the social and environmental impacts of how the business is run. “ESG” means “Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance” – a measure of sustainability and social impact of a business. What is ESG Investing? ESG Investing is the concept that investors should be doing more than … Continue reading 8-10 ESG Investing »

6-11 Resources

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6-11 Resources This chapter is one of the most important resources you will find when it comes down to actually researching stocks. Understanding how to conduct a basic read of financial statements and some of the key ratios we have covered is essential to comparing different companies in the same industry apples-to-apples. Before we move on, a last word of warning – Fundamental Analysis is … Continue reading 6-11 Resources »

1-08 Commodities

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1-08 Commodities So far, we have talked about what the average “retail investor” thinks about when investing – bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. But the world is a big place, and there are bigger ways to invest! Besides the stock market, the biggest investment markets in the world are for commodities – raw materials that form the basis for the economy. What Are … Continue reading 1-08 Commodities »

Comparing Loans – Using Spreadsheets to Compare Car Financing Options

Spreadsheets – Using Spreadsheets to compare loans You finally made the big decision – you are going to buy a car. You did your research and the test drives – you found 3 cars that you really like, from three different dealerships. You really love them all – but at the end of the day, your final decision will come down to price. But what … Continue reading Comparing Loans – Using Spreadsheets to Compare Car Financing Options »

Savings Growth and Compound Interest Calculator!

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Compound Interest Calculator! The first thing to consider with all personal finance is the idea of compound interest! This is what separates the “Piggy Bank” savers from the Warren Buffets; making use of interest compounding is how you can really make your savings grow! If you have already used our Investment Return Calculator, you can use this calculator to see how different types of compounding … Continue reading Savings Growth and Compound Interest Calculator! »

Advanced Investment Return Calculator!

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Advanced Investment Return Calculator! Find out the difference between Simple and Compound Interest! See how big an impact your tax rates and inflation have on your savings over time! If you have already used our Becoming A Millionaire Calculator, you can use your targeted Expected Investment Return numbers in this calculator to see how to make that return happen! Once you see how moving the … Continue reading Advanced Investment Return Calculator! »

Home Budget Calculator!

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Home Budget Calculator! The most difficult thing people think of with personal finance is building your monthly budget, and sticking to it. There are tons of different expenses and payments to consider, so we put all the big ones in one place! This tool will also help you see exactly how much you can set aside for savings every month! If you have already used … Continue reading Home Budget Calculator! »

Credit Card Payment Calculator!

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Credit Card Payment Calculator! Credit Cards! These are usually the first “loans” a person takes out, and the first monthly payments! Tens of thousands of young people dig themselves deep into credit card debt before they even realize it, so have fun with this payments calculator to see how much these bits of plastic REALLY cost! If you have already used our Compound Interest Calculator, … Continue reading Credit Card Payment Calculator! »

Car Loan Calculator!

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Car Loan Calculator! The first BIG purchase many people make is when they buy their first car. This calculator will help show the impact of many of the biggest factors people need to consider when taking out their first loan for a big purchase. If you have used our Credit Card Payment Calculator to see how minimum payments on small loans are made, you might … Continue reading Car Loan Calculator! »

Net Worth Calculator!

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Net Worth Calculator! Knowing your net worth is the first step towards growing it! This tool will help you organize your assets in one place, and even help project how they will grow in the future. If you have used our Home Budget Calculator to help see where you can improve your savings, the next step is measuring your net worth to see how to … Continue reading Net Worth Calculator! »

Understanding the role of accountants in business and society

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Accounting Regulation and Ethics Professional accountants are vital to our economy and society. Accountants ensure the effective use of resources by recommending ways to reduce cost, increase revenue, and mitigate risk. The accountancy profession is only as good as the quality of service provided by its members. The regulatory environment of the accounting industry seeks to ensure the quality and consistency of these services. This … Continue reading Understanding the role of accountants in business and society »

The Accounting Cycle

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The accounting cycle is a series of steps that businesses take to track transactions and consolidate financial information over a specific accounting period (month, quarter, year). The end result of the accounting cycle is the production of accurate financial statements for that period and preparedness for the next accounting period.

