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How Do Mutual Funds and Stocks Differ?

How Do Mutual Funds and Stocks Differ?

Whether you’re a first-time stock investor or a seasoned veteran, you should understand what differentiates single stock investments from mutual fund investing. First, Some Working Definitions Picture a collection of stocks, bonds, or other securities that are purchased by a group of investors and then managed by an investment company. That’s a mutual fund. When […]

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What Is a Stock Index?

What Is a Stock Index?

In 1884, Charles Henry Dow averaged the closing prices of 11 stocks he considered representative of the strength of the U.S. economy in a paper that preceded The Wall Street Journal. By 1896, The Wall Street Journalwas publishing this average on a regular basis, and the most famous indicator of stock market performance was born: the Dow […]

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What Do Bond Ratings Mean?

What Do Bond Ratings Mean?

Bond ratings gauge a bond issuer’s financial ability to repay its promised principal and interest payments. Ratings are based on an analysis of the issuer’s financial condition and creditworthiness. In essence, the higher the rating, the more likely it is that a bondholder will receive his or her principal again when the bond matures. Credit […]

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Tax-Free Insurance Upgrades

Tax-Free Insurance Upgrades

Responding to the changing needs of consumers, the life insurance industry has developed some alternatives that go much further in satisfying a variety of financial needs and objectives than some of the more traditional types of insurance and annuities. Advancements Modern contracts offer much more financial flexibility than traditional alternatives do. For example, universal life […]

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What Tax-Advantaged Alternatives Do I Have?

What Tax-Advantaged Alternatives Do I Have?

A strong savings program is essential for any sound financial strategy. We take Benjamin Franklin’s saying to heart, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and we save our spare cash in savings accounts and certificates of deposit. Investors who’ve accumulated an adequate cash reserve are to be commended. But as strange as it sounds, […]

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What Is Tax Deferral?

What Is Tax Deferral?

“Tax deferral” is a method of postponing the payment of income tax on currently earned investment income until the investor withdraws funds from the account. Tax deferral is encouraged by the government to stimulate long-term saving and investment, especially for retirement. Only investment vehicles designated as “tax deferred,” such as IRAs, plans covering self-employed persons, […]

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What Happens If I Withdraw Money from My Tax-Deferred Investments Before Age 59½?

What Happens If I Withdraw Money from My Tax-Deferred Investments Before Age 59½?

Withdrawing funds from a tax-deferred retirement account before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty; all distributions are subject to ordinary income tax. However, there are certain situations in which you are allowed to make early withdrawals from a retirement account and avoid the tax penalty. IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans have different […]

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Taxes on IRA and Employer-Sponsored Retirement Funds

Taxes on IRA and Employer-Sponsored Retirement Funds

Traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans are tax-deferred accounts, which means they are typically funded with pre-tax or tax-deductible dollars. As a result, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn, generally in retirement. Withdrawals from tax-deferred accounts are subject to income tax at your current tax rate. In addition, withdrawals taken prior to […]

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