Financial Terms From A to Z
An investment account that offers tax benefits when used to pay for qualified education expenses, such as college, for a designated beneficiary.
An employer-sponsored retirement savings account. Employees contribute specific amounts, and companies may match those contributions.
The act of bringing something to the attention of the public, particularly by paid announcements, using persuasive techniques.
The return that an investment provides over a yearly period, given as a percentage.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The interest rate for an entire year, rather than just a monthly fee/rate, as applied on a loan, mortgage loan, credit card, etc.
Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
The real rate of return earned on an investment, including the result of compounding interest.
A financial product that pays out fixed payments to an individual, often used as an income stream for retirees.
A resource with economic value that an individual or corporation owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit.
A two-year college degree that you can earn from a community college, junior college, online university, or some four-year institutions. An associate degree falls between a high school diploma and a bachelor's degree.
An ATM is a machine that allows people to take out money from their bank account by using a particular card, also known as an automated teller machine.
Average age of accounts
A component of credit reports, it is a number that shows how long one’s accounts have been open.
A degree given by a college upon completion of four years in an undergraduate studies program
A financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making loans.
Exchange of goods or services between people without using money
A prolonged period of price declines in a stock or entire market, usually 20 percent or more from a recent high.
The person or entity you legally designate to receive the benefits from your financial products, such as investments and life insurance.
A service, such as health insurance or vacation time - provided by an employer in addition to wages or salary.
Shares of substantial and established companies with a long history of sound financial performance
A loan from an investor to a borrower such as a company or government. The borrower uses the money to fund its operations, and the investor receives interest on the investment.
To receive a certain amount of money to return the exact amount of money after a fixed time.
Someone who takes a loan from a bank, usually with interest.
An investment account that allows you to buy and sell various investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.
A spending plan based on income and expenses for a specific period.
Bull market: a long, extended period in the market when overall stock prices increase.
Organizations that seek profits by providing goods or services in exchange for payment.
A strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them.
To obtain something by paying money or other asset.
Buying stocks or other securities and not selling them for long periods.
When a company uses cash to buy shares of its own stock on the open market.
The money an investor has available to buy securities. It includes the total cash held in the brokerage account plus all available margin.
The profit earned on the sale of an asset that has increased in value over the holding period.
When someone sells a security or investment for less than the purchase price.
An economic system in which private actors (not the government) own and control property, and supply and demand freely set prices in markets in a way that can serve the best interests of society. The main driver is profit.
An occupation or profession, usually requiring special training, that someone does throughout their working life.
Physical money, including notes and coins.
The increase or decrease in the money a business, institution, or individual has.
Cash flow statement
A financial statement that summarizes the amount of cash flowing into and out of a company.
Checks that banks issue and guarantee using bank funds.
Certificate of deposit (CD)
A savings product that holds a fixed amount of money for a specified time, such as six months, one year, or five years, where the issuing bank pays interest.
Certified financial advisor (CFA)
A financial advisor with a CFA certification often works with corporate clients on investment analysis.
Certified financial planner (CFP)
Someone who has extensive experience and training in financial planning and is adheres to strict ethical standards.
Certified public accountant (CPA)
An accountant who has met state law requirements and has been granted a certificate.
Something given to charity, like money or property.
Document on which you write an amount of money and who it is to be paid to. Your bank then pays the money to that person from your account.
A deposit account at a financial institution that allows for withdrawals and deposits of cash.
A request for your insurance company to pay for something your insurance covers.
A small, flat piece of metal used as money, usually with numbers, pictures, or symbols.
The amount you pay for covered health care after you meet your deductible.
Property or other assets promised by a borrower as security for the repayment of a loan.
An item worth more than it was originally sold for because of its rarity, popularity, and condition.
A company used by lenders or creditors to recover funds past due, or from accounts in default.
A percentage of the money received from a total price paid to an agent.
Comparing the price of products or services from different vendors before buying.
Monetary payment given to an individual in exchange for their services.
A report of known or suspected violations of laws, rules, or regulations.
When previously earned interest is added to the principal amount invested or borrowed; interest you earn on interest.
A person who buys goods and services for personal use.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
A measure of the average price change over time in a fixed market basket of goods and services.
A promise enforceable by law.
Copayment (or copay)
A defined dollar amount a patient pays for medical expenses.
An individual who signs a loan along with a primary borrower, promising to repay the loan amount if the primary borrower cannot.