Cost Accounting

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Cost Accounting The field of accounting is typically divided into two areas, financial accounting and cost (or managerial) accounting. Whereas the purpose of financial accounting is to report the results and position of a business to external parties, cost accounting focuses on internal reporting for the purpose of improving managerial decision making. This means that cost accounting is forward looking, as opposed to the primarily … Continue reading Cost Accounting »

Creating Financial Statements

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Creating Financial Statements A company’s financial statements give investors, managers, and other “users” a complete, honest look at its financial health. Finished financial statements follow a standardized format, letting investors compare different companies in the same industry apples-to-apples. For the company’s financial reporting team, this presents a challenge – every business’s internal operations are different, but all activities need to be summarized into a standardized … Continue reading Creating Financial Statements »

Asset valuation

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Asset Valuation – How to value an asset through their financials Every asset has a value that is always changing. So, what factors affect this change? Things such as earnings announcements, financial ratios, and recent news all go into the movement of an asset’s valuation. The key with all asset valuation is that ratios and prices are always relative. This means most methods for asset … Continue reading Asset valuation »

Solvency

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What is Solvency? Understanding financial solvency is as important to an investor as it is to a financial manager. Whether it’s having the money to pay off a friendly wager or having the capital to pay off a commercial loan, being solvent is necessary to achieve long-term success. Solvency is the possession of assets in excess of liabilities, or more simply put, the ability for … Continue reading Solvency »

Managerial Accounting

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Managerial Accounting Accounting is often defined as the backbone of any corporation or business. Without the numbers explaining the day-to-day operation, it’s tough to tell how well or how poorly said company is doing. In order to simplify accounting as a whole, it is easiest to split it into two separate definitions. On one side, there is financial accounting, which focuses heavily on the numbers … Continue reading Managerial Accounting »

Audits and Fraud

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The Love of Money: Audits and Fraud The love of money… A Case of Fraud at LocatePlus Holdings Corporation In business, greed comes most frequently not in the pursuit of profit but in the form of financial fraud. Individuals who lack or loosen their ethical restraints often rationalize their behavior as unavoidable or good-intentioned. But, make no mistake, people who commit fraud normally do so … Continue reading Audits and Fraud »

Corporate Debt

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Corporate Debt Do you ever wonder how companies have the money to build new stores, develop new products, or perhaps even buy another company? Usually companies do not keep enough cash for these transactions sitting in their bank account – it needs to be raised from outside investors. There are two main ways a company can fund these endeavors: a bond issuance or a stock … Continue reading Corporate Debt »

Cash Planning

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A cash budget is used internally by management to estimate cash inflows (receipts) and outflows (disbursements) of cash during a period and the cash balance at the end of a period. In other words, a cash budget is a plan for an organization to obtain and use resources over a specific period of time. This means an organization must have an idea of where their money is coming from and how it should be spent.

Cash Flow Analysis

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Cash flow is a concept in accounting that refers to the spending or receiving of cash by an organization. For a given period, cash flow is calculated by ending cash balance less starting cash balance.

Operating Ratios

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Operating ratios are a class of ratios that are meant to analyze how well a company is using their assets. Specifically, these ratios show how well a company utilizes its assets to create revenue.

Issuing Stock and Dividends

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Issuing Stock and Dividends Big corporations are very powerful entities that can possess more capital than some countries in the world. However, every company begins as a small start-up business. These businesses grow with the injections of capital, both from the founders and from other investors. Going Public At one point, a company’s plans become so big that it needs public financing to support future … Continue reading Issuing Stock and Dividends »

Payroll Accounting

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Payroll Best Practices Most the taxes paid are through paychecks, so a large part of payroll accounting is properly accounting for all taxes. Most people are familiar with their annual personal tax return, but payroll tax filing works a bit differently. Payroll is run weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or even semi-monthly, so for each pay cycle, taxes need to be calculated and reported. All tax payments … Continue reading Payroll Accounting »

GAAP – Gains and Losses

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GAAP – Accounting Gains and Losses Revenue and Gains are related fields related to the income a company receives. The main difference between them is the source of the income. Revenue Revenue represents income earned by the firm through the primary goods and/or services provided. It is the income earned from the firm’s operating activities. For example, Mike’s Computers specializes in selling computers to small businesses. … Continue reading GAAP – Gains and Losses »

GAAP – Revenue and Expense

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GAAP – Accounting Revenue and Expenses One of the first challenges auditors and regulators faced when developing the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) was trying to standardize how companies account for their revenues and expenses. Before GAAP, companies had (more or less) free reign on how and when revenue and expenses were reported, leading to general confusion when trying to compare balance sheets and income … Continue reading GAAP – Revenue and Expense »

GAAP – Liabilities

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Accounting for Liabilities Every firm needs capital to purchase assets like inventory, land, and equipment. They also need cash to help manage expenses such as paying employees. How do companies raise the money they need to run their businesses? The answer is through a mix of liabilities (borrowing money) and equity (selling shares of ownership of the company). Liabilities and equity make up the right-hand … Continue reading GAAP – Liabilities »

