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.

Intermediate Investing

Intermediate Investing Once you know the basics of what it means to invest (what is a Stock, how to look up quotes, and some of the other basics), you can begin to think about building a Portfolio, which means understanding what it means to diversify and how to build an investing strategy. This unit will introduce ETFs and Mutual Funds – packaged investments that group … Continue reading Intermediate Investing »

Risk and Financial Decision Making

Risk and Financial Decision Making Insurance is one of those pesky expenses that you may complain about, but will be so grateful for when you actually need it. Unfortunately, accidents happen everyday, and having insurance ensures those accidents don’t drain your savings.  There are numerous types of insurance to protect individuals. To make things simpler, they are broken down into four main categories: Car Insurance, … Continue reading Risk and Financial Decision Making »

Managing Credit

Managing Credit Navigating the world of credit is an essential skill. There are numerous decisions to be mindful of, including when to use credit, how to manage loans and debt, and how your credit score can affect future purchases. When it comes to credit, trust and playing the long game are key.  If you’re just opening your first credit account, you might not be thinking … Continue reading Managing Credit »

Income and Taxes

Income and Taxes Acquiring your own income is the first step toward being a self-sufficient adult. Income gives you the ability to pay your day to day expenses, while planning for the future. However, having a job entitles you to more than just your salary. Although it can be enticing to accept any compensation package presented to you, understanding your different options gives you higher … Continue reading Income and Taxes »

HedgEye On The Prize FAQ

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 »


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. … Continue reading Glossary »

Investing Home

Investing Word of the Day Investing 101 Chapter 1 Introduction To Investing Chapter 2 How and Why The Stock Market Works Chapter 3 Making Your First Trade Chapter 4 Building Your $100,000 Portfolio Chapter 5 Now That I Own It, What Should I Do? Chapter 6 Fundamental Analysis – Understanding Financial Statements Chapter 7 Technical Analysis – Common Charts and Terms Chapter 8 Current Hot … Continue reading Investing Home »

Accounting Home

Accounting Learning Center Browse our collection of articles, videos, and activities relating to basic Accounting. Popular Topics: Accounting The Accounting Cycle Financial Analysis Through Key Ratios Asset Valuation Understanding Assets Accounting for Liabilities Operating Ratios Gains and Losses Basics of Equity Revenue and Expenses Payroll Best Practices Key Accounting Terms Cash Flow Analysis Management Planning and Vision Leading vs Directing Management Theories Explained Business Ownership … Continue reading Accounting Home »

Economics Home

Economics Learning Center Browse our collection of articles, videos, and activities relating to basic Economics. Popular Topics: Comparative Economic Systems What Are Incentives Understanding Interest Rates Government Impact on the Economy Comparative Advantage Understanding Scarcity What Is Economics? The Business Cycle Unemployment Inflation Major Economic Indicators Supply and Demand

Personal Finance Home

Personal Finance Learning Center Browse our collection of articles, videos, and activities relating to Personal Finance. Browse By Topic: Budgeting All About Budgeting Spending and Savings Plans Pay Yourself First Budgeting and Spending Strategies Building Wealth Planning Large Purchases Credit Understanding Credit Credit Cards Credit Reports Buying A Car Understanding Mortgages Calculators Compound Interest Calculator Investment Return Calculator Millionaire Calculator Car Loan Calculator Net Worth Calculator … Continue reading Personal Finance Home »

Taxation Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 »

NewLearn Home

Investing 101 Learn more about investing with our 10-chapter Beginner’s Investing Course! Chapter 1 Introduction To Investing Chapter 2 How and Why The Stock Market Works Chapter 3 Making Your First Trade Chapter 4 Building Your $100,000 Portfolio Chapter 5 Now That I Own It, What Should I Do? Chapter 6 Fundamental Analysis – Understanding Financial Statements Chapter 7 Technical Analysis – Common Charts and … Continue reading NewLearn Home »

Final Vocabulary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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!

Home Budget Calculator! Most people think that the difficult part of 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 already used our … Continue reading Home Budget Calculator! »

Credit Card Payment Calculator!

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!

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!

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 budgeting 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

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

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

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

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

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 »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.


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

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

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

Margin Trading and Market Timing – High Risk Investing A margin trading account is a type of investment account offered by brokerages that allow investors to borrow money to buy securities. With a margin account, an investor can borrow funds from the brokerage firm against the value of the securities in their account. This allows the investor to increase their buying power and potentially increase … Continue reading Margin Trading »


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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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

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 investing, diversification means to expose yourself to less risk by investing in different asset classes, industries etc. So if something bad happens to one of your investments, you don’t lose all your money. One of … Continue reading Building a Diversified Portfolio »

Why Invest in Stocks?

Why Invest in Stocks? Investing in stocks can be a great way to make your money work for you and build long-term wealth, once you have set up your budget and emergency savings fund. In this lesson, we’ll explore why investing in stocks is a smart financial decision for anyone looking to secure their financial future. When you have a longer time horizon that you … Continue reading Why Invest in Stocks? »

Getting (and Understanding) Stock Quotes

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 the company … Continue reading Getting (and Understanding) Stock Quotes »

What is a Stock?

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.