Money needed to buy, do, or make something.
Producing good results without costing a lot of money.
Cost of attendance (COA)
Estimated annual school cost, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, loan fees, and transportation.
Fraudulent copy of money, documents, or other valuable items.
Money that a bank or business will allow a person to use and then pay back in the future.
An agency that collects and researches individual credit information and sells it to creditors for a fee.
A payment card in which charges are made against a line of credit instead of the account holder's cash deposits.
Credit card statement
A summary of charges, payments, fees, and amount due; an overview of credit card usage.
The maximum amount of money a lender will allow you to spend on a credit card or a line of credit.
A record of your history managing and repaying debt, including accounts, bill payment history, credit utilization, and personal information.
A number given to a person that indicates their ability to repay a loan to lenders.
Not-for-profit organizations that provide financial services to members.
Credit utilization ratio
The sum of all your balances divided by the sum of your cards' credit limits.
Someone a lender considers willing, able and responsible enough to make loan payments as agreed until a loan is repaid.
Any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions.
The money in use in a particular country.
An incident that exposes confidential or protected information.
Actively buying and selling securities within the same day, trying to profit on short-term price changes.
The act of taking money out of a bank account.
A payment card that takes money directly from a consumer's checking account when it is used.
Something that is owed or due, usually money.
Taking out one new loan to pay for several other loans.
The amount paid out of pocket by the policyholder before an insurance provider will pay any expenses.
Failure to fulfill an obligation, especially to repay a loan
The number of consumers who are willing and able to buy products at various prices during a given period.
A person who relies on someone else for financial support; often, children or other relatives.
A transaction involving a money transfer to another party for safekeeping.
A financial institution in the United States that is legally allowed to accept monetary deposits from consumers.
A decrease in the price or value of an asset.
A steep and sustained drop in economic activity featuring high unemployment and negative GDP growth.
The deposit of funds electronically into a bank account rather than through a physical, paper check.
A reward, cash or otherwise, that a company gives its shareholders.
Academic degree awarded by universities and some other educational institutions; the highest earned academic degree.
Investing equal dollar amounts in a security at regular intervals.
To give money or goods to help a person or organization
To receive money for completing labor or service.
All income someone receives from a job, including salary, wages, tips, bonuses, and commissions.
The way goods and services are produced, sold, and bought in a country or region.
Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
A digital movement of money from one bank account to another.
Emergency fund: a personal budget set aside as a financial safety net for unexpected costs.
Someone who works for a person or company.
The non-wage compensation provided to employees by a company in addition to their regular salaries or wages, like healthcare, pension, insurance, and retirement.
A person or company who hires others to work for them.
Employee-sponsored retirement savings plan
Free or low-cost plans, such as a 401(k) or HSA, including retirement savings and healthcare.
An individual who creates a new business, taking on much of the risk and getting most of the rewards.
The value of ownership in something.
Also known as Environmental, Social, and Governance; using social impact and sustainability criteria to screen for stocks.
A tax paid by a person who inherits money or property of a person who has died.
Exchange-traded fund; a basket of securities that tracks an underlying index.
The rate at which you can exchange one currency for another.
Expected family contribution
An index of a family's ability to pay for college.
A cost or charge.
How much you'll pay over a year to own a fund.
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
A form completed by students to determine student aid eligibility.
FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
An independent government agency insuring deposits in case of bank failures.
Federal income tax
A tax levied by the IRS on annual earnings, including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, tips, investment income, and certain types of unearned income.
Federal minimum wage
The lowest hourly wage employers can pay their employees, set by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The central bank of the United States.
Federal Reserve notes
The paper currency in circulation in the United States.
Federal student loans
A loan that allows students to borrow money for college directly from the U.S. government.
A way for students to earn money to pay for school through part-time on- (and sometimes off-) campus jobs.
FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act)
A U.S payroll tax deducted to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs.
A three-digit number based on the data in your credit reports, showing your creditworthiness.
Money to help pay for college or career school.
The skills to manage money well by planning and saving for the future and to build economic resilience for times of difficulty.
Unexpected life events that put you at financial risk, impacting your ability to earn income directly or indirectly.
Knowledge necessary to make critical financial decisions.
Comprehensive picture of your current finances, financial goals, and any strategies you've set to achieve those goals.
Having a certain level of security and enough money to meet your needs.
Expenses that remain constant within your budget, like rent, mortgage, certain taxes, and insurance premiums.