GAAP – Assets

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GAAP – Accounting for Assets Facets of Assets How much is someone worth? One way to think about it could be to add up assets, or everything a person owns that holds financial value. First, think of everyday items like cash, a car, a computer, and perhaps money stored in a savings or investment account. However, there are some less obvious items to include as … Continue reading GAAP – Assets »

GAAP – Equity

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GAAP – Accounting for Equity The Basic Accounting Equation says that Assets – Liabilities = Equity Equity (stockholders’ equity, owners’ equity, etc.) is the claim shareholders of a company have on assets once the liabilities have been satisfied. Equity on the Balance Sheet There are five critical entries on a balance sheet related to equity: retained earnings, common stock, preferred stock, treasury stock, and other comprehensive income. … Continue reading GAAP – Equity »

GAAP – Financial Reporting and Terms

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GAAP – Purpose, Framework, and Terms What are the objectives of financial statements? How can accountants best meet these objectives? These are the very questions that the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) set out to address in 1976 when they began developing the conceptual framework. FASB’s goal was to identify the objectives and concepts that govern the preparation and presentation of financial reporting. In other … Continue reading GAAP – Financial Reporting and Terms »

Financial Analysis Through Key Ratios

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Financial Analysis – A “Check-up” for a Business Every year or two, most of us go to the doctor’s office to receive a check-up on the state of our physical health. The doctor typically checks several measurements (height, weight, blood pressure, etc.) in order to gauge how our health has progressed over the past year. They can then use their results to determine if there … Continue reading Financial Analysis Through Key Ratios »

Futures

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Futures Contracts are a standardized, transferable legal agreement to make or take delivery of a specified amount of a certain commodity, currency, or an asset at the end of specified time frame. The price is determined when the agreement is made.

Options

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An option gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the underlying instrument(we assume stocks here) at a specified price(strike price) on or before a specified date(exercise date) in the future. (this is different for European options as they can only be exercised at the end date). Exercising the option is using that right to to buy or sell the underlying instrument.

Spot Contracts

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Spot and Futures contracts are a standardized, transferable legal agreement to make or take delivery of a specified amount of a certain commodity, currency, or an asset at the current date. The price is determined when the agreement is made.

Getting Trading Ideas

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Getting Trading Ideas The most challenging aspect of starting to invest is picking the first few stocks to add to a portfolio. Every investor has their own techniques and strategies, but we want to give you the tools you need to place your first trades, and get your portfolio off to a running start. Establish Goals Before choosing your first stock, the first step is deciding what … Continue reading Getting Trading Ideas »

Margin Trading

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Margin Trading and Market Timing – High Risk Investing Most people trading on their own will use a basic cash account – you deposit your cash into your brokerage account, which you then use to buy securities like stocks and bonds. For professional investors, like day traders and financial professionals, there are ways to multiply the investment amounts and returns by using more complex types of brokerage … Continue reading Margin Trading »

Brokerage

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Brokerages exist to allow individuals to make investments into the larger market. In other words, they connect individuals to the markets as a whole.

What is a Bond?

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Bonds are essentially a much more formal I.O.U (I owe you) used to borrow money. You buy the bond in return to interest over a given period of time. When a corporation or government needs money they issue bonds that people buy. In turn, the issuer (the person who sells the bond) takes the money. However, no one would buy something if they didn’t get something in return, so the issuer will offer to not only pay the person back at a specified date but also provide some interest along the way.

What is a Mutual Fund?

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Mutual Funds are a way you can buy into a wide range of stocks, bonds, money markets, or other securities all at once. They are professionally managed, so you are basically buying a piece of a larger portfolio.

What is an ETF?

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ETFs are a fairly new way that you can buy a large group of stocks, assets, or other securities all at once. ETFs trade just like stock; you can buy and sell shares of an ETF throughout the day on an exchange.

What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average, more frequently known as the Dow or the Dow Jones, is a stock market index made up of 30 of the largest publicly-owned companies based in the United States. It’s a price weighted index meaning that the index’s price is an average of the price of the 30 stocks that make it up.

What is the New York Stock Exchange?

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The New York Stock Exchange (or NYSE) is the largest stock exchange in the world. Think of it as an organized, fast-paced flea market where buyers and sellers from all over the world come to trade U.S. stocks (and now some foreign shares as well). It is where over 2,800 of the biggest U.S. companies have their shares listed.

Building a Diversified Portfolio

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How Do I Build a Diversified Portfolio? Understanding what it means to build a diversified portfolio is one of the first concepts a new investor needs to understand. When talking about stocks, diversification means to make sure you do not “put all of your eggs in one basket.” One of the main goals of all investors is to “beat the market.” This concept means that investors … Continue reading Building a Diversified Portfolio »

Why Invest in Stocks?

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Why Invest in Stocks? Once you have built your budget and built up your emergency fund, you will start to build up extra savings that go towards your future – and that future should include investing. Simply put, when you have money to invest for an extended period of time (like 20 years or more), the stock market historically has provided the greatest return. When … Continue reading Why Invest in Stocks? »

Getting (and understanding) Stock Quotes

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Getting (and understanding) Stock Quotes Definition A stock quote gives essential information about a particular stock at a point in time. The quote normally includes information such as the name of the company, the ticker symbol, the price, the day’s high and low prices, and the trading volume. Details Usually when you get a stock quote, you see lots of other information about that company … Continue reading Getting (and understanding) Stock Quotes »

What is a Stock?

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Stock is defined as a share of ownership in a company. If you own a company’s stock, you own a percentage of the company itself. This includes partial ownership of its assets (like equipment, vehicles, and buildings) and partial ownership if its income and profits.

Student Loans

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What is a Student Loan? A student loan is exactly what it sounds like – a loan given to students to finance their studies. This is most common for college or university students, but also works for trade schools and other vocational studies. Most of the time when a person takes out a loan, they are using it to invest in an asset that they … Continue reading Student Loans »

Property Rights

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Property rights is the foundation of all free-enterprise economic systems. It is what allows people to profit from capital and ideas, without fear of seizure by the government or theft. Definition “Property Rights” usually refers to a set of fundamental rights giving citizens control over their own land, capital, and ideas. Land Property Rights The property right to Land gives a landowner exclusive use of … Continue reading Property Rights »

New Diversification Report

Evaluating how students diversify their portfolios is one of the key concerns of most classes on our platform. Our new Diversification Report just made this a whole lot easier! The new Diversification Report on StockTrak.com gives you a complete look at how students allocate their portfolios – both by security type and by industry. The top of the report shows your class summary for the … Continue reading New Diversification Report »

User Account Generation

We take student data privacy seriously – with constant innovations to keep student data secure. However, we work with more and more schools that have their own restrictions on what kinds of personal information can be gathered, even for administrative purposes. To help make sure that all schools have access to our platform, we just released our new “Account Generation” tool. This new feature is … Continue reading User Account Generation »

Real-Time Forex

Our latest enhancement finally brings to bear our real-time, true-to-life Forex simulation! Our previous currency trading simulation allowed trading on a pure cash basis – students could buy and sell currencies at the real-time FX rates. While this is still very instructive, it missed out on the full nuance of Forex trading with dynamic charting tools, tick-by-tick trading data, and (most importantly) realistic margins to … Continue reading Real-Time Forex »

Reset Student Accounts

Administrators often ask for our team to reset individual accounts, or even entire classes after a “practice period” at the beginning of the semester. These requests have been getting so popular that we built it right into your admin pages! Starting in Spring 2020, the “Ranking” report in your administration tools will have a new “Reset” button next to each student. Just press this to … Continue reading Reset Student Accounts »

Enhanced Ranking Report

Administrators may have already realized there are two separate Rankings pages- the “Live Rankings” (which is visible for students), and the Rank Report (available in your Class Summary Reports). The rank report uses end of day values from the previous trading day, and includes useful tools for managing your class – including buttons to view each student’s portfolio and trades, reset each student’s account, and … Continue reading Enhanced Ranking Report »

Presentation Templates

Google Slides and PowerPoint presentations, covering the material from the most popular articles in the Learning Center. Copy or download the presentations, and feel free to add your own material and notes! These templates are available courtesy of PersonalFinanceLab.com

Lesson Plans

See our customizable library of lesson plans! Most lesson plans include several activity ideas, including activities utilizing the stock game, the included Learning Center, as well as activities from other sources. Pick and choose what works best for your class!

What’s After Graduation?

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In this lesson students will be learning about the different options that they have after graduating high school. They will be looking at different careers and learning about what skills and level of education is required to be successful in those careers.

Taxation

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In this lesson students will be learning about income tax and why certain states have an income tax. Students will be learning about taxes from the start to finish, from filling out tax forms to calculating what percentage will be taken out of their income.

Sales Tax, Tips and Discounts

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In this lesson students will learn what sales tax, discounts and tips are. These are important things for students to know and learn because they will be interacting with these terms in their everyday life. Students will walk away being able to calculate all of these terms in a variety of situations.