A legal process in which the lender attempts to force the sale of the house to recover the balance due from a borrower who has stopped making payments.
Foreclosure relief scam
A type of fraud that takes advantage of homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments.
Foreign transaction fee
A fee you may have to pay when you use a credit card while abroad or when making purchases processed out of the country.
One of the official documents that U.S. taxpayers use to file their annual income tax returns.
A tax document Americans need to file if they buy health insurance through the government health insurance marketplaces.
A form used to report mortgage interest paid for the year.
A document used to report amounts paid for qualified tuition and related expenses.
Used by banks and other financial institutions to report dividends and other distributions to taxpayers and the IRS.
Shows how much interest a person earned from an institution in a tax year.
Used to report miscellaneous information such as rents, prizes and awards, medical and healthcare payments, and payments to an attorney.
Used to report an employee's annual wages and the amount of taxes withheld from their paycheck.
Completed by employees to let employers know how much tax to withhold from their paycheck.
Using dishonest methods to take something valuable from another person.
Free market economy
A system in which the prices for goods and services are self-regulated by buyers and sellers negotiating in an open market without market pressures.
Fund (investment fund)
A pool that many individual investors pay into, used to invest in stocks and bonds collectively.
A legal process when a creditor takes a portion of your paycheck or money from your bank account to collect a debt.
A type of stored-value payment card commonly issued by retailers and banks.
A short-term or temporary job.
A system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term duties.
Something a person wants to achieve with their money in the future.
Items for sale or possessions that can be moved.
Government benefits card
Prepaid cards used to pay certain federal benefits, such as veterans' benefits or Social Security benefits
A period of time past a due date during which you may meet a financial obligation without penalty.
Government funding for ideas and projects to provide public services and stimulate the economy.
Focuses on minimizing environmental damage or promoting sustainability.
The total amount of income a person receives in their paycheck before any deductions or taxes are taken out.
Buying stocks that are expected to grow faster than the overall market.
Shares of companies whose earnings are expected to grow faster than the market.
Health savings account
A variety of personal savings account you can set up to pay certain health care costs.
Where investors pool money to take long and short positions to achieve positive returns.
A type of property insurance that covers losses and damages to an individual's house and assets in the home.
When someone uses another’s identity, especially for financial gain.
Buying a good or service without planning for it.
The amount of money received by a person, group, or company during a specific time.
A document showing a company's revenues and expenses during a particular period.
A tax levied on wages, salary, tips, commissions, and other forms of income.
A mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) that seeks to generate current income through dividends or interest payments
Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
A type of savings account where the money you put in and the interest you earn are not taxable until you retire.
An increase in the prices of goods and services in an economy.
Protection against unexpected losses, like health, life, or auto.
A person covered by insurance.
The person or company who provides protection to someone who buys insurance from them.
The cost of borrowing money, typically expressed as a percentage.
When unpaid interest is added to the principal amount of your student loan.
The amount of interest that has been earned during a specific period.
The amount a lender charges a borrower; a percentage of the principal.
To put money somewhere to make a profit.
An asset acquired or invested in to build wealth.
Income received in uneven increments; inconsistent.
A specific task or position that you receive payment for completing.
When an employee is terminated temporarily or permanently.
A contract renting land, buildings, or other property to another.
All U.S. coins and currency issued by the government.
To give money to another, expecting to receive the total amount in the future.
Person or company who loans money to another.
Something that is owed to or obligated to someone else.
The ease that a security or asset can be converted into cash.
A legal document that states what medical care someone would want if they can no longer make decisions.
Money that someone borrows, usually with interest.
Someone who lends at extremely high interest rates, usually illegally.
Goals that you plan to achieve in the distant future.
Committing money to stocks, bonds, or real estate for more than one year.
A degree given to students who have shown mastery of a specific subject or field of study.
The date when an investment, such as a certificate of deposit (CD) or bond, becomes due and is repaid to the investor.
A program that helps lower-income families and individuals cover health services.
A government program that provides healthcare for people over 65.
The lowest amount a consumer can pay on a revolving account to remain in good standing.
The lowest hourly rate an employer can pay an employee.
Performing financial transactions on a mobile device.
A medium of exchange or measure of value in society.
Money market deposit account
A type of high-yield savings account at a bank or credit union; insured by FDIC.
A certificate with a prepaid amount provided by post offices or banks.
When a company or individual has control of an industry; the absence of competition.
An agreement between a borrower and a lender that gives the lender the right to take the property if you fail to repay the money.
The interest rate charged by the lender in a mortgage.
A pool of money invested in stocks, bonds, and other vehicles.
The total amount of money owed by a country.
Goods and services required to live.
The amount an individual or business makes after deducting costs, allowances, and taxes.
The total value of assets and liabilities of an individual or company.
Non-fungible token; a digital asset stored in blockchain technology, unique to the owner and uncopiable.
NYSE (New York Stock Exchange)
The primary stock marketplace in the U.S.
A job or profession.
Conducting financial transactions through the Internet, on a connected device like laptops, PCs, or mobile phones.
Online or mobile bill payment
Using an Internet-enabled device to pay bills.
The idea that when you purchase one thing, you lose out on the chance to buy another.
Money that people pay out of their personal cash reserves.
When you spend more money than you have in an account, but the bank allows the transaction to process.
A form of payment that deducts value from a checking account.
A fixed time frame employers use to calculate earned wages and when to send employee paychecks.
A check given to employees for work completed.
A high-interest loan given to the borrower with the agreement that they repay it on the next payday.
A list of employees and how much they will be paid.
A prepaid card on which an employer loads an employee's wages or salary each payday.
Wages withheld from an employee’s paycheck, like health insurance, taxes, and garnishments.
A tax on employees’ wages and salaries to fund public programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Paper that displays how much an employee earned and what deductions were taken.
Low-cost shares of companies; speculative stocks under a dollar.
Individual money management, saving, and investing.
The act of giving money with the express purpose of helping others.
PIN (Personal Identification Number)
A unique number someone enters to access their accounts.
Point of sale (POS)
The time and place a transaction occurs.
In insurance, a document showing the terms and conditions of a contract.
The person who purchased the policy for protection.
A collection of financial assets.
Schools after high school, including colleges, universities, vocational, and trade schools.
Post-secondary school certificate (non-degree)
A certificate for completing education in a specific field without earning a degree.
The amount paid for an insurance policy.
A card used to pay for goods and services, pre-loaded with funds and not linked to a checking or savings account.
Paying a loan off before it is due.
A fee that some lenders charge if borrowers pay off debts early.
The amount of a loan due before interest.
Private college or university (nonprofit)
Typically funded by tuition and alumni donations, where the money is funneled back into educational programs at the school.
Private student loans
Nonfederal loans offered by banks, credit unions, and schools to pay for college expenses.
A section of the courts that deals with estates, wills, and other matters relating to a deceased person’s property.
A financial gain; when revenues exceed costs and expenses.
A tax levied on property owners based on the property’s value.
A formal document required by the SEC; explains the details of an investment.
Cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction.
Public college or university
A university or college owned or funded by the state.
Public service announcement (PSA)
A commercial-type presentation used to educate the public about a specific topic.
The letter that comes with audited financial statements containing a CPA's opinions on the audit.
When an employee is given a higher salary or wages than they previously earned.
Rate of return
The net gain or loss over a specific period; shown as a percentage.
Real estate investing
Purchasing real estate to achieve profits and income.
Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
A publicly-traded company that holds or finances income-producing properties.
A partial refund on a good or service.
A general and significant decline in economic activity lasting more than a few months.
The process of recording financial transactions and systematically managing money.
Replacing a current loan with a new one to obtain a better interest rate.
Earnings people receive consistently.
To pay a fixed fee to use something, such as property, land, or an automobile.
Paying rent payments that can apply to buying the product when the lease term is over.
When a bank or lender takes back a property because the borrower defaults on payments.
Leaving the workforce.
The deliberate strategizing of investing and saving for retirement to ensure enough money in the future.
A profit on an investment.
Reverse stock split
When a company merges shares to increase the price, decreasing the available shares in the market.
Any uncertainty in someone’s financial outlook.
Setting up protections and planning for unexpected events and adverse outcomes.
Rule of 72
How long it takes for your money to double; divide the number 72 by the interest rate you expect to earn.
A fixed annual payment paid for work; usually paid monthly or bi-weekly.
The exchange of something for money.
A tax paid on top of the purchase price of a good or service.
Choosing to put money aside for specific purposes of long or short-term savings goals.
The amount of money someone sets aside not to spend.
An interest-bearing account at a bank or financial institution designed to store savings safely.
Debt securities issued by the Treasury to pay government borrowing.
S. savings bond
Low-risk investment that pays interest, offered by the government.
Either short or long-term, a specific objective to save towards.
Savings and loan association (S&L)
A financial institution that specializes in accepting savings deposits and making mortgages and other loans.
A deceitful or fraudulent act.
Financial aid students receive for academic, athletic, or other achievements.
Secured credit card
A type of credit card that requires a security deposit to open.
Loans secured by collateral such as property or a car.
A tradable financial asset, like stocks, bonds, or options.
Tasks performed to help consumers.
A percentage of ownership in a company or financial asset.
Borrowing a security, selling it in the market, and hoping to repurchase it at a lower price.
Things you plan to spend money on or save towards in the coming months or immediate years.
Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound; a framework to make goals that you can meet.
A system to give financial support to those with little or no income, including those who are disabled, unemployed, or retired.
Social Security number
A nine-digit number assigned to U.S. citizens and residents to track Social Security benefits and identify individuals.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)
Investing strategy that intends to generate social change and financial returns for an investor.
A stock market index following the stock performance of 500 large companies listed on exchanges in the United States.
Paying money for goods or services.
A deceitful act of imitating someone else for financial gain.
Standard of living
A measure of a society’s income, goods, and comforts.
State income tax
A tax levied on the earnings of a state’s residents.
A security representing the ownership of a fraction of a corporation.
When a company repurchases its own shares to return money to shareholders.
A marketplace where individuals and institutions can buy and sell stocks and bonds.
A place to exchange shares of publicly-traded companies.
Dividing a company’s shares into more shares, lowering the price to attract more investors and increase liquidity.
A set of letters companies choose to represent their firm in the exchange.
Student aid report
A document that gives basic information regarding someone’s eligibility for student aid.
A type of loan for education expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, and other supplies.
Student loan servicer
Companies and organizations that collect payments on a loan.
The amount of money paid for a regular service.
How much of a specific item or resource is available at a given time.
Income remaining after taking out taxes, deductions, and benefits.
A tax imposed by one nation’s exports on another
Money that governments require people to pay to fund programs and services.
An incentive that lets you subtract the amount of the credit from what you owe the state.
Part of taxable income that can be excluded from taxation.
Delaying paying taxes until a future time.
Illegally underpaying or avoiding paying taxes
The right to exclude all or some income from taxation by federal or state governments.
A payment to taxpayers who overpaid in taxes.
The length of time between when a fixed-income security is offered for sale and its maturity date.
A set of letters used to abbreviate or represent a company’s name in the stock market.
Time value of money
The idea that a sum of money now is worth more than a sum in the future because it can grow through investing.
An extra amount of money given to some workers for their services.
Any money received as tips, whether cash or via credit or debit card.
A short-term, high-interest loan in which you use your car as collateral.
A post-secondary school that provides training for specific career pathways.
A sum that businesses pay for every transaction.
A payment where no goods or services are exchanged.
A department of the government that collects taxes, pays bills, and manages currency.
An arrangement where one party gives control to another to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries.
When someone other than the cardholder uses a card, and the cardholder is unaware.
Not served by a bank or financial establishment.
When people do not have adequate access to banks.
Non-employment income, such as investments.
When someone who is actively looking for a job is not employed.
Payments made to unemployed individuals to help make ends meet.
A loan that does not require collateral.
The worth of a good or service determined by people's preferences and the trade-offs they choose given their scarce resources.
Choosing to invest in stocks that appear to be below book value.
Shares of companies that look to be priced below their competitors.
The monetary worth of an asset.
Any expenses that change based on how much a company produces and sells.
A preset schedule that explains when employees can exercise their stock options.
Digital representations of value that can exist only in electronic form.
Someone who gives their time or resources without expecting payment.
The amount paid to an employee, typically expressed hourly.
Goods and services separate from needs; things people desire to spend their money on.
A guarantee that a producer will replace or repair defective components.
Having plentiful resources or abundant money.
Giving financial support to those that need it.
A legal declaration describing where someone’s assets should go when they die.
An electronic money transfer between banks or other financial institutions.
Income paid by the employer to the government instead of the employee paying it directly.
A federal program that provides jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial needs.
An extension to a stock ticker symbol indicating the security is a mutual fund.
The rate of return an investor gets from an asset such as a stock or bond.
Zero Based Budgeting
A method of budgeting that starts from $0 and only adds enough money to cover expenses.